Human Factors Minute is now available on Spotify: Check it out here!
March 26, 2021

E199 - Exoskeletons using AI

E199 - Exoskeletons using AI

Recorded on March 25th, 2021, hosted by Nick Room…


Recorded on March 25th, 2021, hosted by Nick Roome and Blake Arnsdorff.

| News:

This rad-ass exoskeleton uses AI to walk for you 
https://bit.ly/3vwm7lw
 
| It Came From:
How are you conducting user interviews in this pandemic era?
What tools do you use for remote UX (HF) work collaboration with UX (HF) coworkers?
Has networking ever really worked?

| Follow Nick: https://www.twitter.com/Nick_Roome 
- Follow Blake: https://www.twitter.com/DontPanicUX 
- Design Lab UX Courses With Blake:  http://share.trydesignlab.com/hfcast 
- Join us on Slack: https://rebrand.ly/HFCSlack 

| Thank you to our Human Factors Cast Honorary Staff: 
Michelle Tripp 

| Support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/humanfactorscast 
- Buy us a coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/hfactorspodcast 
- Human Factors Cast Merchandise Store: https://rebrand.ly/HFCMerch 
- Follow us on Twitch: https://twitch.tv/HumanFactorsCast 
- Follow us on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/HumanFactorsCast 
- Follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/humanfactorscast 
- Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/HFactorsPodcast 
- Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HumanFactorsCast 
- Follow us on Soundcloud: https://www.soundcloud.com/HumanFactorsCast 
- Our official website: https://rebrand.ly/HumanFactorsCast 

| Our tools and software: https://rebrand.ly/HFCToolsAndSoftware
- Logo design by E Graphics LLC: https://egraphicsllc.com/
- Music by Kevin McLeod: https://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/

| Take a deeper look into the human element in our ever changing digital world. Human Factors Cast is a podcast that investigates the sciences of psychology, engineering, biomechanics, industrial design, physiology and anthropometry and how it affects our interaction with technology. As an online source for human factors, psychology, and design news, Human Factors Cast is your essential resource for new, exciting stories in the field.

| Disclaimer: Human Factors Cast may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through the links here. |

Let us know what you want to hear about next week!

Follow us:

Thank you to our Human Factors Cast Honorary Staff Patreons: 

  • Michelle Tripp

Support us:

Human Factors Cast Socials:

Reference:

Feedback:

  • Have something you would like to share with us? (Feedback or news):

 

Disclaimer: Human Factors Cast may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through the links here.

Transcript

| Disclaimer: Transcript provided by IBM Watson Speech to Text. Any inaccuracies or errors are not attributed to the Hosts or contributors to Human Factors Cast. |

 

