Week 12: Further Prototype Development

31 Oct

Focusing on the fundamental issue of community-motivated and oriented education systems, our prototype has developed into an interaction projection system that provokes though, action and change in regards to sustainable using and caring for the Ganges river by the communities who live by the river and who rely on the river for their potable water, food and income.

The week 12 tutorial was productive, having (somewhat) hurriedly constructing a prototype before class started, with a great discussion into, and development of, the features of the interactive projection system. During this discussion, features including sensors, to react to a person’s age, actions, gender, religion, the water toxicity and water levels, and water-resistant speakers and microphone were incorporated into the design of our prototype. However, whilst there was certainly progress in regards to what features the prototype would have, we, as a group, found it difficult to focus on, and develop, innovative ways in which the prototype would work, especially in regards to provocative technology development that would portray evolving human-technology relationships in the Ganges basin in 2030. This was one of our group’s greatest challenges during this assignment, and I think we are all very thankful to Ali for her great ideas and guidance in this tutorial.

One of the areas in which we made the greatest development this tutorial was deepening and probing into the concept of our prototype from a strictly programmed projector with limited capacity to respond to the people who use it, and with little breadth in the ways it could respond, to an intelligent submarine communications system that not only elicits responses from its users, but can respond, learn and develop responses and methods of interaction, building up on past experiences based on the communal input of those who use it. This creation of an experience is, for us, a much more advanced and provocative prototype than either of our previous ideas.

As the notion of a submarine projector is in its relative infancy, it is important to understand what has been achieved with it so far in order to understand the ways in which it can be developed in the future. One of the works that seems most similar to the visual aspect

I believe my group has envisaged is the life-size work by Laura Jean Healey entitled The Siren (Healey, 2012. Using Musion Eyeliner technology, which projects two-dimensional images onto an angled, metallised screen, providing the illusion of three-dimensions to the viewer, Healey filmed her images underwater, to give them a sense of shape and form, and then projected the images into the same medium (Scott, K. 2012).

As our final prototype, I am very happy with what we have and the progress that we have made. I feel that we have worked well together as a group during this process, all actively participating in discussion and work to reach our final design.

References:

Headly, L. 2012, The Siren, Laura Jean Healey, London. Accessed 1 November, 2012

http://laurajeanhealey.co.uk/?p=30

Scott, K. 2012, Underwater 3D Projection Brings Siren to Life, Wired.Co.Uk, Accessed 1 November, 2012

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-05/15/the-siren-3d-projection

Week 11: Personal Prototype Reflections

19 Oct

After wide-ranging and in-depth research surrounding the lives, culture and society of those who live on, use and worship the Ganges River, my group was bustling with ideas and content for our prototype, feeling confident that all of our information would put us in a good place to design and build the prototype in class. However, it soon became apparent that our lack of focus on one specific issue or solution was a considerable hindrance. Our prototype sketch grew increasingly complex and unrefined as we tried to align all of our research and related predicted issues with our prototype concept of the Communal Water Facility. With hindsight, it is clear how such vast research without specific focus into a truly important issue could be a problem, but that is a vast contrast to the perspective of the past week, with the goal of designing a culturally, religiously and socially informed and sensitive prototype, which seemed to necessitate the broad scopes of research.

 

Sketch of water-filter hub prototype

 

The bodystorming activity was also a challenge for the group due to the lack of focus. It was very difficult for us to know where to begin, or how to act the part of someone in a culture that is very different to our own, even with the abundance of our research. But in the end, it is clear to me that this activity is, and will continue to be, a great influence in our design process, as it pointed out to us the issue that we believe to be at the foundation of any activist movement for the Ganges in 2030, education. During the bodystorming activity, it became clear that our target audience, those in extreme poverty in large religious cities such as Varanasi, who utterly rely on the river for all of their water needs, must be sensitively educated about the vital difference between the religious and spiritual cleanliness that the river provides, and the physical polluted state of the river, in order to willingly involve themselves in any other progressive ecological movement to save their sacred river.

 

Sketch of Education Hub/ Water treatment facility prototype

Being able to watch the other groups perform their prototype made me realise how off-track our group had become, trying to solve all of the related problems that are predicted to arise along the Ganges basin by 2030, instead of addressing one specific need. This, along with the feedback provided by George and Ali reiterating this point, lead to the group decision to focus on the aspect of education, and design a specific prototype related to the ecological education of the slum communities.

With our group proving during the past week that we work well together and are willing to put in the time to reach specified goals, I have no doubt that we can be on track for documenting the prototype in class next week.

