Q&A for A Flexible, Touchfree Interactive Platform for Exhibiting Physical and Digital Student W…

We present a case study sharing the design and development process for a new interactive exhibit space at the North Carolina State University Libraries, called the Innovation Studio. The Libraries collaborated with Relative Scale of Raleigh, NC to realize an experience built around interactive projection, designed as a lightweight and mostly “touchfree” approach to digital interactives. This interaction design, and the content platform that underlies it, facilitate dynamic exhibition in a multi-use space—one that is central to a larger transformation happening in the newly renovated Hill Library. The Innovation Studio exhibition platform affords a new approach to collecting student work (in both digital and physical form) and sharing their stories, further situating the library as a forum and community space. In designing for flexibility—the exhibits will often need to be removed so the Studio can be used for teaching—interactive projection won out over bulky touch tables, leading to a “touchfree” approach that is also uniquely ready for the shift in user experience caused by COVID-19. We’ll share our technical process of UX design, prototyping, concept development and the interplay between NC State & Relative Scale; and particularly focus on the challenges of interaction design and our content model, which allows for different types of works (digital, physical, and hybrid) and the rich diversity of a University community.


Unknown Speaker 00:00
Welcome to this queue handy session. This is Antonella Poce from Roma dry University in Rome, Italy. I welcome you all to this session that is called the flexible Dutch free interactive platform for exhibiting physical and digital student works in a university library. And I am an MC and member. And I'm really proud of that, and I'm here to welcome you and introduce the session. Just a few words on MC n. MC n is a nonprofit, volunteer run professional organization committed to growing the digital capacity of museum professionals. MC n has developed a deep active community engaged in year round conversations webinars and Resource Sharing is an MC n member you can join special interest groups participate in our Mentorship Program, which I really recommend and shape MC ns future in leadership roles as Id chairs, conference chairs and with time dancing, memes and board. If you are not already a member, we hope you join us learn more at mc n.edu. edu. Also, I'd like to thank Microsoft registration Assistance Fund sponsor Xl Ignite sponsor and all the sponsors listed they own the program scheduled for Epping make this conference possible. So today's session is a presenter q&a conversation. So I really encourage you all to ask questions in the chat. And I'll try to to call your name when the session start. And if you're able to please put your question on on camera. And we're using the the chat box, as I said was your name in the chat box and we will become called as I said for zoom webinars will of course we're using the q&a box again for questions. And so I'll introduce our our speakers. First of all, Adam Rogers said the making and innovation studio North Carolina State University Library silo Hi Adam. Nice to see you. Louis de Baca, senior designer developer relative scale. I love Louis thank you for being with us and Cline founder, creative director relative scale, thank you for being with us nuke. So I leave the floor to Adam, please hire them for your introduction. And they're all here. Looking forward to interact with all of you. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 03:24
Hi, everyone. Um, you know, first I'll say thanks for taking the time to join us today, it's great to see so many faces of folks joining us virtually, I'll just say a little bit about myself in the context of the project. So I'm a librarian and work at a large academic library at NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where this project is situated. My background in libraries is in public service and in makerspaces. And in that world, I've worked pretty closely with some museum partners, particularly on an IMLS grant, called Making and learning a number of years ago Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and Exploratorium and others. But in the past few years, my my work has shifted, I've gotten more into interactive exhibits, within our public space in the libraries. And that's pointed my focus in the direction of that museum world. And so I was fortunate to go to MC and last year and learn a lot from you all and then bring that into a project, which we've gotten to collaborate with Luis and Luke on over the past year that we'll be happy to talk to you all about. Hopefully you got to see our video and get some more details on the project. If you didn't, or if you just want a refresher, I've shared the the slides from our presentation. I'll do that again. But I'll just say that this has been a really great project to work on. We're focused mostly on student works and how to exhibit them interactive content inside of our library, and also taking in many of the considerations of a current moment of interactivity and constraints on that. So I'll hand it off to my colleagues here, Luke, or Luis and whichever one of you want to take on next.

Unknown Speaker 05:17
Everybody, Luke Cline here with relative scale creative director on the project. Thank you all very much for joining us today. Nice to see everyone virtually, as Adam said, and thank you very much to MC n for for allowing us to have the platform today. So looking forward to the q&a session. And thank you again for your time today.

Unknown Speaker 05:36
I really everyone and I am Luis Zapata. I'm the senior designer and developer, developer out relative scale and the lead designer for this project. Arm once again, just reiterate, you know, I'm really glad to be here and my first MCs conference. So thank you for joining our session.

Unknown Speaker 06:09
Oh, please, you can start asking your questions just to in the chat, of course. And then I'll call you, when you when you put insert your name. And I can start with with a question. Having seen your your video. Can you tell us more about the interactive dimension that you devised for your exhibition. And now, you know, I, my chair at center for museum education in my university, and I've been working with university collections. And I'm also part of a University Museum. So I can understand they, they they their environment, where you have been working. And so I'm very curious about the reaction of the students out, you know, you you devise the project that would also what was there, that the impact of your project with with the students,

Unknown Speaker 07:37
I can speak to that, probably just briefly, so we've not had time really to get a reaction from students as users, since we've really just opened this semester, and this semester has been just utterly crazy for student life and for the library as a public space. But I can say, for the students as creators, and the project is very much displaying student work, and really highlighting creative projects from across the university from the sciences of textiles, fashion design, humanities, this, the students that we've interacted with, directly as kind of partners, content partners on the project have been really excited to see their work brought into the library put on display in the library, to be working on things that that have a public audience. And the ones who have seen the actual activity have been really excited to see that, you know, that, you know, because now our students have a design skill set, we do have, you know, a really great design school. But for students, particularly who don't have that to see their work brought into a really compelling design, interactive design is is really great for them.

Unknown Speaker 09:13
So, in fact, I was really impressed from from your work, and also, actually anyway, I have lots of questions, but I don't want to to you know, occupy all the space and and I think there's that there's a poll going. So please all the attendees Please answer, answer the question that are going to be shown here. And the first one is going now

Unknown Speaker 09:59
in thanks You, Amy, for running that poll question. We just kind of wanted to get us obviously, with everything that has been taking place this year with COVID. And motion sensing technology, as we all know, has been, it's not new, it's been around for for quite a long time. Now. We just want to kind of get a sense for how many folks are currently working. Okay, well, there's the answer. So about 15%, say yes, about 85%. Say No. So that's, that's just as good to know. For us, it was a little bit more fortuitous, in one sense, because we started talking with Adam about this project, about a year ago, really, kind of before we knew we were going to start to enter this new world of, of, you know, thinking more about touchless and touch free experiences. So it looks like Kelsey has a question.

Unknown Speaker 10:51
Hi, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 10:53

Unknown Speaker 10:53
I was just curious. So it seems kind of fortuitous that you were already working on touch list. Technology. But, um, I tried. I was working on a project a while ago. And we were exploring, using like leap sensors to do tech touch lists, navigation through a timeline. And the museum ultimately decided to go with a more traditional touchscreen, out of concern that users wouldn't understand it or be able to use it as effectively. So I was just curious how you have made kind of the functionality clear to users and how you've helped make that transition easy for them? Because it is very cool. But maybe it's not something we've seen before it would be hard to know how to use?

Unknown Speaker 11:45
Um, well, I, I think the kind of go without is, one of the big things that we were trying to hit on is that because people are very familiar with touchscreens, is trying to make that interaction feel as similar on and as, as a touchscreen, that that way, when they get to it, they see, you know, instead of touch here and hover your hand here, you know, you get that initial like, Oh, I need to move on and move my hand to this and, and keeping it very simple. in that realm of what is a tap? Right? Or if it's a mouse button, like was it click kind of statement within that that sort of limited interaction, but vocabulary seemed to really help help make that clear for people to get that that interaction down? And in lead learn? What is the system? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 12:35
Yeah, and I think we realized and accepted early that there was a slight learning curve, and we hope that it would be a very short learning curve for the technology, but a lot of that was any initial calls to action, you know, with, hover your hand here, swipe, etc, etc. So I think, you know, once you once you do that, once, right, then you immediately kind of Intuit and understand what the what the interaction design is for that. So, yeah. And you can actually still touch on the table, right, Louise? Yeah, you can, yeah, you can. So you're not penalized if you happen to touch instead of a hover. So that's good. Thank you for that question.

