Katt Zhang

interaction design

2021 VIRTUAL COLLABORATION x HCI DESIGN

MINUSCULE ADVENTURE
PLAYSPACE SPATIAL STORYBOARDING Spatially ideate, storyboard and present
user experiences in real-time
2021 VIRTUAL COLLABORATION x HCI DESIGN

SOLO
DURATION
20 weeks

Today’s workplace is global, virtual and diverse both physically and intellectually as the complexity of problems facing today’s designers requiring unexpected ideas, divergent thinking and interdisciplinary creative collaboration. Collaboration empowers more voices and perspectives to be explored but breaking the ice and bridging communication when bringing together a diverse group is often challenging as different disciplines have different values, experiences and skills.

PLAYSPACE is the most accessible virtual studio to spatially ideate, storyboard and present user experience with customisable 3D models in real-time. Empower any virtual design and creative team to explore unexpected ideas through improvised storytelling and easily bring that vision to life.

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LANDING PAGE Your Design / Creative Team enters PLAYSPACE

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START Intuitively find and transform models on demand

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CREATE Spatially explore and navigate

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PRESENT Interactively present your vision to various stakeholders

CREATOR VIEW Instantly edit and collaborate as a team in Creator View (3rd Person Omniscient POV)

USER VIEW Interactively walk through scenarios in User View (1st Person POV)


CONTEXT + IMPACT

Entering 2020, the creative workplace was already rapidly trending virtual and remote thanks to Millennials and Gen Z preferring to work as creative freelancers collaborating from anywhere, embracing ‘digital nomadity’ and ‘location independence’. Currently in 2021, there is an estimated 10.9 million digital nomads in the US alone with predictions of a billion globally by 2035 or 1 in 9 people due to lifestyle changes and tech advancements. However, a continued top challenge to virtual remote working is engaged communication and collaboration with a 2021 survey conducted showing 41% citing the greatest change of remote working is how collaboration and communication is conducted (top factor of change) and 16% citing it as the greatest difficulty (top 2 factor of struggle).

This is the goal and value of PLAYSPACE - to enhance the creative collaboration experience for greater engagement and clearer visual communication to accessibly explore multiple perspectives and unlock unexpected ideas.

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RESEARCH + DEVELOPMENT

Key User : VIRTUAL GLOBAL DESIGN / CREATIVE TEAMS

INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION WITH BOUNDARY OBJECTS
A key advantage of bringing together diverse experts during ideation is to explore the problem from multiple perspectives to reach a deeper understanding towards a concept.

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DESIGN THINKING X APPLIED IMPROV
Both Improv and the Design Process ‘involve reflecting-in-practice’ to form ‘new understandings based on things that arise during the process’. Improv is ‘collaborative storytelling’ as all dialogue and action happen ‘live without preparation’ enabled by the use of ‘yes and’. Artefacts in the form of drawing or making ideas help to externalize ideas for the creator but also to communicate with others (also known as Constructionism).

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INITIAL USER INTERVIEWS

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USER TESTING + EXPS

Accumulating the insights from industry user interviews, the motivation of early experimentation was to assess how various designers expressed their ideas during collective brainstorming - ranging from making mock-ups, collaging images, gesturing to drawing - and looking for the most universally accessible mode as an input for the most potential types of output during synchronous brainstorming.

3 series of experiments (shown below) were conducted over a period of a month : the first comparing in-person synchronous creative collaboration to remote, the second limiting creative tools in remote brainstorming and the third using 3D models to create storyboards visualizing scenarios.


PROTOTYPING + MVP

The current working prototype is built in Unity using Multiplayer to allow multiple users to virtually engage in the same space simultaneously. Two workshops of 3 people were conducted with a single design brief and both teams conducted the experiment twice. The first time in a blank studio and the second time with the system suggesting objects that had to be incorporated. None of the partipants had previously collaborated with each other.

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All participants were asked to screen record and the screen recordings were analyzed for how partipants interacted with all the objects and how each used specific features of the system (rotate, zoom, move etc) to validate how user behaviour adapted to spatiality, multiple POVs and integrated output. Some shots of the outputs created by the participants are shown below.

A qualitative survey and questionnaire was conducted individually at the end of each session - survey results shown here.

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