The Joy of Making Things

  Smartphones and tablets are amazing pieces of technology for obvious reasons; but even the most powerful publicly marketed device can’t run screen-recording software in the background while doing app usability research.  Even if it could, seeing the app user’s fingers and reactions while he or she interacts with it is invaluable information that screen-recording just wouldn’t capture.  How do we fix that problem? The answer is simple: by utilizing some homemade “usability testing sleds”. A sled is a base developers use to mount small cameras onto mobile devices during usability testing sessions. This acrylic stand allows the user to hold the mobile device in their hand, interact with it, and move naturally while ensuring that the dual cameras pick up what is happening on screen and record the user’s facial expressions. Buying a ready-to-go usability testing sled with two mounted cameras can be very expensive – almost $3,000- and, to be honest, would give us the same result as a homemade one.  Besides, it’s kind of fun to build one ourselves, MacGyver-Style. YO! is all about collaboration and fun so we decided to exercise our inner craftsmen and women in an easy two-step process: Step 1: Order a square piece of acrylic from an online company – enough to make eight sleds. In less than five days the acrylic arrived at our office. Step 2: Use a heat gun on the acrylic for about ten seconds and then bend it to 90°. Pretty cool, actually – like bending a stick of gum. The hour-long process was so much fun it felt like 10 minutes and we are one step closer to having our test lab ready. Now it’s time to order the cameras, recruit some testers, and share the fun and excitement that is YO! If you live in the Metro Vancouver area and want to help YO! connect the world by joining our select group of beta testers, click here and find out how.