An eReader that bridges the gap between paper romanticism and technological/digital convenience.

Many say the book and the newspaper are dead. While we might be marching toward this inevitability, some still prefer the printed work over an eReader or tablet experience. Many of those people are an older generation who have only encountered the world of digital tech late in life, unlike younger generations who have grown up along side the computer’s development. As my final assignment in my 3D-IX class at CCA, I was taked with designing both a physical and digital product for retired adults. Through my explorations, I settled on tackling the disconnect between current eReader offerings and the often unspoken positive qualities of real books that appeal to many older people.

Professors: Katie Dill, Audrey Liu.

research

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Older people love to read, but can be skeptical of digital readers.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that while retirees saw some advantages to eReaders, they mostly preferred paper books and newspapers. Participants talked about a certain romantic and calm feeling they felt interacting with books. To them, current digital devices lacked a quality of familiarity and comfort.

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Initial concepts explored how physical and digital reading could be combined.
With only a short time to concept, I doodled on sticky notes, exploring how the benefits of both physical media and digital tools might be combined to create an experience that would appeal to people who valued the tactility and physical presence of traditional media, yet were curious about the advantages of digital integration.

ereader_eco_sketch

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Concept: a physical and digital experience centered on a new eReader device.
At this point I settled on a concept that focused on an ecosystem that allowed the user to keep a digital library in an eReader device, but also manage and catalog their existing book collection through RFIDs.

shales_test

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Huge coffee table / art books are difficult for older people to read.
One insight I gleaned from my interviews was that larger books, such as textbooks, coffee table books, and especially expensive art books became unwieldy to older readers. In addition to the weight, medical problems like arthritis make holding a heavy book and turning its pages a painful process.

However, large format books lose their appeal when squished to an iPad or turned into e-ink on a Kindle. Through testing, I chose a two-screen/page design that celebrates the book. I wanted to create a device for which designers and publishers would enjoy creating content.

bookstore

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Guiding Inspiration
I still love going into bookstores. They’re calm, solid spaces that you can navigate and browse. You can engage with others or remain solitary. Bestsellers are stacked in the front, and the best bookstores always have passionate clerks to help you find whatever you desire with little fuss or sales pressure. This is the overarching feeling I wanted to imbue into the digital content on the Lexeme store. In general, people who are in retirement are skeptical of how their data is used, and are more easily overwhelmed by the content deluge you might find on Amazon or iTunes. With the Lexeme store, I am creating an experience that is something they will find more relatable and trustworthy.

ux_sketch

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Storyboards help me define both use scenarios and specific interactions I’m trying to communicate.

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Flat UI might be attractive, but novice / older users find it confusing.
I designed the device to use modified natural hand and pen gestures used in reading a real book. For more complicated gestures, I included a hint of skeumophism in the sense that buttons and touchable objects must be made obvious for a non-expert population. In follow up interviews with a few of my participants, this detail was appreciated.

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Customization is key. Users are asked about their passions, and then rewarded with a free eBook at the end of the onboarding process.

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The store experience is heavily visual, tailored to an individual’s tastes, without being pushy.

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Book listings are kept simple, only showing truly relevant information to learn about the available title.

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book_open_anno

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A 2-screen experience wrapped in familiar materials.
The Lexeme eReader’s exterior is wrapped in either cloth or leather. This material choice is warmer and more comforting to the human touch than glass and metal and invites the user to cradle it comfortably. It’s charged through a large wireless charging station. In order for Lexeme to fit in at home, reducing cables and complication is a way to put older users at ease.

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An internal aluminum / carbon structure keeps Lexeme as light and strong as possible.

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Use the included capacitive pen to annotate and interact with more accuracy than a finger.