Ideation & Prototyping Final Project: Connecting Through Tangible Interfaces

This week marks our final week working on our final project. As mentioned in the previous blog post, Lily, Sharon, and I are developing a game where participants will be summoning a ghost with different and unique features and characters depending on the users’ personality and how they are feeling at the time. After deciding on our concept, we started talking about the logistics of the project and dividing it into different parts so that we can deliver a prototype by the end of the week.

First, we regrouped and confirmed all the details of our design. We agreed to continue with the idea to use temperature and heartrate sensors as the two deciding elements of the game. Additionally, to make the game control a bit more engaging, we decided to add in a hand gesture that needed to be done by the participants in order to summon the ghost. We talked about several options, such as infrared sensors, cameras, and potentiometers, but finally agreed on using an ultrasound sensor to get the distance of the user’s hands to the control panel, so that we can detect whether a hand gesture is involved. Afterwards, we listed out different action items that needed to be done according to our timeline. We decided that Sharon will be creating the visual elements of the game, Lily will be in charge of building the physical controls, and I will be responsible for writing any scripts needed for the game, documenting, and coordinating our presentation.

To start making the visuals for the game, Sharon and I planned out separate screens that players will be going through: onboarding, data collection, ghost rendering, and user interactions. We also decided on some visual elements we will be referencing; we want our design to look futuristic but also fun, so Sharon suggested using neon as a theme throughout the screens and making the ghost look more cartoon-ish rather than spooky. With the help of some plugins, she created these pages in After Effects, which will then be displayed onto our holographic projector.

We planned to have the ghosts entirely randomized with different characters, faces, and colors combining together according to our users’ temperature and heart rate. Initially, we wanted to do all that and show our gameplay live during the presentation. But to present our final product without any interruptions from internet issues and other technical difficulties, we will be showing a video of three different gameplays with the ghosts. So while Sharon was working on the animations, I began to think about the dialogues that are going to happen between these ghosts and the players. I wanted to make these ghosts to have human-like characters while also keeping some surprise elements for the players. So I gave them odd voices and accents and wrote some pretty bizarre dialogues which you’ll be hearing in the presentation.

For the physical interfaces of our game, Lily thought about different tools we can employ to make the hologram possible. Eventually, we went with her suggestion to make a simple but effective hologram device with some plastic panels. There’s plenty of documentation out there breaking down how this device works and how it can be built. Nevertheless, Lily sketched out her version.

Incorporating the neon theme, Lily also created a print that will be wrapped around the physical enclosure in which the sensors will be installed.

Next, Lily assembled the sensors to the board and placed it inside the control box. After configuring the Arduino board, we were able to get all three sensors working.

With all the elements ready to be put together, we made our slides and a video walkthrough of our game in preparation for the presentation.

Our presentation is linked here:

Reflections

This project really made us bring out everything we have learned throughout this semester: ideating, sketching, quick prototyping, crafting, group work…… We truly realized that this project would not have been possible if we weren’t gifted with all these skills. In the future, we wanted to actually build out the entire game and see if our design intervention really set out to solve the problem that we were looking to address: bringing people together during this troubling time. We were also thinking about how hologram/holographic projection could be used in other realms as a seamless combination between digital and physical interfaces. We truly hope that we, as makers, are able to stay inspired by the time and create solutions that will bring all of us together as a tight-knitted community through different designs and interfaces.

Looking back to my first week when I was freaking out over having to create an animal with some recycled material because it was sooooo out of my comfort zone, I feel way more confident in my ability to create something with my bare hands and some random materials around me. On a more personal note, I have always been skeptical about my creativity; I remember being told that I am not a “crafty kid” because I wasn’t able to make origamis that are better than the other kids. This doubt kept me away from even coming close to the field of design because I’m so ingrained with the idea that “I can’t do art” and that “it’s something that you're born with”. Coming out from this class, equipped with so many more skills in crafting and prototyping, I truly believe in my own creativity and that my ideas are just as valuable as anyone else. I have denied my own creativity for wayyy too long and I am so grateful for the opportunity to reacquaint myself with my own creative skills. I cannot wait to see what I’ll be able to make in the future.

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