Coursework, notes, and progress while attending NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Responsive plant: initial playtesting

Set-up for play-testing

Set-up for play-testing

For our final project Swapna and I are planning on doing a variation on my project proposal: A responsive plant that gathers and shows data about the physical environment, sensing things that are usually invisible. Specifically (for now) Co2 and EMF. We had a lot of questions about exactly how the interaction would work, which will of course affect how we execute the project.

Our main questions going into play-testing were:

  • Was the plant moving/turning in response to people approaching enough feedback for the people interacting with it? We imagined there could potentially be other ways the plant communicates, like with light or sound.
  • Is the scale right? We picked a small potted indoor plant for play-testing. Should it be larger? What about if we had multiple plants?
  • How should we depict the data? We set up a laptop with generic data visualizations, but what should the visualizations look like? Should they be screen-based? Should they be projected?
  • Does the interaction make sense to people? How did they interpret it/react?
  • Is it engaging for a sustained period of time?

We got a lot of really great, useful feedback!

  • It could be useful to have a prompt, specifically for the human-technology interaction piece. What could this be? Could we compel people to take out their phones and see how the data visualization changes based on human-generated EMF?
  • A lot of people had comments on the data visualization style. What we took away was we should not use a graph. One solution we thought of as a response was to include a depiction of the plant itself, and use particles, waves, or something like this to show the Co2 and EMF.
  • People really did like the plant movement as a response. They liked it turning, and thought this acknowledgement was powerful.
  • We got a couple of suggestions for the plant to speak. One person thought it would be cool to give the plant a kind of personality or character. I remember reading a while ago about an experiment where couches were given different personalities based on movement, but I couldn’t find it. I did find this article about anthropomorphized Ikea t-shirts, and of course Ikea also did that lamp commercial that made everyone sad. I think there are a lot of ways we can play with personality!
  • Could we include some kind of depiction of how the plant feels?
  • Could we anchor the interaction in something people do with plants already? Could we link some of the plant action or data visualization to some natural action/interaction? Like watering?
  • Could people interact in some way to toggle between visualizations?
  • How will we keep people from touching the plant? Could we pick a particular plant? Will we make it speak?
  • Could the plant react to people speaking? Or general noise?
  • How to make the result beneficial/positive?
  • Utilize augmented reality?

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