Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MUSE: Phase 0

            Katherine, Sophie, and I have decided on an initial outline for our project! We will be addressing the problem of collaboration in meetings—the potential shyness of meeting participants as a result of group dynamics, the difficulty of generating or sharing ideas, and the laboriousness of replicating and distributing the information once it has been generated. Our hope is to design a solution to this problem using an interactive surface and creating physical artifacts that represent ideas and can be organized and shared easily. We would like our solution to be both ingenuitive and intuitive so that it can add an entirely new dimension to the way brainstorming sessions are conducted and meetings are run. We are particularly excited about this topic because we discovered that we share an enthusiasm for both organization as well as creative freedom and we believe these passions will drive our design process.
            Our proposed solution contains an individual brainstorming element, a group brainstorming and sharing element, as well as a method for sorting and retrieving the ideas once they have been generated. We hope to provide users as much freedom as possible in their brainstorming process—allowing them to use whatever medium they feel most comfortable with whether it is through writing, drawing, talking, or recording videos. We also plan on allowing people the capacity to create tokens that represent their ideas once they have been generated. These ideas should be able to be manipulated by other users, connected, and sorted, at will. We have already come up with a number of phrases that we find inspiring including “let’s see what other ideas are on the table” (both literally and figuratively) as well as perhaps using a physical “train of thought” to help sort information.
We chose to use this approach because we think it is intuitive as it follows existing patterns of brainstorming including what we call a “purging” of ideas, followed by reviewing, critiquing, revising, sorting, and sharing. We want our solution to be as interactive as possible while still allowing individuals ownership over their own creative spaces and ideas. We also really like the concept of being able to physically interact with what would usually be entirely abstract ideas.
            There are a number of things I am slightly worried about as we begin to think about implementing this idea. I hope that the table does not become confusing and overwhelmed with ideas that are difficult to distinguish from each other. I also hope that we are able to come up with something that is even more intuitive and simple than using Post-It notes. Additionally, it seems difficult to find times when we can all meet as a group and I hope that we are able to overcome those scheduling difficulties.
            Ultimately, I am enthusiastic about pursuing this topic and I look forward to seeing how our idea ebbs and grows as we continue to come up with new concepts and learn how to implement them.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tangible Message Bubbles

As an emerging field, Tangible User Interface (TUI) development is only in the early stages of standardizing a paradigm for classifying its advances.  While contrasting suggestions exist, each proposed method provides unique description of new additions to the field. Tangible Message Bubbles (TMB), for instance, can be analyzed using both Shaer et al.s’ and Hornecker and Buurs’ frameworks. TMB is an interactive tool designed for children to be able to communicate with their friends and relatives in a fun and simple fashion. This TUI, which was developed by Ryokai, Raffle, and Brooks, allows children to record videos and sounds in either an accordion or a balloon and then manipulate the recording by simply extending or compacting toy. Finally their creations can be transmitted to an interactive surface and manipulated around the surface until they are dropped into designated locations representing friends and family. The computer then sends the videos directly to desired recipients’ mailboxes.
Using Shaer et al.’s framework, Tangible Message Bubbles is most closely categorized by tokens and constraints. By using commonly identifiable toys, children quickly understand to speak into the balloon in order to generate a message. Similarly, children understand the constraints of an accordion and discover they can constrain and contract the accordion in order to control the sound. While an interactive surface is used, the majority of tangible interaction with TMB takes place outside of the surface, rendering it a much less prominent classification. Based on Hornecker and Buurs’ framework, however, TMB is classified quite differently. Because users are able to grab and move important elements of the bubbles, as well as proceed in small, experimental steps, TMB should fall under the category of Tangible Manipulation. While both of these classifications are quite descriptive, it is likely that soon the field will evolve to prefer a single framework for describing Tangible User Interfaces.