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Stic-Stac: A creative coding kit for children


Sharang Sharma
Prof. Tanja Diezmann, Prof. Heidi Schelhowe
M.A Digital Media, The University of the Arts, Bremen, German




(Updated June 2019)

Stories play an intrinsic part of our lives, society and culture. We all make and tell stories to connect to others, share our emotions and express ourselves. Children use simple media like pen/paper or wooden blocks to sophisticated online softwares or electronic toys like Lego mindstorms to imagine and create stories. Storytelling fosters positive role in child’s physical and cognitive development. Stic Stac is a storymaking tool that allows children to create unique stories in augmented reality by using tangible blocks.  

Target age group: 8-13 years
Target personality: Builders, Creatives, Storytellers, Self expression



This project is Work in Progress at Digital Media in Education group at the Universitat Bremen and the University of the Arts Bremen, Germany.

If you are interested to know more or share your ideas, please free to drop me a line on sharangsharma09@gmail.com or
ssharma@hfk-bremen.de
















User Experience

Home switchboard redesign


Before a sign may acquire meaning and therefore become a symbol there must exist something for this sign to symbolize.







PROBLEM

It's 8PM and I return home from yet another long day at work. I open the door and reach out to the switch board of the living room to light up the room.

Impatiently, I sweep my hand over all the controls, to switch on the lights and fan of my living room. And then carefully switch off the extra lighting in my balcony and staircase. Quite annoying every time I do it!! :( Being frustrated for a long time, I decided to find out the problem and solve it.



ORIGINAL DESIGN

To start, this is the top view layout of the house and total number of 6 Lights and 2 Fans controlled by the single Switch Board





I have been trying to remember to reach out to the right controls but always fail and eventually have to test every switch to get to the right one.

Am I too incompetent to remember it or is there a flaw in the design!!?


It would be stupid to blame myself as I found there is a clear indication of poor design.

Here is the list of all design flaws I found,

1. Extra set of controls and switches:
a. Switches marked by red letter X  are extra non functional switches.

b. Two controls for fan: One to switch the fan ON/OFF and the other to control the SPEED.

This arrangement is conventionally used but I personally dislike the idea of using 2 different spatial controls.





2. Poor Mapping of the controls
Mapping is an important design concept which comes from natural arrangements for the relations between controls and their subsequent result.

In this example, when I try to switch ON the fan on the right, I have a spatial mapping of the fan in my head to be right but contrarily the control of it is in left bottom. A clear dissonance of arrangement which increases cognitive load.



Mapping simplifies usage when it uses spatial correspondence between the layout of the controls and devices being controlled.




3. Wrong arrangement of lights:
Originally the electric mapping illuminates the hall horizontally. Spatially, the hall is divided into two halves along the length but lights are arranged horizontally. Not clear thinking by the both the architect and the electrician.



NEW DESIGN

To start, this is the top view layout of the house and total number of 6 Lights and 2 Fans controlled by the single Switch Board

1. On the right is a quick activity to correct the mapping using illustrations and markings. The added visuals provides signifiers to better map the right controls




2. Next, I improved the design by creating a mockup on computer .Below is the render of a simplified switch board. The round buttons control the fans while the toggle button up/down controls the lights.




Here's how the new design works-
-Because the hall is spatially divided horizontally, each pair of Fan and light controls, effect the respective horizontal areas
-I shifted light controls for both the balcony and the outside patio to extreme top and right to correctly map their actual positions.





The electrician on request removed the extra switches and corrected the mapping of the existing. Much relief. But, I deicide to go another step and created this high fidelity switch board as the presentation.




Since, it's a rented facility and my landlord didn't really care about design, he rejected the minimalistic idea of the board below. But i loved making this a case study.
Hope you guys enjoyed it :)




Interaction/ Interface design

Manage your files better with Klono


Over simplified file management application to work with wifi enabled SD devices.






Client- KEY ASIC. Singapore
Team- Melisa Orhan (Branding), Sharang Sharam(UX),
Shivam & Akash Ashok (Development)

This presentation briefly shows the process involved in defining the problem statment, I.A and Interaction design





PROBLEM STATEMENT 
The experience to manage files using multiple cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox and local storage devices( like SD card or phone storage) cumbersome. 

Klono offers a unique platform to connect, manage and share all your files across multiple devices and cloud services. 




PERSONAS & I.A
(This is the concise version of original 19 pages document)

  1. Exploring detailed features of similar or competing applications

    Example: ES file explorer
    -Displays each storage platform includes but not limited to Phone, Dropbox, OneDrive, K-Drive, Google Drive, Box, etc.
    -Ability to share all files to all platforms via all platforms etc.

  2. Sketching Personas and Context Scenarios

    Example:
    Possible Personas:
    i. 20 years old Sam who is engineering undergraduate and stores all kinds of data like movies, tv shows and music
    ii. 24 years old Samantha who loves storing/sharing pictures of his friends and places she visits
    iii. 28 years old John who loves shooting videos
    iv. 32 years old Paul who is excessively use data sheets and presentations for his work
    v. 44 years old Mrs Schultz who loves uploading her cooking recipes in her blog

    Sample context scenario-1 :
    Our first persona is Sam who is an engineering student and loves storing all kinds of multimedia files like movies, tv shows, pictures and music. Although most of his storage is on the local computer hard drive but he likes keeping stuff on his mobile whenever on a go. He owns a good phone with ample storage and rarely uses cloud storage as it cost him being a student. He wants a quick way to access to all his movies or music files  at one place to open in his favourite players.

  3. Exploring UX Components
    Example: Login, Signup, Add Storage, Settings, Sharing options etc

  4. Sketching component use cases
    Example:Login/Sign up:
    i. Could I use the app without signup or login?
    ii. Is there a single step sign up feature?
    iii. What are the different ways I could sign up?

  5. Suggesting and segregating features for Phase-1 
    Example:Login/Sign up:
    i.  Authentication by phone number
    ii. Single button for Sign up/Registration
    iii. Auto-verification-Phone code
    iv. OTP Confirmation(Code sent to phone by SMS)
    v. Automatic verification of OTP(no user input)

    Phase-2
    Walkthroughs before registration
    Email registrations(Web version future scope

  6. Create structures for all Components and Use case scenarios
    Example:Login/Signup:

  7. UX research
    Example Login/Sign-up


Fig 1: I.A for the Login flow





INTERACTIONS & PROTOTYPING
Below are the screenshots of the user flows and the micro interactions designed for Klono



Fig 2: User flow of the app


Fig 3: Micro- interactions for the Search functionality


or Play with the Invision prototype





INTERFACE DESIGN
Few of the important screens from the project and style guide for future versions




Fig 4: Interface design for Sign up and inside screens




Fig 5: UI kit



Fig 6: Styleguides defined for development


Your incredible
personal asisstant


User Research | Design Concept | Talking agent

Overview
“Overload, clutter and confusion are not attributes to information, they are failures of design” - Edward Tufte

Ever since the advent of  graphical user interface (GUI) and internet, we are overloaded with information and addicted to distracting interfaces. There are hundereds of apps and tons of notfications buzzing every moment. Even the productivity apps which promise us to inculcate better habits, productivity or efficiency, mostly fell short of expectations.

This design case study looks into the productivity problems of people and propose a solution using personal assitant technology.










First, to know
people’s problems


I surveyed 5 of my friends and colleagues who worked as...IT professionals, students and freelancers. I asked them about their work routines and productivity tools they used at work.














All the 5 users primarily used physical Notepad, physical Post-its, digital, mobile or web applications like Todoist, Any do, Google calendars, Post-its and Email reminders to track their work tasks.







