Urbano: Case Study Draft

This week, our efforts have been focused on the case study draft and working on our final iteration. Some of our team members went to Urbano to gather feedback about user experience and interactions (see our sketch model below, we’re waiting for components to arrive in the mail)

sketch model

Our case study is still a work-in-progress. You can view it here!


Urbano Team Update: Purchasing!

Apologies for the late blog post… hopefully late is better than never. I personally wasn’t able to attend the last couple of meetings due to traveling and things being scheduled when I have class, but I will do my best to summarize what’s been passed along through emails.

After discussing suitcase options with our project partners, Aditi ordered this one, which is 29″, from ebay for us (thanks!), and it is expected to arrive next week. Some members of the team spoke with Sasha about using Vine an Vojo and issues with pulling feeds of relevant content, and he suggested that Birkan, who is our lead web developer, meet with Ed Platt (developer at Center for Civic Media) for guidance.

We had originally wanted to purchase an Acer touchscreen and a 32GB microSD card to go with it, but we realized that these didn’t actually support Vine. After some discussion, we decided to go with two Kindle Fires 8.9″ tablets so we could keep the Vine + RSS feed idea. These should hopefully arrive by Tuesday of the coming week.

Urbano: Presentation!

We got some great feedback during last week’s lecture. Thanks to everyone who contributed! Here are the highlights, courtesy of our representative, Birkan.

  • Buy a hotspot to solve the internet/network problem
  • If the internet is down for some reason, show a stream of photos from people who have participated before
  • Ask Urbano if they are willing to take care of the maintenance of PARTI (hardware, software)
  • Make the suitcase appealing. This is about using visual signifiers like putting stickers of places that the PARTI has been to before
  • Take PARTI to places where tourists do not visit, or talk to organizations who are doing “Emancipated City” related projects and display PARTI there (target audience is current residents)

With this feedback in mind, we launched into our second product iteration. We looked into purchasing the key components of our installation, mainly the screen and the suitcase. After hearing the opinions of the Urbano staff, we decided to go with a “vintage”-looking suitcase. And after some careful searching on eBay, we settled on a couple nice options.

Green Suitcase Orange suitcase

We also explored some different screen options, compared here.

Although our final presentation will be in powerpoint, here is a collaborative googledoc version for the blogpost.

The PARTI Stamp of Approval

On Friday, some of our team visited Urbano to show Stella and Risa our first project iteration, which highlighted our suitcase proposal design for PARTI as described in our blog post from last week. It seems we got a preliminary stamp of approval, and Urbano has expressed how they’d like our team to not only design, but also build a prototype of our project installation. At this meeting, we devised the following flow of actions a potential user would take when interacting with our installation:

1a. Watch 1-2 minute long intro video created by Urbano students about Urbano and the year-long Emancipated City theme with thought-provoking, community-specific information.

1b. While an instructional animation plays, users create their own response to what they just saw, using the pens/papers/craft supplies supplied in the suitcase.

2. The user photographs a reply, optionally entering email/twitter handle to get a copy of the picture and/or to sign up for an Urbano mailing list.

3. PARTI posts the photograph social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

4. The user may choose to take their artistic creation with them, to place it in a receptacle in the suitcase, or to hang it up on a foldable display that comes with the PARTI installation.

The proposed action flow prompted several questions that we need to finalize answers for before next week.

  • We need to work out a more concrete use flow

    • When do they watch the video? – Maybe a “press me” button? or incorporate a proximity sensor that triggers the video to play when a person is near?

    • When do they make their reply? – At the end of the video, we could have a screen that asks the user if they want to share their Imagined City, if so, press a button and an instructional video will play

  • What hardware makes sense (Android? Windows? Tablet? What capabilities does it need?)

    • Needs – simple input/output (press a button, play a video), picture taking abilities, video recording abilities, can connect to the Internet and send picture and video files

  • Do schools/libraries/other sites have wifi or should we provide that?