Your weekly podcast things. Hey everybody welcome back to another episode human factors casted as opposed to 199 I mean host Nick Roman joined by Mister Blake on store. Absolutely how you doing today make a bit better my job is kind of killing me but that's okay we'll get through it. We'll make it through anyone who joined us on office hours of the pre show knows why we will make it through the show tonight we got a great news story either we're gonna be taking you know a look at here rad **** exoskeletons as the article put it puts it using a I to walk for you so we'll be looking at that Hey everyone I don't know if you noticed but the top here I said this is episode 199 next week is our 2 hundredth episode if you're listening to this please tune in we have some really exciting announcements it's gonna be wild I think we have a lot of surprises planned you know we kind of went big for episode 100 and like the live show and not live but we went to the you tube and it was pre recorded and it was something but you know I pursued 200 going to be a lot there's a lot of announcements there so if you know if you're listening you should you should probably check that out if there's one show you listen to in fact if you don't want to listen to if you get only listen to one show over the next month listen to that one so if you know if this is part of your time right now maybe you know you can stop listening to this and just check out up so to. That's okay too it doesn't much matter but be here for episode 200 there's some really cool stuff that I'm really excited to share with you all of our patrons have kind of been in on some of the secrets but even some will be a surprise to them I'm. All right so Blake why I got to know what's going on with you. Med it's been a long week and I'm glad that we finally made it to Thursday we can hang on the internet and talk about podcasts things are talk about human factors you X. design all that kind of good stuff one thing that I found really interesting and fun this week. What is I'm a so I've talked about it a few times my banner section now I've been doing a lot more kind of getting back into music and production of audio and stuff like that over the past year due to cope with being at home more. But one thing that I saw all I come across my linkedin page I think on Monday was I'm a big fan of native instruments and for anybody doesn't know they're one of the bigger companies probably in the music world that makes virtual instruments as well as hardware instruments and have some of the biggest libraries out there but they're also known for taking design into consideration when they're putting different putting together different software packages and really putting user experience first and that also includes accessibility design so one thing that they have really ramped up I think in complete control 2.6 is adding more accessibility tools for blind users so if you can imagine therefore if you're aware of like screen readers right so this piece of software that can help somebody navigate you know a browser or any kind of application by giving them an idea of what they're hovering over or anything like that will translate that to audio production or sound production. And in this case what they've done is for complete control it's they're bigger you know virtual instrument library and basically what you would do is you can kind of attach your keyboard and play different sounds of the offer well now the the complete control software has accessibility features that you as you navigate around. The screen using your screen reader it will give you a sense of what the sound will be and so the samples are a lot more a lot easier to find if you're you know blind user a low vision user so it was a it's just a fun story and it's one of those times where it's it's cool to know how many different walks of life in different. Industries employ human factors and good design practices to help create products that are not just made for everybody the everyday person but kind of facilitate people different you know accessibility needs so I was just a fun one to take the week off with yeah you know I love talking about accessibility and I think that was a great foreshadowing or potentially foreshadowing for. What could be next week's episode of our patrons are listening or if you want to become a patron you know we do let them choose the news for the for the show you know it's it's chosen by them we have one of the stories up on for for next week are episode 200 is. The neuroscientists availing technology for the vision impaired so things like bionic eyes textured tablets those types of things it be a ton of fun to talk talk about that's of our patrons are listening is this is this like voter manipulation I don't know anyway that the point is that would be a ton of fun to talk about over 200 episodes so as you know. That's I'll just leave that there. Where we just put in our back pocket short blurb on it if you don't like it yeah I think it could be a ton of fun and it would link into what you just said there Blake. But I mean I gotta tell ya by my week has been going. It's it's been something and I have to talk about. This thing and I am purposely not saying what it is on the audio version but this thing here there's. There's a product now it all makes more sense to me are the product that I. It's okay there's there's an audio component that will go with this don't you worry everyone there is a product in which I purchased to relieve some pain this week and. You know the the instructions on the box are pretty terrible have you ever had to look up instructions for something that were for a product that was just you know didn't come with the adequate explanation for what to do with it. Definitely so I've got like my drum kit I don't know that that's stuff reads like stereo instructions you need to 8 to PH dis to understand so I I like default going to U. 2 videos for a lot of stuff like that but something as simple as what you show yeah I would I would hope that the constructions were straight form no they were not so. So what I'm talking about is a mouth guard because I'm experiencing some shopping and. Here's the auditory cue for you all listening on the podcast. So here. So I could go in there I don't know. There we go that's it that's your new host so here's the thing no I can't do it here's the here's the thing with with this product you can mold it to your teeth by boiling it and you know popping it in your mouth and having it sit there you put in a. The instructions N. on this product are nowhere to be found they say Hey you can mold it to your teeth okay great I'm looking at the box right now it says 3 regular protection to heavy duty mouth guards you know and it says. F. 1 Formula notch to prevent irritation step 22 different thicknesses for regular heavy duty pressure shouldn't. With a durable bottom layer to prevent where step 3 moldable material to custom fit any size mouth. There are no instructions in this box yeah that's 3 steps the product description there's exactly. And so I was like okay well how does one mold this and so I had to go on to Amazon where I purchased this and I had a look at some of the comments and they were like oh yeah you boil it in water and like no one had an exact amount of time that you boil it in water and I'm like can I get a leg burn my mouth just take a gas soon this like. I was just really frustrating to try to find. You're obviously has already in pain and I was just trying to look for some relief and I had to. Look elsewhere to find the answer that I was looking for so that way I could get that relief and it was so frustrating I won't I mean ever anyone is watching saw the product but I mean like I'm not gonna mention specific names anyway do your do your research before you buy it even if you're in pain like I was don't just buy it on a whim because you think it'll relieve pain because it might cause you more. Mental power than you want to exert anyway that's. That's