I don’t usually involve both physical prototype and digital prototype in my design process. However, after my last two attempts in this course, I do think it’s very helpful to switch from one to the other. As a designer, it’s very easy to limit on my own assumption of what my users will do in an experience and it’s also very easy to be single-minded on the technical side but forget about the actual experience. For my future development of prototypes, I am thinking to keep using this method of switching from a physical format to a digital format not exactly doing the same tests, but maybe try to design a specific scenario to explore a specific user experience.
So basically, I made two prototypes to explore my main research question of the shared awareness between the HMD wearer and other observers at this early stage. The physical prototype focused more on the user experience in a VR scenario and provided me with interactive possibilities that I will never come up by myself. The digital prototype focused more on the wearability of the headset and also further experiment with a different perspective as a non-human to my user.
For my purpose this prototype, I want to focus more on the possible interactions between HMD wearer and other audiences, so I designed a physical role play game by splitting my classmates into a group of three people. Person A to be a player who got blindfolded and need to follow the vocal commands made by the commander to get to the destination. Person B to be an interrupter, who was allowed to make sounds, move chairs around and touch person A. Person C to be a commander, who needed to make clear commands to person A and help him/her to reach the destination. Each round lasts for 3 minutes. If person A reached the destination, commander win. If person A didn’t reach the destination, interrupter would win. Switch the positions for three times.
Method: Group Testing, Interview, Open discussion.
Testers: My cohorts and instructors
- Most participants tried VR before and it’s reminding them of wearing headset but not knowing what happened outside of the VR.
- Most participants can figure out a strategy quickly to move forward.
- Vocal cues/commands from the commander are the most helpful part.
- Other noises in the space are very destructed.
- The lost of vision is difficult for most participants.
- More constraints and rules to would be more difficult for the participants.
- Some participants wish they can simulate the voice of the commander to confuse the player.
- Most participants worried they were doing too much to interrupt and gave fewer interruptions towards the end of the game.
- Secret code to communicate with the player
- Clarifications of the directions with the player at the beginning of the game.
- More clear and straightforward way to guide the player.
- Body configurations
Relations to the research question:
My main research question is how to make shared awareness between HMD wearer and other observers. This prototype is to explore possible interactions which can improve the shared awareness of my target users through three directions: corporations, interruptions, instructions.
I think the whole ideation process with my cohorts and instructions is very useful. We helped each other with feedback and suggestions by sticky notes, group discussions, which helped me to gain a lot of insights to come up with the new design. I was able to run the user testing for this prototype 4 times on different people, through the observations and interviews, the results are providing me the fundamental supports for my future development. It also cleared out my assumptions of what my users would do to interact with each other, especially an experience for a group of people with different perspectives and roles. Based on the received feedback, more thoughtful rules need to be appropriately designed in the game experience. The changing of the VR scenes, responsive objects and sound will be designed with the interactions from the outside world. So for my next prototypes, I will incorporate these interactions together with social animal behaviors to make a shared awareness in VR and further discuss the relationship between human, animals and nature.
Based on my last prototype, I then went ahead to develop my digital prototype. From the more technical aspect of this user testing, I want to test out the wearability of my headset, the usability of the AR app, the functionality of the IoT communications. Beyond that, I also want to test the artistic concept behind relationship and different perspectives of human and animals. As the fact of the time scope, I wasn’t able to make the communications between AR and VR, but that part could be added to my next iteration.
This prototype including four parts:
- A DIY VR headset with LEDs, servos and felts marker for the HMD wearer.
- An Android device running VR scene with the designed rabbit’s vision.
- An IOS device running AR app which can control the components on the headset.
- A background story: Today is 26th July 2038, My name is Yiyi Shao, I’m the chief scientist at AniBot Lab. Welcome welcome! It’s an exciting day to the public our new project RabBot. We implanted two robotics ears and eyes to our test subject. It’s still the first stage of our experiment, but we saw a remarkable success. Now may I invite our guest to wake up RabBot1.0.
