[Design Thesis] 2-5 Brainstorm

To think about more solid ideas to enhance visit experiences, I did research on physical computing, wearable devices, and viewing techniques. Here are some bits of ideas that I came up with after some browsing, reading and meditating.

1. Show the creation process of the painting in augmented reality

– could be AR glasses: people put on the glasses and see the painting changing from a sketch to the final painting.

– could be an app on iPad, that visitors could see the paintings gradually appear from a sketch to the final painting,. One example to look at is the ad, Danielle.

–  could be an app, but the projection is a 3D object. If you move around, you can see different angles of the object, example.



2. Get contextual information on the go

– Could be a redesign of the audio guide, using a dial or a button to select information or to trigger interaction when people are walking around in the space. The interaction could be zoom in and out, overlay information(combine with a pair of glasses, or mobile devices), for projection, change the lighting in the gallery of impressionism, and the timeline projection (that is, design a switch for the other ideas).


In the field of wearable devices, other examples include the MagicBand that is currently under development in the Walt Disney Company; Jawbone’s Up, Xbox One, Highlight (hyper-intelligent apps that alerts you to interesting people near you), Automatic (a gadget that communicate with your smartphone to tell you when you are driving inefficiently) .


3. Growing timeline

A  subtle timeline of the lifespan of the artists and the year of the painting is projected under/above the artwork.  The projector detects visitor movements (like a Kinect does). The longer a visitor spends in front of a work, the more the timeline expands. Besides information of time, it could also display a) location, how the artists moved from one place to another; b) fame/wealth, or the life up-and-downs ; c) connection with other artists; d) connection with today (a growing timeline into today; or something that could create relevance with today), etc.



4. Grid labels

The information on labels are designed into grid system. This helps make the categories of information more explicit, and also could be valuable for further technology tweak, such as eye-tracking–when visitor is looking at one block of the information, the action triggers more information display that the visitor might be interested in.


– Typography: how designers lay out the information on a page –> The information is the interface.

– Web design: how grid system is applied to design websites.(Four types of grids)

 Manuscript grids work best for continuous blocks of text or images, but blocks of text might not be the best viewing experience in the exhibit setting.

Column grids work well when the information being presented is discontinuous and is in different types. That might or might not be the information in the museum. Some of the narratives are well written to tell a complete stories. It would be difficult to tear them apart and throw into different columns.

– Mobile device design: how to display information on small screens (Video by Edward Tufte ). Here’s a quote from the video that I found it interesting:

One of the general theory: To clarify, add detail. Clutter and overload are not an attribute of information. They are the failures of design. If the information is in chaos, don’t start throwing out information. Instead, fix the design.



5. Viewing kits

One thing I observed in the exhibit space is that when there’s a bench, people are more likely to sit and look at the work for a while ; when there’s button, people are likely to press it; when there’s a room, people tend to walk to or just poke their heads around to see what happens inside. All of these suggests how physical objects structure visitors’ behavior in an exhibit space. This makes me think about how objects engage us in the viewing experience: magnifiers direct us to see details, footprint stickers indicate the best viewing spot, sounds create some kind of atmosphere, etc. Thus, I come up with the idea of a viewing kit that the museums could use to engage visitors in different pieces. This might sound like a natural history or science museum, but for me, an interesting idea to explore.


Dominic Wilcox, everyday orchestra:how small day-to-day interactions be interpreted into instruments.


When I discussed the above concepts with my advisor, he said they were all just bits of ideas, which cannot be called design. He reminded me of the goal of the project is just to create a device or one way to display information, but the viewing experience. How a visitor trigger the information display? When does the interaction stop? How does the overall visit look like? Those are the questions that I am going to explore in the next step: Scenarios.



When I was browsing on the Internet, I came across an article on Bill Buxton and his design thinking.  I found his words inspiring to me at this point, because when designing an experience, it’s not a matter of designing an app, a device or a software, but the overall system that you are looking at. Here’ the quote.

Buxton has said that the solution is to “stop focusing on the individual objects as islands.” He has come up with a simple standard for whether a gadget should even exist: Each new device should reduce the complexity of the system and increase the value of everything else in the ecosystem.


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