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Vishwadeep Khatri
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Bodystorming is an ideation technique where ideas are generated by actual people simulating or experiencing the situations. It is typically used in initial stages of a new product or process design. It is similar to a role play with the assumption that the product or service is in existence and has been delivered to the customer.

 

An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Johanan Collins on 5th Nov 2021.

 

Applause for all the respondents - Praveen Thomas, Amit Kumar, Prashant Philip Vargis, Shiva Kumar V, C V Satish, Gopal Menon, James Bob Lawless, Arun Balakrishnan, Johanan Collins.

Question

Q 416. What is the concept of Bodystorming as used in creative thinking? Site examples with your answer.

 

Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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Bodystroming

Bodystorming is a hands-on method used as a creativity technique in interaction design. It helps the user to empathize with the end-user. The designer subjects him/herself to the experience in order to feel and understand it from the perspective of the customer. In doing so it instills a feeling of empathy for the designer. It could include role-play, drama, and simulation. The process also involves brainstorming using the body which helps in bringing the simulation closer to reality and thus generating better ideas.

Advantages

Some of the advantages of bodystorming are it helps with empathy, reflection in the participants, connects the researcher and users, gives a first-hand experience and greater awareness to the designer/researcher

Disadvantages.

At times bodystorming may make some users uncomfortable, and when used in a sensitive context can trigger some bad reactions. In this fast-paced world, some designers find body storming to be time-consuming, when similar results can be achieved using machine learning, artificial intelligence, and simulation models. One of the disadvantages of concern is that bodystorming requires experienced and well-trained designers. In case it is done in a non-professional manner, wrong conclusions can be arrived at.

Use Cases.

Bodystorming is generally used in the design of physical spaces such as the layout of a store or a clinic. It can also be used in the design of software and physical products. Interestingly, it is also used in scientific research. It has been successfully used to teach, learn, and discover new intradisciplinary boundaries.

Example from Scientific Research

In 2009 the dance director, Carl Flink of the American dance company Black Label Movement and a Biomedical engineer of the University of Minnesota got together and created a bodystorming system as a part of the Moving Cell Project. Dance artists and scientists were brought together to rapidly prototype research hypotheses in biomedical engineering using choreographic rules for dancers to follow. Interestingly, bodystorming has proven to increase the speed of scientific research by giving the scientist a psychological sense of empathizing with a molecule.

In 2018, bodystorming was used at the Neuro-Oncological Symposium to model the recent research.

In 2019, bodystorming was used in the PSON Annual Investigators Meeting.

References

https://study.com/academy/lesson/bodystorming-in-design-thinking-definition-purpose-example.html

https://think.design/user-design-research/bodystorming/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodystorming

 

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Bodystorming is a technique used in creative thinking where you act as if a product exits in real life physically to envision a solution. This technique can be used to design physical products or software

Body storming is usually performed with a limited count of participants as the complexity and time go up with more people involved. This is like empathizing – like the person thinks as to what its like to be in the shoes of the customer/user. The person subjects to the same condition as what a user might face which help in designing or refining the design for better use.

When designing the interaction of a physical product, or someone’s in-person experience in a dedicated space, it’s important to understand the relationship between the product, user, and the space. If the product is used in multiple context/ environment, or the environment is some place you don’t spend more than an hour a week this technique is especially very helpful.

For example : if you are designing a device for the blind, the creator or person who is subjected to bodystorming is ensured to be blind folded so that he will face exactly the same situation as that of the person who the device/solution in intended for. The findings or observations received during the bodystorming technique is then used to improve the prototype which is again tested and goes through the same bodystorming technique

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Bodystorming is based on the brainstorming idea with the relevant team members. Bodystorming is a technique used in early stage of any design process that takes the customer viewpoint into consideration while designing a new product or services. In place of trying to imagine about the product use, Bodystorming enables design team to act as the required product or process already exists. This helps to create more user-friendly experience & understand the product much better. It reduces the chances of rework also.