Method: One-to-one testing, Interview, Open discussion
Testers: Self-testing, My cohorts, Instructors, Professors, VR Experts, People I don’t know
- The HMD wearer moved their head in a large-range once they put on the headset to look around in the VR. The observer who is holding the ios device had to chase the movement of the headset to be able to trigger the AR control panel.
- The HMD wearer didn’t feel any uncomfortable when wearing the headset and their body movement is pretty natural.
- The HMD wearer tried to walk around and wondered the interactions in the VR.
- The observer with the ios device had some difficult to touch the button in the AR app.
- The sound in the VR scene is not loud enough.
- Some people have some difficulties to adjust their eye focus in VR, I need to tell them to watch trees that far away, which helped a lot.
- The headset is not heavy at all, It’s quite comfortable to wear.
- I would prefer more instructions from you.
- The menu in AR app is too small.
- I wonder why there is a campfire on the headset.
- The sound is too low, I can’t hear anything.
- I wonder If there is any interaction I can do in VR.
- If I were a rabbit, I would prefer to see my pink noise, furry feet and pows when I look down.
- Wow, I feel like I am so small like a rabbit.
- I prefer the small movements of the ears, I feel like the big movements are too robotics.
- I can see some shadow of trees is pink.
- I wonder if a rabbit can turn their neck at such a big angle.
- I found the graphics in VR are a bit rough.
- I feel it’s a bit blur in VR.
- Your headset can’t fit me, I can’t see it well.
Relations to the research question:
At this stage, I have extra research questions to examine, this extra research questions coming out during my design process to make this prototype:
- How to make shared awareness in a VR experience between HMD wearer and other observers by merging other existing emerging technologies?
- How to use speculative design as a tool to explore mobile-rendered mixed reality HMD for the future?
- How to make active communications and interactions between HMD wearer and other observers
- How to overcome the trust issues between HMD wearer and other observers?
- How to use game design to set the goals, constraints in the shared VR experience?
- How to discuss the relationship between human and animals by showing different perspectives in a shared VR experience?
- How to speculate a background story as the narrative cues to improve the shared VR experience?
- How to incorporate cyberculture and cyberpunk in the design process and speculative story?
This prototype provides three different perspectives on the participants. These perspectives including the HMD wearer, the AR observer and other observers (Who didn’t have access to any device). The shared awareness between the HMD wearer and other observer was examined through the following parts:
- The speculative background story and roleplaying
- The interactions of AR and components on the HMD
- The design/appearance of the HMD
- The design/appearance of augmented HMD wearer
I have run the user testing for this prototype five times which covered a larger range of testers including myself, my cohorts, strangers, professors and VR experts. I found the user testing is so useful and contributed more to my design. For example, the speculative story came up after the first rounds of user testing on Tuesday because my testers didn’t have a clear idea of what they can do ( also happened in my physical prototype), so I think it’s important to make an instruction to my testers in a more interesting way. Based on the past experience on the physical prototype, I designed a role-play futurist scenario for everyone to position themselves to be part of this experience. Furthermore, It helped me to find a way to combine my theoretical framework of cybernetics, speculative design and set an artistic style (cyberpunk) for me to work on further for the next interactions.
3.Future plan and next steps:
I want to keep working on a more consistent cyberpunk style, for example, the representation of the rabbit should be aligned with the rest of the other design. I want to find a way to solve the issue of the VR distortion that happened to different people, it’s interesting to know that it didn’t happen on the user testing on my cohorts, but it did happen on the VR experts. The speculative story seems to make more sense as part of the experience, I would like to work more on that to see if it will help to improve the shared awareness and human-animal relationship. Furthermore, I definitely want to make the interactions and communications between VR and AR, for example, simulate what happened in my physical prototypes to make it digital like moving objects around in the VR scene.