Overview

As part of my studies in the Parsons Design + Technology MFA program as individuals we image, develop, and test a design piece over the span of a 5 week period and at the end present it to a group of peers. My take on this piece is an installation project for kids and their families. For notice my much larger idea is a full room installation, this project acts as a small-scale prototype taking the initial concept to first/second round user testing and final presentation.

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ROLE – Design Lead  |  CATEGORY – User Experience + User Interface + Physical Computing  |  TIME – 6 Weeks

Problem & Solution

As a society and as Individuals, people in their day to day life underestimate the power and influence of their actions. From making sure to say thank you, to remembering to toss your coke can in the right bin (made famous by independence day), even the simplest of choices can have strong impacts on the space around us. This is especially true with our relationship with the environment.

In response to this lack of understanding and care in this relationship. My goal is to increase people‘s mindfulness of this connection between us and the environment. I’m developing an Installation space for kids where they interact in a dynamic digital/nature experience. This space highlights people’s interactions with nature and amplifies people’s effect on space; clearly demonstrating the sometimes subtle relationship we share.

Engagement

Originally built around the idea of foot based engagement this style of interaction has some unique benefits and consequences vs. using a gesture, voice  or more commonly found system of interaction. For one it adds unique style not found with those other systems meaning users will have to discover the cause and play around with it.

Sustainment

The system should be able to run independent of outside input. Will run in two parts with base actions and user influenced actions. Birds will scatter and react to user walking sensitivity and awareness of it. The environment has a base state and will “evolve in positive or negative ways”

Awareness

By manipulating the environment, and animals kids will be become more aware of their actions and consequence in an attempt to figure out and control the system. This teaching kids and developing their awareness of their actions and consequences of their choices.

Planned Outcome

Combining all these aspects together, the final end piece is a fairly complex installation piece using the foot based interaction system manipulating the digital space. As well as a connected video system to attract people and the interaction wall encourages playing the scene out. Both in tandem acting as the final project.

Competitive Research

For this project, I looked into studying a combination of public installation pieces, educational games, as well as physical design products. Each piece directly effects a particular aspect of my project and acts as a key reference in my final outcome. An example of this being Theo Watsons Connected Worlds in the ability to teach cooperation in kids as well as having a strong feedback loop encouraging continual usage and exploration.

Visual Design

I want to keep the idea of the vibrancy of canyon’s colors and build on it digitally. This implying a good bit of warm and cool choice but also simplifying the forms for easier character designs and animations. Some keywords for reference include Bold, Colorful, Contrasting, Vivid, Pop, Layered, Rough.

Development Process

Development wise for this project was a set of processes from data collection then channeling that information down to the variables to change the digital environment. To accomplish this I started originally with Arduino and a capacitive based reader for the feet, after testing eventually switched to a pressure sensor. The serial data was then processed in a Raspberry Pi and in the web changed each of the 5-foot sensors into a read of numerical data. Using that information the P5JS file (what is projected) changes and interacts based on the pressure each pad is uniquely reading. Below is a set of images showing that process.

Final Designs

After about 2 weeks of testing, validations, iterations with people on the Parsons design floor, I reached the point where tested experience with kids and parents (my target audience. Here I wanted to see it the system meets the user needs and if it answers my questions of are they learning, are they being more care full and if they want to use it more. I found that overall it’s functionalities and environment to help users plan and achieve their goals. The Images found below are from that tested and the video is a demonstration of the positive and negative reactions found when the kids were using it and learning the system.

Well now, that was pretty cool

This case study is over, but I’ve prepared a few more so let’s keep going.

Want to chat? Contact me.