Week One: Proof of Concept
A mood ring is a ring that changes color based on the temperature of the wearer’s finger to a hue that, supposedly, corresponds with the wearer’s mood. The ring is able to change color because of the thermochromic elements – which are usually liquid crystals – that are inside.
I would like to create an interactive art installation that will mimic the function of a mood ring. People often keep their true feelings and moods to themselves, but through this installation these personal barriers would be broken down and the participant’s mood would be projected throughout the room, increasing the level of emotional communication between all of the people who are present. The following is a concept sketch of the experience:
On the technical side of things, I hypothesize that this installation could be achieved through the use of a thermal imaging camera (such as this) or a heart rate monitor, which would read the participant’s bodily output much like the liquid crystals inside a mood ring. This data could trigger a computer/projector setup to project the most accurate color animation to represent the mood. I could make these animations in Adobe After Effects by incorporating both digital and physical materials.
To start off the prototyping process, I wanted to user test color swatches in order to see what general mood they convey to the user (even though responses will vary from person to person). This is a proof of concept prototype. The following is an image of swatches that were tested:
This is how the three different users described the colors:
Yellow (happy, fresh, bright, tired), Orange (happy, excited, hungry), Pink (flirty, spacey, artificial), Green (sick, thirsty), Blue-Green (normal, relaxed, artificial, synthetic), Blue (sad, brave, strong), Purple (flirty, spacey, futuristic), Indigo (sad, anxiety), Black (sad, dead, absent, minimal).
As expected, the responses were varied, as everyone’s interpretation of color is subjective. When asked what they would change about the presented palette, the users suggested that I use colors with higher saturations or use a larger range of colors to pin down more moods and emotions. In actuality, I believe that I need to employ less colors to eliminate the overlap between moods as well as eliminate moods that are hard to categorize underneath one color, such as flirty, for example.
Week Two: Further Questioning
With the first round of user testing in mind, I decided to limit my color palette to the three primary colors, assigning red to anger, yellow to happiness, and blue to sadness. This simplification was done to more clearly convey the moods’ messages to the audience.
But before moving forward, I wanted to get a better understanding of how all of this could be achieved in a real world gallery setting and my research led me to pplkpr – pronounced “people keeper” – which is an art project application that functions similarly to how I imagine my own project.
Using a heart rate wristband, pplkpr “monitors your physical and emotional response to the people around you” based on “measurements of heart rate variability” in which “subtle changes in heart rhythm signal changes in your emotional state.” By detecting these changes in rhythm, pplkpr notifies you that you are experiencing a strong emotion, prompting you to record what that emotion is. Wristbands like these could be worn by the viewers of my installation to collect and quantify emotional data.
During my user testing session, I asked my user how she would react to wearing a wristband like this in a gallery setting. She said that she would already be interested and intrigued upon going to the gallery.
The user also suggested that the gallery experience could become collaborative. How would a interactive mural look like for ten people compared to hundreds of people? Additionally, the user suggested that people be able to save their murals – much like the interactive experiences at Cooper Hewitt – so they could share them with family and friends. These murals could be transformed into physical prints, digital phone backgrounds, and so on.
Week Three: Visual Testing
Feeling more confident in my concept after the second week of user testing, I decided to make some visual prototypes for the next round of user testing. The user was asked to describe these visuals as a collection as well as individually. Additionally, the user was asked if he could envision these visuals in a gallery setting or if he could see the pattern acting as anything else, such as desktop backgrounds or still prints.
The user described each gif in the collection as being completely different form one another. The yellow (fun, warm, bright, fresh, “digital world”), red (scary, sad, fast-paced, “crime scene”), and blue (relaxed, liquid, organic, slow, “watercolor”) were then judged from their “museum-like” qualities, with the blue winning out for the most monumental feeling. The user said that he could see the blue animation on a big screen more clearly than the other two, as he felt that the slow quality of it was required for a museum atmosphere.
The user went on to say that he felt that the patterns would not be suited for consumable material such as downloadable images and prints. He believed that this would be too overwhelming and give people little incentive to come to the gallery – or to return. For social media posts, the user suggested simply allowing the guests to take pictures in front of the screens in the gallery.
Lastly, the user suggested that the images be projected on an object or a sculpture, to play with reflection, or to integrate the museum’s visitors’ photos into the work to enhance interest and create a more personal atmosphere.