Unknown Speaker 13:20
So Tolkien from a very old fashioned part of Europe, and what can you tell us? I mean, maybe most of the attendees know, but but from our side, it's not so so common to have this kind of technology in our cultural institutions. And can you tell us more about the impact of such a technology in in the past COVID era? Which kind of effects this this kind of technology? And also use this do you figure out?

Unknown Speaker 14:08
So is the question about this the impact of this technology in the post COVID era? Yeah. Yeah, that's a great question. I think we're all sort of examining that, and and asking that, and at the same time, maybe answering that in real time. And, you know, to Chelsea's question, we've, we've experimented with the leap in years past, and we've we've done some more lab experiments this year as well. I think I would probably kind of summarize it. So we're a creative agency. And so it's in our DNA to always explore different technology. And you know, the core of what we do is try to tell stories, but we don't want to just play with the shiny object at the expense of the story. But I think it's kind of in our DNA to always be looking for how we can use the technology to enhance the story, meet the audience where they are, and just kind of lower the barriers to engagement. So I think You know, this year, we've really seen that this is a good opening and a good opportunity to even beyond this project with NC State to kind of push this further with other motion sensing cameras as well, just as an example. So, like the Microsoft zero camera, which actually came out just on the tail end of when we started this project. So I personally feel like there's, you know, we're going to be seeing a lot more of that experimentation with those technologies. And I think that makes sense. If it if it works within the context of the exhibit, and, and the experience that you're trying to create for the users. So I would anticipate seeing more of that, for sure.

Unknown Speaker 15:36
And, and also an item, feel free to jump in on this one. But I think using things like, like a gesture, camera, and a projector has a lower barrier of entry, for exhibits, and in institutions that have the like, as opposed to buying a big touchscreen, because the footprint is 120 inches by 60 inches, it's a it's a pretty, pretty big space, that allows upwards of eight people to interact with, with with the table at once. And to get that that footprint and touchscreen would be quite expensive. And so it's so think about that, and then adding in indeed the fact that is it is you know, germs, germs reduced makes it very nice.

Unknown Speaker 16:19
salutely. So there's that there's a question from Katherine in the chat. Catherine, I don't know if you can ask you a question on the on camera. Oh, that was great. Hi, I hear you. I hear I love you.

Unknown Speaker 16:42
So this may be too early to ask. But since this is a platform sort of over time for changing exhibitions, it's sort of in the prototyping phase, or have you found sort of a relationship? there? are certain exhibition components more successful? Are you guiding the students to certain types of content? I mean, it's the relationship of the interface to the content.

Unknown Speaker 17:12
Yeah, I can, I can speak to that. I think it's a, it's maybe too early to really say, to say a whole lot, but I will say, we were iteratively, developing the content modules. As we were receiving content from multiple content partners, about about a dozen, from different disciplines and different, you know, some undergraduate, some graduates, some, like, really deep individual projects, and some, like, more shallow project by multiple groups of people within a course. And so I think, you know, and we were really, you know, focused on flexibility. And so, you know, that was me, you know, I think Luke and Luis understood that from the start, but I think also was constantly pushing on that, like, you know, you know, we have a gallery, can we have multiple galleries? How many ways can we use a gallery, can we use a gallery gallery as like, almost as like a slideshow with like, text information as well, or just as photos, because we just, I just know, from working with students that there's such a range on a university campus. But one of the things that I think we didn't quite get that I'm really looking forward to, in the coming months is to be able to show students the platform itself, and show them the structure of it, and then to, to ask them to build things to that structure. So it's very hard to explain, without visual, you know, it's sort of like, me trying to explain this thing, which is very, you know, kind of abstract as a platform as the modules and, you know, so the, actually, the early wireframes, and prototyping that Luis and his co workers did, were really helpful in communicating with faculty communicating with individual students about, oh, this is actually what's gonna look like, so that they could then work that into their thinking about the content. So there's, there's projects that, you know, we kind of received, done, and that we sort of forced into the platform. And then there's other projects where there's more of a back and forth. And what I'm looking forward to is projects that are built with a knowledge of the platform. So it's an interesting journey for us. It's a

Unknown Speaker 19:54
lovely There's another question from john john Turner. Are you there? Can you show on camera? No. Anyway, john is asking if you could speak to the nuance in the distinction between motion tracking and gesture based control. And they are essentially the same.