    • Need to look into the cost of creating our own wireless hotspot

  • What is in the box besides the hardware?

    • art supplies

    • stand or support or some foldable organizational structure

    • theft prevention (like a tether)

    • wifi capabilities (optional)

    • space to hold a foldable display board

  • How are physical artifacts (the responses) displayed/saved or is it just digital?

    • users could either take their picture with them, post it on a foldable bulletin board, or place it in the suitcase

  • How does this integrate with Urbano’s new site?

We put together the following schedule and general task allocations for the coming week before the second project iteration is due as well as planning for the final project iteration and presentation.

  • 11/4:   Buy materials

  • 11/11: Assemble

  • 11/18: Put together content, including video

  • 11/25: Document the PARTI

  • 12/3:   Present the PARTI

Urbano Update: the First PARTI Iteration!

Yesterday (Monday), we met as a group to finalize our first project iteration. After congratulating ourselves for our first meeting outside of class with everyone physically in attendance (woot), we first reviewed feedback from Aditi, Sasha, and Becky and identified the key risks they saw in our proposal. It seemed that there was general concern about having enough time and budget to accomplish what we set out to do in our project proposal, and a suggestion was to narrow our focus to fewer components of the project – either the web interface or the physical installation and emphasizing the design and documentation so that the idea could be implemented by others. It was also suggested that we research other similar installation projects for inspiration.

102813 Meeting

From our meetings with Urbano, we knew that they wanted us to design and build them something, whether it be web-based or physical or both. Optimistic about our capabilities, we tried to stay true to our original intent (at least for now), while identifying ways and paths that could reduce our focus on some tasks and redirect them to others.

Although we are considering many different forms of interaction with users, such as video, audio, and visual, for our first design iteration,we decided to gather user feedback and interaction through drawings of users’ Imagined Cities that would be photographed for documentation so that we would be able to focus on the core technological platform that would be used throughout our project. For the mobile component and housing for our installation, we decided to use a suitcase, which would provide an existing platform on which to build. As seen in our sketch below, the suitcase would house a touchscreen that users would interact with. Besides taking pictures of the Imagined City drawings, the touchscreen would primarily show video displaying the work of Urbano student artists (to incorporate their work into the installation), instructions about how to use the installation, and background about Urbano, their mission, and the Emancipated City theme. The information could also incorporate information about the history of the community where the installation is located, which could be customized and also give users something to reflect on before they draw their Imagined Cities. Here are some UI examples for the touchscreen interface that Birkan made. The suitcase would be accompanied by a collapsible bulletin board on which participants could hang their drawings. In future installations, we intend to incorporate audio and video capabilities. Preliminary product research of the more significant components of our project (touchscreen, suitcase) have shown that we should be able to complete the project within the specified budget for the course.

First iteration

In terms of maintenance, the installation is designed to live within an indoor public space (libraries, community centers, museums, schools, youth organization centers), which would provide a small degree of security, but also be mobile in the sense that it could be packed up and transported to other sites easily. From time to time, the drawings would have to be gathered and taken back to Urbano and paper supplied to the installation, and every so often, the location of the installation would have to be changed.

With a design in place, we can move forward with purchasing the necessary components, playing with the software, and building the necessary mechanical inserts for the installation.

Urbano: Weekly Update

Despite our best efforts to find a common time when everyone was available, we weren’t able to meet as of the time this blog post is being written. As such, our team has been utilizing several googledocs as well as online chatting to discuss our MOU. In our discussions about decision making in particular, Peter proposed using the framework proposed by Seeds for Change, which ties in collaborative and participatory aspects, values that Urbano strives to promote as an organization.

Our MOU can be found here!

Hi, I’m Emily

Hi everyone! My name is Emily, I’m from Newark, DE, and I’m a senior in Course 2 (mechanical engineering) at MIT. I’m interested in robotics, manufacturing, and product design. Most of my project classes thus far have been very technical and product-focused, so I’m excited to use my brain in a different way for civic media projects. Looking forward to a great semester!