Hi! I'm Pratik
I am a Product Designer and I enjoy creating user centric, delightful and humane experiences. I am passionate about inclusivity, social good and designing for spatial computing.
Inclusive Design Tool for Virtual Reality
Independent Toy Store website
I am a Product Designer 🎨 who was a mechanical engineer in a previous life. I recently finished my Masters degree at the Integrated Digital Media program at New York University. I love designing for impact and using inclusive and accessible design practices to create empowering products and experiences that create value.
I was born and raised in Mumbai 🇮🇳 and since early childhood, I was the person my family always reached out to for choosing things to buy, to pair clothes and even selecting materials to design our new home! I have always had a keen eye for color and design but it took me almost two decades to realize that this could transition into a design career.
A self-taught designer, I was freelancing for over a year when I decided to dive in deeper and pursue a Master's degree. Until recently, I worked as a product designer for NYU where I led design for internal enterprise and consumer products for various schools, departments and administrative units.
I am a nerd 🤓 and super passionate and excited about designing and creating experiences for emerging technologies. I want to explore how Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence can positively enhance the way we use technology. I am also a hobbyist game developer.
When not working, I am always trying new cafés, playing videogames and boardgames, spending time in VR, browsing interesting things on Product Hunt, reading, and often daydreaming 💭
Hard at work to update this..Check back soon!
Vivarium: Augmented Reality experience for Mindfulness
Graduate Thesis: December 2018 - May 2019
- Background -
Extreme environments are environments that contain conditions that make it difficult for the survival of most life forms. Examples of extreme environments are the Arctic region, the Antarctic region, very arid deserts, volcanoes, deep ocean trenches, the upper atmosphere, superlative mountain regions, outer space, and the environments of all the planets and moons in the Solar System with the Earth as the only exception. Humans cannot naturally survive in these environments.
However, in our current times, with the advancement of technology and thirst for exploration, research and resources, humans have started inhabiting these environments. We have people living in space stations, doing research at research stations in the extreme cold in the polar regions, people living in submarines and exploring the deep sea using submersibles, to remote army outposts in arid deserts and people living and working in isolated nuclear plants and oil rigs.
- Problem -
Antarctic Research Station (L) & International Space Station (R)
Living in these harsh environments can be harsh and taxing. In addition to the extreme climatic conditions, neo-extremophiles are isolated from their friends and family for long periods of time. They also usually live in a confined indoor environment with occasional instances of leaving those confined environments. This leads to increased anxiety issues and depression. There is also a lack of privacy and personal space in these environments.
"How can we improve the mental health of people living in extreme environments?"
- Academic Research -
Our spaces play a big role in our mental well being.Humans have innate tendency to connect with nature.Interaction with indoor plants known to reduce psychological and physiological stress.Plants at workspaces proven to reduce stress and increase productivity.
- Solution -
"Using Mixed Reality Microenvironments for the mental well being of people suffering from anxiety disorders, depression and isolation"
A Mixed Reality Experience (Source: Magic Leap)
- Timeline -
Ideation & Interviews
Prototyping & User Research
Final Iteration & Thesis Defense
- What's Next? -
The goal is to test how effective mixed reality can be on an individual's mental health. My next steps are to interview people living or have previously lives in extreme environments and then incorporate their feedback to create an effective mindfulness experience for the Mixed Reality devices.
Concept Images created about future uses.
(L) A student in a cramped apartment using Vivarium (R) An astronaut using Vivarium to tend to her virtual plants.
Craft: Accessible VR Art Tool
March '18 - November '18
Microsoft Inclusive Design Challenge
R- Lab Fellowship Recipient
XR Bootcamp Grant Winner
01 Project Description
We started this project as an Inclusive Design Challenge given by Microsoft, our client for the project. The challenge was to design for inclusivity in a "deskless workspace". Aligning with Microsoft's mission statement: To empower every person on the planet to achieve more, the goal was to challenge and redefine the conventions of what it may mean to be "at work." After studying the Microsoft Inclusive Design toolkit and exploring multiple options, my team decided to work on making Virtual Reality more inclusive by making an accessible art tool and introduce this new platform of computing to more people which could be there future workplaces.
"VR is inaccessible to people with limb disabilities due to the use of hand controllers."
