MDM - SoundGrid

An Art Installation That Introduce Users to Sounds In Space

Overview

Our core idea is an exhibit that introduces planet sounds through a fun and immersive experience. After several iterations, we found that a ‘SoundGrid’ exhibit can communicate this core idea solution very effectively.

 

SoundGrid is an exhibit that allows a user to listen to planet sounds by stepping onto a 3x3 virtual grid that is projected on the floor.

Teaser Trailer Video

Gameplay

For the comic relief full version of gameplay, please refer to: https://youtu.be/dFALXcLDXTE

Mission Statement

For everyone who is visiting a space museum, the SoundGrid provides an immersive and interactive experience that engages the user with planet sounds.

Unlike other sounds in space exhibit that usually demonstrates how sound cannot travel in space, ours creates awareness about planets and the sounds they can make.  

Feature List

Production Journey

User Journey

User Test

Test Objectives:

  1. The time user spends and how long they think they spend on the grid.

  2. The positive and negative of grid

  3. The positive and negative of front screen

  4. If the technology can endure long time working

  5. Which visual part user pay more attention to, grid or front screen.

  6. What does user like most

  7.  If user can learn anything from the installation

Test Result​

Take Away

 

- Sound and interaction

Unlike former tests, this test strongly indicates the fact that pure planet sound can be a strength for SoundGrid, the interaction between the grid and human movement is also a strength of this installation. More people felt the feeling of immersion with the whole MVP working. More than half of the testers think sound is the part they like. The take away from this specific section is that planet sound itself is actually very attracted and new to users, they will be willing to listen to it no matter what kind of sound it is.

 

- Overall experience is enjoyable, but still need improvement

Based on the test result of time user think they spent and the actual time they spent. Most of the user estimated their time accurately, which implies the experience of SoundGrid is the same experience as they expected. But there are other people who think they spent more time than they actually did, which implies a fact that these people are not enjoying the installation as much as we anticipated.  The overall interaction and experience can still be optimized.

 

- Grid content

The Grid feedback is very positive. Visualization is the part that most user enjoys while there is one part that are all about the negative feedback, content. The content on the grid implies the words on the grid. To improve user experience, the words on grid can be animated and keep following users’ direction to give user a very positive and clear feedback of which planet they are stepping in.

 

- More scientific takeaway from front screen

Even though most users are enjoying front screen visuals, there is still a lack of scientific information on the front screen that keeps users from taking away what we think they should take. A better solution could be enriching the animation and content on front screen that implies the science part. However, it is very wise to make the grid and front screen consistent by adding a small grid on front screen so that user know which grid they are stepping in and what planet it is from front screen.

 

- Front screen is an eye catcher

Unlike what we anticipated and designed, most of the people was staring at the front screen during the full interaction. Through interviews, we realized that it was because the front screen is bright and huge, as well as an info container that illustrate all the info of this installation with animation. 

Project Takeaway

This project hasn't been the smoothest project I have ever PMed for. In fact, it is one of the toughest i've ever done. My team started from a design jam which brought us to the idea of sounds in space.

 

On the user experience side, to create a fun and interactive user experience, we need more than just the sound, we need something that is so engaging that user would like to come back again and again. That's why we decided to go with the installation direction and create a virtual grid that everyone can jump in and out. To add this to the sound core, the direction changed from simply listen to the sound to step in the grid to listen to planet sound. But it doesn't seem engaging to us, and we added more, music. We manipulated the planet sound into tunes so that users can create music with the tunes that each planet created. It was so fun, everyone of us was excited about this outcome until our client pointed out that this product does not fulfill the requirement of educating people anymore. It was a deadly mistake we made. A perfect fun and engaging user experience we created indeed, however, it does not even solve the basic problem we were trying to solve. A lack of user test also kept us in the our own minds for too long. 

On the PM side, we combined agile and waterfall methodology. Especially after we realized the music prototype was not enough, we went fully agile for a few weeks to prototype and test. Our sprints followed the process of having ideation, design, prototyping and test in the same week. It was tough, but really helpful to shape the whole team's view on the product. 

Overall, it is great to have a killer user experience, but always remember that you're solving a problem, not just creating a user experience. 

Agile and waterfall are both great in their own way. Waterfall is more suitable for products that have a clear schedule and feature list while agile is a great tool to explore and test for the best way to do a project. With other tools like feature matrix, bull's eye, user journey  etc 's help. It can be the most efficient tool for projects.