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.

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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.

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.