Unknown Speaker 20:27
I can speak a little bit, and there, I found them to be very similar. Personally, we're, we're actually using a variation of block chain tracking with within this. So we're not necessarily making a distinction of whether or not the, the, the thing that's interacting or within that depth claim is a person or not, mainly because it's, it's a little bit hard to add the overhead angle to, to actually see that, um, we get more in gesture tracking, which is what you see with the Leap Motion that does really well is like, you know, if you do a grab, or if you're, if you're doing different, like finger stuff, that comes a bit bit better at the distance, that'd be much harder with the, with these cameras. Um, so they're, they're very similar, and they use a similar back end machine learning arm. But with this case, with the, with the Intel real sense, it's more of motion tracking.

Unknown Speaker 21:28
Thank you. Thank you, Louis. So we have just just five minutes left, as you have seen this half an hour really run so very fast. And is that anything in particular that you all would like to do underline to show the the really strong strengths of of this, the solution that you devised within this project.

Unknown Speaker 22:05
But when you set it up like that, it just sounds like we're have a big speech. But no, if I if I could actually, I'll just piggyback very quickly on what Adam referenced a few minutes ago, because I think the Luis would probably back me up on this, but I think probably the biggest lift was in and initially in that UX design phase, when we were simultaneously gathering content, via Adam, from the different departments at the university, all while everybody is in lockdown. And trying to trying to keep our minds focused on the fact that we are creating something that the university can have territorial control over right, it needs to be flexible enough that they have the curatorial control, and they can decide if they want to make this one table eight unique or discrete user experiences or stations or if they want, you know, four unique experiences at this one table. If they want to exhibit just digital content, just physical content, hybrid content, how they want to organize content, not just in a table, but around the room. So that was that was a really good piece of of the work, I think, and a lot of the critical thinking even just kind of like separate from the technology, which I think is just kind of important, I just wanted to share that because I think that's an important piece that we worked really hard on. So that Adam and his team could ultimately have as much control as possible. Because we were faced with the challenges, Adam said that we didn't have students there to actually come in and kind of help brainstorm this one with us in real time.

Unknown Speaker 23:44
So, and to add an add on to that is thinking about how to, like with obvious point of you know, since right now, well, the content that he was getting in was not designed for this platform and hopefully, you know, that may not always be the case, but going forward, you know, we all hope that that there is some some more back and forth, but realizing that it had to be useful and still designed like in a in a usability in a in a pretty way that if there is limited content, you know, as Adam said, like something that's very shallow, maybe one or two modules that it still feels as rich or and as friendly to us as something that has, you know, another one which is like 15 pieces, 15 modules of content, you know, each will do three different galleries of 10 plus images plus a video, you know, and plus descriptions and facts and all that other stuff. So, try to make that trying to make it still you know, nice for for everyone and not that any student or faculty feels feels discouraged that they have less than someone else that is it is still presented in a very curated way.

Unknown Speaker 24:51
It is a very, very challenging, very, very challenging project and very Interesting, I think we have just 111 minute to go. So I, I would like to thank you all for for dialing has about your, your your project and your experience. I am personally very much interested in I wish we could have a farther talk about your, your experience working at at the university. And so having the idea of involving students more and more, and I think this is a good way of involving them also from a very interdisciplinary point of view, you know, dealing with different kinds of content. So, I really, thank you, I hope this conversion, conversation will go on on slack. We have all many different opportunities to interact within the conference. So thank you so much. Thank you, everyone.

Unknown Speaker 26:15
Thank you all.

Unknown Speaker 26:15
Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 26:17
Thanks, everyone.