Pin up 10 concepts October 25th
Pin up 3 refined Ideas November 1st
Presentations in class November 10th
Documentation due November 11th
The acquisition of new things for our homes can sometimes be a very gratifying experience. Improving our living conditions has long been a marker of what we do as a species. Technologies are often an element of those improvements, but the experience of bringing a new technology onto the scene can often be equal parts satisfaction and frustration. From opening a theft-resistant blister-pack to assembling a child’s toy to reading a manual to configuring a router to wiring in a new A/V component, we all have horror stories to share about new stuff.
There are positive examples, too. Some people rave about the experience of taking a new Apple computer out of the box and switching it on. Occasionally, new UI features like browser tabs nicely satisfy a need we didn’t even know we had. My last espresso machine was similar enough to the previous one that it made a fantastic cup on first try. On the whole, though, it seems like the bad examples outnumber the good, and there’s unquestionably lots of room for improvements in many areas.
The technologies and future scenarios we’re been looking at in this studio offer lots of resources for possible changes to the process of integrating a new technology into a setting. What if a new device could apprentice itself to an old one until it knew the ropes? What if a device knew there was a big screen in the room where it could show you a quick video of what to do? What if it detected that you were having trouble and connected you with an expert? What if an appliance knew of another device in your home that it could liken itself to, in terms of how it worked? What if your new helicopter spider web vacuum could communicate with your Roomba+ about the floor plan of the house? What if it knew to do its thing only when the dog was out of the house?
In some cases, changes and advancements of this sort are going to be the rule, not just possibilities. As our A/V systems begin to all be wireless, they are going to have to discover and confederate with each other. Cloud-based services might have to assess the available resources every time they’re invoked. If we start seeing so-called “natural user interfaces” proliferate, devices may need to negotiate about which one is going to interpret a command, based on which home resident performed it, at what time, and in what context.
If you think very long about it, the topic also explodes and expands in many different directions, and into additional contexts outside the home. There’s no need to shy away from those bigger pictures.
Your project is to explore the general topic of new arrivals. You can interpret this topic in a variety of ways, and we’re encouraging broad and future thinking. It could be a purchase coming home, it could be a device being relocated, it could be subscribing to a new service, or whatever you choose. Especially at the outset, you’ll want to cast a broad net.
You may choose any avenue to explore, and it’s up to you if you want to try to maintain some kind of conceptual thread throughout your explorations or be more scattershot. For the first deliverable, you’re going to develop 10 snapshots of areas where new arrivals arise, and present a concise notion of how you’d address that one. For example, you might say that the new RoombaPlus automatic home vacuum would figure out the floor plan of your domicile and the schedules of the occupants, and that it would learn to concentrate its efforts on places where it has found greater concentrations of dirt and do so at times when nobody was home. These 10 (each on, say, their own 8.5’’ x 11’’ sheet) will be evaluated by your instructors and peers, and you’ll further develop 3 of them.
Those further developments should include key interactions, storyboarded and wireframed as needed to communicate the core ideas and innovations. In the following pin up, your peers will again choose your direction for the project.
After that, you’ll run with the chosen topic to a final stage of development for the new arrivals project. Your goal is a concise demonstration of the innovation you’re proposing, but it will necessarily include core elements of the interaction design, the look and feel, and a technology demonstration of some sort. Not knowing where you’re headed yet, it’s impossible to say exactly what this will entail, but we’ll coach you and set expectations jointly. As usual, you will be permitted to use Sifteos, fireworks, Processing, exothermic reactions, Garage Band, alchemy, Flash, lasers, Illustrator, biomimicry, Photoshop, photovoltaics, Python, dry ice, Java, motors, Arduino, sensors—–basically any tools you can lay your hands on.
The key here is out-of-the-box thinking and being willing to work where the process and your faux-clients take you. Pinpoint a desired setting or few, target some pain points and opportunities, identify some users (maybe include some that you don’t know all that well). Also, think about the interactions that various people in you scenarios will experience, and how they might participate.
As we discussed in studio on Thursday, we will be presenting the 10 sketches in class this Tuesday, October 25th. Further iterations and refinements of the three topics will be shown a week later, and one of those topics will be carried to the project’s completion. You will be presenting your final works on November 10th.
Documentation We will be posting projects on design.cca.edu. Please spend a bit of time considering how you will post your work in that forum.
Evaluation on this project will be based on the quantity, variety, ingenuity, creativity and beauty of your efforts. Your peers will be playing the role of client in this project, so make sure you’d be willing to proceed in any of the directions you present.