what's funny because like that specific type of products so I did the same thing with my ju jitsu mouth guards and the instructions were awful okay boil it for how long yeah exactly just do it and I would do it I definitely burned to the top of the roof of my mouth on what about guards because that is where I don't know how long this needs will give it is not time I guess I know yeah so awful so what I ended up reading was like Hey you bend your you submerge it in. In the boiling water until you see the corner start to turn and I'm like but within the water it's hard to see and like what does that mean the corner here and like this so this is user sourced you know and it's like and then you have about 5 to 10 seconds to pop it in your mouth and when you pop it in your mouth you know you push your lips up against it on one side your tongue up against on the other side and hold it there. And. I'm like it I guess it worked at you know it's. 22 of them did not I have 2 other rejects over here as a prop that did not work. And one of them works I don't know I don't know man it's frustrating I wish one other 3 yes pretty good ratings that one out of 3. All right what do you say we get into this this this next thing. All right yes this is the part of the show all about human factors news this is where the instructions are going to be 100 percent clear for everyone listening or we talk about everything related to the field of human factors this can be anything from we got some robotics in there this week and some A. I.. And how it interacts with humans like what we got up first this week or the only this show up first and only this week as the instructions are meant to be very clear for the pod is we have this rat as exoskeleton the use a I'd help you walk so engineers at Canada's university of Waterloo are developing AI powered exoskeleton legs they can walk autonomously the system captures the user surrounding using a set of cameras and computer vision and deep learning other algorithms then analyze the scene that the user is end of the term in the best movements for upcoming terrain the control approach in this model does not necessarily require human thought so similar to autonomous cars they can drive themselves this company is actually direct designing autonomous exoskeletons that can walk for themselves the system adapts to its movements of a user based on the environment it's taking in and the device could eventually give people with impaired mobility more natural control systems then current actual Skelton's which are typically operated through smartphone apps or even joysticks the researchers overcame these kinds of limitations by actually fitting the exoskeleton with wearable cameras and then injecting some A. I. algorithms into it so Nick this is interesting in a lot of ways because I think it it opens my eyes to a kind of current modes and methods for interacting with exoskeletons for people but also the power of basically adding in you know quote unquote A. I. in 28 exoskeleton yes Sir a couple things here. My my first thought when I read this article well maybe maybe not I don't know you can go back and watch the office hours for my first thought on it probably this is cool. Yeah that's a good one as I thought about it I was I was thinking about and and this is from the perspective of somebody who has had minimal experience with exoskeletons I mean we went to go act one time it was a blast but I eat you know I don't study them and it's not something that is in my wheel house. And so from from my perspective I'm just kind of laying that out there. When I read this and heard okay this these AI systems are propelling a user forward that internet access skeleton I thought wow can't that be dangerous if it doesn't match the user's intent. Yeah and it makes 100 percent. The sense for somebody who has no control of their legs. But if it's augmenting. As someone who does have control of their legs right they might be able to. I'm I I I don't see full control over somebody who has control of their own legs like that's that's kind of where I'm at and I know I'm getting hung up on this but it comes back to danger right so in the case where somebody is paralyzed from the waist down this autonomous system can take over for them great it for somebody who does have control I can see a lesser sense of automation taking place here where it might augment their steps so they are still walking forward but it may be senses uneven terrain and shift your like ever so slightly to the left so that way you don't step on that banana peel or something. You know as you're walking through a factory floor you know Jerry left their banana peel on the on the floor and you don't want to slip on it so the exoskeleton senses that and slightly side steps to the left to correct your stride. But even I feel like that much might hurt somebody anyway. We're talking about the technology and how it interacts with people and I think this is mainly for people who are in mobile so we we can focus on that but yeah overall very interesting and I I kind of like the the comparison to the self driving vehicle where it kind of takes in all this data from the external environment and. Uses that to him injects it with A. I. and and it basically is on its way. Yeah it's a really great analog for that's for sure I think one thick 1.the you bring up because I do like where your head's at because you're you're thinking more outside of the box of the further applications like beyond just like the a mobile application awesome makes a lot of sense but what if there's kind of a middle ground that we can reach for people who you know either let's say one of your legs is is why doesn't work as well anymore as you get older and so having stuff like that they can handle. Based on like sensing the environment handle actually giving you you know good recommendations of movement if you well and I I wonder if that goes back to as this kind of product paradigm grows a little bit and they start taking into account you know thoughts about moving because I think the idea here is the reason that this is kind of over and above in the reason to put AI into this is is in the case of you being a mobile unit have don't really think about any of the movements that the A. I. powered system can basically help you kind of plan out your movement without having to you know interface with your thoughts. But the so basically how it works is it's it's really just it seems pretty simple and I'm probably over simplifying how it actually is all put together but basically by using this camera system that they attach what I think is not limited to a single camera it's just taking in your entire environment tell kind of goals mapped out like from the A. I.'s perspective anyway you through I think computer vision and just understanding okay here's all the things that are possibly the in the environment this is really the direction we want to move. One thing that I've I thought was interesting is how well this might do in a very dynamic environment. Because for whatever reason the graphics they presented look like the persons in a school which they might be because it's for a university project and so something like that like where you have a lot of things that you would have to continuously be having to reassess in order to you know make the correct movements I wonder how it kind of would stack up in that situation yeah I I think of factory floors where you're lifting heavy objects you know where you have an instance where you're not only interacting with other humans in exoskeleton suits that are moving objects from point a to point B. but you're moving with automated lifters that will grab something from this part of the warehouse and move it over here to be shipped out and so you know if you have an exoskeleton that can kind of self correct or prevent you from navigating in a certain direction right can you imagine a lock on these things when. Mmhm you know you go to try to walk and it locks up on you but still