Physical Installations As Learning Systems

The DDE (Design for Digital Experience), 2015 batch recently had a module on physical installations as learning systems. To put simply, these are interactive setups that help the user learn about a particular topic by engaging with the installation. The interactions can be gesture based, speech based, physical like pressing buttons or various others that technology has now enabled, including thought!

The batch worked in groups of three coming up with five different installations with subjects ranging from geography to story telling, civics to colour theory. The technologies used included Microsoft Kinect, Arduino and image processing. Lets have a brief look at them!

1. Abki Baar, Meri Sarkaar!

Team Members: Arundhati, Atul, Manasee

This fun installation will put you right at the nerve centre of the country, the Lok Sabha. Aiming to teach a young audience the process of passing a bill in the two Houses, it uses Kinect to make interactions more engaging and participatory. The user selects issues to be tabled in the House and votes by using hand gestures recognised by the Kinect sensor. The results and the progress can be seen on the screen along with an audio feedback.

The physical setup of the installation mimics the arrangement of the two Houses adding to the experience of being present there.




Watch the video here!

2. Coloreveal

Team Members: Ghanesh, Marathon, Tinjo

A simple yet engaging installation is Coloreveal. Two users can interact with this installation at once. All you need to do is rotate the discs attached on either side of the screen to change colours and have fun mixing and matching with your friend. The installation is targeted at a young audience and helps them explore colours.

The two semi-circles on the edges depict the selected colours and the main screen the resulting colour. The clean graphic language and simplicity of interaction make this installation extremely simple to understand and use.

The discs are attached to potentiometers, which in turn are connected to an Arduino board to provide input to a computer.




Watch the video here!

3. Meridian Chaser

Team Members: Anupam, Arpit, Nakul

This installation aims to give the user a basic idea about how the world is divided into Time Zones and how we gain or lose time as we move across the globe. The user interacts with the installation by moving a slider which moves a vertical marker on the screen. Corresponding to the position of the marker, the Time Zone and its major cities are highlighted. The map also gives real time day/night conditions and a feedback when the date is changed. To add to the experience, sounds corresponding to the time of the active time zone can be heard. The slider is built on an Arduino using IR sensors that communicates with the computer.




Watch the video here!

4. Story Builders

Team Members: Gopichand, Nambirajan, Suman

The art of story telling will never die. It will only change form. With new technology, it will become more engaging and interactive. This installation let’s you weave your own stories. The story involves three characters-the lion, the monkey and the elephant. The narrative, however, depends on your choice. To interact with the installation, you place the characters on a magnetic board in three locations-the den, the shore or the tree, in any combination. All you do next is press a button. Depending on the position of the characters on the board, a new story is narrated. You can have fun playing around with the characters. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good story?

The installation uses image processing to identify the position of characters on the board.




Watch the video here!

5. Time Travel

Team Members: Anurag, Bhaumik, Shilpa

What will it be like being in Tokyo right now? Can I move to California in a leap?

This is exactly what this installation was all about. The experience of being in a different city at a particular time. The user jumps to the city by physically moving on a map laid out on the floor. The Kinect sensor detects his/her position and a video of that place is projected on the screen in front. The darkness of the room and the fluorescent map glowing under the UV lamps make up for an immersive ambience.




Watch the video here!


Media Studies by DDE

Hi, I am Manasee,

I’m pursuing my post graduation in Design for Digital Experience (DDE) in NID, Bangalore. I have just completed my first semester, also called as The Foundation which, for some of us was our first step in the world of design. Let me share with you how we went about doing our films and completing the Media studies module in this post.

Before the course started, we were very curious about Media Studies as it was the first discipline specific module we had in the foundation semester. In one studio discussions we listed down all kinds of media we could think of. The list was as follows:

And we realised to our dismay that this module could potentially accommodate everything that we were hoping to learn in our entire tenure in DDE! So we decided to take a step ahead and look into which aspects of media we were going to explore here. All the students in our batch sat down to decide our course of action and then proceeded.

As we sat and discussed we found out that of the total fifteen people in our batch, ten are engineers and five are from fine arts/design/graphics background. We divided ourselves into five groups, ensuring that each group had one person from non-engineering background. The assumption was that this would ensure every team would have comparable strengths in technical know-how and a good eye for the visual stuff.

We couldn’t have been more wrong. We learnt by and by that some of our engineers were kickass artists and some of the arty fellows were a daft hand at the softwares we were using.  One great thing that came out of this was that we got to know each other better. Strengths, weaknesses and pet-peeves (which we intend to put to good use in the next semester!)

The theme for this module was “ICT in Healthcare & well being” which some of us thought was a little boring. So with varying amount of enthusiasm, we started out with our research. Having done a similar research centered Design Process module just before, we found it a little easier this time around. We were slightly better at coming up with the right questions, classifying the information, documenting it and presenting it in the form of an infographic.

In the second part of the module, we took our earlier research forward with linear/non-linear storytelling based on the same theme, story structures and story-boarding which led to a final video output.

Out of the five groups, two chose their medium of presentation as flash-based animation, two chose live action video and one group chose basic keyframe animation with voiceover.  Although the brief given to us was the same, the outputs varied in their form and presentation among the groups.

Our group struggled to come to a consensus on all decision points we faced. From the point of view (first-person or third person) to the type of animation (traditional hand drawn versus digital stop motion), all the options were scrutinised, debated and then finally agreed upon – at times, reluctantly.  We had the plot and the script ready within no time, but storyboarding took a really long time as all three of us had a different video in mind for the script we had. Eventually we voted on one and went ahead with it and our video was ready in a mere 4-5 hours. And do we love it now!

Given how many opinions we had in the beginning, if you ask any of us now, we would not change anything about the video (ok, maybe one or two things. No, five. :P).

This was one of the illustrations we made for the character design of Johnny, our protagonist:


So without further ado, here are the videos.

  • Do check out the ‘Lift Off’ video which has some cool motion graphics and a really cute protagonist. Goosebumps promised!
  • Last but not the least, ‘Insurance on demand’, which gave five NIDians an opportunity to explore their acting skills. The shooting of the hospital scene led to a series of pranks to which some of our gullible batchmates fell prey. Ahem…including me. (Will get back at you guys!)

NID Bangalore at MIT Media Lab’s ‘Engineering the Eye’

MIT Media Lab’s DIy workshop titled ‘Engineering the Eye’ was held on July 7th through 13th, the Design Innovation Workshop series and the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design are holding the first DIy event: Engineering the Eye, with the LV Prasad Eye Institute, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus, and the Perkins School for the Blind.

Students from all over India applied to be a part of it. NID Bangalore was invited to be a part of it and 12 students travelled to Hyderabad. It was indeed a wonderful experience.

The student projects have been detailed below.