Lo-Fi Prototype


Lo-Fi Prototype Ideation: Diverge

We moved into lo-fi prototype design exercises quickly on the heels of presenting our personas and
scenarios, in hopes of catching any inspirations from Milestone 3 while they were still fresh.

Our first exercise was a SI-682 in-class-exercise-styled design session in the DIAD. This was meant to be a chance to express the divergence part of a smaller divergence-convergence cycle. So, each of the Sound Experience team members was encouraged to work individually, on separate white boards (or on computer or sketchbook, if that was more comfortable) to brainstorm as wildly as possible. This process was meant to discover what we individually felt to be important take aways from the rapid development process up to this point, focusing through imagined affordances. Each member then introduced their design to the other group members and fielded questions and critique from the other team members.

One set of ideations emphasized the potential of slapwidget-like physical control affordances linked to the flexibility of a touch screen.

This model overlaid the touchscreen with physical rails to stabilize and organize the spatial use of the slapwidgets, as well as cut down on some of the potential “oops” factor of knocking widgets off of the board with elbow, arm, and hand accidents. This interface also included a bank of physical faders for channel-based level control in addition to the touchscreen, and worked with the idea of a one-to-one mapping between the physical fader bank channels and channel information/interfaces on the touch screen. Finally, this model introduced the idea of using gestural interface with the widgets in forming cueing and sound control groups. IMG_0709

Another ideative set combined physical controls with virtual architecture and layers on a multi-touch screen.

This design also included a bank of physical faders at the bottom as well as a “strong center section with compression, EQ, and “go” and “back” buttons, with cues, groups, roles signal, and sound design related functions on touch screens to either side of the physical center section. The top section with 4 displays including a scrolling cue list and the script with scene and cue information. IMG_0713

Another set of ideations from this process focussed on presenting multiple and flexibly applicable effects on individual channels in a way that shows sufficient information while not being limited by the inflexibility of physical controls.

Emphasis was placed on using borders, lines, and animation to clearly demonstrate relationships between concepts. This model also highlighted the importance of the maintenance of physical faders and one-to-one mapping as an emergent theme from the personas. IMG_0726

The last design focused on a metaproblem of visibility of sound board controls in the darkened performance venue, without creating too much light pollution for the audience.

This model employed infrared light from the board elements filtered through multiple colored light filters in a visor to present highly visible, lighted information that would not escape to the audience. This was later changed to the idea of multiple polarizing filters to shut out light to the audience, but be visible to the operator. Finally, the design had doll-like tokens with communicative bases carrying sound information loads for various characters or groups as an interaction method. There was also a feature for the tokens to remain lighted (via battery power) when knocked off the board to aid in finding them after mishaps, linked to some persistence in marking the last location of a token from the touchscreen when removed (accidentally or deliberately). This model did not use physical faders but considered slapwidgets as a replacement. IMG_0741o

Lo-Fi Prototype Ideation: Converge (I)

Following the initial divergence session, the Sound Experience team split into two sub teams in order to begin the process of gradually converging on a design. The plan was to have the two teams consolidate what each felt was most important from the contextual inquiry findings and ideas developed in the divergence session, and then the two groups would come together, compare notes, and identify commonly emphasized aspects between the two teams as important findings for iterating into the design of a lo-fi prototype. P1000816

One group, who worked in Design Lab 1, started by mapping the relationships between roles, groups, actors, inputs, cues, and parameters within a given musical theater show to figure out the information architecture to map to the lo-fi prototype interface. In addition, they sketched iterations of a timeline based around cues and physical channel strips.

The other group focussed around re-organizing information through visually aligning a series of queries and suggested solutions. This group then jumped from loose data structure suggestions to experimenting with interfaces for accessing some of that data structure. After isolating the idea of splitting tasks between multiple modes of operation, this team moved into interface brainstorming as a way of drilling down into one of the suggested operational modes, namely performace. The group researched methods of information visualization for the console’s meter bridge, such as how best to represent a channel’s level. Additionally, the group defined gestures that could be performed on software-rendered circular channel “strips”/pucks as a means of grouping and degrouping channels.


Both groups hit upon the idea of working closer to the actual scale of the sound board while building up suggested interface designs to bring to the final series of prototyping sessions. Both groups also converged on the ideas of representing the list of cues as an interactive timeline and employing a touch-screen interface as the centerpiece of the console. Console operators would use touch-screen to interact with the timeline, channels, performance programming, effects, and presets.

Lo-Fi Prototype Design: Converge (II)

Without passing through a formal ideative convergence session, we initiated final convergence dynamically through the generative process of initial Lo-Fi prototype production. After some initial frustrations ideating around the data structure of cues, performers, groups, faders, presets, and time, it was decided we were not actually prototyping if we did not get out the drawing paper. A burst of activity ensued, following the pattern from our initial convergence sessions of working at a scale in line with the physical sound board. We measured out a working surface of paper to approximately the same size as the working surface of the sound board, also subdividing the space in line with the sectors of the board containing faders, channel strips, and “The Center Section” of global board controls.

As prototyping work progressed over four evening sessions, Sound Experience decided to focus on creating an additional group of Use case scenarios as generative guides for the interfaces as they were beginning to appear on the paper prototypes, working in pencil to allow refinements to the Use Case scenarios to reflect in the interface layout in a relatively responsive fashion. Additionally, the team elected to focus in on one of four modes, performance, for building the lo-fi prototype. Of all the modes, this is the one with the added need for rapid, responsive, familiar controls for the user community of professional musical theater sound engineers. Also, our ideation sessions suggested some degree of bridging of the data structure across use modes, thus work done and lessons learned from the performance mode should prove relevant to other operating modes, as well.

 Posted by at 4:43 pm