 

Steps to perform Bodystorming:

  • Define the scenario which needs to be examined & prepare team for the same.
  • Monitor the behavior of the people involved & capture all relevant actions.
  • Replay the scenario again based on the info gained.
  • Gather the experience of the participants during the simulation drill.
  • Analyze the finding received by this exercise & take actions accordingly.
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Bodystorming is a technique used to generate ideas for developing a product/service by role playing or using the prototype of the product in actual environment, where we plan to use the product or service. This technique may even include the customers who is going to actually use the products/service, to be part of the exercise. Hence through this technique, we can empathize better with the users on their needs and incorporate them in the product/service.

Some examples are as follows -

1. If you want to create a walking stick for the blind, the researcher can blindfold themselves and use the prototype stick and check for all the scenarios.

2. If you want to develop a night vision glass for drivers, you can create mock set ups which mimic the actual night driving and check all possible cases using the prototype glass.

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Body storming is a approach that allows design the thinkers to better empathize with consumes. In other words it’s a way where you can put yourself/thinkers in customer shoes and think like a customer to create a prototype of a product/design/process/solutions. Body storming is one that can be achieved through role play or physical involvement in ones that are in the question(customer). One of the creative thinking method used to generate ideas to design customer centric product /Services/Solutions.

 

Let’s think you want to conduct a brainstorming activity across the board and you want to be prepared for the same, below listed steps to be followed to create best experience with the board members:

  • Define the place where the brainstorming going to be held and go there as a team
  • Understand the type of people and their mindset who is going to be part of the session
  • Try to enact how people participate and reaction during the session
  • Capture key inputs (capture pictures, list down the required properties, other requirements to conduct the session successfully etc)
  • Analyze the individual findings and create plan considering inputs from all

 

List of questions to be answered basis body-storming for the session:

  • Question 1. how session needs to be conducted ?
  • Question 2. What are the requirements of the session?
  • Question 3. How to manage the participants ? etc..

 

Body-storming is creative way of planning for any events or designing the product of solutions, this method will help you to think by putting yourself in customers shoes..

 

 

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Understanding Body Storming

 

“If you think user research is expensive, you should look at the cost of building the wrong thing.”
                                                                                                                                                - Mario Maruffi

Context and Genesis

 

         The above quote fits perfectly with the subject as any research in the right direction will only add value to the product or service destined to change the way we live and operate. Same is with the time tested research method of Body storming which indeed is the first step in design thinking which helps the designers/researchers to roleplay the user experience of a yet to be born product and service at the environment of its use.

 

         It is a powerful technique of generating ideas using number of simulation and brainstorming/role-play cycles to narrow down to user experiences that is delightful and beyond mere user satisfaction. It's origin dates back to 2009 as a result of the collaboration between an American dance company Black Label and University of Minnesota

 

Where dose it fit in the Design process?

 

         The design of any product or service follows a typical cycle of preliminary research, solution design, testing, additional research if necessary, finetuning the design and repeat the process till design specs are crystalized.

         Body storming takes this process to the environment where the solution is to be deployed where the researcher can observe the users/customers, participate in the exercise as well as understanding the user’s needs, behavior with respect to their context. The ideas generated during the process is communicated and feedback is received on the spot so that improvisation can be done in one breath.

 

         In this method, users also become part of the design team where they can critique design ideas and influence design decisions that will ultimately impact their work and life. Bodystorming can be performed with a limited number of respondents, usually limited to 10, as the more the number of participants, the complexity and time will go up with each additional participant there after. The props used during bodystorming must be real items existing in the physical environment of the users/customers. 

 

Pros and Cons of Bodystorming

 

Pros:

Reflection, Empathy, Heightened awareness, first hand user experience and connection between researcher & users tops the list.

Cons:

Time consuming, discomfort for some users, social sensitivity and requirement of an astute/well trained researcher tops the list.

