Gonna Floor Ya with da FloorD Printer!

Our final project debuted the futuristic prototype called the “FloorD Printer”, a 3D printer that could be installed at furniture retail stores in virtualization pods that double as show rooms. Like the traditional showroom at IKEA or Crate&Barrel, the virtualization pod is supposed to allow you interaction and tactile experience with the furniture you’re looking to purchase.

The process of creating the prototype movie was interesting. For a couple weeks, Bryan and I had some scheduling issues, and as such, we opted to take a lot of our work ‘virtually’ and work with each other from remote locations. This had its benefits and its pitfalls. First, the pitfalls: I found it much more difficult to set time aside and ‘lock down’ a time that I could dedicate to the project. When I’m face-to-face with my partner, I feel like we’re “on the same page” a lot more often than when we’re discussing things online… or after we go online and have to remember what exactly we talked about.

That being said, one of the greatest benefits of doing iterative parts of the project remotely was that everything was documented with chat logs, Google drive ‘brainstorming’ documents, and emails. Piecing all the parts together, and bringing our independent fieldwork together into one project was no trivial task (especially since I’ve never worked with a movie maker before), but it was great to have everything we ever discussed at the tip of my fingers.

We worked hard on this project, and Bryan did an excellent job with our audio files and capturing the pictures. I wrote the script and did most of the legwork stitching the ‘parts’ together. I think we worked well together, and it shows in the end product. Neither of us had really done this before now, so between storyboarding, script writing, and struggling to understand post-production software (Win Movie Maker), I felt like we’ve come a long way.

 

Here is a copy of our script.

Here is a copy of our scenario.

Here is the final product.

 

Advertisements

Staples to Sell 3D Printer!

How timely! Staples has announced over this last week that it’s on track to sell a retail 3D printer, called the Cube, to the public, available now for the low low price of $1299.

Skimming the top tech blogs, there are mixed feelings on the issue with some editorials commenting that such a purchase is a waste of money, and that the 3D printer fad is over: ReadWrite, TechCrunch.

Others are reporting more objectively that the Cube printer manufacturer, 3D Systems, is trying to break into the public markets and bring this technology into the living room (CNN Money). For $1299, it’s not a cheap Mother’s Day gift … but that price might fall as adventurous consumers pick it up and begin utilizing the technology in their own homes.

Storyboarding and Animated Sequences

Drawing Scenarios
Storyboarding is awesome. When you break it down, storyboarding really is about telling a story. But, instead of knights and adventure, you have a user trying to accomplish a task. A series of States and Transitions that flow into each other, and sometimes back upon each other. Story-boarding can be as complex as you let it, but at the end of the day it’s all about mapping out the user experience in the same FLOW that the user would experience it.

Animating Sequences
Animating sequences is a straightfoward alternative to storyboarding. While you might need a BIG canvas for storyboarding, you only need powerpoint for animated sequences. The use of templates and formatted structure will give that ‘in use’ feel of the end product.

Between storyboarding and animated sequences, I think they’re best used in conjunction with each other. Storyboarding might be a lower fidelity, used to roughly sketch out the user’s experience and to watch the flow of the product being used. Animated sequences would be best used, in my opinion, in giving a ‘deeper’ cleaner look of each “State” of a storyboard. The templating method would save a lot of time in keeping things consistent and neat.

Changing Gears — Setting Sail

In an earlier blog, we stated that Bryan and I would be doing table-top designs. That was decided between us BEFORE we knew someone else in the class wanted to do a very similar project, so we did some thinking and decided to abandon the similar idea. The notion of covering wider more interesting topics made more sense than trying to compete with another group on the same subject (Like there’d be a contest! Just kidding… ). 

Now, we have our sights set on the realm of Interior Design and Home Living. Specifically, how a company like IKEA would adopt and develop 3D printing technology into their retail stores in the future. We’ve spun a lot of wonderful ideas of different potential models, and we’ve gotten great feedback from others’ that we’ve pitched it to. 

So who are our users? Customers of IKEA. But WHO are they? Hopefully our personas help identify the kind of users we’re targeting in our designs. 

To get this data, we actually took a trip to the White Marsh IKEA store, and walked through the showrooms and warehouse. Bryan specifically looked at the active tasks and operations of the storefront, while I focused more on the people in the store. I listened to their conversations with each other, the questions they were asking to the associates, and was mindful of what they were doing as I observed them. It was enlightening, but not surprising. Our ‘guess’ of who would be in the store was very accurate, and we were able to glean a lot of contextual data by “being” customers of the store.

Participatory Design

Participatory design is a concept I’m comfortable with because I’m familiar with it. In projects where I’m a user, I’m often asked to join (in part) with the designers because I tend towards being a super-user. I dig deep into my software, and I become an expert who also knows how to step back out of the environment (software or otherwise). I think that innate trait has helped guide me towards the HCC program.
The idea of the “third space” was formalizing a concept that makes a lot of sense, and is probably used a lot more than professionals realize. Designers design thing, and users use thing. What happens when you start mixing designers and users? You get some weird hybrid monster that often acts in unpredictable ways. I think the most successful HCI professionals are ones that can slip into and out of the ‘user skin’ seamlessly.
When looking at all the different trends in PD, it’s hard to think of ‘work’ as work instead of play. Between crafting artifacts and playing out story boards and dramas, it’s a very creative environment where both users and designers are taken out of their ‘norm’ and made to play nice with each other.

Contextual Inquiry

This reading focused on the four principles of contextual inquiry: context, partnership, interpretation, and focus.

 

Context is naturally necessary for contextual inquiry, and very easy to achieve once an investigator has made it to the place of work. By shadowing the customer in how they perform the targeted task and utilize the system under evaluation, the investigator can build a ‘picture’ about how and where the task is being done.

 

Partnership requires the relationship between the investigator and the target participant. By becoming ‘collaborators’, both sides of the relationship want to obtain the same goal “make a better system”. It’s important to avoid falling into cliche models like interviewer/interviewee and expert/novice relationships, because then the power and authority of one side is out of proportion with the other.

 

Interpretation: without proper interpretation of the data we collect during observation, then assumptions will lead to improper design. It might take more than one person to interpret the data, but the investigator with first-hand experience with the context should always be around for the interpretation.

 

Focus is the magic of the contextual inquiry. Taking an investigator’s specialty and honing it to see ‘more’ than just their area of expertise will allow the investigator a deeper understanding of the context, strengthen the partnership with the customer, and empower the investigator to have a more holistic interpretation of the observations made. Focus will drive the investigation and lead to more details that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Ad Infinitum and beyond!

This is the beginning of our project with 3D printing future technology. The idea is to speculate and design a prototype for how the technology will change and be applied to a specific user group for a specific task in the ideal environment. I’m currently unfamiliar with current 3D printer technology, so there’ll naturally be a learning curve with that to see “Where we’ve been” in order to guess “Where we’ll go”.

I’ll be working with the illustrious Bryan Stoner (http://hccmaster.wordpress.com/) for this project. He’s particularly gifted with visuals and graphic design. A swell digital artist that has experience with video editing and 3D rendering software. I’m immediately identifying those skills as very valuable for this project. Now I just need to worry about what I’m bringing to the table.

Our user group for the project will be gamers. GAMERS?! Yes, ideally the adult-gamer that can be between the ages of 18-40, play table top games (Munchkin, D&D, tactical games, Dominion, etc), and are a bit tech savvy. These future-space gamers will otherwise come in all shapes and sizes, genders and backgrounds.

The task that we’ll focus on is completing an average ‘game’ using 3D printer technology of the future. Bryan and I haven’t settled on a game yet, but we’re already looking at how the tech could interface with a game design… and coming up with some interesting possibilities.

Our environment will be none other than a game store… a place that would have the capital for purchasing new 3D printer technology, and hosts a variety of gaming activities. For the purposes of this project, I’ll likely opt to model our ‘ideal’ environment around the real-life store, Games&Stuff, in Glen Burnie.