300 million people of the world's population has some sort of limb disability and due to the use of hand controllers, most VR applications are not accessible to people with these disabilities. People who have cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, paralysis and someone who is missing an arm is completely excluded from utilizing the full potential of VR.
"How might we enable people with limited limb mobility to create art in Virtual Reality?"
Current State of VR Art Tools: A person using Tilt Brush needs to move all limbs.
04 Our Solution
Based on our research and interviews, we decided to create a solution that involved multi modal interaction. We decided to test the use of voice, eye gestures and movements to navigate and create in our art tool.
An intuitive interface to draw, record and share your work.
Tracking the eyes for position and gaze point, for drawing and selection.
Speech input coupled with an AI Assistant that uses Natural Language Processing.
We looked into academic research done in this space to make informed decisions while creating our solution. Some of the articles we looked into were:
Evaluation of Multimodal Interaction techniques for 3D layout constraint solver in a desktop‐based Virtual Environment (Source)EEG -Based Eye-Tracking for Interaction Design in Head-Mounted Devices (Source)Tilt Brush Painting: Chronotropic adventures in a Physical-Virtual threshold (Source)
ART TOOLS IN VR
We decided to analyze the current creative tools in Virtual Reality to get a sense of how people create art in VR. We also studied their interfaces to figure what are the current features, functionalities and limitations. We tried the tools mentioned below.
(From L to R) Tilt Brush, Quill, Blocks, & Medium
Using and analyzing the current creative tools in Virtual Reality
We spoke with Professor Todd Bryant, a VR developer and educator, to understand the current scenario in Virtual Reality and discuss our potential solutions. We also spoke with Serap Yigit, a User Experience Researcher at Google, formerly at Microsoft Hololens, to learn about user research techniques and usability test methods. Accessibility expert Claire Kearney-Volpe guided us to focus on multi-modal interactions and even put us in touch with potential users at ADAPT Community Network, a pioneer in programs and services for people with disabilities. The user interviews at ADAPT gave us insights of how our target users would interact and experience VR. All these opinions were extremely important and helped us validate our design decisions. We also had discussions with the Tobii team, the industry leader in eye tracking.
Todd Bryant, VR Educator
Serap Yigit, Google
Sketches for the user using gaze to select components
Sketch of the menu layout and interface
The idea was to build something simple which we could take to our users and test it out. We listed down the features we wanted to add to the prototype. We were looking to add common and easy to comprehend tools. We came up with a list of tools which included drawing tools, system tools and functionality tools. After this we printed out each tool icon on a A4 sheet as demonstrated below.
After that we needed to decide on the UI of the tools, we wanted to group the more frequently used tools, to the right for easy access. Based on categories we card sorted the tools and added them to the category they were most relevant in. After this card sorting we taped all the sheets to form the User Interface we wanted to test with.
USER TESTING I
When our prototype was ready, we wanted to come up with an easy solution to demonstrate gaze and gaze selection. After some quick brainstorming we concluded a laser pen would be the most optimal way to do that. This would give an idea to user where they were pointing on the paper prototype. We had the users perform certain tasks and with a highlighter and a laser pen and we role-played the art creation.
We tested the paper prototype with both accessibility experts and potential users from the NYU Ability Lab to understand if the interface is intuitive enough for the users. We learnt that people who have no experience using art tools found it difficult to navigate and understand what the tools meant.
GAME ENGINE PROTOTYPE
Based on the results we got from testing we proceeded to create a high fidelity prototype using Unreal Engine. We rebuilt our information architecture by reorganizing the tool structure and finalized our interactions. We included Movement tracking, Time-based gaze selection, Teleport function, and Painting function. Creating a working prototype, which users could interact with in an immersive environment, would offer us more insights and validate our idea.
USER TESTING II
We tested the prototype with users at the ADAPT Community Network, the Axis Project at the Wheeling Forward Organization, and handsfree with some able bodied people that can potentially have limb injuries.
We incorporated feedback from the second round of user tests in this prototype. Since a lot of our users use wheelchairs and are often restricted in their travel, we added a feature to transport them to different environments. It wasn't very apparent that voice commands could be used too, so we added a visual cue to "Voice Enabled" and made it bolder. We added a name hover for each tool to improve usability and reworked the name of some of the tools for more clarity. We also included in-app onboarding and a voice assistant to help the user.
