Project in UXD Graduate Studio
The Imagination Station
Combining art pieces, QR code, and AR to enhance the visibility of the Imagination Station and guiding people toward there to explore more
The Imagination Station is a small and unassuming, but fully functional children’s museum located in Lafayette. The bottom floor is packed full of fun and interactive machines, and the top floors offer spaces for workshops, as well as ambassador animals. In addition to their permanent exhibits, birthday parties, seminars, and clubs are hosted in various parts of the building. However, aside from a handful of small murals, there is very little externally setting it apart from the surrounding stucco-and-brick buildings.
It has the elements of a gathering place focused around the community of local young families, but it has yet to bloom into one. Hence, our goal of this project was to understand how we could attract the kids and families to the Imagination Station which acts as the Community Hub for STEM-based learning.
After several iterations of brainstorming and usability testing, we went eventually settled on combining art, QR code, and AR to point people in the direction of the Imagination Station. This was a low-cost and long-term solution that could still be modified to help raise awareness of the Imagination Station in the local community.
2018/11 ~ 2018/12
Alyse Marie Allred
"How do we strengthen the existing community of families with young kids by making Imagination Station as the Community Hub?"
To help us understand and focus on strengths, minimize threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to Marsh, we have laid out SWOT analysis.
As most grocery stores lack the community aspect, concentrating on this aspect can be promising.
Interview & observation :
As Marsh business model is “Business to Customer”, we carried out primary and secondary research to find out what can be a potential improvement in the grocery shopping experience
We divided consumers who go to the grocery store into four categories- family, elderly, disabled, and college student.
The Imagination Station
Our first step was conducting researches on the Imagination Station to figure out what it has already done, where it lacks, what can be done and how it can be done. Through field research, interviews with employees, and secondary research of the online resources, we got some good insights.
Strong online presence
Connect with other science museums
Lack of visibility and accessibility
Low motivated and uncheerful employees
Passively hoping for people to visit
We then made a persona for The Imagination Station.
We also interviewed two families in Lafayette to understand the users' needs.
Key insights from interviews including:
It is important we introduce Science in kids lives at a very young age.
Kids are very curious, we need to utilize this characteristic to improve accessibility and visibility.
Indoors are usually preferred due to harsh winters in the regions of Indiana.
Community events/clubs make learning more enjoyable.
A community hub can improve the community aspect of society.
Next, we further made personas, scenarios, and omnichannel map based on our findings.
Designing to build a stronger community with the incorporation of STEM is completely new to our team. So we had taken inspiration from previous works.
From our research, we received much information which helps us identify various loopholes. Next, we created an affinity diagram to streamline our thoughts.
Our findings were separated into six parts:
The current troubles with the Imagination Stations’ visibility do not come from a lack of displays or activities. It is also not lacking in social media outreach and campaigning. In fact, the Imagination Station lacks in community outreach. As a result, it is not present in the public eye, beyond word of mouth and newsletter mentions.
Hence, using various promotion methods to improve the visibility of the Imagination Station was our priority. Also, since the Imagination Station is located in Lafayette, with no advantage in location, improving accessibility was also important.
As a result, our early ideation was centered heavily around simple ways technology could be used to increase the Imagination Stations’ visibility locally.
2. First Iteration: Science on the Wheels
In the beginning, we chose “science on the wheels” as our solution to expand out our idea from the Imagination Station to the downtown, and to the elementary school which not only raise the visibility but also gives the accessibility to children.
The aim of this was to strengthen the social fabric by increasing community outreach and encouraging children to engage with science.
3. First testing
We conducted a bodystorming to see how students and their parents would react to this solution. From the testing, we saw that this solution could indeed attract people by getting them interested in the Imagination Station and enhancing the discussion such as asking for social media platforms.
However, we figured that this method would not solve our problem because of the drawbacks listed below:
Limited by time: Only improve the visibility at specific times and in specific locations.
Limited by the number of people serving: Constraint by the capacity of the bus.
Security concerns: Concern for a bus driving around and asking children to get on.
Equipment maintenance: Most of the equipment is expensive and difficult to move.
Not creative enough: This has already been done by someone before. We should come up with an idea that more suitable for Imagination Station.
4. Second Iteration: Sidewalk Paws
Next, we transitioned to sidewalk paws and having stable promotion spots around the Imagination Station. The paws would attract people's attention and encourage them to follow paws to a certain spot where they could scan a QR Code. Then, using AR technology, cute characters would show up on the phone to give an introduction of Imagination Station and guide them toward there.
If we set the promotion spots near Imagination Station, we could effectively attract people to visit. “Only two blocks from here, why not?” Visibility had not only improved but also achieved practical results.
In addition, this method was not limited by time as well as the number of people and required less cost. The update only needs to replace the QR Code.
5. Second testing
(1) Cognitive Walkthrough
First, we did a cognitive walkthrough with 2 girls. We explained how the sidewalk paws are implemented, and how we combine AR technology.
We got some valuable insights from the cognitive walkthrough:
Paws can further be combined with other high-tech, such as using AR to display the route from the spot to the Imagination Station.
At the end of Paws' guidance, we can place a large art piece related to science to attract people to follow the paws and take out their phone to scan the QR Code.
Later, we conducted a bodystorming in the school's library. We printed out some paws and put them on the ground. The route guided them to turn and then walked to the door of a classroom. The goal of this was to see whether people would follow the footprints to where we want them to be. Here are three important findings:
The guidance with the paws can't be too long: Once the guidance is too long, people can easily lose interest.
People must be able to see the endpoint: People have security concerns about where they are being led so we need to allow them to see the end of the paws.
The endpoint must be attractive enough: We need people to scan the QR Code so the endpoint must be attractive enough to let them go and see.
The final design was comprised of four main elements:
1. Paw Prints
Paw prints would be placed on the sidewalks in strategic locations. Many of these paw prints were concentrated in Downtown Lafayette, because of the high amounts of foot traffic, and its general proximity to the Imagination Station.
2. Art Piece
The paw prints lead to a permanent, but simple art piece, depicting something related to the STEM fields.
3. QR Code
Embedded within the art piece would be the Imagination Station’s logo, as well as a QR code.
4. 3D AR Mascot
When scanned, the QR code would produce a 3D AR image of a cute mascot, which would then proceed to invite them to the Imagination Station.
User Journey Map
This Omni channel illustration maps the whole experience right from the place where the kid discovers the paws till the time the kids get into the station and play with various displays in the system which includes post visit of the Imagination Station as well.
This project was under the theme "Weaving the threads" of the CHI 2019 Student Design Competition. I would say that this was by far the most difficult project. The difficult part was not to come up with solutions or doing research but to define our users, problems, scope, and "social fabric“ at the beginning which cost us more than two weeks.
For me, there was still room for improvement and there were many things I would like to be better at. For example, the social fabric of children interested in the STEM field in Lafayette was not clear enough. This question could be answered only after a more thorough Research. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with the final solution we proposed which we believed, could effectively enhance the visibility with low cost.
Although we were unable to take this project further due to time constraint, the Imagination Station has great potential. If the project were to proceed from here, we would look into opportunities for participatory design in multiple areas, both for publicity and the city's long term benefit. We sincerely hope that the Imagination Station succeeds in becoming a community place.