redesigning the ACAT Getting Started process

Company Intel

Role Research, Interaction design, Visual design

Summary As a development opportunity assignment at Intel, I worked on projects in the Anticipatory Computing Lab at Intel Labs. I redesigned the Getting Started process of ACAT (Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit), the open-sourced communication application originally developed for Stephen Hawking.


Mockups for the new ACAT Getting Started flow.

Introduction and Problem Scanning communication software for people with severe disabilities (including ALS, paralysis, etc.) is expensive, especially for end users who may be strained financially due to medical costs. ACAT provides a free, customizable solution for Windows computers and is now available to the public. We found that the Getting Started process in the software was not clear to users. It did not guide first-time users through the tutorials and lacked a consistent interaction and visual design.

Whiteboarding, Persona Continuum, and Flowchart.

Whiteboarding, persona continuum, and flowchart with the team.

Understanding the Users The users of ACAT include end users, caregivers, and developers. I conducted research to better understand the behaviors, goals, and perspectives of end users with ALS, their caregivers, and developers who are interested in expanding the software of ACAT. I created a persona continuum which led us to focus on the caregivers. The caregivers help with the setup of ACAT, and typically complete the Getting Started process for the end users before the end users can start the tutorials and communication applications. I focused on the caregivers as the first-time and regular users of ACAT while keeping in mind the interactions between the caregivers and the end users.

Flowcharts Before and After

Flowchart on the left shows the previous Getting Started process. The flowchart on the right shows the redesigned process which guides first-time users through the tutorials, and regular users directly to the main applications.

Wireframes and Mockups Through multiple iterations we were able to simplify and reduce the steps for the Getting Started process, while guiding first-time users through the tutorials. We are currently iterating on the design and testing it before implementation.

Team Lama Nachman - Intel Fellow
Pete Denman - Senior Designer
Sai Prasad - Senior Developer
Erica Lewis - Designer
and the rest of the Hawking team