One semester long project led by Andrea Alessandrini. We were tasked to develop an interactive concept for the main square in the city of Dundee, that would motivate people to use the square more and bring some novel interactions – having the potential with using any surface as a screen.
Andrea briefed us to divide into groups and come up with an interactive solution for the main square of Dundee, which would encourage more people to use the square – addressing the fact, that even after expensive renovation which recently finished, people seem to lack the motivation for going there or using it as a shortcut. This is a very interesting topic from the area of public space, and it was a good experience thinking about it.
We brainstormed our group name and I quickly sketched and digitalized a logo for our group, thinking about squares and using an abbreviation for interaction – IX.
The Research + Idea generation
First, we did few interviews with people around the square, and in the buildings surrounding it, thus getting general idea of various motivations for people to go to certain companies there, or to the square itself.
Then we brainstormed wildly about various ideas. We narrowed the ideas and selected Becky Wallace’s one with a very large touchscreen, on which people would walk and it would reflect their movements with visualisations. We added the functionality of displaying events that are happening the same day, so that people can literally walk there straight away. Taking advantage of the large screen, we created a “digital crossroad” displayed under one’s feet, pointing into the directions of different events. The distance from the person to the event is shown by the length of the bubble. Event types are differentiated by colour.
When a person stands on any event, further information is displayed – description, price, time, as well as QR code which is linked to the official page for that event. I Quite enjoyed the hand-crafted typography on these 🙂
Prototype evaluation – Wizzard of Oz
We decided to go for a straightforward prototype evaluation method called Wizzard of Oz – it’s about you providing people the experience by simulating behaviour of the product/solution you’re doing. In our case – user steps on screen and should see feet behind him wherever he stepped – so there will be a person laying feet cut out of colour paper on the black screen. Whenever the person stops for some time, the navigation circle will appear around him – so somebody has to put it there, made from cardboard, and so on. Definitely enjoyable method for evaluation 🙂
Everybody created a paper cutouts of their take on the feet styling, and we then used it with events on paper that I drew. We used these in a prototype evaluation, laying them on a floor covered with binbags, emulating the screen itself.
From the first evaluation, we gained great insights – people felt trapped inside our cardboard circle with events, so we got rid of it and put just the papers on ground. In the second evaluation, we really saw that it has worked – people were moving freely around the events.
We then had to shoot a video that would explain our concept in interesting and enjoyable way. We started planning of shooting naturally in the city square, using after effects, keying in the screen somehow on the ground, creating animations of visualisations that we came up with, getting actors for it, and all that comes with shooting a project of this scale. I was very enthusiastic, having some previous experience with shooting videos. But my group wasn’t, and as various milestones passed unfulfilled, I quickly realized that it’s not going to happen. So we changed the idea to a stop motion, which required much less work invested into it, making it feasible for the level of enthusiasm of our group. I did stopmotion before and was not afraid of it, but I used tripod and only one shot – in this case I wanted to change shots dynamically, and since we didn’t have too much time in the photography studio, I had to go without tripod – making the video even more “improptu”. But in the end it worked pretty well, the message has been preserved, and by doing a stopmotion with lego, I even made people laugh, which is important every time 🙂
A note on teamwork…
I chose not to choose members of my group and believe in fate instead. That turned into the biggest lesson in team dynamics and teamwork that I ever had. It was very painful at times, working with people not even motivated to come to school sometimes, but in the end, I appreciated a help of one member from the two at least, and was happy that we at least did some teamwork.