stands you up straight. When when a when a robot machine is coming down the way and it doesn't want to interfere with you and everything everything's connected that kind of. Technology is possible. It's kind of cold man that's that's like the whole the whole ecosystem of technology working together so beyond just your exoskeleton like the the 5 different people on the work floors exoskeletons all working together plus robots that are within the space now the one thing I think that's probably worth mentioning here as it does seem like this is pretty pretty early on in the stages because it is our our research your a university programs research because it does seem like a mainly the focus is the the A. I. A. and the A. I. component that's working with ingesting the video and trying to figure out like okay what's all in the surrounding it is it accurate didn't seem like that quite yet the exoskeleton itself is fully functional so that that's kind of the next stage of what they're going to try and do so taking in the environment now mapping that to motor functions that will eventually I think translate into little like little programs for that exoskeleton to execute depending on rough terrain normal train whatever may be. Yeah I'm I'm looking at this in there specifically talking about like those with impaired mobility and yeah I'm thinking further out than that right where where do we go for from here because they are like you said very early on in this process. Am I I wonder what other kinds of bells and whistles we could add on to a system like this to make it even better right I mean the the end and so 2 thoughts let's take that one but then also there's the other thought of. What problem does this solve right well right now those with limited mobility they are they might have exoskeleton technology that could help them but if it's powered via smartphone then they'd have to take out their smartphone and navigate using that right press forward until it you know they desire to. Stop and then they would hit stop and then they would input another direction so it's very important based where something like this you could have like a general goal like walk me to the store walk me to the corner store and it would you know take you from point a to point B.. You'd arrive and then that's when it would get a little interesting because like what do you do with the intent there so again I'm I'm I'm trying to reiterate that's the problem that solving it solving the issue of the input you know being cereal and having an input at all like I like I don't know how you control this thing you just lean forward and have it you know kind of like a Segway where it kinda senses that you want to go forward and that was as we're doing as we start to move forward is we're kind of falling forward in our body moves forward to catch it. And so it you. I'm wondering if the exoskeleton will do the same you start to fall forward it catches you and move you forward if you lean in a direction maybe it goes that direction I can kind of see that working but as this is very early on in the stages we need to look at what other bells and whistles like the intent reading of of the people who are actually utilizing this right how can we sense that intent of a of an operator and how do we understand what their intent is when navigating through something right there are certain things that we can account for with the system that's in place let's take that corner store example you walk in the store. And now you know the artificial intelligence systems on board the exoskeleton will prevent you from walking into you know a display or other people or items but how do you tell the system I want to go down this aisle. And a stop about halfway because that's where the energy drinks are or you know whatever. I don't know if anyone with limited mobility would be having energy drinks but you never know. Yeah I don't know I mean I think you bring up a good point though and going back towards the the like analog of this is totally going to expose how little I know about how like tassels automation works but I would imagine for some of it you may be. Like for instance of the corner store right that seems like it makes sense and it's a possibility because I I could imagine that if you like if you do use a automated system in a car if you were able to give it a a point direction like where you want to go then it like through you know base just navigation through something like Google maps I could probably figure out like okay this is the route that I'm gonna take and based off of you know previous driving experience and albums I've built on I should be able to send things around me and make decisions so for something like translating that here like a corner store trip or I'm going to class. Understanding the the base functions to get you from point a to point B. based off of you know geo location maybe that seems doable now I I think when you're when you're getting more into some of the new ones are okay you've made it so I've made it to the classroom door now I have to go pick a chair what do I really do from here that I feel like it's they're still kind of a gap for this research project we may still have to pull out that smartphone to do the do the rest of the journey. But ultimately that's cut down a lot of kind of like cognitive work if you will and it's under remote or work of trying to navigate yourself entire length or entire kind of journey or whatever maybe yeah let's talk about exactly where they're at in the process right so this article that we pulled from the next web but they're actually referencing another article from I and this is called simulation of stand to sit bio mechanics for robot robotic exoskeletons and prosthesis with energy regeneration so this is the article that they're referencing. And basically what there's testing in this study the abstract basically says they're looking at sitting and standing movements with these lower limb kinematics right and and sort of these ground reaction forces so that's kind of where they're at they're not looking at even navigation at this point I think there. You know I I I don't know if a link to the wrong one or if this is an earlier study but this is published on February 9 of this year. So fairly recently and I don't know if you know there's there's potentially more within this study here but. The you know from what I'm reading from the abstract it looks like they're very very earlier on and this article from the next web is almost speculating based on the thread of research. That they're doing on this project right this is from researchers looks like at the university of Waterloo so you know I I'd be curious to see exactly where they stand in that lab with this with this effort but at least the article that the next web here is referencing is it's it's very early on. Well this is actually a little further along than I expected I thought based on next next web's kind of interpretation of you have abstract for this full article from I but they're really only focusing on basically the A. I. component in the video in the computer vision interpretation but it seems like there could be a lot more going on so that the camera aspect yes but maybe that is that is more in play with helping somebody sit or stand or be able to detect in the environment there is a chair and now I want to sit or stand out from it so that is okay that is a little bit more complex than I was even kind of interpreting this as. Okay I'm I'm looking up I'm digging here live as we're. I went through this article but yeah there's there's a. There is so the most recent article was the sit to stand but they you had an original paper that was published in 2019 what everywhere which was a finalist for a best paper award at I. Yeah and there there is cool it was the conference on rehabilitation robotics so the concept is there and there in the early phases of it and right now I'm actually on the nvidia developers website and they have a video I'm not gonna show