Week 10: 1 Million Deaths per year by 2030

18 Oct

Week 10: The Ganges River

Worshipped as a goddess, exploited beyond its capabilities and defiled through an outpouring of pollution, it is evident that this sacred river is one of extremes, in nature, society, the past and the present.  With the change, and increase, of use of Ganges water, the Ganges is one of the world’s most polluted water sources, and one of the rivers predicted to be most hit by the ravages of global warming.

R. C. Tiwari (2008) said that the traditional customs and social beliefs are one of the biggest elements of the environmental degradation in India, including the disposal of dead bodies into the Ganges, public bathing for spiritual cleansing, excess burning of fule wood. He proposes a rethink of these traditional customs in light of the delicate environmental situation in India. The Ganges is further over-exploited and polluted by farming, with some 450 million people relying on produce watered by the river. Canals built to lead water past the floodplains to farms, and more recently to New Delhi, mean that inadequate water is left in the river for farmers and produce downstream, especially in the dry season, where water levels are getting dangerously low due to global warming. Scientists predict that within the next twenty years, this great river will become seasonal, completely drying up in the winter months. The political activist group, Save the Ganga Movement, proposes a realignment of the traditional value of equality, making sure everyone has an equal share of the river’s “blessings”, to governmental and company policies regarding usage of the Ganges , believing that this is the starting point for saving the rive (Ruata, 2012).

The Save the Ganga movement, outlines the failure of the Ganga action plan, an expensive and ambition plan to clean up the river in a given fifteen-year scope (1985 to 2000). With corruption and social inequalities leading to companies pocketing the money without action, and blaming the communities for increased water pollution, it is clear that a governmental policy is doomed to failure without the willing participation, involvement and collaboration between large corperations and the community. Education is a vital part of willing communal participation, believes Dr. Mishra, a scientist and Hindu priest (2012). As Hindus believe that the Ganges is am all-powerful, pure goddess that cannot become unpure by any means, there is a great need for sensitive eduation between spiritual cleanliness for the Hindi population, and how the elements added to the water, that weren’t present at its sacred source waters in the Himalayas, are detrimental to the physical health of the river, the land, and the communities who use it.

India is a country wedged between the traditional ways of life and fast Western development, meaning that there are two polarities to deal with when trying to propose positive change.

References:

Tiwari, R. C. 2008), “Environmental Scenario in India”, in Dutt, Ashok K. et al, Explorations in Applied Geography, PHI Learning Pvt.

Ruata 2012, “Report 2012” in Gandhi Darshan, New Delhi, available at: http://www.savegangamovement.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=90&Itemid=121

Mishra, V. B. in Brehm, D. 2012, Indian Priest uses Engineering Training to Clean up Ganges, News Office, Massechusetts. Available at: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/1998/ganges-1209.html

Week 9: Experience Prototyping II

16 Oct

A Revised Look. This reading makes a lot more sense in the context of Assessment 3 than Assessment 2. It is therefore time to rethink my analysis of the extract.

Experience Prototyping, co-writted by Marion Buchenau and Jane Futon Suri, explores the idea of creating prototypes to build a personal and subjective sensory experience, as well as building a strong notion of how the artefact will be used and incorporated into the individual’s life. With the emphasis on “understand, explore [and] communicate” (Buchenau and Suri, 2000), it is clear that the prototype can be in any form, as long as it provokes a response from active participation.

This innovative new approach to prototype design has become increasingly popular, as evident by the plethora of workshops and examples given through a general Google search. Along with role playing, body storming and simulation exercises, it forms the foundations of “exploring by doing” (2000). So what does this mean, therefore, for Assessment 3? Our prototypes should aim to:

-Be evocative and evoke a reaction. A provocative design is a good design (within limits)

-Be the result of a shared vision constructed through effective teamwork. Boundaries and parameters need to be set in our groups to ensure co-operation and equal involvement.

-Explore possible solutions in a more informed manner. Deeply informed designs are very important, as success is more likely through a plausible design, which can only be reached through thorough research.

References:

Buchenau, M. and Suri, J. F. 2000, “Experience Prototyping” in Proceeding of the 3rd Conference on Designing interactive systems: Processes, practices, methods, and techniques 2000, ACM, N. Y.

Week 8: Experience Prototyping

20 Sep

One of the major aspects of Assessment 2 is constructing a future scenario that allows an individual to feel what it would be like in the prospective future, eliciting a reaction. Through creating this experience, the designer can understand the ways in which the product might be used within changing contexts.

