Microsoft HoloLens (2017)

At the beginning of March 2017, Joshua Walton from the Microsoft HoloLens team, challenged us to design a HoloLens application that would allow curators to do studio visits remotely in Mixed Reality (MR). The final product we created is a proof of concept for a holographic portfolio that showcases an artist's selected works in a new and immersive way. This project was part of the Integrated Digital Media program User Experience (UX) Design class taught by Dana Karwas.

UX Designers Sara Camnasio, Adelle Lin, Sharon Lee, Asher Friedman, Shuling Chen, Aniket Bhandarkar

Graphic Designers Sharon Lee, Sara Camnasio, Adelle Lin

Book Designers Sara Camnasio, Asher Friedman

Unity Developers Adelle Lin, Aniket Bhandarkar


Our product prototype, called MooR, allows users to virtually enter an artist studio and experience a curated visit. The name of the product is a play on the meaning of the word "moor," which is "a tract of open uncultivated upland," symbolic of the unchartered territory of Mixed Reality (the M & R), and the two middle o's, which in our logo are the HoloLens headset.

The product is in the form of a HoloLens app. Once opened, users scan a physical object, the "Key," with the headset and they enter the virtual artist studio. Holograms are then placed around the room.

mOOr

 

 

 
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Product Features

While developing the product, we realized the strength of Mixed Reality over Virtual Reality: Mixed Reality is still grounded within the real world and can incorporate the physical environment into the virtual experience. Because of this, our driving principle was to preserve the relationship with the physical world. We enacted this via three techniques, which directly translated into the features our product: metaphors (keys, desk items,), body activation (activation zones), and waypoints (desk, lobby).

  KEYS   To help the user transition into the virtual experience, we decided to use a physical object to convey entering an artist's studio. The object, called the Key, is scanned upon opening the app and it also functions as a means of security. It is unique to the user and it contains their email address. We envision an artist sending a curator a key in order to access their portfolio.

KEYS

To help the user transition into the virtual experience, we decided to use a physical object to convey entering an artist's studio. The object, called the Key, is scanned upon opening the app and it also functions as a means of security. It is unique to the user and it contains their email address. We envision an artist sending a curator a key in order to access their portfolio.

  DESK ITEMS   To display the artist's biography, calendar, contact information, and statement, we decided to use a drawing mannequin, a book, a phone, and a microphone, respectively. The choice of these items was inspired by the idea of a desk, which we saw at artists' studios during our research. In the final form of this product, each item would be customizable by an artist.

DESK ITEMS

To display the artist's biography, calendar, contact information, and statement, we decided to use a drawing mannequin, a book, a phone, and a microphone, respectively. The choice of these items was inspired by the idea of a desk, which we saw at artists' studios during our research. In the final form of this product, each item would be customizable by an artist.

  EXIT   To transition from an artist's MooR portfolio to the Lobby, or even to another artist's studio, we developed the Exit feature. The Exit is customizable and the artist can decide its appearance (e.g. an abstract animation or an archway). The user can either walk through it or select it via an Air Tap to leave their current scene and return to the MooR lobby.

EXIT

To transition from an artist's MooR portfolio to the Lobby, or even to another artist's studio, we developed the Exit feature. The Exit is customizable and the artist can decide its appearance (e.g. an abstract animation or an archway). The user can either walk through it or select it via an Air Tap to leave their current scene and return to the MooR lobby.

  ACTIVATION ZONES   To encourage the user to move around the space and explore the artwork from new angles, Activation Zones were incorporated. An Activation Zone is a physical area of the room, typically near an artpiece, which triggers an event or action when the user moves into that space.

ACTIVATION ZONES

To encourage the user to move around the space and explore the artwork from new angles, Activation Zones were incorporated. An Activation Zone is a physical area of the room, typically near an artpiece, which triggers an event or action when the user moves into that space.

  DESK   The desk items which are present for all artists, are all kept in a single location that we've called the Desk. This concept was inspired by an artist's desk in their studio. Every art studio has desks as a connection between artists’ background and their current work and discipline.

DESK

The desk items which are present for all artists, are all kept in a single location that we've called the Desk. This concept was inspired by an artist's desk in their studio. Every art studio has desks as a connection between artists’ background and their current work and discipline.

  LOBBY   As MooR expands to include more artists, users may want to look at a few of them at the same time. To accomplish this, we created a Lobby which the displays all the available artists and allows the user to select which artist the user would like to view.

LOBBY

As MooR expands to include more artists, users may want to look at a few of them at the same time. To accomplish this, we created a Lobby which the displays all the available artists and allows the user to select which artist the user would like to view.


RESEARCH

The first step of our project was extensive research. We established that our product would act as a medium between two distinct users: artists and curators. During our primary research phase we reached out to these two users and conducted interviews about their own perspective on artist portfolios and studio visits. We interviewed five artists and two curators.

 
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We also conducted secondary research on studio visits, artist portfolios and virtual ways of showing and interactive with artworks. We summarized this research in the form of comparative analysis, as seen below.

 

CONCEPTING

After the research phase, we synthesized our insights and distilled them into functionalities that we wanted our product to have. In order to understand our ideas as they related to the product as a whole, we created a spider map, as seen below. We started by outlining the different types of artworks and then defining all the ways one could interact with them. We then added additional features that based on our research would enrich the experience for curators: the Waypoints for a guided vs unguided visit and the Artist Key.

Storyboarding

In order to determine the true nature and feasibility of our early concepts, we storyboarded possible interactions and models. This storyboarding process was the first step in developing the various ideas which eventually became the essential features in MooR. Each feature was sketched and annotated to provide a thorough understanding.


PROTOTYPES

 

 

Stop Motion Film

In our first prototype, the elements we tested out were the artist bio, art pieces such as sculptures and paintings, and the user flow of the whole experience. A team member put on our make-shift HoloLens, gazed around, and chose a artist studio he/she wanted to visit.

After the artist’s portfolio was selected, the artist’s bio was presented through an audio description. The first artwork the user saw was a sculpture, which also displayed the title of the artwork, date, medium, and dimension. The user could also save the sculpture or email all the information to a pre-saved email address.

 
 

Marvel Prototype

The second prototype was interactive and made by setting up objects in a room to represent holograms. We then took pictures from various points-of-view for a speci c user ow and compiled them into an interactive and clickable prototype on Marvel.

The photos were compiled in the Marvel Prototyping on Paper software to allow more direct and free use prototyping. The layout of the prototype was designed to blend between a guided and free roaming experience.

The Marvel Prototype can be found here.


We user tested throughout our two paper prototypes as well as throughout the development of our final Unity prototype.

USER TESTING

 
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The product was built in Unity and deployed through Visual Studio. Due to the complexity of our User Experience techniques, we began building and deploying early in the project. For example, one of the concepts we wanted to demonstrate was of the studio Key. This involved incorporating Vuforia's image tracking capabilities on the Hololens, which we were unsure of.

Fortunately, design and development were well integrated within our team, which minimized communication barriers. Since there are many ways to organize and develop the scene, one of the techniques we used was to structure our programming around the way the user flows were organized, as demonstrated in the unity flow diagram below.

UNITY PROTOTYPE

 
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A general floor plan of the environment of our app is below. This is essentially the floor plan of one of the artist studios.

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As a project deliverable, we created a 42-page booklet that showcased our process and research, as well as any other deliverable. The booklet was printed and we installed two lenticular images to showcase key interactions.

The PDF of the booklet is available here.

BOOKLET

 

The project took roughly 10 weeks from start to finish. Below, a visual timeline of our process and deliverables production.

PROJECT TIMELINE