Startup Stories

Always Be Testing

OpenBike and Sensassure Talk User Validation

One of the values we try to instill here at Highway1 is that there’s no substitute for user feedback. Put your prototype in someone’s hands and let them tell you what they think — you’ll always learn something. This week we’re catching up with a couple teams that are putting that theory to practice.

First we hear from Sensassure CTO Tim Ahong.

What are you testing?
We made several non-functional prototypes at Highway1 of our second generation device. Mechanically, these prototypes look and feel like our next product iteration, without the functional tech inside. We want to understand how caregivers and residents interact with the new design. Do they know how to put it on a brief? Are there any issues that arise from using it incorrectly? 

Any surprising findings?
Yes, they didn’t use it in the way we thought they would.

What’s next?
We created a list of all issues we identify which need fixing before clinical trials begin with the functional prototype. Throughout the course of Highway1, we’ll be addressing these issues and then conducting more testing to verify that we actually fixed them.

user testing PotW openbike gallery 02

We also talked to OpenBike CEO Randall Jacobs about beginning trials with their “protobike.”

What’s new with the OpenBike prototype?
We’ve centralized the battery and control switch for the onboard electronics. Instead of having separate gadgets on the bike — separate headlights and taillights and so on — we’ve condensed it to just one switch. We want to see how people feel about that.

The other thing we want to test is the lights. This bike has brake lights and turn signals. We want to see how people react to them. Do they feel safer? Do they notice cars responding differently?

What’s your process?
We’re going to hand the bike to people and have them borrow it for a night or so. They can ride it home, ride it back the next day and tell us what they think — what works, what doesn’t?

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Highway1, a division of PCH, is the premier hardware startup accelerator, located in San Francisco. We look for great hardware startups, with an exciting business idea and a compelling prototype. We help you design products that deliver real value to customers, that are delightful to use and that can be manufactured at scale.
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