 

A Personal Account

 

       Had a great experience of being a part of body storming exercise undertaken by a baker/researcher for their product and service at their "Live Kitchen" environment. They believed in bringing the best of their product quality blended with transparency in their service to the potential customers in the area.

 

The below quote sums it all.

 

"At the end of the day is how the user remembers the experience. Focus on key experiences."

                                                                                                                                           -Shawn Borsky

 

 

Edited by C V Satish
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Bodystorming is a technique that uses prototypes and role plays to simulate and understand the end user experience by observing how he/she interacts, feels, reacts and responds to features of the product or service. This technique will help to understand what are the opportunities to further improve the product / service proactively at the design stage rather than waiting for feedbacks after launching the final product or service. The approach is not costly since the prototype is not functional. For e.g. if team is designing a ticket booking mobile app, the prototypes can be made using paper and cardboard and can showcase the different fields that will be available on screen and simulate the entire process from user accessing the site to the actual ticket purchase. Also, since yesterday was Diwali, another example that is coming to mind is how Bodystorming technique can be used to better design lamps to ensure that light wind / rain does not extinguish the light

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The concept of Bodystorming is another form of "Brainstorming". Whereas, bodystorming involves the participant's own body to have first hand experience of the solution and or potential solutions. It helps the developers and project team members observe the triggers and issues end-users may experience. This method is widely used in Design Thinking for definition, purpose and product sampling.

 

One sample I can think of is the Virtual Reality devices using our mobile phones to watch videos online or play games. 

 

Another sample is when we were still children, we used to "pretend play". We imagine and visualize our favorite superhero character. Sometimes we also wear homemade costumes to fully embody the experience.

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Bodystorming is an activity in which people meet in a group to suggest new ideas or techniques by enacting them, as against brainstorming where they only discuss about the same. This exercise helps them to get a feel of what exactly the new idea or technique is all about, in other words getting people to figure things out by trying things out. The different phases involved in bodystorming will give the participants a new experience from the normal ‘conference table’ based ideation activity, to taking them a step closer to developing solutions that might work in the real world – ‘Principles without pragmatism is idiotism’.

 

Bodystorming being a semi or un-structured method is a combination of role-play and simulations in a physical environment understanding the user’s situation. This technique can be used to conduct research or test new solutions in situations where, we will put ourselves to go through physical conditions in which those solutions should operate, this in turn can lead to designing/re-designing of the solutions. In the early stages of design thinking process, it is important to be able to empathize with the end users who will be using the products or services, and bodystorming helps to empathize with the users by putting ourselves in their shoes.

 

A simple example to showcase the capability of ‘bodystorming’ is mentioned below

 

Imagine I am to set up a common work area where employees from different companies can come and work together under one roof getting a feeling of ‘work from office’. This idea becomes very important nowadays where majority of the employees in the IT sector is ‘working from home’ due to COVID pandemic.  Let us see how bodystorming technique can be used in this scenario

 

Level 1 - “Go Observe’

 

As a first step I will share this idea with few of my team members as well as 2 to 3 friends of mine working in other companies. Then I will invite them to the nearest ‘best place’ that I have decided to set this co-working place. I will request them to perform their daily operations from there, as they would do normally in an office or ‘work from home.

 

Level 2 - “Try it Out”

 

I will also assign some roles to my friends who are gathered there, say for example – Employee of company A, Employee of Company B etc. I will ask them to enact a typical ‘day in life of’ them while in office and home. This will help me to gather their experiences which in turn will help me to design/redesign a better co-working environment, meeting the requirements as well as empathizing with their needs.

 

Level 3 – “Retrospection”

 

By enacting this situation, myself and team will be able to explore new possibilities and do a ‘failure mode’ check about how this idea can work efficiently. This will help me in taking right decisions to set up the best co-working facility.

 

Thanks

Arun Balakrishnan

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