this just because I don't wanna get DCM made but. I'll I'll send a link to to place you can watch this on your own but ice there's a there's a video of somebody an exoskeleton tempting to walk in and I'm not sure if the automated system here is also taking part but it certainly looks that way. Based on the movement of the legs but yeah I think I think it is earlier on in the process but it sounds like it's even more developed than either of us I think it is. Wow yeah this is this is for so much further along than I assumed. Now it's it's kind of hard to tell of course from the video without like a little bit of narration because it does just seem like you're. My naked eye looks like the guys just kind of walking. And there is there looks like there is a like for seeing going on from that like Texas goaltender the actuators on it but that's kind of that's pretty insane and there's it's again this is speculation looking at a a you tube video that's obviously made by I think the students themselves are the researchers themselves but it looks like he's providing minimal effort for balance because he does have his hand out like keeping himself on the railing of operate but it's not like you know death grip on the rail like the stakes just got knocked me over 5.you know holding really tight it's basically like tapping against it so that's that's another aspect I didn't really think about is you know from somebody that that either has always been a mobile or become a mobile the balancing aspect and how a excel skills and what kind of account for and handle that could be a whole new sensation or something to re learn almost but it seems like for one of us who I'm assuming is an able bodied person here it looks like they're still able to manage it and looks like the machine machinery or exoskeletons during a lot of the work in this case yeah I am I am I am now I'm looking at the nvidia side of things so they are actually powering some of this A. I. that's going in there they're using Titan GPU for the neural network and you know that that they're talking about. Control for from the human operator standpoint here. Basically they they they say it won't necessarily require human thought I don't think that's necessarily true I think you know human thought can be intent in terms of the way your body is moving your that's human thought processes and controlling your body to move in a certain direction that would then tip off the A. I. what you wanna do but yeah I I think this story is just incredibly interesting and. I'm one of those stories that I I really wish we could talk to Chris read again. Because he's he's one of the the the gonna at the go axe well he's the president elect of HFE as now but I'd I'd love to pick his brain about these. These these exoskeletons because we we nerd out about him at ergo about exoskeletons ergo X. a couple years ago. Absolutely yeah it would be awesome to get because I can imagine his take with our Y. a heavy background in exoskeletons and. Really helping develop the foremost to kind of we call it converts around a weather girl acts I mean then thinking about from his perspective understanding how the impact of integrating A. I. and different kind of like you know deep learning algorithms into you using something like this would probably be more interesting from his perspective because he's understood kind of the status quo and what it's been like to even put any kind of smarts into any exoskeletons ever existed and what potential this really has it's it's really amazing that I mean it's not amazing it's it's cool that nvidia is involved in this job and I'm glad you kind of poke around a little bit did a little extra day and while we're on stream yeah it's it's a live research live due diligence right the moment all right for for everyone to hang around for a minute we're gonna be taking a quick break and then I will be back to see what's going on in the human factors community right after this human factors cast strive to bring you the best in human factors chatter every week we've had interviews reviews and overall fun conversations into each and every product that we put our seal of approval on but we can't do it without you you see the human factors cast network it's 100 percent listener supported all the physical running this show come from the listeners that's why we're giving back to our supporters on Patreon now more than ever pledges start at just $1 per month and include rewards like 247 access to our exclusive human factors cast slack channel and personalized professional reviews and human factors cast infinite. The podcast where the topic is human factors cetera we're always updating our records so stop light on.com slash human factors cast to see what support level may be right for you thank you all and remember it depends all right and we're back I just want to thank all of our patrons this week for selecting our topic you just heard the patron on commercial and thank you to our friends over at the next web for news stories this week the awful long we do post those links to the original articles in our slack as we find them so you know join us over there for more discussion I'm also sourcing them on Tuesdays we're doing human factors cast office hours over on twitch to come join me over there you know huge thank you as always to our patrons there's gonna be some exciting news about our patron on next week for episode 200 so please be there to join us for that especially our honorary human factors cast staff Michelle Tripp patrons like you keep our show running and and sincerely thank you from the bottom of our heart for your continued support. I'm not gonna spend too much time on patron because next week is going to be where it's at if you're if you're listening anyway all right let's couldn't get switch gears and get into this next part of the show we like to call. Yes read it this week. To bring new topics the community is talking about our patrons do get from the line to this although we have no patrons this week with any. Question but that's okay we have a weekly Q. and a over there if any of them want their questions answered on the show Blake I think we're gonna make this a little bit shorter of an episode this week just because man my job is killing me so as I was gonna say it omitted throws a chat would you rather be read these I'm no it's okay I can I can power through. All right as long as you can as long as you can leave the potion I think that will be the. That'll be the party yeah yeah no it will be okay I I do want to yeah so so I think we're shooting for like 45 minutes today let's do that so I'm. Let's take a couple of these so I am thinking. Yeah let's let's talk about these once we actually pull these ones for last week but didn't quite get to him so let's pull. This one comes from a realistic attack on the user experience sub reddit they going to ask how are you conducting user interviews in this pandemic era hello all I'm very new to you X. or human factors whatever and right now I'm trying to create some side projects to hone my design thinking skills. One of the learn how we can go about doing user research remotely I made use of survey tandem for our user surveys but I'm wondering whether that's sufficient do you use zoom to contact users and have a virtual face to face interview where do I find willing participants thanks in advance Blake. It doesn't depend right but I I would say I did that so there's a lot of things out here for this. There's so many tools that exist for you that to help you do this that I think there's even you know web services you can pay for that can help you find participants and things like that I would say if it's a if it's a side project you're better off kind of using what's at your disposal verses like if you really are trying to pay for research up front to give you like a spring board. It's all going to depend on what you're doing I think one thing that I've found successful is using you know mediums like teams or whatever you have access