Designing Emerging Technologies
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CIID Costa Rica 2018 - Interactive Spaces Workshop

Designing Interactive Spaces Workshop

A one week course combining interactive spaces, prototyping, and mixed reality. 

Combining interactive spaces, prototyping, and mixed reality, student will explore how our spaces will fuse the digital and physical. In this course we will explore how to craft meaningful interactive spaces through practical, hands-on prototyping and scenario building. We will introduce and explore concepts from the design of internet connected objects to the worlds of virtual and mixed reality. An emphasis will be placed on rapidly prototyping and exploring these designs.

Each day we see and interact with a variety of screens. From handheld mobile devices to large-scale digital displays, our current technologies utilize screens to provide flat views and interfaces into a vast world of digital materials. However, there is a change happening as these digital technologies transition into the objects and environments around us. Interfaces are moving from a world of ‘magic paper’ to a world of objects and environments.

Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living
— Nicholas Negroponte

We live in an amazing time where digital technology is beginning to take many different physical forms, with a rise in new interactions and sensorial experiences. But how will these new connected physical-digital spaces impact our lives? What do we expect out of space as we do with the rest of our digital artifacts? As these technologies become ubiquitous how do we shape them to be meaningful parts of our lives?


From this perspective we see our physical world becoming infused with the digital, but the opposite is also happening. Virtual and Mixed Reality offers a new take on these questions by letting us embed digital objects with properties from the physical world such as location, scale, and persistence in the world. How do these technologies work to create and augment environments?

In this course, we will explore how to craft meaningful connected spaces through practical, hands-on prototyping and scenario building. We will introduce and explore concepts from the design of internet connected objects to the worlds of virtual and mixed reality. An emphasis will be placed on rapid prototyping and exploring these designs. Together we will explore a number of quick exercises to better understand these technologies.

With the learned knowledge of prototyping techniques, affordances, physical materials and digital tools, participants will build a working physical prototype to communicate their final idea. They will learn how to use immersive storytelling rather than screen-based presentations to demonstrate the experiences.

This course lasts five days from approximately 9am to 6pm, including lunch and breaks.

    Day One:

    Day one covers the logistics of the course and begins the plan for what will happen at the end of the week in terms of showing the prototype projects to other courses or visiting guests.

    Lecture: Intro to the Course (link to Google Slides Presentation)

    Kick-off Session for the Course:

    • Tell us a bit about yourself... who are you?, where you are from?, what interests you / what you do?

    • What would you like to get from the course?

    • Describe an environment you have experienced that you love or made a meaningful impact on you.


    Exercise: How to Brainstorm / Intro to Bodystorming

    Over the last decade brainstorming has come under fire as a methodology for some good reasons. It can produce less ideas with less variation. Read this Harvard Business Review article which sites some of the research for more information about the controversy. Many of us have experienced a brainstorm that fell flat, here are some guidelines we use to frame more effective brainstorming.


    Explore the Terrain of the Idea

    Don't be afraid to get weird, take tangents, and express the ideas you are worried will make you look foolish or unknowledgable. 


    Start with the agreement that the goal of the Brainstorm is to map the terrain of the idea together. One of the strengths of a group brainstorm can be building on each others ideas to find new areas to explore. Everyone should play a role in facilitating and advocating for others in the group.

    We do not like to appear “ignorant” or “stupid” or just plain wrong. Of course, we all know that our own minds are full of messy confusion, and that many others are in the same plight, but we imagine that some minds are tidy and neat and sharp. We see no reason to advertise not being in this class, especially in the presence of people such as bosses and teachers who have power over us. So voices within caution us to be careful of what we say: Talking too much might reveal what kind of mind we have and make us vulnerable. Eventually this caution becomes a habit.
    — Seymour Papert, Constructionism in Practice

    Constraints in Design (and life!) can be seen as empowering (read more about the value of constraints) the process of problem generation and problem solving. Let's walk through an example that might help elucidate the way constraints can help the process. Imagine for our idea we have been struck by the amount of violence in the world and we would like to reduce that violence. We decide to start brainstorming with the question...

    How might we create world peace?

    It's a great question, but I suspect your brainstorm will be ambling and unlikely to produce many ideas that are solid enough to build on. The terrain is so vast that it's unlikely you will cover it in any meaningful detail. How could we improve the brainstorm? Constraints. 

    How might we increase peace with a daily ritual?

    This will be a much more productive brainstorm because the specificity will help you cover a more manageable amount of terrain. This is the altitude that will yield the best brainstorms results. Can there by too many constraints? Absolutely...

    How might we triple peace with a evening ritual using Android phones in Chicago with a cubist artistic approach?

    You can probably come up with some ideas, but you will get diminishing results quickly. The problem is that there are a lot of constraints to keep in mind at the same time and the area of coverage has become too constrained. This is sometimes referred to as 'overfittting' the problem space because the ideas are too close to one or a few specific solutions. 

    So before brainstorming come up with some different 'How might we' style questions to ask the group. If you are having trouble forming the questions, this might help to create a variety.

