Designing a Ubiquitous Computing Bar
About This Project
- UMSI Course
Time of Project
- Jan 2012–Apr 2012
- Cultural probe
- Experience prototype
- Wizard of Oz
- Adobe Illustrator
- Paper prototyping materials
- Suzie Arellano
- Shiblee Imtiaz Hasan
- Nicole VanDuzen
- Can Wang
For a class on pervasive interaction design, my team and I designed a concept for tapping into the social experiences that occur at bars. Our concept placed interactive, touch-sensitive tabletop games at the center of the experience. The project concept and our process are described below. Detailed information about the project, including all of the work conducted for each phase, can be found here.
Cultural Probe and Other Research
An early formative study consisted of three parts:
- observations of customers in various local bars,
- interviews with people who frequent bars,
- and a cultural probe designed to elicit unique responses from our interview participants. The cultural probe asked participants to complete three, simple activities on their own time.
After reviewing study findings, we generated three concepts. One focused on locating a bar with available seats, one focused on the process of ordering and paying for drinks, and a third presented a scenario in which bar-goers played a game together on an interactive tabletop. It was this third concept that we developed further.
The Bar Gaming Concept
The concept we settled on centered around games as a social catalyst for the bar. Bars naturally encourage socialization, which made this concept a good fit. In our formative study, participants indicated that they often went to bars to engage in conversation. Other participants mentioned going for an event like trivia night. This concept sought to combine these by providing an engaging, interactive gaming experience to couple, but not interfere, with the natural conversational atmosphere of most bars.
The bar we envisioned has several key aspects:
- A table that displays information relevant to each user – total points that have carried over from prior visits, what game the user last played, and progress toward free or discounted drinks.
- The ability to interact with the table using common bar objects like drink glasses or user-specific objects like cell phones.
- The ability to recognize which person in a group of friends has control over choosing a game.
To the right are some of the sketches I made in planning the details of the tabletop interactions. The top sketch is an early storyboard showing how users would interact with the table.
This is the initial sketch of the user work flow when initially interacting with the table.
After conceptualizing the design, we set out to test the concept with an early, mostly paper prototype. We tested the prototype with several pairs of participants. Our goal was to see how the tabletop interactions as well as the sample game impact social engagement in a bar.
The photo to the right shows part of our team conducting a pilot test with the prototype.
After the experience prototype, we iterated on the design, reworking some of the interactions in the process. Below are wireframes of some of the interactions for the final concept. I made all of the wireframes for this project. The portion below shows the steps a user takes to select a game after they have logged in to the system.
The end goal for the project was to create a conceptual video showcasing how the product would work in a real-world setting. To that, we chose to highlight a common use-case – going to the bar with friends.