to that's like that I've even like I know some people have done stuff through discord as well but for me it's been interesting so I've taught a lot of people over the past you know you're almost here in a couple months now. Like how do you adapt in a covert air out for doing some user research methods whether it's doing you know over the shoulder usability testing OB do you U. X. interviews and a lot of the stuff the methodology itself stays the same it's just kind of adapting to the tool kit and the virtual environment. I think one thing you're just really going to want to know is who you're targeting and how can you get a hold of them if you're you're not working with the business you may have better access to consumers or customers or anything like that where is if you don't you're kind almost going to have to grill a crowd fund your your participants you and one way that I've I've had success I've seen successful people that I work with is this the people I work with being like students from design lab or personal projects I work on is using social media to help you kind of crowd find or find people to be willing to even take your survey interview with you interact with your prototype whatever it may be so again it's kind of just using the tools that you have your disposal and going from there because the method really stays the same Nick I know you've had a lot of experience this with this in your professional life recently how's it kind of impacted you and what kind of work arounds of you found yeah so there's a couple questions here that I want to address there's one how do I get users 4 the thing that I'm trying to research and that's a very different question from how do I conduct the interview itself. And that's a very different question from what methods and metrics do I use in a remote environment. And I think they're all separate but they're all related summit tackled those 3 and that's kind of how I'm I'm seeing it right so there's there's the questions of how do I get users generally. I think the short answer is you go looking and. As a user researcher on your project you should have a good idea of who your users are what you know demographics you're looking for if it's a broad project you know I've been fortunate enough to work on very specific projects. Right now I'm using I'm I'm working on a website where you know there's only a couple of users of this product. And you know they're they're only coming to this for a specific purpose and so you know I've built a relationship with the people that nope the people that use the website and so I've leveraged that relationship to say Hey. We need people to do this usability study kind of. It there's there's a whole. Political and sort of. Interesting game that you have to play with showing your value to the people so that way they understand what you do so that way they can reach out to the people that you need to do the thing that you do to explain to the people that you have those relationships with. What the people that they got you to do for the thing. You get my point here right that it's it's all a symbiotic relationship everyone's helping everyone so if you can say Hey look if you can get me users I can get you this information and so if you explain to them what types of people you're looking for what you're going to do and as long as you're transparent with everything that's it that's a good way to recruit now if you're just doing blind recruiting that's something that I don't really have a whole lot of. Experience with blind recruiting. Can be tricky I eat I would certainly work on like pre screening things to make sure that they are within the. Demographic that you are looking for right if you post on Craig's list or something it's going to be a hit and miss on who you get it also depends on what funds you have available to to sort of. Compensate these participants for right if it's a personal project you might wanna use friends and family that are gonna do your favor but if it's you know if it's a fully funded thing you might want to reach out to the general public look for people who are using similar website that type of thing that's that's the user question then there's the question of well how do I actually conducted this study and one method that I have taken his use what's available to you and you is what is going to be widely accessible to a lot of people the tool that I use we're we're on the Microsoft suite so. You know Microsoft has a tool called forms but there's you know and that's a survey builder but you can do this with survey monkey you can do this with Google forms you can do this. You know with whatever tool you feel comfortable with but you need some sort of data collection receptacle and and something that you can send to them now I learned a valuable lesson you don't send this to them before the actual study you said this to them in the moment so how does this work well you can first set up it contact them via email and this is very long winded and I promise it'll be worth it for anyone who's having difficulty with this but you said you contact them via email explain who you are explain what you're doing explain what is going to be asked of them. I would highly recommend you record your sessions through whatever means possible most. Video conferencing software is have the ability to record like I said I'm a Microsoft weaves teams. The team has the ability to record so I am recording their screen and having them share their screen with me so that way I can look over their shoulder as they're navigating through this website. And. You know I can understand where if you're working on sensitive information that might not necessarily be possible but in cases where it is possible try to do that there are also other. Things you can do but whatever you do just make sure your recording and make sure they're aware that you're recording go over the consent form verbatim with them you know make sure that they understand exactly what you're going through and trying to get you can grab really valuable things with a screen recording get time on task post hoc you can get. Completion rate post hoc you can go back and look at comments and and play back specific examples of people struggling for your client. That are very telling in some cases and so. In terms of what things I collect I I collect kind of the basics right I especially remote I go time on task completion rate system usability demographics interview and the interview is really just kind of a a wrap up like a follow up section where I can go and drill down and say Hey you were doing this thing on this part of the website can you explain why you did that or you know what are your needs are you know all that stuff but it's it's kind of open ended and then the last part I kind of just answered which is the the methods and metrics as of the methods and metrics that I use. Kind of a long winded way to go about. This is a question of how to conduct user interviews in a pandemic era and I went even a step further and talked about usability studies but I think it's a matter of what you do what tools you use. And out one more note on that right tools you need to be able to especially if you're working with the general public they need to be accessible so right up like a detailed report of what you're expecting of them say Hey just wanted to touch base before the usability study what you're gonna do is you're actually gonna click on this link to go to Microsoft teams from there we'll walk through the rest but don't provide too much information because then they'll get lost they won't actually get to teams in the first place and there are some weird things with video conferencing software that may need to be stated right like teams you have to click on another button and the more you can spell it out step by step for them the less error that you're gonna have a specially in a pandemic era where everyone's remote and everyone's on their computers and you know stuff like that I feel like I'm missing one