Image Source: http://www.choosemuse.com/blog/improve-your-meditation-posture-with-muse-meditation-cushions/
Project Proposal 1, Stress:
Focusing on emotional sustainability, this installation is inspired by brain activity and stress. The installation would be open-air and immersive, allowing users to walk into/through the work. The form would be inspired by the brain and the connection of neurons where lights would represent neurons. By using relaxing sounds and cool colors, the installation will begin as calm. With user input, the installation will begin to change and intensify with colors and sounds, signifying stress. The installation will be divided into ~5 sections, each section can handle input by one user.
Theme: Emotional Wellbeing and Stress sustainability
# of Users: ~5
Input: Kinetic, some form of activity, for example drumming
Output: Lights and Sound
Form: Open-air, immersive, inspired by brain
Current questions and future considerations:
(Ultra) Light Network is a light installation that encourages participatory behavior with an audience. As audience members approach the structure, the intensity of the light increases. This encourages group interactivity, allowing multiple people to participate at once. The form of the structure allows members to walk underneath, allowing audience members to experience the installation from a variety of angles in a more immersive capacity. In general, most of the installations exhibited at iLight explore light as an interactive sculpture, providing playful, beautiful, and delightful experiences. But if we were to think of effectiveness in terms of informing the audience about a topic or probing the audience to think about a topic, I’m not exactly sure if we can describe these installations as “effective.” It depends if we’re looking at these installations as explorations of concepts or as tools with an objective of informing an audience; is the audience supposed to walk away with a different understanding of a subject or are they supposed to have a delightful experience with light? The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but it presents the creator with an objective to think about.
In Chapter 4 of Jan Chipchase’s “Hidden in Plain Sight,” Chipchase discusses our habits and tendencies that we’ve developed in relationship to our every day products and how these concepts change as we transition into the digital realm. Chipchase defines two key concepts: the center of gravity, which are the places “where portable objects tend to cluster”, and the range of distribution, which is the distance people are willing to let objects stray when they are out and about. These ideas are useful in thinking about how people relate to their objects that they carry with them, such as their keys and their wallets, and these ideas are connected to how we perceive risk and convenience. He then expands these ideas into the digital realm, discussing how digital technology has made it easier for us to be connected to multiple objects at a time, transcending time and space; now we can be connected to our music libraries, our banking information, and so on. Technology also now affects how we navigate the world; by giving us a heightened sense of security in navigation, GPS affords us the ability to explore an area without having to do prior research.
These concepts, especially applied in the digital realm of the world that we inhabit, are interesting in that they seem more applicable now that we have high-powered smart phones. Digital maps existed in the earlier days of the web, but now that we can carry technology in our pockets, it expands our need to understand how technology and the experience beyond are intertwined. In the professional realm, I’m curious about why terms such as user experience and digital product design are increasingly becoming ubiquitous even in more traditional contexts such as basic web design. User experience is of course an important concept to always keep in mind in the design of anything, but Chipchase’s concepts give us more facets of design to think about. Should we be reserving the term user experience for design that has a larger set of considerations?
In Jan Chipchase’s TED talk, “The Anthropology of Mobile Phones,” he makes several observations and predictions on human behavior and the future of mobile devices. The first observation he notes is that humans have a tendency to carry three objects: key, money and mobile devices. This, according to Chipchase, meets our basic needs. This is still true today, but what I find even more interesting is the idea that humans delegate tasks, especially those that go beyond our basic needs. Smart phones, in many ways, are devices that handle delegated tasks. We use them to record notes, take pictures (and store pictures), to send us reminders, to automate tasks; smart phones compute tasks that we don’t have to use additional mental energy for. Chipchase also argues that because of immediacy, things will move much more rapidly around the world. Today, over 1 billion people are users of Facebook and, as of 2016, an estimated 2.1 billion people use smart phones. Content, images, banking are all being processed and shared at rapidly growing rates; all of this has occurred within 10 years of Chipchase’s talk. Another point he made was that street innovation will be a greater force that will have to be anticipated for. Though this may be true in developing markets across the world, it’s hard to see on the surface whether street innovation can be observed on a global scale. In some ways, app market places, are a place for innovation. Products such as Uber and Venmo have radically changed other markets in the world and have all came from free market innovation. But arguably, innovative apps do not come from the “street” level (developing world markets such as India); the barriers to entry are still limited by financial backing. Never the less, the tools to innovation are increasingly becoming more prevalent for people across the world.
Of all the methods of rapid cultural calibration that is mentioned, what I found the most interesting was the idea of observing people in their morning routines and in their transportation modes. Having lived in Ohio, New York, and now Singapore, how people travel to work and how they prepare for their day is very different. In Ohio, a commute is defined by the automobile. Depending on the distance to the workplace, which is typically in the downtown area, people who drive from the suburbs will spend anywhere between 45 and 1.5 hours commuting to work in their cars. The time that is spent alone in a car can be used to listen to the radio or to sing aloud. In New York, this time is spent on the subway, much like Singapore’s MRT. In New York, the subways are nearly silent in the mornings, crammed with people with only inches of personal space. This can affect how a digital designer may approach the design of a podcast application; listening habits vary in different contexts.
While I’m not too familiar yet with Singapore’s morning commute culture (living on campus hasn’t provided me with the daily experience of seeing how people go about their mornings), what I have noticed is how the signage differs from New York’s. Singapore signage is accompanied with steeper fees and severe penalties, perhaps more influentially shaping human behavior compared to signage in New York. The only New York signage that is accompanied by steep fees is for assaulting subway employees, which may suggest a violent phenomenon that occurred in the past. How different are the cultural norms of rule obedience from Singapore to New York and is this shaped by the penalties?
Chipchase mentions that finding the balance between informal and formal research methods is the key to successful design research. I wonder if design researchers, particularly those who are more experienced, know exactly what balance to strike between these research methodologies when approaching a new project. Or do design researchers employ a variety of methods, and then refine and readjust their methodologies as they go on (much like the design process, which involves iteration and trial-and-error).
Thinking of affordances as a relationship between two properties is an interesting point that Norman mentions. Prior to reading The Design of Everyday Things, I have thought of objects and their affordances only within the context of one particular user. For example, a car affords a person with the ability to drive. But thinking of it as a relationship between two properties forces me to think of the user as more than one person. What is the relationship between someone who is shorter and the car compared to the relationship between a person who is taller and a car? The affordances change.