This project was completed in collaboration with Nina-Franziska Helmich Christiansen and Alexander Pechlivanidis at the Royal Danish Academy. Aim of this project was to speculate about future digital identities and their creating processes. We designed an interactive installation to simulate a possible digital experience. In theory the application should be capable to analyze the users micro expressions while different Images are displayed. E.g. an image of a crying child for measuring the users personality trade "Agreeableness". In the end of the experience a personalized extension is being computed from the application, which then can be worn in virtual spheres and interpreted from others.
The time we are spending in virtual spheres is increasing dramatically. But the way we can represent ourselves there (filling pre defined and static forms) is stagnated and not exactly meaningful to us. We are seeing this obsolescence as a clear signal of change – Change which is needed to satisfy our human desires for reflecting and expressing ourselves in the future.
Is there a basic recipe for how to design convincing interactive experiences? Obviously it always depends on the overall context and aim of whatever we are creating. But still there is methods we can use to drive a design process and thereby the outcome. Design Pillars are one example of those methods. They are used to describe the fundamentals, on which an experience is build up on. (Walsh Joe, 2020)
The installation (Image A.) should take place in a public space, accessible to all. The aesthetic we want to achieve is clean, minimal and intuitive. The mechanics of the ubiquitous interface are almost not to fail. As soon as the application tracked a user a loading process for the image sequence has started.
We decided to speculate about an artistic approach: Personal and experimental extensions (Image B.) as a representation of the honest individuals personality. By using those extensions, the intimate information isn't obviously presented but rather open for interpretations of others. Form of the shapes, their colors and behavior should still link to the personality.
The process for creating a digital self is described in three steps. First the application has to analyze the users reactions. Gathered information can then be used to calculate his personality trades. There are different ways to interpret a humans personality. For our project we decided to use the "The Big Five OCEAN Personality Types" (FlexMR, 2009). Finally the digital identity can be formed, based on the earlier steps.
The prototype we builded is simulating the first step of the process "analyze reactions". We are using different hard- and software components, combined and interacting with in the system.
The main thread is running on a mobile device via a IOS App which got developed using "Spark AR". The App is displaying the devices camera input with augmented realities as a second layer. The Device Screen is then being mirrored to a connected computer using "QuickTime Player" and projected onto a canvas, which is on a wall, in-front of the mobile device. There is a whole centered in the canvas for the camera to look through.
The second thread is running on a unity application. The connected Arduino is generating input values using a light sensor, connected to the mobile device screen. The thread is identifying a specific pattern always when a user is detected, which then triggers the light animation to start. If the user is walking away from the installation the lights idle mode animation is playing.
Games and other interactive media doesn't has to be highly polished and functional to serve as a testable prototype. The faster you can test a specific idea, the less work has to be thrown away. Throwing away ideas shouldn't be something to fear but it might be frustrating to see your finished experience not really doing what you initially imagined. That's why rapid prototyping is crucial to the design process.
Developing and implementing visual assets to the file.
Setting up the first partly functional prototype.
The second prototype is capable of all the needed functions to test the experience properly and gain valuable insides of peoples thoughts about the whole topic we have been working on.
Already during the process we got to hear different opinions about the futuristic application and service we designed. E.g.: "Todays profiles are not very personal, right! But do I actually want to present more intimate information out there? I don't trust the data privacy. What if those informations are getting miss-used?" Even if people are criticizing the future, we can take it as a success in terms of making it imaginable.
In general the projects value is exactly to get different options and open conversations about how we want the future to be. - Because "Future" is nothing that will just come to us. We are all responsible and should participate in the process of shaping and creating it.
I'm very honored to got the exciting chance studying abroad, in those very special times. Beside all the interesting insights I gained from the masters program, I got to know the danish culture and many very welcoming personality's. - Thank you all, for making it such a special experience for me! Exchange Repot
Walsh, Joe. (2020). “Prototyping fall guys”. Nordic Game+. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TobewlftPqc5DYDAUdq3_tB31Pkdp0y7/view
FlexMR. (2019). The Big Five OCEAN Personality Types: Introduction and Discussions. https://flexmr.medium.com/the-big-five-ocean-personality-types-introduction-and-discussions-e6193f08d9aa