Projects

Case Study #1

Haptics Haunted House

Service Design, Haptic Technology

Case Study #2

Celery Bog Mapping

Application Design

Master’s Capstone

Fanzine Archive

Website Design, Co-Design

Case Study #1: Haptics Haunted House

Client:

Dr. Hong Z. Tan

Challenge:

Exploring how a device designed for ‘soothing,’ positive sensations might be used to evoke fear within the context of a haunted house.

Activities:

  • Sketch Ideation & Diaries
  • User Journey Mapping
  • Low-Fidelity Prototyping (Mystery Box)
  • Iterative Prototyping (Script)
  • User Walkthrough

Deliverables:

  • User Research & Recommendations
  • Storyboards & Animatic
  • High-Fidelity Final Video

 

Overview

Haptics is a branch of technology that deals with the production of physical sensations. The PalmScape 1 is one such device, comprised of four central censors that can produce a variety of sensations to the palm. It was originally engineered by Dr. Hong Z. Tan to reproduce positive stimuli. However, she wondered if it could–without changing any of the signals–be used to provoke negative reactions instead.

As part of her investigation, Dr. Tan challenged our design team to build a haunted house around the PalmScape 1.

Almost immediately, our team realized that we didn’t have the manpower, the space, the time, or the resources to create a full-scale haunted house experience.

Our Solution

Instead of building a haunted house, we performed a (fake) seance.

Designing a Seance

Seances are meetings wherein a “psychic” medium channels the spirits of the dead to make contact with the living, a practice popularized in the Spiritualist movement of the 1800s. Over the years, these so-called mediums have regularly proved frauds, seances are deeply embedded in the American psyche.

Our team built a seance experience from start to finish, based around the haptics signals available to us through the PalmScape 1, enhancing the experience with external stimuli.

Supplemental stimuli were tested in a series of low-fidelity prototypes, such as “mystery boxes” wherein participants were asked to place their hand blindly into a box and report on the ‘creepiness’ unseen sensations.

Final Deliverables

Based on the user research conducted by our team, our initial deliverable was a full animatic describing the experience to the engineering team. In the following months, the engineering team went on to develop the seance in full, and in Fall 2019 both teams collaborated to bring it to life.

 

The events were recorded and submits to the Haptics Symposium, and the Haptics Haunted House was set to demo at their 2020 conference, prior to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Case Study #2: Celery Bog Mapping

Client:

West Lafayette Parks & Recreation

The Celery Bog

Challenge:

Providing an interactive map for park visitors that can be maintained and updated by park staff.

Activities:

  • Interviews & Co-Design
  • Paper Prototyping
  • User Walkthrough
  • Usability Testing
  • UI (App) Design

Deliverables:

  • Embed location-based map and landmarks
  • Instruction manual

Overview

The Celery Bog Nature Area is a protected wetland located in West Lafayette, Indiana, not far from Purdue University. The marsh plays a number of important roles, both to park visitors and the plants and animals that it shelters.

As part of a wave of recent park renovations, the park directors expressed interest in expanding technologies that might aid visitors.

Informal Interviews & Data Gathering

During our early interviews with park directors, we proposed creating an interactive map to help visitors navigate trails, identify landmarks, and learn the local history.

 

However, we also discovered that the user experience was double-layered. Not only did we need to design the map and experience, but we needed to provide it in a form that could be updated by the park directors, none of whom had technological training.

Our team also realized that in order to craft a good user experience, we had to gain a physical understanding of the park. We accomplished this by walking the trails, exploring landmarks, and learning the park’s history.

Prototyping

Preliminary data gathering for prototypes took the form of physically touring the Celery Bog Nature Area and documenting GPS coordinates.

Paper sketches and wireframes were constructed to better envision the application. These paper prototypes were submitted to cognitive walkthrough testing.

​We learned from our various paper prototypes that we were trying to convey too much information at once, and needed to simplify the application

Using the insights gained from the low-fidelity prototype testing, we simplified the interface and began developing a high-fidelity prototype. This prototype was then subjected to another round of cognitive walkthrough testing, both on the front-end (map) and back-end (administration).

The front-end prototype was better received and required fewer tweaks to proceed. The administrative back-end however still suffered from over-complication. A backup default version was created, and several features, such as the path editor, were removed entirely.

Final Deliverables

Application

  • Embedded in the park website (rather than as a downloadable app)
  • Location-sensitive interactive mobile application with a myriad of path tracking functionalities
  • Simple, browser-based administrator back-end for editing and adding photos

Administrator User Manual

  • Step-by-Step manual for park directors

Announcement Poster

  • Physical announcement with accompanying QR code to alert park visitors to the new application

Master’s Capstone: Fanzine Archive Co-Design

Client:

Self-Started

Challenge:

Designing a nonprofit digital archival structure for visual-based media.

Activities:

  • Interviews & Analysis
  • Wireframing
  • Collaborative Drawing
  • Telephone Game
  • Co-Design
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Iterative Design

Deliverables:

  • Research Paper (under review for CSCW 2021)
  • UI Prototype

 

Transformative Fandom

A community of media fans that create and share works derivative/transformative of original media content. The term is commonly used to refer to transformational fandom (focused on fan creative work) as distinguished from curative fandom, which is about consumption/curation of media without the creative element.

