The 360th Degree Co-Design Technique

The 360° experience embedded at the bottom of this page shows the results of applying a new co-design technique called The 360th Degree (paper pending) and some of the Annotated Reality Design for Novices project's tools to rapidly create a 360° annotated reality experience.

Low-fidelity prototyping has been used as a part of user-centered design and co-design for decades but the types of display experiences for which they have been used (desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones) are flat. The rise in interest in, and availability of, VR headsets calls out for updated low-fidelity co-design and prototyping approaches.

The 360th Degree technique makes use of a consumer-grade 360° camera and tripod along with common materials such as foam-core boards, basic metal easels, a standard color printer, paper, tape, and a variety of types of sticky notes. With these, a basic representation of a 360° scene can be created that supports low-fidelity techniques, specifically a hybrid of the existing "big paper" and "sticky note" approaches.

To create the basic representation of the 360° scene on which you want to design, take the mid-region of a 360° photograph as a starting point.
This can then either be split into eight portrait-oriented regions to print as posters, or made into a tiled version to print using a regular color printer, to be attached to a work surface. The working surface should be eight foam-core art boards, connected to each other with packing tape. If you print a tiled version, you'll tape the individual tile sheets to the boards.
Once constructed the boards can be spread out across a floor during a design session to allow everyone easy access to any part of the base image.
It is also a fairly simple matter to place them in an octagonal configuration on simple metal easels to produce a basic, somewhat-cylindrical, representation of the 360° scene inside of which the design team can stand to get a sense of the design space, and to even allow them to experience their designs in-situ, as it were.

During the design session, you can use multiple types of sticky notes where each style has a meaning and purpose assigned to it, with an explanatory sign. In our applications, we used four sizes and styles of sticky note.

  • Arrow-shaped notes represented portals the user could select in some way to jump to a different location or different VR experience. Their sign was, "Portal: Jump to a 360° image at this spot in the distance."
  • Standard 3" sized square ones represented fun facts that should be shown in some way. Their sign was, "Fun Facts: Write down a single fun fact or bit of trivia."
  • Medium sized 6" by 8" rectangular notes represented points of interest and a list of some of the interesting things about that location or object. Their sign was, "Points of Interest: Name the location. List interesting things."
  • Large square 12" notes represented a photograph that should be able to appear in some way and on which to sketch what should appear in the photo and to write a caption and/or blurb about the photo. Their sign was, "Photos of Events: Sketch the image. Write a caption."

In a co-design session held using the technique, 7 children and 5 adults worked together to brainstorm for a little over 30 minutes and generated 41 sticky note ideas for information and photo dots (as well as 11 portals) within a 360° image taken on the National Mall using The 360th Degree technique.
These ideas were then quickly brought to fruition using the ARDN project's hotspots JavaScript library.

Please give the scene a little time to load...

In the above you can click and drag within image to explore a 360° view that would exist in the VR headset if you center the gray gaze target over "info" buttons to find out more about what you see. If you are using a mobile device or VR headset you can click on the "goggles" icon in the lower right-hand corner to experience it as a "magic window" or as a VR experience. If you are using an Oculus Rift, you would need to load this in Firefox for it to work correctly with that technology.

A paper describing this approach in more detail is available as an HCIL Tech Report.

One of the suggestions from the children was to take a new photo on a nicer day, so we also have a version with a picture taken on a nicer day.

For more information about this project, please contact Evan Golub

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