A demonstration unit for SolarNow Uganda, to communicate the need for solar power in rural Uganda. In poor situations, often alternative yet very dangerous power sources are used. This unit supports SolarNow employees in their vision and mission to improve the save usage of power in all Uganda.

SolarNow is a company creating, distributing and selling solar home systems in Uganda for off-grid areas and as back-up energy. The main office is located in Kampala, Uganda.

Multi-cultural | Company collaboration | Research through Design | Prototyping | User centered Research and Design | Explorative Research | Base of the Pyramid |Experimental Research | Persuasive Design | Card sorting


Brief

The assignment was to design a demo-unit to provide SolarNow with a way to extend their target-group towards the low-income small holder farmers in Uganda. Besides this assignment, the goal of the project was to bring knowledge in practice and experience user research in different contexts.

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Result

A persuasive demonstration context setup was created based on the context and wishes of the target-group. The main product is the frame that can be placed on cars of the company. This frame can be expanded when the car is stationed in a trading centre, which is like a rural shopping street but then for the farmers of that village. On this frame, panels can be placed that show product information; the benefits of the solar products and the different possible combinations. Since different areas and different villages have different target-groups, the panels can be customised by the personnel in the closest branch, resulting in that the products and benefits shown, are matching the target-group.

Next to the car, an A-frame can be placed with information posters that are showing more details about the possible packages. A speaker playing music finishes the context. The speaker is to get attention, which seem to work very well in Uganda.


Process

In a team of five students and in two shifts of each six weeks in Uganda, the project was done in a total of five months.

Different phases of research were done, with high involvement of the target-group. The first phase of research was based on mapping the wishes and context aspects. This was done through a mixture of interviews and using interactive aids. The interviews were done in the context, thus the rural villages of the low-income small holder farmers. Since these farmers were often unable to communicate in English, a translator was involved. This influenced the way the interviews were executed since it was important that not only words but also visual information was gained and the interviewees could easily participate on what was happening.

The second phase of research was mainly about three cycles of prototyping and user testing. The goal was to find the best combination of designs and way to expose these, best for the target-group as well as the SolarNow staff who has to work with it.

I was the only one of the team participating in the two shifts thus two phases of field research resulting in a total of three months experience in Uganda.


Impression of the project

Final designs


Ideation phase


Exploration phase