    How might we use the ____ to ____ with _____ ?

    How might we create ____with___to____ ?

    How might we showcase ____ with ____ in order to _____ ?

    The blanks could be goals, technologies, places, methods, audiences, or any else you find useful. Now that you have your questions for the brainstorm, follow these rules for the brainstorm session itself....

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    1. It’s blue sky time, defer judgment
    2. Encourage wild ideas
    3. Build on the ideas of others
    4. Stay focused on the topic
    5. One conversation at the time
    6. Be visual.
    7. Go for quantity
    8. It’s about ideas generation, not idea evaluation. 
    9. Respect everyone and let everyone speak
    10. Have fun!


    Demo: Connecting Physical and Digital Worlds


    Exercise: Project Overview and Project Outline for the Week


    Day Two

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    Introducing Processing


    We cover creating your first Sketch...
    Change the Size of your Sketch
    Draw an Ellipse in Processing
    Remove the stroke around the shape using noStroke
    Draw Rect and other additional shapes
    Change the fill Colors of the shapes
    Introduce setup and draw
    Introduce if statements and keyPressed
    Connect Makey Makey to Display an Image

    Additional Resources:


    Intro to Projection Mapping

    We cover doing projection mapping using the keystone library which you can import into Processing. 

    Additional Resources:

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    Intro to Microsoft HoloLens Mixed Reality

    The Microsoft HoloLens offers many challenges to design for, but each student in the workshop is able to form an understanding of where the medium is going and how their ideas might work in Mixed Reality.

    In the second half of Day 2 we practice bodystorming techniques and rapid prototyping of our ideas. Video documentation is available on the Facebook Group for the course.


    Day 3

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    Introduction to Spacebrew

    We use to help construct interactive spaces for the course. 

    Additional Resources:

    Spacebrew Admin Interface
    Spacebrew Javascript Slider Example
    Spacebrew Processing Library and Example


    Introduction to OpenTSPS

    OpenTSPS is a toolkit for sensing people in space using computer vision. It supports webcams, built in cameras, and kinects.

    Additional Resources:
    Processing Introduction to Computer Vision

    In the second half of day 3 we began brainstorming for our project brief in more depth. This is a summary of the brief...

    Imagine we are using the space of the Omar Dengo Foundation to host a temporary exhibit that highlights the relationship between San Jose and the rest of Costa Rica with the goal of helping bridge the city and nature. Over the next week we will transform the space using techniques from the course to create interactive installations.  On Friday, the exhibit will open. 
    We will work in groups of 3-5 work through the process from concept to delivery of the idea. In this exhibit we are looking to create interactive spaces that create experiences that not only tell visitors about nature but allow them to feel aspects of the natural world. We are using Omar Dengo Foundation because we are expecting you to create an interactive prototype of your exhibit at full scale.

    Day 4

    Introduction to Immersion:

    Sensory-Motoric Immersion (Tactical)
    Sensory-Motoric immersion is experienced when performing tactile operations that involve skill. Players feel "in the zone" while perfecting actions that result in success.

    Cognitive Immersion (Strategic)
    Cognitive  immersion is more cerebral, and is associated with mental challenge. Chess players experience strategic immersion when choosing a correct solution among a broad array of possibilities.

    Emotional Immersion (Narrative)
    Emotional  immersion occurs when players become invested in a story, and is similar to what is experienced while reading a book or watching a movie.

    Spatial Immersion (Presence)
    Spatial immersion occurs when a player feels the simulated world is perceptually convincing. The player feels that he or she is really "there" and that a simulated world looks and feels "real"


    Day 5

    Starting on Day 4 we begin synthesizing the various methods and technologies we cover in the course into a rapid prototype of an interactive installation.

    On the 5th day we bring visitors into our experiences. The prototypes for interactive spaces use the framework of an exhibit. Visitors get to try to the experiences hands on and participants in the workshop get to evaluate their concepts and how they might evolve their designs towards new prototypes.

    In conclusion the workshop ends with a reflection session where we review the journey that we have gone on together and where we might go next. 





    Omar Dengo Foundation

    300 este y 50 sur de antigua
    casa de Matute Gómez

    Costa Rica, San José

    Learning expectations:

    • Using your hands – learning to make physical prototypes of all scales, starting at the analogue level, and working up to integrating digital components
    • How to use analogue and digital tools to create interactive experiences
    • Deepen prototyping skills and develop an understanding of how and when to use each technique
    • Learning basic methodology to create an experience through user journeys, research, prototyping, user testing, body/brainstorming, workshopping, etc
    • Learn practical idea generation and critical thinking methods
    • How to create & use physical affordances, and how to design for action
    • Learning basic methodology to create an experience through user journeys, research, prototyping, user testing, body/brainstorming, workshopping, etc
    • Experience and develop a vocabulary for Virtual and Mixed Reality interaction design
    • Develop an ability to find and expand insights related to interactive environments
    • Prototyping communication skills – learning how to create and use prototypes, and when (fidelity vs. content, contextual use)

    Class Resources: