Testing in Public Space – Resolving Problems

20150114_145209Today, I tested my piece in the public space and had to overcome various problems in order to get my interactive piece to successfully work. I initially had planned to display my piece on the public screen opposite Costa (see image on right). I set it up using my laptop webcam, however as expected the crowded background in Weymouth House meant my piece wouldn’t work correctly. The video capture picked up the posters and various other objects which caused the shapes to not work correctly. I experimented with altering the threshold level in the code, but to resolve the problem I needed to put up a white screen to blank out the cluttered background. Here are the different threshold experiments, ranging from threshold of 70 – 140:
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Due to circumstances I was unable to put up a white screen as Costa did not approve as it meant some of their seating would become obstruct20150121_111653ed. Therefore, I was unable to use my chosen public screen. To resolve problems with the cluttered background, I set up my piece in the small tv studio, near the entrance of Weymouth House. The walls were plain white and there was more space for users to interact with my piece. I used a portable screen, of which I connected my laptop to, and video captured users from my laptop webcam. However, due to the lighting of the area, I had issues with capturing a silhouette-like figure. As the lighting was shinning directly down and I was wearing a short sleeve top, it meant my arms appeared as being mainly white. This made it quite hard to interact wiScreen Shot 2015-01-21 at 11.47.51th as obstructing the falling shapes was more difficult. Also, due to their being a bright light shinning directly onto the area, it meant a shadow appeared on the white wall behind the person. To resolve the problems, I altered the lighting and experimented with various different threshold levels to see what worked best in the area. I also found that the piece seemed to work best when users had long sleeves on as this meant they appeared as being more silhouette-like. I decided to rotate the portable tv screen around, allowing the users to see themselves on the laptop screen and others to view the piece on the tv screen. This meant that even if people didn’t wish to interact, they can still view the piece and decode their own meanings and messages. Here are pictures of the final set-up and users interacting with my piece:Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 14.57.15 20150121_120433

From this, I feel I should’ve possibly been a bit more organised and asked in advance about a white screen and permission from Costa. However, I feel that the area I used in the public space worked out to be more suitable, as it allows more room or individuals/multiple users to interact. Its also means that to preview the piece, you don’t have to physically interact with it as you can see others interacting on the public tv screen. I think that due to the area and set-up, when people see others interacting then it encourages them to go up and interact. Users can interact with friends and are able to have more fun playing around with the piece. Next, I will add videos of users interacting with my final piece and discuss comments that I recieved when displaying my piece.

Public Screens in Weymouth House

I went to the public space and analysed which public screen to display my interactive piece on. This is important as the screen it is displayed on can alter how successful it may be. I looked at which screens stand out more in the public space and what size screen would work best for my piece. As well as thinking about where I would position a camera and white screen. Below I have analysed each screen in relation to the public space to evaluate which would be most successful to display my interactive piece on…
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Screen 1 – I feel that these screens would not be suitable for my piece due to their being six fairly small screens. Also, due to the layout of the space, there is a seating area and a white post obstructing its view. I feel there wouldn’t be enough room for users to interact with my piece and feel that these screens are a bit segregated from the main public space. Not many people walk through between the seating areas so I feel my piece would not be successful here

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Screen 2 – These double screens are situated at the front entrance to Weymouth House. The screens are a good size for my piece and there is a large area around in which users can interact. People walk past the screens when going in and out of the public space, so I feel my piece would be fairly successful in this location. The automatic doors are opposite, which could obstruct the falling shapes so I would have to put a white screen up a few metres from the screen. I would have to ensure that this doesn’t block the entrance and people can still freely access the space.

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Screen 3 – These double screens are location opposite costa in the main path through of the public space. I feel that again they are a good size for my piece and feel they are the most noticed screens. Due to Costa being in the background as well as numerous posters on the walls, I would need to put up a white screen. This could be positioned a few metres from the screen, near the table. This means the screen would be more out of the way and doesn’t block peoples walking path through the space.

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Screen 4 -This single screen is located in between the lifts at the rear of the public space. It is a suitable size but I feel it is slightly isolated from the main space. People waiting for lifts may interact but that may only be for a short amount of time until the lift comes. I feel that this screens isn’t that noticed and think that my piece would not be that successful if displayed here.

 

I have decided that the screen I will display my interactive piece on is screen 3 (opposite costa). I think it has the best location in the public space and is the most noticed screen. I feel my interactive piece would work best in this location as it is in the main path through the space so there will be lots of people to hopefully interact with it. I feel it is also in the best location to put a white screen up as it won’t block the pathway and cause any obstructions. Analysing each of the screens is useful as it has allowed me to evaluate where my piece would be more successful. I feel it is very important as the screen choice can alter whether a piece is successful or not. Next, I will continue to make improvements to my piece and then test the final piece on my chosen screen.

Science Museum Trip

sm_logo_0Today, we went on a trip to London to visit the Science Museum. It allowed us to further understand media spaces and to see how different people behave within public spaces. Due to our project being an interactive piece, I focussed on exploring the interactive media pieces and how audiences engaged and understood them. Due to the fact it was a museum, it was clear that the people were looking around and engaging at the various pieces and artefacts. However, due to my project being based at University, I have to find ways to ensure people look and hopefully interact with my piece.

I observed that there was a vast range of different ages of people present, but would argue that majority were children there on school trips. Within the museum, there were only a few interactive pieces as the majority were historical and scientific artefacts. However, I feel that the interactive pieces seemed to engage more people, due to their appealing visual aspects. I found that the older people in particular seemed to be more interested in reviewing the more historical artefacts, and weren’t as interesting in the interactive pieces. I found it was the children in particular who engaged with the interactive pieces, of which they seemed to find very entertaining and fun. This highlights how different age generations engage with things different, dependent on their own experiences. It is clear that some older people may not be as experienced as the younger generation with using all these new technologies, but it is important to also be aware that sometime are assumptions can be challenged.

The interactivity was mainly incorporated through touch screens and buttons, as well as a movement based interaction in the Who Am I? exhibition. From observing people engaging with the interactive pieces, I noticed that children seemed to think that everything was touchscreen. They weren’t really engaging with the true concept, rather they were playing with friends, pushing buttons as fast as they could and touching various things on screen in the hope that something will happen. Throughout the museum there were various information touch screens to support the historical and scientific artefacts. However, I found that these were only used by those wanting to find out further information about the artefacts. Due to children growing up with the revolution of touch screens, most children seemed to depend on pieceWAI-Me3-1-WEB_6s being touch screen and weren’t as aware of other interactive features. For example, in the Who am I? exhibition (image on left), some children didn’t realise what the interactive feature of piece was and just saw it simply as a white wall; it wasn’t until someone stepped onto it that they realised it’s interactive and therefore they decided to engage with it. This piece stood out most to me, the multi-coloured particle objects follow peoples footprints and then reflect their movements visually on the screen. I like the interactive idea of this piece and similarly I plan to use motion and objects within my interactive piece. This has highlighted to me that it is important that my piece is easy to engage with and that it doesn’t require lots of prior technological knowledge in order to interact with it .

filename-do-not-touchAnother piece that stood out to me was the ‘Do Not Touch’ piece that appeared to give slight electric shocks to people. The idea behind this is to do with reverse phycology, the ‘Do Not Touch’ label on the floor around the piece in fact encourages people to touch the piece of which is intended. It also shows how peoples can behave in various ways, go against orders and it is extremely hard to assume how different people will behave. Although I noticed that the majority of children touched the piece which was the intention of it, there were a few that saw the ‘Do Not Touch’ and didn’t understand why people were touching it and so told them not too. From this, I have understood further that even people of a similar age will behave in different ways, of which I have to take into account for my piece. Although, the majority of people who see my piece will be students of similar age, they will all behave differently based on their own background and experiences. By going to the museum and observing the behaviour of people, I have learnt more about interactivity with public spaces. Most of the interactive pieces present in the museum don’t require a high amount of knowledge to use and this has made me realise that simple pieces can be just as successful as they are easy for all ages to directly and freely engage with. Linking this to my idea, I feel the piece will be easy for anyone to engage with, no matter how long they want to spend in the space. I have further learnt that the behaviour of people is very complex and even though I have studied my public space and the typical people, anything could happen and peoples behaviour can alter at any point.

a_1webWhen walking around London, we came across an interactive advertisement for Alcon contact lenses called ‘The London Stare’. We saw it displayed at a bus station and it encourages people to compete in a staring contest with a person on the screen. It displays whether you win or loose and then automatically prints out a contact lenses voucher. I found the piece quite interesting and more engaging than simple print advertisement which you see displayed all over London. Although due to it being at a busy bus stop, people seemed to notice it but were embarrassed to actually engage with it. However, after we engaged with the piece, we noticed a lady then interact with it. From this, I have learnt that some peoples actions can be influenced by other people. Therefore, if someone sees someone else engaging with my piece when it is in Weymouth House then hopefully it’ll influence them to engage with it too. This idea is quite a simple concept, which again has taught me that sometimes simplicity can actually be just as good or even better than complex ideas.

