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.
Design of Research Activities
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.
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
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
Insights that challenged our assumptions.
Insights that gave us a new direction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With stakeholder feedback, apart from the smart cataloging, we had to add an additional set of features along with the smart cataloging options.
Initial version of our design
Though users understoof the value of our concept, they were finding it hard to navigate through the set of features.
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
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.