I am currently studying on a 3 year part-time postgraduate MA programme at the University of Lincoln (UK) in Design, with Interactive Design as my pathway.
I have created this blog to store my research, thoughts, images, video, documents etc whilst preparing for & executing my major project.
I welcome any comments or advice on my work; you can post anywhere on this blog, my YouTube channel, twitter page (links on the right). Likewise, if you find or create something interesting you’d like to share with me – feel free.
Following the hand-in for my Major Project, I’ve taken a few weeks off to recover.
The MA has still been very much in my mind, though I’ve been reluctant to forge ahead with things until I received my grades.
Now, having received my marks and feedback from the Major Project, I am ready to begin planning and refining what my dissertation will be about.
I have been advised to spend the summer researching and reading as much material as I can, around AR and Web Design, in relation to the user.
With this information, and the help of my mentor, I will begin to form an outline of the dissertation at the beginning of year three (commencing in September 2012).
With one eye on the exhibition (still over a year away), and a desire to disseminate my work, I propose to begin filming short, rough sequences from the reading room concept video storyboards.
I know that I will need to do a lot of work in After Effects (which I have never used), and I can see these rough ‘workings-out’ taking quite a while to complete.
Then I hope to go on to shoot the finished sequence, distributing it via the web – just to see what happens.
With the end of the Major Project getting ever closer with hand-in now confirmed as 30th April 2012, I have been giving some thought to the forthcoming Dissertation & Dissemination module.
In its current guise, the overarching research question that I have been pursuing is beginning to reveal a few holes.
In an effort to find a purpose in Augmented Reality for specific applications leading to the creation of a set of guidance notes that could be of use to other application designers; I felt that I had missed a trick when reviewing the work that I had produced for the Major Project to-date.
Upon reflection it is evident that the real focus of this research is ‘how do we meet the requirements of the user when designing interactive applications?’
As an employee of the university, as-well-as a student at the university, I began to consider how that greater body of work as an employee might be used to support this alternate area of study.
I have produced several web resources during the same period as this second module of my MA and on closer examination of these university web projects, I realised that ‘user considerations’ are already at the heart of my daily working activities.
In extracting an re-evaluating these web projects I hope to collate a much broader view of how we ultimately develop interaction around the user.
If you’ve stumbled across the university web project pages first you might be a little confused as to how they relate to AR and why they appear on this blog.
The university web projects will support my research into AR for ‘the user’ – acting in-part as an opposing take on ‘how we design for the user’; but also as a set of pointers as to the areas for consideration that I might encounter.
The rush to prepare for the ‘work-in-progress’ exhibition has now subsided and I am back to creating the work that I have been distracted from by the show (producing pretty pictures and visuals didn’t help with completing the projects at all).
The goal for this month is to finish the concepts for the ‘reading room‘ and push on with augmenting the text from Conan-Doyle’s Adventure of the Devil’s Foot.
I have been considering making this mini-project the main focus of my Major. Not because I can’t be bothered with the other mini-projects but I am finding the ‘Prose’ project more interesting and involved than I had anticipated. I feel that I can still get the required information to complete the ‘guidance notes’ from this one source.
The guidance notes are intended for use by other AR application designers to help navigate through the process of designing AR content for traditional types of media (print advertising, printed text, film/TV, maps, instructions, data reports).
With the prep module successfully passed back in May I’ve been working on my Major, due for hand-in January 2012.
I began with what I thought would be the easier of the mini-projects – the Prose project.
I’ve chosen a passage from Arthur Conan-Doyle’s 1910 short story The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot, published in the Strand Magazine in that same year, illustrated in this publication by Sidney Paget, for the basis of this project.
The basic premise is to enhance the reader’s experience of the text through the application of augmented reality, beyond what would normally be experienced from traditional printed media (a book to you and me).
I’ve started to write a Journal for this module of the MA – seemed to make more sense to include it within this blog than to carry round a notebook, plus I can access the blog from just about anywhere using my phone.
