Personal Honours Project - Guru's Day prep

With Guru's Day - a day where we invite staff from various parts of the university as well as industry experts from external companies - taking place the following week, we were given our brief by Chris to create 3 'boxes' that symbolised our projects physically, while showing the guru's how our project will incorporate people, design and technology. There was an emphasis on creating physical boxes as they were more visually interesting to look at than sheets or screens and it was also an opportunity for the interaction designers to flex their product design muscle, especially if making wasn't part of their comfort zone!

After the briefing, I let the idea sit for the week before finally making a plan of action. If I couldn't use screens or devices to talk about my work, I would make my own devices. I sketched out a rough diagram of my planned boxes - using the laser cutter I would cut out a (as close to) life like iPhone 6, iPad Mini and a Macbook Pro 13". The iPhone would be my technology box, as it was the main form of technology I planned on using, the iPad Mini would be my people box and the Macbook would be my design box. I also sketched up a quick plan of how to create some stands to display the boxes.

The following week, I began creating the Illustrator files I would need to create the cuts. Fortunatley for me, I was lucky enough to stumble across a free template on the site Dribbble courtesy of the user Frexy. All I had to do was tweak his files to allow the laser cutter to understand and cut them.  

I'd originally booked an hour on the laser cutter later in the week but as it happened there was a free space right at the start of the week. With all my files prepared, I spent the rest of the day cutting out all of my shapes. I used some thin MDF to make the cut and they came out extremely well and I was very happy with them. Not bad for someone who shies away from making. I spent the rest of that day planning how I was going to make the stands and did another few quick sketches. The stands I was less fussy about as they just needed to be easy to assemble, practical and be able to do their job. 

The following day it was time to properly think about the stands. I did a quick prototype of my proposed design and found that it was exactly what I needed. The next task was finding the correct sizes for each device. The one I'd prototyped fitted the iPad perfectly, and was a square of roughly 90mm, with two 6mm indents on each side for the two feet to slot into. The iPhone needed a square of 50mm and a the MacBook needed a square of 235mm, but this was changed to a rectangle as the square was too tall for the MacBook to stand. 

Unfortunately there was no free laser cutter sessions available that day to finish creating the stands, but luckily I had kept a slot booked later in the week like I had originally planned. I instead used the rest of the day to write up the information that would go into the Guru's Day menu. We were required to write up 50 words about our project as well as submit two questions we were hoping to ask about our projects:

50 words:

While the internet has not made us any less curious, the efficiency of Google and Wikipedia has created instant gratification, becoming one the biggest problems against encouraging user’s curiosity in the digital age. My aim is to create a platform where people can explore their interests in a digital space.

Two questions:

1. Would the implementation of gamification into a digital platform encourage users to actively participate in a shared activity?

2. While engaging in conversation with others is an effective shared activity in a digital space, can you recommend any other shared activities between users that could be implemented digitally?

I also spent today considering what information I wanted to display in my boxes relating to the three different aspects of the project. I identified my people issue, my design challenges and how I would look to solve them as well as identified what technology I wanted to use for my project.

People

While the internet has not made us any less curious, the efficiency of Google and Wikipedia has created instant gratification, becoming one the biggest problems against encouraging user’s curiosity in the digital age. Because of instant gratification, these questions we have the desire to learn about, no longer has time to develop and deepen or further our knowledge about these interests.

Design

The main challenge is how to encourage people to resist temptations of ‘googling’ their answers, and I believe that by providing a digital platform which provides an engaging activity, this will encourage users to explore their interests further. Conversation with likeminded individuals is a good activity to use, as well as implementing the idea of gameification. Rewarding users for participating in the shared activity should encourage users to continue contributing as well as creating connections with other users. 

Technology

Smartphones are one of the pioneering technologies that have emerged from the Digital Age, and have integrated themselves into every aspect of our lives. Allowing us to be constantly connected, it makes sense that these new online spaces we desire should be based on these devices in theform of mobile applications. 

Finally, I got my slot to cut out the stands for the devices. I had made the template the previous day and so it was a simple case of going into the Maker space and cutting. The only factor I hadn't considered was that the MDF I was using was only 3mm thick when I had accounted for a 6mm gap for the slots. This was easily fixed however by adding more feet to be cut and glueing the feet together. The feet then fit perfectly into the slot and the crisis was averted. The only slight problem was stability, but this was easily fixed with some brown tape securing the feet at the back.

With the base information written up and ready to go, I considered how I would display the information in my boxes. I felt that just putting in text and images straight onto the sheets would look a bit bland, so I decided to be a bit more creative. I adapted screenshots of apps from the Facebook iPhone app, the Twitter iPad app as well as a screenshot from the Google page.

For the Facebook screenshot, I made it appear that Technology had been tagged in a post and presented the information in the post. The Twitter app was made to look like People had a Twitter account that was posting information about the people issue I was looking to tackle. Finally, the MacBook had a google search for Design and below listed the design challenges I'd be facing during the project.

Overall I think the information sheets were very effective in conveying the information I wanted to show in an interesting way for the Guru's.