Public Space – Weymouth House

By carrying out the group task of creating an Independent Dorset Poster, it has allowed me to practice with following an iterative design process, something that I will follow for my individual interactive piece. It has also helped as the information I gathered about the public space and the audience will come in useful for when I put my interactive piece in the space. Here is what I have learnt about….

The Public Space:

  • It is large space, with a layout that directs you straight through the space. People walk through to go lectures, but it is also a social area for meeting friends and grabbing a costa/food.
  • The area gets especially busy around lunch time, as well as in the 20 minute time period of 10 mins before lectures and 10 minutes after.
  • Various screens that are positioned in line of people walking.

The People:

  • Demographic is mainly students, and as it is the Media School the majority could be media students.
  • There are few Staff and Visitors.
  • Depending on why people are using the space alters whether they are likely to look at the screens – whether they are sitting down or walking through the space quickly etc.
  • The visitors are more likely to look at the screens as they are new to the space rather than students that frequently use the space.

The Activities:

  • Over a 10 minute period from 12:50 till 1:00 we found that:

-77 people walked through the space
-12 people bought Costa
-7 people were working
-21 people were socialising
-2 people looked at displays

The Visuals/Graphics:

  • The more colourful visuals gain more attention and stand out more in the space.
  • People are more drawn to the poster/screens when there are less people in the space.
  • Graphics are not as noticed when the space in busier.
  • The two main screens that are opposite Costa draw the most attention.

From this, I feel it would be useful to go back to the space at different times of the day to analyse when would be best to display my interactive piece. Also, I think it would be good if I were to further consider which screen would be best to display my piece on. When I display my piece, I will ensure I ask more questions in order to gain more responses and evaluate whether the piece was successful or not. Next, I will go on to explore prototypes, and develop my idea for my interactive piece.

Poster in Public Space

We put our poster up in Weymouth House to see how many people noticed it and any comments they had about it. We put our poster on the automatic doors – the entrance to Weymouth house as we thought it would attract peoples attention as they walked in. We also put it on the orange wall next to another groups poster to see if people notice it more if it was grouped with other independent posters.In a 15 minute period from 12:45-13:00, we spotted 17 people looking at our poster. We also received some comments about it:

  • 20141016_130333“What does20141016_124349 it mean?”
  • “I didn’t even notice it”
  • “I glanced at it when passing, but it didn’t mean much to me as I was in a rush”
  • “Wow look at all of these poster “
  • “Thats quite white”
  • “It has a strong clear message”

The importance of doing this, is that it allowed us to analyse the public space in preparation for my interactive information graphic that will be displayed there. I have learnt a lot more about the space, people and graphics within the space. Also, the processes we went through for the production of our poster is that which I need to follow for my interactive piece. Here are the steps I plan to follow…

Requirements Gathering – Collecting information about the public space and target audience

Analysis – Analysing other examples and concepts, and the data gathered

Design – Creating designs for the piece and development of idea

Testing – Gaining feedback from target audience and improving designs

The requirements gathering I carried out for the poster will also be useful for my interactive piece. However, some further requirements gathering such as deciding which public screen to use will need to be analysed. From putting the poster in the public space, I have realised that the expectations I had about the space and people have been challenged. It is hard to predict how people will behave in certain spaces so I have learnt not to make assumptions. Everyone behaves and engages with media in different ways based on their own experiences and background, something that I need to consider when making my interactive information graphic. I need to be aware that people may not behave how I want them to and that the behaviour of people can alter at any point in time, this could relate to whether they are with friends, doing work or in a rush etc. Jenkins (2006, p.210) suggests that:

‘new meaning take shape around what we already know and what we already think, and thus, each player will come away from a game with a different experience and interpretation.’

Even though my piece is not a game, I feel that Jenkins idea can apply to my interactive piece. I’m aware that after interacting with my piece, each user will come away with a different experience and varied decoded meanings of the piece. Audiences are highly complex and challenging, which is something to be aware of especially when displaying a piece in a public space. Next, I will go on to explore prototypes, what they are and why it could be useful to create a prototype for my piece.

Jenkins, H, 2006. Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. London: New York University Press.