exploring Squirrel Hill
UX/UI, Digital

Alex Tsai, Carolyn Zhou, and I worked together to create the interface of exploring Squirrel Hill, a kiosk that uses voice recognition to recommend day trips in Squirrel Hill tailored according to party, personas, and duration to rediscover Squirrel Hill with alternative routes and recommendations from locals.

The Background
Squirrel Hill, East of Oakland in Pittsburgh, is a residential area that's a one stop shop for entertainment, food, and shopping. It also holds a diverse population, evidenced by the fact that those who visit Squirrel Hill can just as easily get hotcakes as they can get soup dumplings. The busiest area of Squirrel Hill is Forbes Avenue, and although Squirrel Hill extends long beyond that, for most, it becomes unfamiliar territory beyond a 500 feet radius. We recognize that a lot of college students tend to frequent the same few places in Squirrel Hill, and we want to remedy that by introducing them to places less traveled.
The Research
In order to create routes for users to rediscover Squirrel Hill by, we needed to use Yelp to find a list of establishments in Squirrel Hill. Because it's hard to match people to one of only three personas, we decided to include group size as another qualifier for personalization. A group of friends would want to do different activities than a family or a person going alone would. From there we surveyed opinions from our peers about each place and visited them to better curate an experience we saw fit for each route. The three personas were decided according to the kind of activities available in Squirrel Hill. Because Squirrel Hill has a great variety of food, many of which are hidden and highly underrated, we decided to create a foodie persona. The foodie persona plans the day around each meal and suggests restaurants that serve a wide range of food. The entertainment junkie persona plans activities like watching movies and bowling. The intellect persona suggests to visit book stores and record shops. These three personas categorize the experience of these routes.

CMU TSA Logo Animation from Sharon Yu on Vimeo.

The Product
We decided to deliver the interface on a kiosk. Kiosks are highly accessible and given the content, a bigger screen would be the most reasonable. We didn't want to develop any mobile interfaces because we knew that downloading an application for the purpose of navigating through a neighborhood was impractical, and given the minimal amount of steps it takes to get a personalized route, we weren't afraid that a line would form in front of the kiosk if implemented. We also decided to opt for audio input as the way of interacting with the kiosk. Touch screens can often be tarnished by weather and dulled by overuse. We were also conscious to set up questions to receive one-word responses, making there less of an opportunity for mishap.

The interface presents itself with friendly circles that bounce around to show interactivity and playfulness. Every step gives simple and clear instructions to move on from one to the next. When the user finds a route that is satisfactory for him/her, a QR code can be used to bring up Google Maps on the user's phone to direct him/her on the route to these places.
Next Project -
Let's Go Shopping