Reflection on project a1: Representing Hybrid Environments.
1—What did you learn?
The experience of being within an environment can be designed directly (in the form of interior/architecture) or it can be designed by an artifact or system operating upon a particular environment. Moreover, any such artifact or system falls somewhere on two different spectrums: (1) aware/unaware of the environment and (2) able to/unable to actuate/effect the the physical environment itself. In the case of the haptic light compass, I positioned it as highly aware of the environment, but in a way that its information would only avail itself to the user via their mobile device and not via an actuation of the environment itself. My greatest learning with this assignment was a the meta-learning of the above framework, a way of thinking about about designing environments themselves.
2—What were you challenged by?
During this assignment, I struggled greatly with making a decision about what concepts and 'idea' to execute upon. As I continued to learn more about the Carnegie Museum experience, I discovered additional information which could have been taken in a number of different directions. This problem of how much research is enough to begin designing is an ever present battle when designing and one that was especially difficult while in the context of learning a new material: the environment.
3—What did you do really well?
Mobile devices (the platform haptic light compass sits on) are seen as a largely 'active' practice (i.e you look at your phone intently when using it) by designers, in my approximation. I believe this is a deep misunderstanding of the way many engage in the medium and leaves open an opportunity to imagine a future where they offer a much greater degree of passive information. Haptic light compass imagines a future where devices are much more passive in their delivery, and in this case, this allows museum goers to focus on the content of the museum environment, relying on their phone only passively for subtle navigation cues.
4—What would you do differently?
I would try to prototype more of my proposed interactions within the actual museum to better understand the impact they would have on my would be users. Writing this reflection at the end of the course after having completed two more projects underscores the importance of prototyping in medium as much as possible. It is extremely clear that it's something I simply didn't recognize at the beginning of the course.