Making Space is a collaborative installation project produced by Kevin Chan, Bella Du and Jazz Trinos. This was initially an interactive concept design for the Grid Gallery of Energy Australia (EA), Sydney, NSW. Using a Kinect as a a motion sensor and Processing as the design’s programming platform, the interactive installation was created for the audience to partake on a digital space experience by manipulating heavenly bodies on screen. The concept personifies an individual’s importance and mark in society.
Ground research | Concept development | Persona Creation | Storyboards | Prototype | Visual designs | Usability Testing | Presentation | Documentation | Exhibition
EA, in collaboration with the University of Sydney Design Lab, proposed ways to enhance its 15x1m LED screen known as Grid Gallery. Using the Grid Gallery, we were instructed to conceptualise an interactive installation using built-in or mobile sensors. In particular, the proposed concept should engage passers-by into playful moments of interaction.
This was a 2-month project following 4 stages that include Discovery, Design, Implementation and Delivery.
In response to the challenge, our concept was based on the Grid Gallery and its surroundings. The concept development was a result of applied user research methods in the form of contextual inquiry and ethnographical assessment. It turned out the results indicate that potential users were not enticed enough to interact with the LED screen. Common recommendations included having a simple yet interactive animation with bright colours.
I created a persona based on the findings as seen below.
Our group agreed to use an interactive space-like environment for the LED screen based from our ground research. The rationale was to lure passers-by in exploring a simulated universe through body interaction in order to create a playful sense of interactivity.
Initial Sketches (Brainstorming)
Selected interactive storyboards (User Journey)
Prototype took place in 2 stages, which included digital “sketches” and programming “iterations”.
Though the following can be classified as iterations themselves, our group brainstormed by way of digital “sketches” through the use of Processing , which is an open source programming language. This was in order to visualise a digital “feel” of what a simulated space-like environment would be. The activity was not yet sort for a low-pixelated screen at this stage.
During the course of creating a hi-fidelity prototype, we underwent 9 design iterations in order to create a simulated space-like environment that looks somewhat natural. At this stage, we have incorporated an open source library, OpenCV, for blob detection purposes. A user’s body would be detected through the Kinect as a “blob”, and its movement would be translated via Processing. Simply, body movement will cause the digital space to sway into its direction. A set of selected iterations are seen in the image below.
The real challenge is to ensure that created visuals would look aesthetically pleasing on a low-resolution screen. Therefore, a number of tests occurred during the creation of the prototypes. A video clip below shows one of these test sessions.
The prototype was delivered in 2011 during the following exhibitions:
- “Attract::Relate::Sustain” (Verge Gallery, University of Sydney) – An interactive exhibition of the University of Sydney Design Lab, managed by New Media Curation.
- “Urban Realities & Augmented Play” (Wilkinson Building, University of Sydney) – A collaborative exhibition of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) School of Design and the University of Sydney Design Lab, managed by New Media Curation.
An informal usability testing session was conducted during the “Urban Realities & Augmented Play” exhibition in order to evaluate key strengths of the interactive installation as well as to pinpoint its weaknesses for improvement. Most test participants we inquired noted that the installation was intuitive and created an emotional resonance. However, most indicated for improvement regarding the interaction in that they felt it would be better if the installation can adapt to multi-users.
I received a near Distinction grade for this project.