Lego Series Play Workshop

As user experience design continues to be identified in almost all fields of media, technology, and architecture; it’s an investment to understand how this field works and the different ways users can be reached from other perspectives. Apps, formally referred to as applications, are used daily to help users achieve a sense of satisfaction depending on the app utilized. For example, they can simply help with setting reminders or keeping us close with loved ones. One aspect that most users aren’t familiar with, is the many ways apps are created from the ground up. According to Norman information and the beginning of design comes from the brain, “One of the challenges, that the brain does not work at all like a computer, also provides us with an opportunity: the possibility of new modes of interaction that allow us to take advantage of the complementary talents of humans and machines.” (Norman, 2008).  Lego Series Play is a collaborative problem solving methods used for designing apps, buildings, and other areas of design. Lego Series Play is a design software that is used to help designers build with empathy, focus on user needs, fix problems, and allow opportunities for new designs. While attending this hands on event there were moments when I the designer felt a deep connection with my build and how the director was able to make myself achieve a deeper emotion and connection through my design. 

To gain more of an understanding of what we were doing in this workshop Heidi Brant gave each student a pack of legos. Each pack had the same set of legos found within them. Her first instructions were to use the legos and build a bridge with only rule: to make sure that our hand would be able to go under the bridge we built. We then had to modify our bridge based on how we were feeling at that exact moment. Whether we were happy, curious, or intrigued by what was happening that day. On top of the last modification we had to modify the bridge again based on a division in life that we felt. Whether if it was being homesick, losing a friend, or losing a loved one. This allowed the designers to work and create with empathy to focus on users needs to fix problems and allow for opportunities of new designs. Based off of all the design modifications we did, we now had to collectively work as a group to create an app. We were given a blue base to build on using legos to describe what the app will do and what features it will have. “Wireframing: Sketch your project’s form and interface without focusing much, if at all, on content. Wireframes provides a good sense of how people may interact with your project, and they don’t require any programming. Additionally, there are also opportunities to talk about scope and feature creep (before the project is too far along)” (Jentery Sayers). Lego series play is a different type of wireframing and prototyping. It Isn’t technical, it’s a more physical approach, such as a sketch but instead you are building it out. You have a different visual representation or your app that you are making. For our last build there was a more focused approach into a specific setting for user experience design. Each group was given a task card, our group had to redesign the experience of air travel with small children. We first individually came up with our own ideas on what we could do to improve air travel and we all had a similar approaches. We thought about the aggravation that flyers get when a baby would cry or a child kicking the back seat. We came up with an approach of creating a daycare area for kids, where they would be watched and monitored by flight attendants. Inside of this daycare, children would be able to use different interactive play fields where they can pretend to be flying the plane that they are on at that time and view what’s happening from outside. These designs came from our own personal experiences, all focused around designing with empathy. This was my first time sitting in on a workshop for User Experience design. This opportunity gave me something that I myself as a designer will look forward to gaining  more knowledge about this technique in my future design making. My takeaways from this workshop was designing comes from experience, what yourself and others have gone through. The Negatives that can come out of Lego Series Play can be designing for people who lack a sense of visual, how can you create surrounding their needs visually. I hope that through this workshop we learned how to deal with multisensory designs and better UX designing for blind, and deaf users. Lego Series Designing is on a kindergarten level in the USA compared to places in Asia and Europe. It’s fairly new so I’m curious to see where it goes in terms of influencing design in the US especially major cities.

Human Interaction With Audio Tour Guides

As technologies and their capabilities continue to be further developed every day, it is important to observe the ways in which they become integrated with existing forms of and institutions for different types of information. Museums are among the institutions that preserve information and provide the public with access to it, whether art, history, culture, etc.. According to Bates, information can be thought of as, “an objectively existing phenomenon in the universe, which is also constructed, stored, and acted upon by living beings in countless different subjective ways, each way distinctive to the individual animal having the experience” (Bates, 2006). Audio tour guides have been utilized in these spaces for a long time, serving to both provide information, and maintain the integrity of a silent shared space. However, the information that typically makes up the contents of audio tours follows the museum in a single direction, providing all consumers with the same information in the same progression. I see this as an opportunity to use UX design to improve upon an existing way in which information is transmitted in these spaces, and to make museum goer’s experiences more customized to their interests with the use of more specified user interface design and AI technologies.  

To gain more of an understanding of other people’s experiences with audio tours, I conducted an interview with an avid museum goer, Suzanne. Suzanne, who loves consuming information about art and history in many different forms, explained to me that the main issues she has with following audio tours are: a.) an abundance of information, not all of which is interesting b.) a predetermined path through the museum space c.) a pre established pacing based on the length it takes to transfer the predetermined information. From her experience, her critiques can be broken down into dissatisfaction with the current “affordances” of the existing technology into issues of content, use of and transmission through space, and time (Sengers, 2000). For Suzanne, the perfect audio tour would be one in which she could autonomously control where in the museum she would like to be, which pieces she would like to hear information about, and the duration spent at each piece. This idealized vision is similar to what Senger calls the “AI Dream”, or the hope that, with the use of artificial intelligence, technology will be able to take on some human characteristics and make things much more enjoyable and personalized for the consumer, learning what they like and dislike through continuous use and data collection (Senger, 2000). However, when applying Bates’ definition of information as “some pattern of organization of matter and energy given meaning by a living being (or a component thereof)”, how does this conception allow for the “semiosis”, or linking of different components of information, with AI and other technologies that also take on life like characteristics (Bates, 2006)? It is a question for which the answer unfolds as these technologies are applied in real time. 

            For this reason, it is important to look at Yvonne Rogers’ detailed work in theoretical approaches to Human- Computer Interaction. Rogers highlights the fact that many people who are at the forefront of developing technologies, although they are aware of and wish to apply certain theories, often are competing with the race to be the next innovation, and do not always have the ability to develop a technology completely theoretically before it is demanded on the market (Rogers, 2004). Rogers concludes her in depth account of theories with a call for those developing technologies, particularly user interface design, to discuss and research which theories to apply and why. By doing such work, Rogers hopes a more universal language for developers will be created in order to be able to use and integrate these ideas into technology as it is being developed, instead of conceptualizing the effects after users are already engaging with it. After a theoretical framework is established, different decisions can be made to expand and refine the affordances of technologies in relation to what users need and want from said technologies (Rogers, 2004). I believe this is pivotal in order to create user interface designs that are useful and specified to the desires of the user. It is through interviews, like with Suzanne, that developers on all levels of technology can get a better understanding of what people want, where technology can improve, and inspiration for where new technologies should be aiming. In order to more fully develop how audio tours could be improved and what consumers are looking for, it would be very useful to conduct more interviews in museum spaces and work to create a version that takes into consideration all variables that are considered important, and make an audio experience that is catered specifically to each individual user. I hope to be able to continue exploring theoretical approaches to human computer interaction.