Genre: Interactive Art Display
Project Role: Producer, Design Engineer
Engine: Unity (Arduino implementation)
What is it?
"Frames" is a projected interactive art display for game teams and art students to use to show their work to potential employers.
This display features seven separate frames, each having their own gesture sensor. These gesture sensors allow users to interact with each frame independently of each other, letting multiple people use the display at one time.
For this project, I fulfilled the roles of producer and design engineer.
In terms of production, I organized and coordinated timelines to make sure that everything was completed by the time it was needed, if not sooner. I also scheduled, hosted, and mediated any and all meetings we had as a team, with professors, and executives of the school.
On the engineering side, I designed and built the hardware components of this project. These components consisted of the Arduino's wiring, the USB hub, as well as each frame's gesture sensor and its wiring.
The hardware for this project involved gesture sensors, Arduino Nanos, and a USB hub.
Each gesture sensor is capable of understanding motion in four basic directions: up, down, left, and right. The sensors can also detect ambient light levels, infrared, and distance.
The Arduino Nanos were used for their flexibility, the number of analog pins, and their low price. These microcontrollers' are also small enough to be able to be hidden inside the frames themselves.
The USB hub that's used for this project was chosen for its price, and its port availability.
The gesture sensor is wired to the Arduino via the VIN, 3 volt, ground, and SDA pins, so it can communicate the gestures it detects, as well as the distance. The Arduino is then wired to the USB hub which is connected to the computer the project runs on.
The focus of the design for this project was making the display intuitive to interact with.
The first step to this is to make the display as easy to look at as possible, while giving the game teams and artists using the display enough room to show off their work.
I worked with artists to develop two separate layouts for the frames. Once the layouts were printed out, I performed A/B testing to determine which of the two layouts to go with.
Once the layout was chosen, the next step was to show that there were multiple images per frame, and that the frames could be interacted with.
I worked with other designers to figure out how to display that the frames each have multiple images or videos to them. The method used was to use a minimalist progress bar, and to have a hand wave across the bottom of the frame. When the hand waves across the bottom, the frame switches to the next image in order.
As the producer for this project, I organized and coordinated the timelines to make sure everything was completed on time. I also worked with executives to find a space for the project to go up in, and to have a projector installed so the project can be used nearly anywhere.
To organize our timelines, I used AGILE methods for our prioritization of tasks, and Scrum boards to organize the tasks themselves. The combination of the two of these methods allowed us to complete the bulk of the project over a month and a half.
What went right?
Users were able to intuitively interact with our prototypes, and understood what their actions would do. The construction of this project was extremely cheap, and is versatile in its uses. We also learned just how much Unity is capable of handling in terms of memory leaks.
What went wrong?
Due to a time delay getting the mounting system up, we had to put the frames themselves into storage. Because of the amount of time they spent in storage before we could even attempt to test the "final" build with the mounting system, by the time the system was up, the frames had warped out of proportion. Also, if the project was left running for more than 6 hours, it would crash due to memory leaks that Unity could not handle on its own.