other point that I wanted to touch on. But walking through it step by step that the usability study in terms of interviews yeah I mean it's the same thing but anyway any other thoughts on that one black before we continue our man you crushed it I think that I was like some really solid advice for people walk away from from that's for sure so excellent job special feeling grant yeah that actually can listen to my job so we're gonna keep going here we go we're gonna do this next one here what. I feel like we just answer this question but I'm gonna say it anyway what tools do you use for remote you X. work collaboration with you ex co workers are human factors for collaboration with human factors co workers this is via excel file on the user experience that read it hi guys lots of us had to quickly switch to more remote working means of working for research designing testing collaborating at cetera well I'm sure we have a general idea of how it is to work externally with stakeholders how about internally what software applications do you use for remote human factors work internally with other human factors co workers. Primarily in internal communication such as slack teams email. In fact is activities indoor analysis such as bureau Meryl mural docks. Documentation and info office 365 internal tools how to keep track of info from meetings analysis insights digital design work figma sketch Photoshop illustrator why have you chosen these instead of others and what about it makes your work flow smoother with other U. X. co workers I am currently also researching this anything would be appreciated might be interesting for you to get an insight with what actual you exercer human factors are doing Blake that is kind of a different answer than I just did how what do you use to collaborate with other people internally. Yeah I'm the law I love this question because I'm I'm a sucker for tools it is kind of fun because like I have the so I have total freedom in my mentoring you X. design job and then I have like some restrictor control aspects to my normal 9 to 5 because like we can't use all of the cool cloud tools like figma so for all the internal stuff for the 9 to 5 job right where I really focus on a lot more on the U. I. design and prototyping development stuff. That is kind of were restricted to adobe tools so I focus on X. D. mainly because I can create you know robust design system share components and bits with my internal teams of I have another designer that I'm working with and I can export them to the rest of my team really easily. Because we're a you know we're in adobe company if you will and we use that self I have a lot of my teammates actually that maybe don't do design download the program anyway so that we can work collaboratively on designs and we can do designer of use remotely and things like that there's also read just a light pole this is funny tried to plug a plug in for. X. D. that kind of stops me from having to use anything else like mural or Miro is a plugin called white board which basically allows you to as you would imagine Craig white boards but it also comes with templates that are automatically generated X. D. for user flows and task flows as well as different you know sprint activities like you know do you like sticking out activities and things like that so that's been fine for just work collaboration stuff so brainstorming across teams and things like that. In terms of my other job I have more freedom with design lab I do everything through figma and Google beat by a lake side businesses don't panic you acts and so I have a business account with Google so I get to you know just shoot me requesting use go will be no problem and it doesn't really I don't really have any issues or hang up those hang ups with it but the best thing about collaboration of the internet wait for design is fake ma because if I either if I'm doing something live trying to show somebody it's really really easy and quick to be able like should be a link to your to your file and I can hop in there and either leave comments or do stuff live also it's nice with the commenting feature because I can. Get more detailed inside of a design file and leave examples behind for people to explore versus where I was kinda like only focusing on using the design lab platform and leaving comments back and forth there I couldn't really always show how to do something like how to add a transparent gradient to help you you know make text pop off an image and stuff like that so it definitely depends on what job I'm in but those are a couple of tools that I find myself using and are really invaluable to kind of the remote work side of things for me. That's a great answer Blake I think for me it largely is a it's an artifact of why what I'm allowed to use and those constraints help me use those effectively. Like I mentioned before the the where I'm at right now it's Microsoft base right so I have to use things like Microsoft forms I've never used Microsoft forms of for this worked out okay I think. I'm. You know forced me to to ask questions in a different way because there were some limited functionality to say something like Google. Google forms but it. Bottom line here is that. First off use what's available to you and learn to use those tools if you're planning to be there for a long time because that's the bread and butter and you have to sort of meet that resistance head on you have to make sure that you're comfortable with the tools that are available to you. Now this is something where you have complete control. The F. pun intended Blake do you get it do you get it completed. Do you get it said call back for the old call back for everyone it's in the than the banter if you do have complete control over the tools that you use and you know then I think. Use whatever you're comfortable with I know that's a pretty cop out answer but there's also a lot of programs that offer free trials and you know you can't learn a full program but you can get a sense of what each program has to offer by using those things you know for us we actually use slack here at the podcast to communicate not only internally between Blake and myself and everyone else behind the scenes who's actually helping us with the show but everyone you know that we invite into our slack we have a human factors caste community that we communicate with so this is both internal and external and it's a great way for us to manage our work we're also using the Google suite right and it integrates with slack and so when when we're doing podcast if it's through the Google suite. And we've learned to harness these tools to help us with creating a podcast and. Doing some of these fun things right so it's like use the tools that are available to you we could switch to a different platform but at this point we're built in and we've built a lot of fun things in it so I don't know if we ever want to switch but then I remembered that a conversation in the post show Blake but yeah I don't know my mother pretty cop out answer where it's like use what's available to you and if you have control over what you have then it's a little harder than that I like the idea that if they have what you said if you have complete control of just like getting your hands dirty in a bunch of different tools we getting writing from them we've mentioned it like 70. I hope so but like that that would be so great just like not really have to worry about it and just dive into any workflow that works for you and works for your clients to work for like the people you're you're working with so that be a lot of fun to get into. All right let's go one more I'm I'm feeling good about this job we're good all right this one this last one here is from. Chaska lax on the user experience that right we have a user experience I've read at night but I think these are all really great question so this one here I'm can easily be applied to human factors as well. Has networking ever really worked they gonna write I went out for dinner after the