Harmony is a personal side project of mine, it was thought up one day after I moved home in London to near a busy main road. After this I started out personally researching how to drone out car noises, airplanes as well as just general apartment complex noise - it came down to a solution called "white noise". But I wasn't alone in this problem - in London alone 8.6 million people live in London and the city is ever growing with more cars and aircraft than ever before. Before sketching I started researching into how "white noise" effects sleep - to do this it meant downloading competitors apps (to just help myself sleep) and test as well as ask friends to do the same. None of the sounds helped any test participants with the noise pollution of London due to noticeable looping or 'tinny' sounds, and some even saying it distracted them from sleeping. There needed to be a beautifully simple app which helped users sleep with beautiful songs that they could merge - everyone's sleep is unique.
After getting the research back - I set out sketching out my ideas (Every great idea starts on paper). I needed the app to be clear, relaxing and beautiful allowing users to easily merge sounds/songs together, change the exit-timer on the app as well as the usual functions such as pause and play. The overall feel that fitted was a 'bubble' style navigation, giving the users feeling of flowing water, with real icons that represented real-world environments rather than sounds.
The user flow needed to be as simple as it could be - no logins or registrations that could annoy the user before sleeping, no pop-ups and no advertisements. The overall goal of the app was to enable the user to set up their "sound scape" within the initial 30-40 seconds of downloading the app.
Creating wireframes and a simple prototype allowed me to send it to the first sample audience that also tested the original apps that I sent them. The feedback that came back helped to boil down the prototype to be more streamline, but overall feedback was positive especially around the main 'bubble' feature that hasn't been seen in many apps. The main concern from the user was battery drain - which was addressed with a short message alerting the user the app will automatically switch off within the designated set timeframe.
The main use case that came back from the user sessions secondary to sleep was 'daytime relaxation including Yoga' which lead to the decision to have a bright user interface and bright colour schemes. Users can easily tap the bubbles which starts playing the current 'sound' and then add more bubbles to "mix and match" to create unique harmonies that suit them. The final versions were well received by the test group and lead to numerous discussions including location based tracking to determine time of day as well as basing sounds on the current weather.
Creating a user interface is simple, but making it come alive to delight users is another complexity! I wanted to test my skills at creating an animated interface that really does look like the bubbles are alive and floating around within your phone. Harmony is still in testing and this is just a rough motion prototype that was sent to users. Harmony will hopefully be released late 2016 depending on time constraints.