Rise and Align
Timeline: 8 weeks
Teammates: Kamyi Lee, Andrew Piepenbrink
Rise and Align is an interactive sequencing installation. The project was the focus of an 8 week design sprint focused on how best to present the concept in a gallery setting. We challenged ourselves to create it with little to no budget and minimal tech.
- Design Artifacts
Throughout the sprint my role changed constantly to fit the task at hand. Since we were a small group with an ambitious project, we all had to wear a lot of hats to get to the finish line. Early in the process I worked to secure interviews on music sequencer with professionals working in the electronic music field. As someone who also occupies that space it was actually twice as important to spend some time talking to other artists, as I had a lot of blind spots resulting from my own process. We spent some time doing several ideation exercises and came up with a set of questions about the experience. From there, we identified areas where problems could occur both in our own sprint, and with the instillation. Soon the project began to start really taking shape and the idea of a user-controlled three dimensional sequencer featuring an illuminated array of musical patterns was the front runner as a design choice.
All of this initial research and ideation helped us greatly in creating our user journey map:
- User Journey Map
Next we moved in to the design stage and started thinking of ways that we could prototype this installation without spending a fortune on fabrication, materials, and sensors. After many crude designs featuring varying degrees of sensor technology, we decided to take the man behind the curtain approach and planned to control the installation manually using iPads running a custom interface designed in Touch OSC. We didn't need the technology to be fully functional to learn key insights about users' expectations and intuitions. Once we had conceptualized what the prototyping and subsequent user testing would entail, I sketched out a storyboard of the intended user interaction so that we could highlight key concerns and come up with a list of our riskiest assumptions. These questions became the framework for our testing, keeping us focused and goal oriented throughout the process.
What We Learned
By the end of our user testing, we had learned some key information about how people wanted to interact with installation, and how that was in many ways in opposition of our design. The initial design concept used the individuals height as an axis of control, but we learned that it was much more important to users to use both feet and jam with the sequencer as a sort of drum surface. From there we were able to prioritize those aspects of the design, and it actually simplified the end product in a way that would make it more accessible and cut costs. This sprint has taught me that trying to rush to a finalized idea can have some serious setbacks. If you consciously work backwards asking yourself what could be changed at each step before testing and repeating the process, you can usually eliminate a lot of the blind spots that would otherwise plague a project.