Immersed in place

I wrote about information proxemics and human centred perception of place a few weeks ago.

This post is just about possible ways of representing information.

Breaking user journey into moments of perception

The sketch above is a way of thinking about the some fixed moments of perception within a user journey.

I continue to be more interested in Thresholds rather than Touchpoints in this model.

Thresholds are when a person enters the new place (physical, digital or mixed reality). This is when ideas like familiarity and novelty rise up. It’s also when people seek out edges – the need to define a space as comprehensible to themselves.

The immersive 3d box is linked to Touchpoints and also to Embodied and Social Cognition. We need to represent the sense of immersion in multiple sensory information types. The breadth and depth of sensory perception plus all the architectural and design layers of information that can be detected by a person.

Finally, the focus moment. People generally have intents in places – the need to go somewhere to do something. That focus is what is generally represented in user journey maps but it is a fluid subset of perception. The multiple intents can be represented in focus moments. This allows for a better representation of the ‘distracted’ nature of people wandering in physical spaces with digital devices. Distraction is a hard bias for system/service designers as it is about the person’s choice of attentional direction.

Marsha Haverty (an Information Architect who created this brilliant and very relevant presentation Acting Naturally With Information at the last Information Architecture Summit IAS17) pointed out on Twitter that this model could link to ideas of JJ Gibson on visual perception and ambient arrays.

You can download one of his research books here.

I was at ThingsCamp yesterday at AtBristol (a science museum). It was an unconference around the Internet of Things. I mostly attended talks about ethics and ways of describing place and location.

I also had with me a Ricoh Theta 360 camera.

I wanted to experiment with ideas of creating immersive representations of places and adding extra information to photos.

This is flattened and annotated 360 photo of the entrance hall of the museum. You can see the full version here.

Elissa Frankle talked at Interaction17 about the idea of capturing the “First Five Feet” of a museum to discuss how comprehensible it is to visitors. Do look at her IAS17 presentation All Roads Lead To The Bathrooms. This ideas matched well with my views of Thresholds and also to work on Cognitive Accessibility so I’ve been trying to prototype ways of showing that experience. Museum staff can become blind to the problems of their places due to their familiarity with them. A tool to simply shift their perception may help.

As a final point, I’d just like to point out that flattening 360 photos seems to break their usability.

I think his print of the AtBristol photo is just too surreal to be presented to projects stakeholders. Perhaps people who understand and appreciate Cubism might like it but testing the art history and criticism knowledge of your audiences might be an odd thing to do.

Putting them into a simple VR set (like Cardboard) to view the 360 photo works but flattening it collapses it.

This is why the sketching and diagram methodology discussed earlier may be better in some report forms

That’s it for now. I’ll write further as I continue to develop a walking workshop for EuroIA in September.



Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX

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Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX