totem: design for mixed reality
immersive memory experience in mixed reality
totem is a concept designed for the Microsoft Design Expo, an annual design challenge for universities around the world. The challenge for 2017 focused on the theme of "Intentional Design for Positive Cultural Impact in Mixed Reality."
Mai Bouchet, Terrie Chan, Zihan Cheng
Emi MacLeod, Raj Makker, Shelley Xia (me)
Ideation / Storyboarding
totem is an experience that allows individuals to visualize memories in mixed reality, anchor them to objects in their home, and share their memories with others.
By visualizing the memories that are tied to specific objects in their homes, users of totem can create new experiences that strengthen the relationships with people they share memories and homes with.
During the first couple weeks, my team identified living spaces as a potential area of opportunity. After conducting secondary and competitive research, we quickly realized that we did not want to create a mixed reality experience that focused on building walls or objects in a fixed living space. Instead, we were more interested in peoples' relationships with one another and their belongings inside a living space.
- How do we define "positive cultural impact" in the context of livings spaces?
- What opportunities are there in livings spaces for creating impact?
- How can livings spaces uniquely benefit from a mixed reality experience?
How might we enhance the home in a meaningful way through mixed reality technology?
We decided the home is a space for design opportunities because it is an environment that naturally houses people, objects, and technology. Through research, we defined a home as the intersection between collections, people, and memories.
The nexus of these three concepts form the experience of totem.
We used storyboarding as an ideation technique to help define the experience we wanted to create with totem. The narrative helped us explore and define the user interface and interaction model of totem.
A family moving into a new house. Upon discovering a packed mug, the daughter remembers her experience of buying the mug in Greece with her family. She shares this story with her parents, who are able to engage with the memory and add their own anecdotes to the visualized memory.
how totem works
As a system, totem is defined by three primary scenario-based interaction flows:
1. create a new memory
2. save and access saved memories
3. share memories with others
We decided to combine both gestural and voice commands to create, build, and add to the memory immersion experience. By tapping HoloLens-enabled eyeglass wear, the user “activates” the experience.
In order to engage the experience, a user will first select an icon on a 3D "ring UI" that appears around an object. A user can use a swipe motion to toggle different icons on the ring.
We decided to use familiar, recognizable gestures and UI displays to lower the learning curve of the system.
We explored different two-handed gestures to scale, move, set objects in the environment. For exiting the system, we designed single-hand gestures that are quick to use.
We imagined that 3D objects created in mixed reality might light up or enlarge when selected, to provide feedback to users.
Interaction concept visualizations
After 2 intensive weeks of filming, editing, and creating special effects, our team created the following concept video for totem.
takeaways & next steps
Prototyping & Feedback
Using HoloLens technology as a solution makes the scope of the project inherently more difficult, as neither myself nor my teammates were familiar with designing and developing designs in HoloLens. If possible, it would be ideal to actually prototype this experience in MR and socialize it with people to get real user feedback.
More Rigorous User Research
This project focused on a speculative design concept and we did not conduct any primary user research during the process. If I were to do this project again, I would focus on better understanding what needs people currently face in the home. This would build a stronger foundation for concept generation and refinement later on in the project.