Doing with Theory (3): Making Metaphors Concrete

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For this week, I designed a generative workshop that ask participants to design a new and concrete experience with the metaphors I pulled from the metaphor elicitation workshop.

First, I looked through the digital collages made by the participants and selected 6 spaces — a different country, a campsite, limbo (the deepest, subconscious dream space from Inception), a kitchen, an exhibition space and a theme park. These spaces will be the target contexts where the augmented reality technology can be applied.

Next, I pulled some overlapping keywords about activities from the metaphor elicitation worksheets and created the word cards that will help facilitate participants’ brainstorming. In case of the needs to design a different activity experience, I will put blank cards during the workshop.

Finally, I made a workshop facilitation sheet and designed a process. The generative workshop will be conducted as follow:

  • Pick one space you want to redesign with the AR technology.
  • Pick a couple of activities you want to do in the target space.
  • Design a device you want to use and put it on your body
  • Draw something you want to see/feel/hear/experience through your device and put them in the target space.
  • Explain what is about and why you design in that way.

Pilot Workshop

I asked Manya and Monique to join the pilot generative workshop and observed again what works well and what doesn’t. It was a good decision that I prepared image cards of target contexts and activities. However, when I asked them to design magic devices that help them do the activities, they didn’t understand my intention. I realized that I should also prepare some paper device props so they can try embodiement.

I particularly felt the importance of preparing the device props when they explained their design; Manya wants to embody the recipe and skill of famous chefs through AR experience and Monique wants to be able to see and hear the local language in a different country. If we played with the magic device prop, we could have design more detailed experience.

One another problem of my pilot workshop design was that I used a couple of too specific keywords which limit the participants’ creativity. I realized that I should make them more abstract so they can brainstorm as much as they want.

Revision and The 2nd Test

Based on the self reflection, I edited my word cards and added paper props that represent magic devices for interacting with the space. As seen below, I got rid of the specific keywords and replaced to more broad action terms, giving people more room to think further about the new experience. In terms of the devices, I prepared 4 types of device props — a goggle, controllers, earbuds and gloves. However, if participants want to design something new, I’ll let them add their own.

Last time when I asked my participants to select an interaction tool first, they didn’t quite understand what this “tool” meant to be and why they need to design it. Therefore, I decided to switch the protocol — this time, I’ll ask people to brainstorm about the experience first and then I’ll let them select the device prop and bodystorm how they would like to interact with the virtual information. Here’s the new workshop protocol:

  • Pick one space you want to redesign with the AR technology.
  • Pick a couple of activities you want to do in the target space.
  • Imagine that you are in the space and brainstorm what you want to see/feel/hear/experience in there. Then, draw them and put them in the photo.
  • Explain what is about and why you design in that way.
  • Grab a device you want to use to interact with the information you want to see/feel/hear. If there is no device prop you want to use, feel free to make your own.

I asked Bori to test my second iteration and see how she redesigns the new experience. She picked a different country as the target space and then added a couple of information she wants to see related to exploration and communication. Later on, I asked her to do body enactment with my device paper props.

This time, it was way more easygoing to redesign the new experience and (possibly) the new interaction technique. Bori picked a goggle and controllers and thought aloud how she would like to see and hear local vibe in the target space while traveling. One hiccup was, I wanted her to put the virtual information in the photo, but since the paper was so big, she attached her paper props outside. Bori told me to consider using sticky notes instead of letter-size paper and I totally agree with her. In that way, participants can understand the intention of the activity with ease.

Conclusion & The Next Plan

To be honest, I didn’t really expect too much from my first workshop design but after the multiple iteration, it feels like my workshop becomes so much useful. Not only could I successfully pull new and crazy ideas from the deep metaphor, but also I could get useful insights about both new values and interaction techniques from the part 2 workshop. I think the key success point of doing with theory is iteration.

So what’s next? I will revise this workshop protocol over the winter break a little bit and conduct a generative study workshop in January. Hopely I can get novel concepts of augmented reality!

Design Studies in Practice

Carnegie Mellon School of Design: MDes Seminar III

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