Smart Glasses Case Study

Project: RNIB Smart Glasses observed user testing and home trials

August 2015 – July 2016

The RNIB Smart Glasses have been developed by a team at The University of Oxford, lead by Dr Stephen Hicks. They are designed to improve the remaining sight a number of blind people have. Both quantitative and qualitative study was carried out during this project. Over the course of the project, 275 people were invited to take part.

Skills Used:

  • Writing protocols
  • Result analysis
  • Report writing
  • Organisational skills

Skills Gained:

  • Conducting observed user testing
  • Quantitative research methods
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Remote testing

Summary of Project:

We carried out observed user testing over a 10 month period in 20 locations around the UK. The protocol was designed so that the testing was easy to replicate in different locations, and the equipment was easily transported by one team member.

During observed user testing participants were asked to complete a number of tasks which would simulate real life situations where the Smart Glasses may be most useful. For example, one task involved identifying the number of objects on a table with and without the Smart Glasses.

This method of testing was carried out with over 220 participants and gave an indication of what the focus should be for the planned further study which followed. I completed 85 of these one to one testing sessions. From this testing, it was clear that the Smart Glasses were not a product which benefitted every person due to variations in eye condition, sight level and visual acuity.

Following the observed user testing, we decided that participants who had a positive experience, or an experience similar to their own sight would be invited to try the Smart Glasses in their own homes for a period of 3 weeks. During the course of the “Home Trial” I invited 75 participants to take part, with 55 of those people completing the trial.

During the home trial, it was important for me to maintain regular contact with participants as the Smart Glasses only recorded minimal usage data and it was felt that by speaking to participants through out the trial period less data was likely to be forgotten. Participants were able to report their experiences either directly to myself or another member of the team or to complete an online feedback form for each task they completed using the Smart Glasses.

The feedback received from the Home Trial was invaluable to the project. Some participants found that while the Smart Glasses were beneficial, the process of setting the technology up meant that they did not want to use them. Others found great benefit from the Smart Glasses, and were able to complete complex tasks independently sometimes for the first time in decades.

As with the Observed User Testing, the reception for the Smart Glasses varied depending on eye condition, sight level and visual acuity. However during the Home Trial it was now seen that participants considered practicality more, and how the Smart Glasses would fit around their current methods of completing tasks.