Common interview questions:

1. Breifly mention your daily work routine, nature of work and environment.

2. What tools/methods do you use to manage time and accomplish goals?

3. What are positives of using those tools/methods?

4. What are the major distractions  following those tools/methods ?
Few important insights
(not in order of questions asked)

- User1(IT professional) “ I always keep my phone away when working….”

-User2 (Freelancer) “……I go in a proper work flow after a 45-90 mins..”

-User3 (student)”I have mixed set of creative and mundane tasks to follow”

-User4 (Freelancer) “…..usually follow To-DO list like AnyDO apps to record his productivity but always fall short of of following it”

-User5 (IT professional)”…I try hard to wake up early to go to the gym before going to work”







Problems in work routine

Set of some common problems found amongst the 5 participants














New ideas


After many good and bad ideas ideas, I finalised three ideas to tackle this problem.
1. Smart watch application
2. Smart tangible calender on the wall
3. Talking assitant technology

I went ahead with the third one!!

Methods used for idea generation:




Why a talking agent?
The problems of constant distractions, low motivation, information anxiety, ineffective routine are quite common. New technological paradigms like GUI on mobile or web medium has indeed made everything easily accessible at the click of a button but it has also created negative implications of - increased screen time and information overload.  Moreover, the productivity tools which promise us for inculcating better habits or productivity, struggle to get attention on an ever-increasing distracting GUI. How would a motivating quote help, if you have a new feature unlock from Candy Crush waiting on your screen? or a new Whatsapp message?

As the inventor of GUI once said....
"The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it". -Mark Weiser

Thus, a screen based approach would be going away from solving the problem. I chose to go ahead and explore voice interface technology.


Some of the examples of talking assitant technologies from 1965-2014








Examples of virtual and physical agents (From top left, in clockwise direction) Eliza(1966) -early natural language processing computer program which acted as psychotherapist), Pleo(2006)-a robotic toy which learns with time, Kismet(2002)-a social robot which picks up social cues, Microsoft clippy(1997)- a virtual agent which to help users learn about Micrsoft Word on windows, Teddy Ruxpin(1985)- a robotic soft toy for storytelling, Siri(2011)- virtual voice assitant on iPhone and Alexa(2014)- a tangible voice assitant and smart speaker.







Design Challenge

Personal assitant technology which is....




Sketches & physical models















Context scenarios & prototypes

Crafted in Adobe After Effects









As a productivity agent
Kaushal starts working at 10:30 AM in the morning and wants a distraction free environment. Hbito helps him track his work and productive.




Human like expressions


Eyes 

Touch

Lip movements











The Glossy Look

Designed in Autodesk Fusion









Thank you for watching :)








Your daily tangible screen time


Information Visualisation | Design Concept




PROBLEM
The information age is overloaded with screens and increased screentime. Terminal technology enhances our capabilities in many ways but also leads us to increased distractions and poor social interacions. Moreover, to tackle these problems we employ more screen-based solutions like time-managment applications and tools. 

What if the solution could be ambient and tells you your everyday digital activities at a glance?  Instead of mobile interfaces or notifications, you have a more enchanting way to visualise your daily activities to impact positive behavioural change.



Artwork by Pawel Kuczynski





SIMULATION
1. This example takes in account of time spent on several activities by me.

2. To make the measurements calculative, the time data used in this scope is the time spent on the digital devices like desktop or mobile.

3. This time is recorded using the RescueTime (time tracking tool) desktop app and extracted every 30 mins using RescusTime API and node.js.
















The time is broadly split into four categories based upon the acitivities.



4. Hereafter, Processing(P3) environment is used  to simulate the data into a  2-D visualisation.










The above GIF shows time duration for each of the categories on a 24hr timeline on 07/12/2017. Simulated in Processing(P3) using Node.js and RescuTime API









PHYSICAL PROTOTYPE

Sketches of several ideas to project the data in tangible visualisation




Prototype development of the final balloons idea 







Visualisations of data recorded from 11th to 17th Dec, 2017 using RescuTime API









Video presentation




Thank you for watching :)
© Sharang Sharma 2018

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