TIDESS Museum Learning Project Update: Iterative Prototyping

Since the last update, we conducted several pilot studies to see how users interacted with the our interactive tabletop prototype that lets people explore Earth’s ocean temperatures. Pilot studies are smaller-scale studies with fewer groups of people to help guide the research and study structure. We conducted the pilots because we wanted to make sure that the prototype was appropriate for the lab study that we designed.


During the pilots, we looked for evidence that people were able to deeply engage with the Earth’s ocean temperature visualizations using the interface we designed. There were clearly some aspects that needed to be improved on this front. Our IDC 2016 paper, in which we investigated museum visitors’ natural gesture interactions with Google Earth, helped us revise our design. We considered what the most common interactions were that people tried in our IDC 2016 paper, and followed the design recommendations we presented in that paper. For example, tapping was often the most common gesture that museum visitors tried. We wanted to design the interface to allow this simple gesture to let people “dig in” to the content more quickly.


We decided to begin a round of iterative prototyping to enable more engagement during the user study. Iterative prototyping is the process of making changes to a design and testing it with users in a repetitive cycle. Using the feedback from the pilots, we made changes to the design, from using a different display element to changing a gesture. The pilots were extremely helpful because they gave us an idea of which parts of the interactive display were engaging and which were not. The goal of this process was to find which design would enable users to discover all the gestures and information presented on the interactive display. We also tried to keep in mind the design choices that would benefit in transferring to the Pufferfish spherical display, which we are hoping to get in early March!


Another large development on the project is the addition of several new members to the team and the creation of our TIDESS website. Having all these new members on board will help in the project in many ways. With more team members, we can speed up the implementation process, and bring more insights into the design.


I am a 3rd year Computer Science student at the University of Florida. I’ve had a lot of fun and insightful learning experiences in this TIDESS project and I am excited to see where the iterative prototyping will lead to in preparation for the user study. I am interested in how we can influence these design changes to afford better engagement with interactive displays.

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TIDESS kicks off!

We are pleased to announce that the TIDESS project has recently been funded by the National Science Foundation under the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program.

This funding will enabled TIDESS to investigate how children and adults can engage with data visualizations about science concepts, especially in earth and ocean science domains, on touch-interactive spherical displays.

Stay tuned for project updates!

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