Tag Archives: Experience

Wayfindr smartphone app for the blind

Another example from the 2016 Interaction awards. This shows design research in action including the use of empathy tools.

Project Description

Wayfindr is the first open standard for audio-based navigation

There are an estimated 285 million vision impaired people worldwide. Sadly, the consequences of sight loss are often poverty, isolation and depression. Of the estimated two million people living with sight loss in the UK, almost half say they would like to leave their home more often.

Overcoming these challenges starts with enabling independent travel, which catalyses both individual and societal change.

The ‘what if’ moment

What if vision impaired people were empowered to navigate independently using the smart phone they already have in their pocket? This was the challenge posed by Royal London Society for Blind People’s (RLSB) Youth Forum to ustwo in 2014.

With limited or no vision, navigating an unfamiliar environment means you are wholly reliant on auditory cues or a sighted guide for directions. Emerging technologies such as smartphones and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons point to a future of independent navigation for blind people. There is a pressing need to develop a consistent standard to be implemented across wayfinding systems. This will open up a world where vision impaired people are no longer held back by their sight loss.

Built into the Wayfindr standard is a determination to create social, economic and personal value for users. During our trials we have seen an increase in the confidence of our participants. Every time a vision impaired person independently reaches their desired destination using Wayfindr it changes their perceptions of their own abilities. We believe that as the adoption of the Wayfindr standard increases, this impact will propagate across the globe.

How we got there

In March 2014 we secured a trial at Pimlico station in partnership with Transport for London (TfL). We installed Bluetooth LE Beacons across the station, and developed a basic prototype app which guided you around the station. At this point we were intending to build an app called ‘Wayfindr’ but we soon realised this was not the way to achieve our impact. We are now setting the standard for audio based wayfinding, ensuring that wherever blind and partially sighted people go, and whatever app they use, they have a consistent and reliable experience.

Wayfindr is now set up as a joint venture between ustwo and RLSB, and has recently received $1m of funding through Google.org as part of their Global Impact Challenge: Disabilities. In December 2015 we trialled the Wayfindr standard at London Euston in partnership with TfL. In this trial users could select from over 80 routes in the station, from exit to platform, between platforms etc.

The first version of the Wayfindr standard is due in Spring 2016. It will enable built environment owners, digital navigation services, and other stakeholders to adopt the standard and ensure their products and services are accessible to vision impaired people.

For more info visit wayfindr.net



From the 2016 Interaction awards – a great example of digital interaction in a real environment and experience design.

Project Description

Navigating the social media landscape often means spending time with our personal devices instead of with each other. We use our fingertips to transmit bits and bytes across the world more readily than we use our bodies to transmit social energy across a room. Who, at some point, hasn’t wondered if this rushing stream of ephemeral posts is leading us toward an island of social isolation rather than a true community of friends?

As part of Elevate Atlanta 2014, a pop-up gallery curated by local arts organizations, we created #Trashtag, a tangible interface for social messaging. Inspired by the weeklong exhibition’s “Social City” theme, we filled a dumpster with more than a hundred illuminated, magnetic blocks inscribed with words and emoji and beckoned the public into the installation with a phrase: “LET’S TALK.” Everyone was invited to participate by arranging the blocks to create messages of their own on the container’s walls. Strangers laughed together as they discovered hidden phrases in the piles of discarded words, and they disrupted each other’s work, playfully fighting over coveted terms and symbols. For one week in downtown Atlanta, social media became something new—a collective act undertaken together in physical space.

But #Trashtag did more than just collect these messages—it amplified them far beyond the confines of the dumpster. With the push of an oversized button, people could have the container tweet on their behalf. @TrashTagATL acted as a mouthpiece for the public’s ideas and hopes.

By the end of Elevate, #Trashtag had tweeted more than 200 posts. The messages were surprising and inspiring, at times critical, funny, and profound—a perfect reflection of the diversity of the participants. The public also littered the social media landscape with tagged Instagram photos, Facebook posts, retweets, and direct messages of their own, spreading awareness of the installation itself and the Elevate exhibition at large.

The dumpster ultimately became a symbol of the disposability of modern messaging, a place where sentiments could be tossed out and discarded as quickly as the pieces could be salvaged to create something new. But perhaps most importantly, #Trashtag transformed the dumpster into a creative space that anyone, regardless of age or background, could use to speak to others. Experimenting with what social media could look like in a physical place, we reimagined “posting” as a tangible task, a public activity, and a collective, evolving performance. In other words, we made social media truly social.

Essay “Is technology changing storytelling?”

Do changes in technology demand a different approach in the craft of writing? Or do the best stories still come in classic form? Here’s a research insight by rodgezooi as a doubtful enthousiast, investigating the storytelling potentials of new platforms and the masterpieces of the future it will eventually lead to.

For links to the footage used in this essay check: justpaste.it/k3tb

Essay “Is technology changing storytelling?” from rodgezooi on Vimeo.

What is IDE?

“IDE” is what the students called the 3rd Year CoCA elective 222.392 Interactive Digital Experience. 

In IDE students investigate how interactive technology can be used to enhance a location-specific visitor experience. Last year we worked with Te Papa as a ‘live client’ and hope to do that again this time.
The paper has two briefs. The first stage is to design and visualise a personalised mobile guide for the institution. In this case the digital interface with the space travels with the user.
Stage two extends this experience to a detailed interpretive media for one display item – so now it is the space that provides the interface.

Students are encouraged to explore emerging technologies with an emphasis on UX and innovation and can use mobile devices, haptic, motion sensing, audio input or output to create a future focused solution.

This paper follows on very well from 197.238 Interaction and Interface and 197.379 Experience Design. It also extends learnings from the core options of 222.357 web and app.

Here are some snapshots from the 2015 student work: