Active Form

Self Assessment

Being a very new and current topic of discussion, this is a good area to explore and delve into. Active Forms are  ‘tangible user interfaces (TUI) that couple action and reaction in a single modality’  which sounds daunting to start with, and it took us a few explanations to get our heads round the concept, however we prevailed through and came away with a successful product.

Ideas and Originality

Upon deciding the personae we which was quickly chosen as a group, we were able to explore the domestic world and the products and rituals used in everyday life. This was explored by a number of members of the group and each looked into their given room and explored the activities which are conducted in that room. This gave us a path to investigate even further and eventually choose our designated domestic room; which happened to be the Kitchen in this case. The ritual we chose was the Tap/Sink area and from there we all went away to produce our own concepts and designs which included an Active Form within it. I’ll be the first to admit that I struggled to come up with initial concepts, I found it difficult to think of a useful and practical solution however once meeting up with all our designs and discussing them, clarity was restored and I was sure I knew what we had to do and where we were heading with our project.

User Focus,  Usability and Usefulness

Our project was highly weighted on user interaction because of the need for it to have an ‘active form’. There needed to be a reaction from the product once the user has interacted with it and so there was a very large focus on this aspect. However the usefulness was slightly decreased because you could argue that other normal taps are more efficient at the water flow being accessible. On the other hand though, we had to base our product around the word ‘value’ which meant that the aesthetics were very important rather than efficiency or functionality. If we were to continue this project I would attempt to produce a working model and then possibly concentrate on the efficiency and see whether the water flow from the spout is sufficient enough.

Form and Aesthetics

This was a major part of our product because of the focus word ‘value’ being given to us. Value is all about the way something looks, and the image it portrays. Therefore we spent a large amount of time during the concept and development stages looking over and redrawing the idea we had. We finally came up with our final idea, which then was recreated on a 3D CAD software however once producing all our visuals and finished presentation it was pointed out that our product resembled some sort of adult sex toy. This was unnoticed by us as we had such focus, we didn’t take a step back and look at the wider picture. We thought this would bring us down during the presentation however we pitched our product well and got great feedback from our client. I would potentially go back and look at the form and shape of it if I was to carry on the project further. We chose a design style of Panasonic kitchen products that we all liked and to be critical of ourselves, I don’t think we used it for our design. We used the colours but if you look at our product it doesn’t fit into the same style as the ones we chose so it seemed pretty pointless to choose one other than the fact we used it in our logo and product name.

Modelling Visualisation and Communication

I was involved heavily on this part of the project. I mentioned in previous projects that I am not very confident on Photoshop or video skills and it was a downfall of mine and so I worked on trying to improve it this project which I think I achieved well. On my blog homepage (On these 3 links in particular: Water Flow, Space Scene, Skull Merge) I uploaded a few things I’ve been practising on Photoshop  which is how I made the animation of our product. I struggled to find or download video animation software which did what I wanted to do which was have a hand moving under the leaf sensor and the water turning on and the tulip bulb lighting up. Therefore I had to make individual JPEG files and move the hand pixel by pixel and then put them in a very quick stop animation where each picture was show for 0.05 seconds. As time-consuming as all this sounds, it was effective and it looked good so that’s all that matters. The other visuals done by other group members were great too, they all showed our metaphor of water running off a leaf and it was visually pleasing to look at I though. after seeing the other groups presentations I particularly liked the Active Farm’s way of showing their posters with them Photoshopped into existing locations like the underground and on the side of bus stops. I thought that was very cleaver and I would like to see what ours would look like in the same situation.

Self Assessment & Criticism

I feel this project went well and we delivered our product very convincingly. So convincing our client said that he thought ‘it looked like it was already a product’ which is always good to hear. At some points in the project I thought we lacked direction and know-how of where to go next however we managed to produce on time, with the correct deliverables which was asked of us so it can be deemed a success. I felt sometimes I took over as a group leader however I don’t think the actual group leader minded so much. I only did this on occasions where we got sidetracked a little bit and I wanted us to focus on the task set in front of us. I think next time we are in a group project I will put myself forward as a group leader as I haven’t been one yet and it would be good experience. In my opinion the video, was our game changer, it was sleek and effective and it looked like something you could see on the television in real life. The music chosen by James was great too. We attempted to produce it with ambiguous starting clips by only showing small parts of the product, and then gradually showing more and more until half way through where the whole product is revealed. This was contrasted with clips of nature and our metaphor of the leaf and water. It worked great I thought, possibly the best video we’ve made yet in all our projects done this year. I was worried that we would get scrutinised by not having an active form, as the only active form we have  is the tulip changing colour however this was not brought up in our presentation and so it must not be an issue we need to address if we were to go further.


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