It’s obvious from the start.

18 Oct

It might be clear to some through what I enjoy making, but I am heavily influenced by creative learning places such as Techniquest, @Bristol and the Science Museum.

Each of these places take quite a hands on approach to learning, more importantly, they love learning through play. Especially for the younger audience.

When I was young, my grandfather would take me to techniquest in Cardiff everytime I went to stay. Going there was so much fun. You got to learn all about basic scientific principles through pissing about and having a laugh playing with all these physical and very visual exhibits.

Techniquest. Note the lack of signs


Later on in life, I was taken to the Science Museum, it follows quite a lot of the same principles as techniquest, learning through play, but it’s target audience range is a lot larger and so their range and mix of interactive and traditional exhibits is staggering. But, walking through and playing with all these things around you while learning something is something that has always stuck with me.

Science Museum. It's very shiney

It’s come back to me more recently as I have experienced doing some exhibit work, it just makes me want to do more. I’m hooked.

I’ve learned lessons though. Mainly about instructions. Making things obvious. When someone walks over to the exhibit, they need to know what to do just by looking at it. Words are kept to a minimum, if instructions are needed, do it through iconography. You can convey quite complex actions through a single image, and also, kids can understand it even if they can’t read.

Things also need to be durable. With lots of people moving around, handling things, they need to be able to stand the test of time and the test of child.

I think this is going to be my hardest hurdle, making the piece so simple, that I can explain it and how to use it a handful of words. Preferably, short simple words in massive font.

But how? I have a huge frame of reference. I would initially describe my AR idea as “A game where you build a rube goldberg machine like thing in Augmented Reality”. What? Whats a Rube Goldberg machine and what the hell is Augmented Reality? Go away beardy man.

I guess I could change Rube Goldberg to Incredible Machines and Augmented Reality to in virtual and physical space.

That’s still too convoluted though isn’t it?


So, “You build incredible machines in virtual and real space” that’s how I simplified it? This needs more thought.

And the Brainwave game? That’s probably easier to do, since it’s all about relaxation and stuff. “It’s a game where you control things with your thoughts”.

I think that will get people pretty hooked. I’ve used this same tag line on my non techy flat mates and the look of amazement when their minds just exploded with wonderment that they could control things on screen with their mind was amazing.

That’s the kind of thing I love to see. The “HOLY CRAP THIS IS AWESOME” look is something that is quite rare now adays. People are getting harder to impress and even harder to keep impressed. New interfaces walk along every day, but getting people to keep that wonderment a week on is a hard task to pull off.

The great thing about the brainwave one is that it needs minimum instructions:

  1. Put on headset
  2. Make sure hair isn’t blocking the contacts
  3. Relax

That’s it.

And that’s really what I want. Something that is so simple to use but super fun to play with. That’s why I like the appeal of big screens in these pieces, other people can see what you’re playing with and watch just how you are playing with it and whats going instantly. Learn from others, experiment for yourself.

@Bristol got things right. They had barely any instructions on anything, yet kids were able to get up and play with things straight away. Maybe it’s worth trying to contact them when I have a working prototype working and seeing if I can get them to help me test it out. Will it pass the kid test?

No inside pics of @Bristol wierdly.

@Bristol is kind of like techniquest, lots of learny science things that you play with and they all demonstrate some sort of scientific principle whether it be magnetism, sound or how air moves. It’s great fun to wander round and play with the things there as well as watching how other people play with things. They just dive straight in without a care in the world if they break it or not. Bless ’em.



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