AGRICULTURAL DRONE CONSUMER PRODUCT OFFERING


My contribution

  • Visual Design
  • Interaction Design Support
  • Client Engagement Support

With years of experience in the design and implementation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, our client for this project was gearing up to create a new consumer offering in the agriculture segment. We partnered to help define the alpha tablet experience for a UAV that aides farmers and agronomists by imaging large swaths of crop land and capturing image data to help grow healthier crops at higher yields. In addition to the tablet experience, I also contributed to the design of the out-of-the-box quick start guide to using the drone safely. The following walks through parts of our process that highlight some of my.

The Tablet Experience

The team conducted research for two weeks by speaking with farmers and agronomists in the field. To help in conducting research sessions, we created a simple storyboard to help farmers imagine some of the concepts we had and get their reactions to them. It turns out, many farmers still use pen and paper to monitor and record data about their crops, and gather data by walking their fields and taking pulse with their own hands. My assumption had been that having eyes in the sky would be a huge time saver for farmers, but we learned that the technology should augment the work they already do, not replace it.

Operating the drone for the first time.
Defining the boundaries of a field to generate a flight plan.
Modifying the field boundary.
Confirming pre-flight check.
Monitoring the drone as it surveys crops.
Locating the drone in the sky using augmented reality.
Receiving a flight report.
Downloading recent flight data.

Defining the look and feel

To serve as a starting point for the visual design, we developed three moodboards to convey different feelings and emotion that represent the behavior or tone of the UI. The first board represents direction: Airplane. When we talked about airplane, we used words like extensive, dynamic, and precise. Airplane is about the entire picture. The colors and detail give the user a feeling of control and accessibility in the UI. A nod towards strict UAV flight regulation, Airplane borrows from flight instrument UI and data visualization practices, as if the operator of a UAV were its pilot.

The next board was referred to as direction: Go-Kart for its approachability, colorful and geometric abstraction, and its vibrancy. Go-Kart utilizes friendly graphic representation to simplify more complex data. This direction takes some liberty in interpreting data in an effort to clean up some of the complexities for easy reading in the field. We saw the Go-Kart palette a lot in gaming and utility-driven data visualizations (like subway maps). While it has it’s place in this world, we learned that Go-Kart is a little too playful and energetic for this application, as well as more difficult to discern in really bright environments (like in the sun).

Bicycle is the third direction that indexes high on a streamlined, minimalistic and light-weight look and feel. The Bicycle direction simplifies ideas and surfaces only the necessary information at any given time. In a situation when one needs just enough information to make a split-second decision, Bicycle wins. Whereas Airplane or Go-Kart have a tendency to provide more detailed insight, Bicycle feels a bit more reserved, yet elegant and, most importantly, dead simple to use.

 

Of the moodboards we presented, we learned that the visual design of the product should actually derive from elements of both Airplane and Bicycle. Our final direction draws on characteristics of both concepts, resulting in Aerocycle.

Alpha +

We provided our client with documentation for features and functionality that go beyond the Alpha release. The core flows that we designed include defining the boundaries of a ranch, setting up flight zones that optimize coverage on each flight, safely launching and landing the aircraft, safely overseeing the flight, and downloading and viewing low-resolution data in the field. We also provided initial exploration of the design language system that accounts for context (bright and messy environments) as well compliments the industrial design of the tablet and aircraft.

Bringing Aerocycle to life

We brought the concept for this product to a level of fidelity that not only enabled our client to start building, but also present and sell the product too. In the end, we animated the UI to demonstrate the flow of picking a flight, initiating launch, and downloading image data.