Chiron is a feature for Windows 10 that identifies patterns among different windows and tabs opened by a user, and intelligently catalog them in different virtual desktops.

Team:

Sakshat Goyal
Javan Wang
Mengxiao Song
Khai Nyugen

My Role:

Design of Research Activities 
Interview Guides
Competitive Analysis

Ideation
Usability Testing
Prototyping
Interaction Design

Problem: 

To design a set of AI features for Windows 10 tailored towards improving the productivity of freelancers and independent workers that don't live a 9 - 5 job. 

Solution: 

We designed a system where an AI model could identify patterns among different windows and tabs, based on their content and user engagement, to catalog them into individual desktop containers. This allows users a better way to manage their digital activities.

Intel wanted to explore product ideas that could improve personal productivity for users for their operating system, Project Athena. They wanted to specifically target the 'go-getters' - self-employed workers who were self-disciplined.

Intel's Project Athena Proposal

Presentation with notes.001

We began extensive research with multiple activities. I led the research efforts and designed the research activities along with the interview guides. I also conducted a comprehensive literature review of over 75 papers in HCI, psychology, and personal productivity.

Our goal was not just to identify pain points in productivity, but 'personal' productivity. The difference being, personal productivity encapsulated a user's entire day and was not limited to only their professional activities. This was to challenge the notion that productivity can only be associated with the amount of work someone does for an employer.

11-week research process

Presentation with notes.002

🚫 Insights that challenged our assumptions. 

Literature Review.

  • While batching emails and receiving them based on the time of day and their priority to a user was an effective way of managing productivity, it was a luxury not usually found with our target audience.
  • While blocking distractions may increase productivity for a certain period of time, they end up causing stress for users in the long run as distractions are the only way for people to
  • Productivity practices worked best with a structured work life. Users with unpredictable lives could not sustain any of these practices.

Participant Interviews.

  • Self employed workers lacked a structure in their lives that came with a 9-5 job.
  • While certain phone calls and text messages were clearly avoidable, participants were unwilling to part with receiving them due to personal, social, and professional commitments to friends, families, and anyone who is, or could potentially be, a professional acquaintance.
  • Productivity for users, over achingly, meant simply getting things done.

Expert Interviews.

  • While in theory, depleting focus can be tracked - it required highly advanced technology to gather such data about a user.
  • Prolonged productivity can only be sustained if the user’s end goal is not to be productive, but to stay happy.
     

 

Competitive Analysis.

  • Tools that make calculations on the productivity of individuals often seem to count the work done on social media platforms as ‘unproductive’ time.
  • Most products in the market that claim to help users focus do so by blocking their distraction for a specified time.

☑ Insights that gave us a new direction.

Literature Review.

  • Productivity is mediated through users’ ability to detach and reattach to their work.

Participant Interviews.

  • Users made a lot of efforts compartmentalizing their personal and professional lives, but being self employed meant the two would often overlap.
  • Being self employed meant learning constantly and networking through social media platforms to further their businesses.
  • Most users saw their short breaks on social media and longer breaks, like watching movies on Netflix, completely avoidable and unimportant.

Expert Interviews.

  • A significant portion of a person’s day goes into gathering their resources to begin or presume a task. 

Competitive Analysis.

  • Small features of multiple different products helped improve productivity just every so slightly.
  • The tools that provided most productivity were the ones that could sync with multiple devices; providing users with easy access to the tools themselves.
  • Every individual tool had further potential only when it could integrate with the different user accounts, like gmail or google calendar.

The research informed us that creating productivity 'tools' or developing new practices for users to be more productive was an inefficient method for our particular audience. 

The best way to help users would be more productive was to make small interventions through the user's digital ecosystem, rather than creating a stand-alone product.

Storyboard that led us to our core concept.

Presentation with notes.007
Presentation with notes.008
Presentation with notes.009

I quickly sketched out a user experience from the point he wakes up in the morning, to the point a user begins to work, with a speculative AI system that communicates with the user during the day. This led us to our core concept for our application.

Core Idea:
A system that could identify patterns among different windows and tabs opened by a user, and intelligently catalog them in different virtual desktops.

Windows 10 - Virtual Desktops.

Presentation with notes.011

Since Project Athena is currently under development, we were encouraged to use Windows 10 to prove our concept. In this case, each individual bucket of windows and tabs could be clustered within individual virtual desktops.

Feature List.

With stakeholder feedback, apart from the smart cataloging, we had to add an additional set of features along with the smart cataloging options.

  • Smart Activity Cataloging
  • Leaving Memos
  • Watching a Time Lapse
  • Reviewing a Timeline
  • Plugin Market for additional options.

Initial version of our design

Version 1

Though users understoof the value of our concept, they were finding it hard to navigate through the set of features.

Presentation with notes.016

After the user feedback, I decided to restructure the interface along with our approach to our product. While the previous approach involved treating our design as a stand-alone product, the new approach treated all the ideas as a set of features that had to integrate with the existing language of the Windows 10 OS.

Architectural modification for the set of features

Architecture change.001

My new approach involved the user simply switching a view rather than entering a new interface.

A 'switch view' approach to organizing our features

The smart activity cataloging involved Chiron making suggestions on how to bucket different tabs and windows from different virtual desktops and combining (or moving) them to a different desktop.

Chiron making suggestions on how a user could re-arrange their activities.

The timeline and the timelapse were now more accessible to users.

The redesigned timeline and timelapse view.

After presenting our design, I spent some additional time to resolve issues with our interactions.

Users were confused with the activity list on the left, saying it reminded them of a contacts list. 

Moving from a list view to a tabs view.

This also led to a new interaction for creating different activities based on suggestions.

Creating new activities based on suggestions.

As we presented our designs, several users mentioned an added pain point - "What happens if I have too many activities and want to put a few things aside to focus on my immediate needs?"

The ability for users to archive their activities.

As we tested our designs, the concept resonated with every one of our users. Most self-disciplined users have a habit of drifting off into different activities while working. Though the activities are important to users, it's hard for them to put their extra activities aside and focus on specific tasks. This feature allowed users to intelligently manage their activities and focus on their work without losing track of all their progress in different, personal activities.


Thanks for scrolling!

connect with me on

or, have a look at my

Have a good day! :)