Shooting Videos to Discover Unmet Needs

Author
 
Jonathan Weaver
University of Detroit Mercy Mechanical Engineering Department
weaverjm@udmercy.edu
NA Name
Shooting Videos to Discover Unmet Needs
Summary
Begin by showing the class the selective attention test per this YouTube video. Note how many don’t see the person in the gorilla suit!
 
Each student must compile a ten-minute video basically of just passively observing people going about relatively typical activities - but knowing that the ultimate goal is to be able to identify possible unmet needs or new opportunities. The ten minutes could be one continuous segment or many shorter clips totaling ten minutes.
Each student reviews his or her video several times looking for unmet customer needs/opportunities. These could be fairly obvious or rather subtle--the latter being preferred. Opportunities could relate to difficulties/shortcomings associated with existing products or needs that a new product might address. The student submits
a list of opportunities identified and comes to class prepared to show a video.
A class session is devoted to watching each of the videos. For each video shown, each student is tasked with identifying as many unmet needs/opportunities as possible (except for the video's creator, who has already done so). We then share the needs the video's creator had identified and proceed to see how many additional opportunities the remainder of the class finds (typically many new needs are identified).
 
Grading includes the teacher's perception of how effective the video is at illustrating potential new opportunities, how many opportunities the student found in his/her own video, how many needs the student "missed" (i.e., that the other students found), and how many needs the student finds in the other students' videos.
Topics
Opportunity recognition, perception, customer needs analysis
Audience
Any class with design content or relating to customer needs
Strengths
Activity is fun for students. Students realize they tend to see things through a particular lens/filter, and so others see things they miss and vice versa. Students are forced to passively observe potential customers. Little prep time for instructor.
Weaknesses
All students must have access to digital video camera. 
Takes significant class time (depends of course on class size). 
Variants
Could assemble collection of "great videos" and watch them rather than have the students shoot the videos (although taking and analyzing the video is part of the learning process). Might try time lapse videos. For larger classes might have them work in teams or take the assignment off-line rather than watching them all in class. The video duration could also be reduced.