Project: Smart Cart

Pervasive Interaction Design


Step #1 – Determine Environment & Generate Ideas
Grocery shopping has not been significantly affected by changes in technology over the past decade, so we thought it would be an interesting environment to work with. Each team member did a little informal observation in a different type of shopping environment, came up with a series of concepts and did a few sketches of them. We selected three of the concepts to move forward with.


My sketch of my ‘smart shelves’ concept


Step #2 – Conduct Formative Study & Refine Concepts
In order to understand grocery shoppers’ habits, attitudes, motivations and needs, we designed a three-part study. The first part entailed convincing a friend to let us observe them grocery shopping while asking direct questions when they did something intriguing. The second part involved conducting one-on-one interviews. In the third part, we conducted a cultural probe using social media by asking our contacts to post their positive and negative shopping experiences.


Word cloud made from the tweets received for our cultural probe

Our study mainly confirmed our initial ideas about grocery shoppers’ information needs, though we did see needs relating to nutritional information/dietary restrictions, getting expert product advice, as well as inventory information. Based on our findings, we refined our scope and storyboarded out three of our concepts.


Storyboard of the SmartCart concept


Step #3 – Select Concept & Conduct Experience Prototype
We selected the SmartCart concept to further develop because we thought it the most compelling in terms of design robustness and feasibility. We created a prototype of the SmartCart experience by simulating a grocery store environment and combining an iPad with a small utility cart. We controlled the iPad screen using the Keynote app on an iPhone. We took participants through three different scenarios in which they wheeled the cart around the ‘store’ and responded to information given to them via low- to medium-fidelity mockups on the iPad. We varied the level of system proactivity between the scenarios. Following the scenarios, we asked participants to reflect on their experience.

SmartCart prototype

SmartCart prototype

Participant receiving instructions

Participant receiving instructions

Participant using cart screen

Participant navigating using cart

Debriefing with participant

Debriefing with participant

We refined our SmartCart concept based on our findings, and drafted a system proposal that included our proposed system components, features and technical specifications.


Storyboard of proposed SmartCart system


Step #4 – Conduct Live Demo
We carried out a demonstration of the SmartCart system for our class. We storyboarded our initial idea that the demo would include several sequences in distinct locations.


My storyboard of initial demo plan

We made a list of interactions we wanted to cover during the demo, and wrote out a persona for our protagonist, as well as a script. We duplicated our experience prototype set-up, and created medium-fidelity mock-ups of the screens we’d need. We projected images overhead of the device screens our protagonist was seeing so that the audience could follow along.

Classroom demo

Classroom demo


Step #5 – Create Product Video
In order to create a video demonstrating SmartCart in a realistic setting, we made arrangements to film in a small health-food co-op and wrote up a script. I demonstrated my superb acting abilities as the star of our video. Hopefully you caught them at the top of this very page.