Dym, B., Aragon, C., Bullard, J., Davis, R., & Fiesler, C. (2018). Online Fandom: Boldly Going Where Few CSCW Researchers Have Gone Before. Companion of the 2018 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative

Overview

Transformative fandom exists to fill the gaps left by mainstream media—whether that be representation of marginalized groups, or failure to live up to potential as a media franchise. As a result, transformative fandom spaces house are overwhelmingly populated by LGBT+ groups and women.

This makes fan work important, not just because it fills the gap left by lack of representation in the mainstream, but it also amplifies and captures the voices of marginalized groups that have been traditionally silenced.

Transformative fandom has, from the beginning, suffered from censorship and legal repercussions. These fan content ‘purges’ overwhelming and sometimes explicitly targeted LGBT+ content, especially fan works that explicitly explored gender and sexuality.

Recent years has seen efforts to preserve and legitimize fandom history and content, primarily through the efforts of the Organization for Transformative Works (source). The most relevant of these is Archive of Our Own (AO3), a Hugo Award winning fanfiction archive.

However, despite these efforts, non-fanfiction artifacts such as fanart, fanvid, etc… are still very vulnerable to censorship and mass deletion

Core Question

What is the next step in protecting and archival fandom work and history?

Fanzines are curated anthologies of fandom work. Although their most current iteration, which began to pick up speed 5-6 years ago, focuses mostly on visual artifacts (like fanart), fanzines historically descend from fanfiction space.

As a result, fanzines work well as a potential bridge from the established human-computer interaction literature that focuses heavily on fanfiction, into a more visually-focused space.

Interview Study

  • Number of Participants: 5
  • Format: Semi-Structured Interview
  • Language: English
  • Medium: Digital (Discord)
  • Time: 45-90 Minutes

Key Insights

Fanzines have fundamentally shifted in structure over the past few years, including less fanfiction and more fanart; part of this shift is because of the accessible fandom archiving system provided through Archive of Our Own.

Although there are many risks associated with fanzine creation and moderation, people continue to participate and purchase them for a variety of reasons, such as opportunities for networking or personal fulfillment.

The recent fanzine revival calls back to the ephemeral nature of online transformative fandom, the long-standing history of censorship and erasure by external forces, and a lack of archival infrastructure for non-fanfiction artifacts, particularly fanart. 

Thus, fanzines offer an unique opportunity in furthering the fandom archival infrastructure.

Building the Fanzine Archive

A team of seasoned fanzine moderators were recruited to take part in a series of co-design workshops. The team and workshops differed from traditional co-design in two key areas:

  • Team members already had creative, sometimes design-specific experience
  • Activities were largely facilitated asynchronously and semi-synchronously through direct messaging programs

 

Four co-design activities were planned over the course of three months, each one with interlinking goals and deliverables. The final goal was to produce a medium-fidelity prototype of the fanzine archive, including design rationale and a comparison with pre-existing archives.

Unforeseen Complications

About halfway through this project, COVID-19 cases began spiking in the United States. This led to significant changes in the daily lives of millions of people.

Despite the asynchronous, digital nature of this project, many of the co-designers faced personal challenges that severely affected their ability to contribute. Their well-being was, of course, the highest priority, which led to simplifications and adjustments to the overall project timeline.

Design Highlights

Asynchronous Affinity Diagramming

Time: 1 week

Description:

This activity was performed asynchronously, with a combination of direct messages and a collaboratively shared slideshow.

Participants were asked to brainstorm basic questions, concerns, and thoughts about a potential archive. Afterwards, they were asked to sort the collective results into categories.

Results:

  • Established a common jargon
  • Categorized list of key questions

Collaborative Drawing

Time: 1 Week

Description:

Three two-hour drawing sessions were hosted using the collaborative online drawing software, aggie.io. Participants signed up for at least one hour of one of the sessions, but were welcome to join for additional sessions.

Sessions were paired with a group audio call. Discussion prompts were selected based on the list generated in Asynchronous Affinity Diagramming exercise. Participants were then asked to talk through potential solutions verbally and visually

Results

  • Participant-generated answers to the participant-generated questions of the previous activity
  • Rough wireframes and rationale

 

Telephone Game

Time: 3 Weeks

Description:

The Telephone Game is a children’s game that has been adapted to asynchronous art communities. The game goes as follows: one artist will create an illustration or character, and give it to another artist who must then recreate it. The second artist then passes the recreation on to a third artist, and the cycle repeats. Artists are not allowed to look at other iterations of the art piece until the end of the game, when they are lined up for comparison. The result is usually a slow transformation of the original image into something completely different, due to the difference in styles and mediums.

The Telephone Game was adapted here as a form of rapid wireframe iteration, based on the questions and sketch solutions generated over previous activities. Afterwards, design choices were discussed asynchronously through direct messages.

 

Results

  • Archive UI with multiple iterations and rationale

 

Final Deliverables

In the end, the team ended up borrowing heavily from Archive of Our Own (AO3). The logic was that rather than reinventing the wheel, a fanzine archive would function best utilizing the archival infrastructure set up by the Organization for Transformative Works. Therefore, the prototyped infrastructure borrows heavily from AO3.

​The key points of divergence, however, were: 

  • Infrastructure for crediting multiple participants and their roles
  • Authorship not being tied to the account submitting the fanzine
  • Embedded image and PDF managers
  • Moderated user submissions