 

The two readings, Experience Prototyping by Marion Buchenau and Jane Suri and Design Noir by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, both highlight the theoretical importance of evoking an experience through prototyping, as well as practical manifestations of the process, that, through prototypes, the designers can “change people’s perception [of reality]” (Dunne, A. and Raby, F. 2001).

 

A common, and important, thread in these articles, as well as the past few readings, is the importance of evoking meaning and an experience, not just a vision of future technologies. This notion is developed in both Experience Prototyping and Design Noir through the utilisation of simplistic technologies that have been given meaning, such as the electricity drain, rather than using technologically complex prototypes. The challenge and complexity is therefore is in the creation of these meanings and experiences. It is evident that for own future scenario poster in Assessment 2:

  • It will be necessary to have in-depth insights into contextual influences and how they change one’s perception to the world, as that is one of the foundational aspects of the given prototypes.
  • Fidelity to our concept in its representation is also evidently vital, as it is through drawn similarities to existing experiences that a person can relate to the scenario.

 

These two examples of experience prototyping have provided great insight in how to approach not only my future scenario, but also my interviews with their portrayal of personal interactions with technology.

 

References:

Buchenau, M. and Suri, J. 2000, “Experience Prototyping”, Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: processes, practices, methods and techniques 2000, ACM, N.Y.

Dunne, A. and Raby, F. 2001, Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects, Birkhauser, London.

Week 7: Design-Driven Innovation

19 Sep

Inherent meanings and semiotics is the universal language that we subconsciously partake in. Products consist of a conglomeration of meanings garnered from their design, materials, price and designer, providing them with a wide base of meanings for the prospective customer to buy into. In his introduction to Design-Driven Innovation, Verganti emphasises the importance of this understanding of the importance of design semiotics, as well as purposefully and innovatively creating meaning to evoke a desired experience.

One of the integral part of Verganti’s introduction, as reiterated in the lecture and in the tutorial is that technology on its own is a limited means of developing a design or product, but technology teamed with radical innovation in meaning is the key to success. The change in meaning of the product in turn changes personal interpretations of one’s life contexts (as well as providing considerable economic development for companies involved).

With user-centred, design-driven innovation increasing in popularity in the past few years, with a new Europe-wide innovation plan in 2010 [European Commission in Design as a Driver of User-Centred Innovation], there have been differences in how to approach this design-innovation structure. As evident by Verganti’s opening quote, he believes communal participation in the design process is integral in creating a shared and considered vision, which then has the power to influence others.

The strength of this process is clear not only in the theory laid out in Verganti’s text, but also in its application. Denmark, recognising the economic and design advantage of this method, implemented a national policy for strengthening user-driven innovation [Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation 2007, in Design as a Driver of User-Centred Innovation], and companies such as Apple and Nintendo, as highlighted by Verganti, have greatly benefited from the reimagining of meaning surrounding their respective iPod and Wii systems.

Whilst still being seen as a working hypothesis, it is clear that this process is a key approach to design innovation.

References:

Verganti, R. 2009, Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean, Harvard Business Press, Boston, Mass.

 

2009, Design as a Driver of User-Centred Innovation, European Commission, Brussels

Week 6: Design Futuring

19 Sep

Time, argues Tony Fry in his work Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practise, is a fundamental part of design, and an informed sense of time must be incorporated into design practise. For Fry, the attitude that many designers have towards the future, considering it a blank slate onto which they can whatever they like, is the most troubling, as the future is informed so greatly by the past and present.

 

Fry views backcasting, or “scenarios of design”, the elaborate context building approach to envisaging a desired future by working from the desired future to the present as preferable to, and more advanced than, forecasting, where the designer builds the design scenario from the present. As forecasting is viewed as merely a development on ideas, technologies and fears of the future, backcasting is elevated as it allows the individual to build a future distanced from contemporary concerns. Other design theorists, such as Sylvain Cottong, disagree that forecasting should even be considered as a possible methodological approach to visioning the future due to its consistent failure to move Western society in a positive direction.

 

For Fry, the main question about design futuring is where the causal agent for change will come from. For the future to be able to move ahead in the desired direction, it is necessary to have a coordination of people moving towards to one vision.

 

References:

Cottong, S. 2011, On Forecasting, Backcasting & Design Thinking, blog post, accessed 9/9/12. Available at: http://www.sylvaincottong.com/management-models/on-forecasting-backcasting-design-thinking/

Fry, T. 2009, Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practise, Berg Publishers, Oxford.