DISHA: DIsease and Health Awareness
Domain: UX Design, Visual Design
Team Size:  04
Organization:  Microsoft Research Labs, India
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DISHA is a multipoint multi-mouse game application that addresses the cause, symptoms and preventive measures to control Malaria through story arcs followed by games based on these story arcs. It is primarily aimed to spread awareness among the school children of the age group of eight to fourteen. DISHA supports flexible number of mice ranging from one to five at a time that are connected through various data ports to a single computer system. The application enforces learning among the users through entertainment using delightful animation display, rendered with audio visual support, calling for children interaction.

The content and design of the game came through literature study, where we interviewed five school teachers from the rural, urban and a semi urban schools within the Gandhinagar district of Gujarat, India. We also talked to the school children of fourth and fifth standards to understand their level of knowledge about Malaria and other Health related issues. We also looked into the curriculum text books to derive content from the books they are asked to use in schools. The content was prepared after a thorough research and meetings with Azim Premji Foundation (APF), Government officials of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan(SSA), curriculum text books and aid from the school teachers.

The games contain eye catching animation and graphics that keep the enthusiasm of the students who get engrossed in the game owing to its visual delights. The whole game has been developed as a a storyline and children are able to correlate to their day to day activities.

The Game allows a maximum of five users to play simultaneously, where every user has his own respective mouse cursor uniquely color coded.

We were crowned the "Multipoint Education Award" winners at finals held in Egypt. We represented India at the finals as "Team Trailblazers". We also were the Second Runner's up in the "Software Design Challenge" National Finals held in India. Multipoint Education Award Winners 2009

Awards
Trophy
WINNER
Multipoint Education Awards, Imagine Cup 2009
Trophy
RUNNER UP
Software Design Challenge, Imagine Cup 2009

Team Size
FOUR



My Role
Graphic Designer, User Experience Designer, Game Designer



Tools Used
Graphic Design: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
UI Design: Paper Sketches, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Expression Blend

Design Idea

We started working on this project to participate in the Imagine Cup competition, an annual technological competition held by Microsoft with an aim to develop solution that could solve worlds problems using tehcnology. As we formed out team of four, we started thinking on ideas on what and how to choose a problem that we could develop a promising solution for. We all had one thing in common. We all wanted to build something for school children across developing regions/ resource constrained environments.

We had earlier also reached an agreement to build something using the multipoint technology, that we thought had a greater potential to address problems prevailing in developing regions. We started thinking on various scenarios where we can try to develop a solution for. In this spirit, we started with our first literature study on looking at different activities school children perform and any problems that are prevelant in the current schooling system.

We borrowed school text books of standard fifth and sixth and started looking into various chapters of different subjects. We suddenly realized the potential problem that laid in creating awareness about diseases among school children. One of our team mates had actually previously worked on creating games and hence we started thinking on building some kind of game to be able to develop awareness among the children. As we individually performed a deep dive into various chapters, we found that the books did not cover health awareness concepts in greater detail. Moreover, when we also looked into various technologies catering to similar problems we were surprised to see that not much had been done in this regard to educate school children on health awareness. Why we always thought to build for children? We all had similar vision that if we start incultaing values within younger generation, the following generation will start following a correct path eventually and so forth.

As were slowly getting closer to the ideas funnelling and filtering ideas, we finally decided to work on developing multipoint games for creating awareness among school children of semi urban and rural school of developing regions. We knew that this target group had very minimal resources as compared to urban schools and a solution to help them understand values of health and hygiene through an interactive medium would fit the job. Also, using multipoint was a boon, as these school children often work in groups on single computer, leading to a gradual loss of interest with other members of the group who don't have an integrity over the mouse.

Moving in the spirit, we conducted various interviews with semi urban and rural school teachers, talked to students, interviewed the state Health and Ministry officials on understanding different healthcare programs that were being conducted across various states and also met the team of Wipro technologies who have been developing school educational curriculum games for school children. The process really helped us to get ample insight and a clarity on the concurrent prevailing limitations and problems and helped us to streamline our vision in a directed path.

First Pilot Study

After working for several weeks and iterating designs for several times through heuristics discussions, we conducted our first pilot with twenty four school children of a semi urban school, Anand Niketan in Gandhinagar. The first pilot was a great learning experience for me. It also was amazing to see students really being so involved in the game and working together to achieve their target goals. The most significant feedback that we collected included:

1. Some students did not understand the third game of the application.

2. Students really have a competitive attitude and needed motivation to retain their interest in the game.

Iterations

Based on the feedback, we made few changes to the game and introduced new dynamics. The third game now included a video tutorial that aimed to assist students to learn the game flow before they would begin playing to ensure they understood the game mechanics.
Use of social capital in games and even social applications have really proved an advantage to retain users interest to the application. Following similar principle and informed by the feedback, we included a winning screen at the end of the game announcing the team score and added a trophy based on their performances.

Second Pilot Study

As our second pilot, we planned a very structured usability test with 68 students of standard fourth of a semi-urban school. The aim of this pilot study was to understand and measure the immediate learning and retention ability of school children across six different mediums.

The whole usability test included students taking a pre test questionnaire, sub groups being introduced to their medium of environment and lastly participating in a post test questionnaire that was a surprise test taken one week after the intervention with the game. We formulated various ideologies based on the tests and concluded that students had the maximum retention with DISHA multi-mouse game.

Based on our study, we also published a paper in the Interaction Design for International Development (IDID) conference in 2010. Read the paper here

This was my first full length project where each one from our team had been involved in every single step wise progress of the project. We started from a problem statement and then brainstormed to conclude with an idea to take up as a project. Still being a final year undergraduate student with the final year B.Tech project along side, it really required proper dedication to work, commitment and persistence of interest in both the projects without loosing patience during any failure that I came across during the entire duration.

I learned how to manage time, effectively emerge as a leader, a team player and contribute to the project with full energy. Meetings with government delegates to procure data pertaining to projects that have been running on Health and other Diseases related issues improved my Public Relation(PR) skills and communication of ideas.

Moving to a different avenue, I also designed t-shirts for our team and we had them printed by a design studio. This was my first introduction to t-shirt design and printing and I really enjoyed being a part of it. I was lucky to know the process besides being a witness to one of the manual methods of imprinting designs on tees.

The project really helped me to under design closely as this was my first interaction with the prospective users,i.e. the school children and iterating several times to design a very simple interface with attractive visuals.

We also ran a pilot with twenty four students of standard fifth at Anand Niketan, Gandhinagar School. It was a cumbersome task to get the Principal to agree to our request as it needed a significant portion of a students time and we did not want to hamper any school curriculum hours.

Overall it proved much worth to me as now I am using every aspect I learned from the past into designing better user centered applications.