The Idea
In 2015 summer, I was at Chicago O'Hare International airport waiting to fly. I noticed that flight companies often check traveler's carry-on suitcase's size. Travelers had to put their suitcase in a metal frame to prove it's not oversized. I wondered isn't there a better way to do it? An idea came into my mind: what if we can use our cellphone to measure any physical objects. Would that be super convenient? 
To a traveler, by using an app, he/she can measure his/her suitcase priorly before fly. To a crew at flight company, he/she can do the same thing, and the app indicates on the interface with a green color for pass or red color for oversize. That will save a lot of physical effort. 

Carry-on size checker

The Requirement
The Interface Design Class had a requirement that the project had to apply Universal Design concept, which "describes a set of considerations made to ensure that a product, service, and/or environment is usable by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. " Therefore, I had to design an app that is usable for everyone and also achieve the idea. 
The Research and Wireframes
I wanted to make an app that is as minimal as possible, but also some features could be enabled by users with special needs. This is my approach to Universal Design - one app, but with feature toggles based on users' needs, regardless of age, size, ability or disability. 
So I started researching the features that might be included in my app and also grouping the features by different types of users: young ages, adults, adults with advanced needs, users with a disability. 
I found that young ages and users with a disability can be categorized in the same group since they both need additional feature support to use the app, and that would limit to three categories: Basic with assistance, Basic, and Advanced.  
Features that are included in the three categories: 
Basic: Measure, Reset, Save, Share, Undo, Settings, On-screen Ruler
Basic with assistance: Magnify, Larger font size, Vibrating feedback, High Contrast
Advanced: Objects Gallery
The Prototype

Gallery provides various objects for users to place in the live view of the app

The Challenge
The project was only required to be a prototype to demonstrate in the class. However, I pursued the technical part trying to make the app for real. I found the most challenging part was to figure out the accurate height of the cell phone's position. Why? 
I reached out to a friend of mine who is an engineering researcher at the University of Tokyo regarding this challenge I was facing. He advised me that the height value of the cell phone's position could be uncertain, but we would know the other two values: the angle (get it by accelerometer) and the 90 degrees. He explained that current technology would be possible; however, the error range would be around 5cm, which would be too big to an object like a suitcase. ​​​​​​​

Original sketch of the technical challenge

While I couldn't break through the technical block, I researched that Google had an internal AR project called Project Tango, which is similar to my idea that by accessing cellphone's hardware and leveraging an algorism that developed by Google, users would be able to measure a real-world object. However, that project would require an additional sensor on the back of the cell phone in order to achieve a less error range measurement. 
Until, today, many cellphone makers started putting two cameras on the back of the phone. That starts making the error-less measurement more and more possible. 
Augmented Reality was still relatively new in 2015, but now I am very excited to see more and more resources are pulling into VR and AR industry.  The technical block that I was having 3 years ago won't be a problem anymore today.  
I'd like to share the prototype that I made in 2015, and this project still means a lot to me because we've all witnessed the growth of the AR industry and the possibility of this technology. ​​​​​​​
The Interactive Prototype
The Site
The Ruler Plus official website contains Why, Features, and Contact Us, three sections. It gives users some idea of what's Ruler Plus and what they can do with it.  The color scheme also fits the identity color: orange and white. 
The Conclusion
Although my idea today sounds not as exciting as 3 years ago, I think I learned that as long as we are trying to solve problems in the world, technology will always be supportive to achieve that goal, maybe not today or this year, but it finally certainly will. 

Other Works

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