Project 3 Part 5: Plan Implementation

We took the outlined plan from Part 4 and applied it at our next visit to the gym. Many of those interviewed were enthusiastic about the idea of a more interactive treadmill. Certain interviewees suggested ideas of their own. A unanimous question was on the nature of the treadmill’s speed mechanism during competitive games: the traditional treadmill wouldn’t work well in a race. The mechanism was worked out later and explained in the presentation, which I will cover in the next and final post.

Layout:

Below you can see the current layout of the gym: we plan on modifying the layout of the treadmills as well to encourage interactivity.

Direct observation:

● Most people came individually

● Unless an individual came with another person, he/she chose a treadmill that was adjacent to two vacant treadmills

● Some people choose to walk in between machines instead of walking around to an aisle

● Multiple pairs of people that came in to the CRC together would choose treadmills (usually two adjacent treadmills) and begin their workouts and would not have any interaction until they had finished running

● One girl chose a machine that was next to another girl, but the gap between the two machines was considerably sizable.

● The ratio of people with earbuds/ headphones plugged in changed over time as follows:

5/9: 6/10: 8/12

● Pairs of people tend to run at the same pace

● One pair that wished to talk actually required both to stop running and for one partner to walk over to the other person’s treadmill

Interviews:

Interview 1:

Warm-Up

How often do you use the treadmill?

3 times a month

When you come to the gym, is it usually in a group or by yourself?

Both

Is there anything you would change about it?

N/A

Main Body

How do you feel about interacting with others on the treadmill?

Definitely support this; would make things more fun.

There’s not much interaction now

What would you think about adding games to the treadmill?

Would be fun, motivational

What kinds of games would you like?

Sports-type games; racing, endurance, varied condition etc. Make

sure it isn’t too involving, so that you can focus on running.

How would competing against a friend affect the treadmill experience for you?

Would make it more fun, competitive

Cool-Down

How do you feel about frozen yogurt?

 

Interview 2:

Warm-Up

How often do you use the treadmill?

4 times a week, as a warm-up for 10 minutes.

When you come to the gym, is it usually in a group or by yourself?

Usually with a friend: do not run together.

Main Body

Adjacent treadmills are not always available for friends.

As long as no button pressing is involved, games would be cool.

Games would increase time spent on the treadmills.

Cool-Down

How do you feel about frozen yogurt?

Likes it, but is confused by the question.

Interview 3:

Warm-Up

How often do you use the treadmill?

3-4 times a week, for 15-20 minutes as a warm-up.

When you come to the gym, is it usually in a group or by yourself?

Usually with additional friends.

Do not run together, but the ability to do so easily would be nice.

Main Body

Everyone usually watches the screen.

A virtual trainer to help push you to work harder would be nice.

Adding a competitive element is suggested.

Adding an interactive element is also suggested.

Would definitely participate in a game together.

Interacting with all the other people on the treadmills in a virtual playground is also suggested.

Connecting via iPhone or FaceBook is suggested.

The ability to connect with other treadmillers and potentially meet new people after getting off is suggested.

For the most part, the current treadmills are boring: if they were more interactive and competitive, more time would definitely be spent on them.

Cool-Down

How do you feel about frozen yogurt?

Enthusiastically likes it, but finds question random.

Analysis

We found from the interviews that people seem to be excited about the the prospect of making the treadmill more social.  They did however say that even with social interaction available, they wanted to be able to focus on running still.  Two of the people we interviewed specifically said that dealing with pushing buttons or anything else requiring extra coordination and focus are undesirable.  It seems that people want to maintain their primary focus on running, but with a more social environment: they think it could make the treadmill less boring and help as a motivational factor (mainly by fostering a competitive environment).

Summary

Our research regarding the social aspect of treadmills included several interviews and two 30-minute observation periods. The subjects of the interviews came from various groups of people, ensuring that we did not over-represent any particular demographic. The observations suggest that the treadmill in particular is an asocial machine, as many users (usually around 3/4)  have headphones in and do not come with a group. Additionally, our survey results suggest that these same users would enjoy social stimulation on the treadmill; several agreed with the idea of a game, though they specifically stated that buttons would be distracting and detrimental to the experience.

Conclusion

Our findings for the most part support our new treadmill concept. Many people did not find the treadmill particularly engaging and spent as little time as possible on it as a warm-up. Users were open to the idea of a new competitive, interactive element and stated they would be more willing to spend time on the treadmill if it involved games and social interaction. A few interviewees even took the time to offer their own suggestions for games and interaction. Users, however, were not particularly keen on the idea of additional buttons, levers, etc: games and other programs for the treadmill should not deter attention away from the primary goal of running/ jogging. Due to rapidly-developing technology, we then mused over the possibility of integrating technology similar to Kinect, to change the treadmill speed based on the user’s body movements and easily integrate the user’s movements into any games and programs with minimal user effort. Other less costly ideas included the use of a pedometer-like device and an interactive bracelet, to track speed changes. Many users stated they usually came to the gym with friends, and that the lack of available adjacent treadmills discouraged them from running together: reconfiguring the arrangement of treadmills should solve this problem. We plan on creating a miniature model with little arrangeable treadmill models to address this issue.

Reflection

Using both methods of interviews and observation, we were able to gain an informative insight into the minds of the treadmill users. Acting incognito, we were able to freely observe users as they approached the treadmills, as they interacted with the machines and others around them, and as they left the machines. The interviews gave us deeper insight by revealing the unapparent facts such as users who were at the gym with friends, but not running together.

Although our methods were effective, our target demographic could have been different to yield even more useful results. We are looking at encouraging and motivating potential or unlikely gym-goers, so it would have been a good idea to target those who may not be at the gym or who do not go to the gym more than twice a week. Also, those that we did interview tended to be in a group already, so targeting students who were alone or did not already have a defined group of people could have given us an idea as to how we could change their ways.

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About foldingwishes

I am a 3rd year CM major interested in animation and narratology. I believe that design is important and highly applicable to all fields and that good design creates enjoyable experiences. My favorite shows are Samurai Jack, My Life as a Teenage Robot and Avatar the Last Airbender and my favorite movies are Le Grande Chef, Ratatouille and the Great Mouse Detective.
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