very first time this year and over heard a gentleman say to his table he lost his job last month so a person at his table told him you have to reach out you should do this invoice how you reach out to people in that way to find you at your next job. But has never really worked I will say in my own experience I have received some information that help me but never have I spoken to someone to get a really great job especially in U. acts or human factors what has networking work for you and how did it work for you. I'll be networking got me my first job for sure right now I will be fully transparent that I'm probably overselling how much networking did because there is much I don't like to admit it I interview pretty well. And so that plays it to my advantage but I feel like the the network that I built from grad school definitely got me E. A. N. for my first internship in interview and so my first. A couple of my first jobs so without that network being built in op I would I probably wouldn't have you know we worked at places like NASA or worked at my current job but I I wouldn't have got any of those opportunities also networking for me is have more benefits than just getting me a job. Like Nick you you probably remember this awhile ago I was the marketing director for U. S. P. A. L. A. and we I don't know if you're joking about this in the pre show or what but I mean that's where I learned a lot of design I don't have a design background of any kind I'm very self taught in both the design world the U. acts world and you know in the programming world too and it was kind of your networking and volunteering my time that I learned a lot from peers and people I would if I had access to otherwise. I'm in that also led to freelance work that I definitely would not have gotten without without any kind of networking. I don't know if this counts is like. Direct networking but when Nick and I used to have the studio I had it in a co working space and so just by having my cards outside of my door I would have people you know leave me notes on my door or call me or you know DM me on Instagram and ask me about what you axe was or what I did with the space and that led to a couple of freelance jobs so it 8 I think it probably Nick you're going to like reach the internet and slap may but it definitely depends because I could totally see from somebody's point of view that baby networking isn't the only thing that's gonna get them a job. Mmhm and it's probably not the only thing but I I feel like from my experience what I've seen with helping other people kind of transition careers helping get a squad of people around you they're basically looking out for your best interests can help tremendously when you need a new job or when you want to do that first side hustle gigs or whatever it might be but Nick what's what's your experience been for the networking side yeah great by the way having a podcast is a really good way to not just network but build like a personal brand around yeah that's that's a great way start a podcast and but seriously if anyone's listening in like wants to start a podcaster you know reach out to us we will be happy to share our resources with you were not like a company competitive bunch we think that a different take on it would be really fun to see and listen to it and so in terms of networking yes I think Blake you're you're right I think. The way this sounds is that they are very much looking at it from a how is this going to get me a job perspective and that it's it's much deeper than that. You know I can say. With certainty that there are a handful of people that I could reach out to if you know I woke up tomorrow tomorrow morning in my job was gone I can reach out to those people and I would be able to feel good about my chances at securing a job let me put it that way and that's because I've networked with them it's because I know who they are it's because they know what my skill set is and how to do that I did that through networking. Talking about personal experience. I had a very similar experience to you Blake where at my first job was not necessarily my first like real job out of school was not necessarily networking although I knew some people that knew some people and that kind of helped ease things a little bit and so you know from from that perspective I wouldn't say necessarily it was the networking that got me the job but it certainly. Mmhm was another point of conversation to say oh yes I I worked in so and so's lab and you worked with them on this thing yeah what was that like and then you know we can have that common point of reference and then. I will say you know I was I was headhunted for one of my most recent jobs because someone knew my skill set and because they wanted me to work with them and. You know that that worked out so I eat yes I think absolutely networking works. I don't know how much more I can say I feel like this I feel like this person must either have had a really bad experience with that working or they just haven't had somebody that reached out to them or they haven't reached out to them the other person people yet about networking anyway I think yes it does work and you know if if you all need help networking we have a whole slack Fauria. Yes thank god you made an important point there I see I see it as a point that may be overlooked. But the work that you do with other people is that working to me yeah it it's because the that refutation and like you said nickel you got head hunted for another job because of past work that you've done with other people like that's that's networking but it's not like the normal you know I'm trying to figure out how to talk to somebody to beat up or I'm cold emailing somebody or hitting them up they're linked in DM's it's you know doing good work and being a professional and letting other people see that. So keep keeping that in mind as well as important like the people you've worked with in the past though that is like a sense of networking that you can do it negatively or positively right like if you didn't do the best job you didn't have the best interactions with some particular co workers or whatever so I would think they broaden your perspective of what networking is maybe what this person needs because I could totally see that like it could be that that lady said it but you did the voice for sitting at the table with you telling you that you needed that work to get a job but there's a there I think there's more to it than that yeah I need to get a job you need to network Blake getting that whack it in that way it's built did that wax hot shot and built it now wax Kobe spread it. All right that's gonna be it for today everyone let us know what you guys think of the story this week you can to join the discussion on our slack or follow us all over social channels H. factor podcast if you like what you hear your support the show there's a couple things you can do one you can leave us a review on your podcast medium of choice that is free for you to do and really helped us out do you commit a colleague no that also really helps us out from that word of mouth 3 if you have the financial means and want to help contribute to the show in your own way you can consider supporting us on Patreon we have a lot of stuff over there and like I said there's gonna be some exciting announcements next week as you know as always links to all our socials and our website can be found in the description of this episode I thank Mr Blake on Sir for being on the show today where can our listeners going find you if they wanna talk about how they can control something completely. All you guys to completely control things by hitting me up in the human factors cast slack or you can reach out to me across social media at don't panic you axe as for me I mean her neck road you can find me across social media at Nick _ Rome and we are both streaming on twitch for office hours so you can find us there thanks again for tuning into human factors cast until next time. At the.