Vision: Creative VR opportunities to be inclusive for all
Team: Cherisha Agarwal, Joanna Yen, Pratik Jain, Simi Gu, Srishti Kush, Raksha Ravimohan
My Role: I was responsible for user research and prototyping. I facilitated the interviews with our users and was responsible for user testing. Based on the research I created the interface for our prototypes.
- Exhibition & Showcase -
NYVR Expo '18
Media Lab Summit '18
Exploring Future Reality '18
R- Lab XR Showcase
Science Fair BCG Ventures
Verizon 5G Labs
- XR Startup Bootcamp -
Our team also awarded a $10000 grant from NYC Media Lab for the XR Startup Bootcamp for this project. The bootcamp ran from September to November 2018 and it helped us create a business model for this application and perform customer discovery and analyze product market fit. I was primarily the product lead for the bootcamp. At the end of the bootcamp, we pitched our project at the Exploring Future Reality event in front of 300+ people where we received immense positive feedback.
Pitch Video at Exploring Future Reality:
For future iterations, we would aim to increase neck comfort and place elements in such a way that people who cannot move their head a lot will also be able to use it effectively. I would also like to redesign the UI to have each element be 3D and not carry forward some 2D design principles in the interface.
This was my first VR Project and I learnt a lot about interactions in VR and how to design a tool that doesn't add to discomfort. VR is a truly impactful technology that can impact lives and I am looking forward to doing more work in VR.
This was also my first foray into accessible design, and it left a lasting impact on my design practice. I learned a lot about the challenges faced by people with disabilities. Learning about the importance of designing for inclusivity was eye-opening and having empathy for all is something I will be carrying forward to future projects.
Pre-Bootcamp Process Booklet: Link
Keeyo: Care Services for the NYU Community
Ongoing Project: To be released on the App Store in Summer 2019
01 Project Description
Keeyo is a mobile app for quick and reliable child care services for NYU faculty and students. NYU is committed to providing access to a wide array of child care options because finding reliable caregivers is important to working parents and access to affordable, quality child care is essential to successful faculty and students performance. It is part of a new initiative by NYU’s Provost Office for Work-Life Balance.
New York University has an estimated 9700 full time and part time faculty and over 2700 administrative staff. Over 53,000 students are enrolled in NYU as of Fall 2018 and approximately 5% of PhD and graduate students are parents too. Since some years, there has been an increasing need for efficient child care services at NYU. New York City is also one of the world’s most expensive city and students often find it hard to afford their living expenses without having a part-time job.
"How might we build a tangible solution for child care that benefits the stakeholders of NYU and leads to an improved work-life balance for the NYU community?"
We identified three key design goals that Keeyo should achieve. Having these goals was helpful in prioritizing our features as well.
Creating welfare for the stakeholders of NYU
Building a reinforced community with a sense of solidarity
Connecting alumni and retired faculty with students
STAKEHOLDERS AND VALUE-ADDS
Post interviews with various departments and administrative units at NYU we mapped out the value-adds for our stakeholders in the NYU Community.
Experience for students
Connection to a broader community
Extra Curricular Activities
Enriching Diversity Experience
Inspiration for Career Decisions
Contemporary Role Models
Care for their children
Increased Job/School Focus
Professional Growth due to time for industry activities
Self-Care for Parents
We analyzed the biggest childcare app based services: Care.com and SitterCity, and the services offered by Yale University and Harvard University. The universities did not have an app-based service and were not structured efficiently. Care.com and Sittercity gave us insights into the process of filtering and searching for Care Providers.
Harvard Child Care
We interviewed some students who do babysitting sometimes and students who are enrolled in child development, nursing and care programs. We also interviewed some administrative staff at NYU and several professors that have kids. Some key insights:
Students find it hard to find jobs and often rely on Craigslist or the infrequent postings on the NYU Career websiteParents often find it hard to find reliable caregivers and often have to cancel on events and conferences.Students in nursing, child developments, care programs of study need more hands on experience.
After identifying the needs and value-adds of our key stakeholders, we went into brainstorming features that help each of our stakeholders to complete the necessary tasks.