What I wanted to test through this prototype was how people of different fitness levels would react to it. I tried to find people that identify themselves either as highly trained individuals or as untrained individuals/beginners. The latter was a bit tricky as I couldn't just assume someone was untrained, so I had to find a subtle way to phrase my appeal. Luckily, a few people from my studio were happy to admit they never work out and were also keen to test my product, and it was easy enough to find highly trained individuals through the fencing club. Since I had found my testers and I had the prototype, it was time to see what people had to say.
I held 10-minute sessions where I would ask each individual the following questions:
How would you describe your level of fitness?
How often do you work out?
What do you do?
I then would show them an illustration of the exercise I wanted them to do (in case they fell under the category of "untrained" or "beginners"), run the Arduino code and they were free to start. I asked every participant to do a number of exercises that ranged from upper to lower body.
K. & H. described their level of fitness as poor, they rarely to never work out and when asked what they do they simply responded with a "hahahaha".
What they had to say about the prototype was that 1, they didn't know when to start as there was no sign, 2 they didn't know where to stand on the mat and 3, although the illustrations were good, they weren't good enough. They suggested having an app showing a video of the exercise.
Laura described her levels of fitness as good, works out 3-4 times per week and goes to the gym, weight-lifts and attends HIIT classes.
I didn't have to show any illustrations of exercises to Laura as it was needless to her. She said it was really fun because she didn't have to keep the time or count the number of reps.
Antony described his levels of fitness as high, working out an average of 6-7 per week, both at home and the gym, doing core exercises. Again, exercise illustrations for Antony were unnecessary.
Antony said that my prototype lacks indicators. It would be nice if there was a sign to let him know when to start and when the exercise is almost over.
Phil & Jess described themselves as "addicted to exercise", with high levels of fitness, working out at least once per day, doing sports, gym and attending classes daily.
They agreed with Antony on the lack of indication, as they were a bit unsure when to start the exercise.
On a side note, it turned out a bit challenging to take photographs of a subject while jumping up and down in a frenzy; that's why you can see so many photos of planks, a more "composed" exercise. The following is just an example of how the mat worked for planks.
While the lights are on Sol has to stay in the plank position and when off he can relax.
All in all, I made the following observations:
Illustrations were needless for trained individuals as they knew how to perform every single one of the exercises without needing a visual aid.
As the mat was quite thin (with a height of 5 mm), it was a bit unstable. It was prone to "relocate" with users jumping up and down. I would need to test a thicker mat for my next prototype.
When asked to do lower body exercises, my users found it difficult as they had to look down to be able to see the lights. However, when I asked them to take a step back and do it again, they all agreed it was a lot easier to follow the pace.
The mat worked really well for upper body exercises, as facing it was essential, without ruining their posture.
Overall, making a prototype has been very beneficial as I got a lot of feedback on things I wouldn't have otherwise known they could be a problem. Now I can consider the data gathered and carry on with my concept generation.