OK, so the prep for my major project has been handed in. This included the submission of a brand-new learning plan which centres around the execution of a series of mini-projects, each looking at a different media type and exploring how AR could be applied to it. (Mini-projects can be found here).
As I wait to see if I’ve passed this preparation module and the return of my sketchbooks, I’m using the time to get to grips with this blog (which I’ve neglected for quite some time while I’ve grappled with what my major project will be).
I am also beginning my search for an appropriate prose, to base the first of my mini-projects on.
Front runners so far:
Dracula, Bram Stoker; The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
I am now moving towards the end of my second semester on the MA Design programme and things are starting to become a bit hectic (but what’s new).
My original idea to use the University of Lincoln undergraduate prospectus as the basis for a test project has hit a brick wall. Many of the staff that was relying on for information and guidance have unexpectedly left the university following the installation of a new Director of Communications, Development and Marketing and the ensuing re-structure of that department.
In an effort to continue with my original plans, I redrew the learning plan at the start of April to accommodate the unpredictable staffing levels within the University of Lincoln marketing department, but I have found that even with these modifications which were designed to revert most of the decision making back to me, there remained several issues with arranging access to prospective students – key to testing and observing against the established demographic.
With this in mind I have taken the decision to re-think the entire major project and move away from the idea of the university as client.
Instead I propose to embark upon a series of mini-projects exploring the potential uses of augmented reality as a means of enhancing traditional media types.
I will look at how other forms of knowledge inform and impact upon these media through a process of speculative visual development.
Each mini-project will take a different piece of published work. For example, a section from an H.G. Wells novel/novella; a map from a shopping mall; an annual report; a printed magazine advertisement or billboard; a piece of poetry or perhaps song lyric.
I will choose the actual published works by drawing from my own personal influences; not necessarily those pieces that I would term as mere ‘favourites’ but material that has some special meaning or relevance to me.
The Research Question
“Planning & designing marker recognition-based augmented reality (AR) applications to add interactivity to the University of Lincoln undergraduate prospectus”
Rationale Extract from Independent Learning Plan
As Website Officer at the University of Lincoln I am continually monitoring and experimenting with emerging online trends and technologies. I receive no formal training or guidance in these developments, educating myself, experimenting, gauging suitability and reporting my findings to relevant internal departments; ultimately producing these developments myself.
Having been based within the University of Lincoln’s Marketing and Communications department for the last four years, I began to consider potential uses for AR technology which would support and enhance current developments within the university.
The problem with presenting AR applications to any target audience quickly revealed itself as being one of availability. ‘Augmented Reality’ as a term, encompasses many different technologies & hardware configurations and can be deployed across a variety of diverse applications. The result of this is that whichever technology or hardware configuration a development is based on, there will always be sections of the audience who are excluded from viewing it.
The solution seemed to be the development of AR applications for desktop environments, ensuring that any application reached the largest possible audience – leaving the possibility of porting material onto selected mobile devices as a future concern.
I saw that the university’s printed undergraduate prospectus would be the perfect base for an AR application, with a large distribution numbers across a wide geographic area. Its consumption within a ‘home’ (or school), environment ensures its proximity to desktop equipment.
Still very much at the forefront of the university’s marketing strategy, with very high demand for printed versions (despite offering several online digital variants), the prospectus also conveniently finds itself under a process of re-evaluation in terms of the information it will contain and its marketing role to prospective students.
It is very likely that the next generation prospectus from the University of Lincoln will be placed more as a brochure than as an information resource, with little emphasis on course information. Instead its function will be to drive traffic to the university website where information can be updated, controlled and manipulated far easier and more regularly.
In marrying the prospectus to the website through interactive technologies such as augmented reality, the prospectus becomes a key component in the union between the marketing function of the printed publication and the website as information repository – essentially involving the user in the decision of when, where and how they switch from one media source to the other.