School of Visual Arts - 2016
Crafting User Experiences
Role: Interface design, motion graphics, research
Hubble is an educational kit designed to get kids excited about space. It combines an augmented reality experience with physical objects and it’s designed for teachers or parents to engage kids in both the classroom and at home.
Working with my classmates Christine, Amsha, and Amy, we started this project with a desire to understand how we could use AR to enhance elementary education outside the limits of a screen-based experience. During our ideation process, we decided to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).
Kids often aren’t exposed to STEM topics in engaging, hands-on ways until middle or high school. We believe that AR can help capture their imaginations early and often, encouraging a love and curiosity for what are often fated to be “boring” subjects.
We began by looking at traditional models of teaching STEM topics. In order to provide focus, we decided to narrow our scope to learning about space. We also narrowed down our users to teachers of kids ages 4-8.
In order to understand how these concepts are being taught, we talked to a few parents and teachers.
Becky, who teaches 1st grade in Harlem, said that she only gets 30 minutes a day for three weeks to teach her kids about space. She says there just isn’t enough time to cover a lot of topics, which ultimately makes her job difficult.
This is why we created Hubble.
Projecting with Lampix
For this project, our team had a unique opportunity to work with a new device called Lampix. This can transform any surface into a smart surface. Using computer vision, object recognition, and a projector, it allows digital interactions to take place off the screen. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, we decided to design specifically for this platform.
Choose your journey
So far, the experience consists of 3 main lessons - Day and Night, Seasons, and How Craters are Made. Once the lesson is picked. the user is prompted to place the object in the indicated area. The projection changes accordingly between earth, the moon, and the sun.
Through simple interactions like dragging, throwing or tapping, kids will learn concepts and get real time feedback.
Day and night
For Day and Night, kids get to point to a location on earth and follow it as the day progresses. This helps them understand how the earth’s rotation causes day and night.
For Seasons, the focus changes from earth to the sun. On dragging the earth around its orbit, kids learn about the relationship between earth’s position and seasons.
How craters are made
Here, kids can throw small sized objects at the moon. The object is tracked and when a collision is detected, the projection responds accordingly to show a crater. This simple and fun activity helps them to learn about the moon’s surface and its gravitational pull.
We tested our prototype with a few elementary school teachers. One of them Diana, who teaches 3rd grade in Maryland pointed out that children are more likely to understand complex and abstract concepts when there is a relatable context.
This feedback was critical to our design. This is when we created a character, named Hubble, who journeys to outer space in a rocket ship. Hubble help kids understand the difference between what they see on earth versus different perspectives from space by making the experience more familiar and relatable.
Hubble is the first expedition into a new format for education that could be applied across many different types of curriculum. This could be used to explore subjects like math, coding, and even biology. Using augmented reality, we can be part of the effort to inspire curiosity and a love of sciences in a new generation.