An interactive exhibit, that allows the user to navigate through multiple layers of information. The user takes control with the Myo armband, developed by Thalmic Labs and navigates with the movement of his arm and a couple of gestures.

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Featured Developer: Terra


The task in the course “Interactive Communication Systems 1” was to develop an exhibit for a fictional museum based on a topic of choice. The topic we chose was the ongoing deforestation of the rain forest and the species, which are endangered by this. Pretty early in the process, it became clear, that a lot of different questions had to be answered, that vary in magnitude. There are the initial “big questions”, such as “Which rainforest do you want to learn more about?”, highly detailed questions, such as “How does the living environment of this species look like?” and a whole spectrum of questions in between. Due to this large range of information, the user might expect from such a system, structuring the information quickly became a crucial part of the project. The information was clustered in three layers based on questions, users would ask in the process of using the application. The first layer contains the three areas (content-wise, as they each include different species, as well as geographical, since they represent the three big rain forests) from which the user can select one. The second layer contains all options the user can select inside this rain forest, so different plant- and animal species. The third layer then contains detailed information regarding the previously selected species. All in all, the layered approach is driven by content and user expectations.


Terra can be seen as a content-driven experimental exhibit, as transporting content (and therefore knowledge) was a key focusfrom the beginning. One could argue, that by using the rather unusual (and for most users unknown) interaction pattern, thisgoal was not fully met, a simple website or an table-top installation, if we stay in the context of an exhibition, with knowninteraction patterns could have made the content more accessible for a wider range of users, and this is definitely a validpoint. On the other hand one could also argue, that this interaction is in some form more “interesting”, than known patternsand could therefore encourage users to interact with the system. Users that would not have shown interest in the content,if it were presented in a more traditional fashion. In my opinion, there is no definitive solution for this struggle, butduring the time of “Terra”, I was not as aware of the difficulties in balancing these contrasting poles. During the process,the focus somewhat shifted from doing a system that transports content and knowledge in the most efficient was possible,to doing “something cool”. This “something cool”, that the project now is, may very well transport content, but I believe that if I were to do it again today, it could have been better balanced.