Changing affordances

The Cirque two weeks ago provided an opportunity to observe users while they interacted with WiiPaint. The two things that stuck out most were:
– Most users asked if the buttons had a function
– Point and click gestures were still the most popular, unless I showed users how to move in WiiPaint

It was clear that if I wanted users to be more natural and fluid with their body movements, I had to do something about the Wiimotes’ affordances. How can we change the look and feel of the Wiimote so that users will approach them a different way? One thought that came up during my weekly thesis meeting was that perhaps the flat front of the Wiimote (where the IR camera is) gave it too much of a point and click remote feel, and that the solution was to create something round that would imply more of a rolling and fluid motion.

Apple Pro Speakers

We played around with some old Mac speakers, taking out the speakers and wires and putting the clear casing on either end of a Wiimote. The result was a 3-4lb dumbbell-shaped object that was throwable and kickable, but most importantly, made the Wiimote a friendlier device that allowed for more naturally fluid movements and elicited no urge to press the buttons!

I didn’t quite like the weight of the Mac speakers, and they had to be taped together, which made reconnecting the Wiimote/changing its batteries difficult. It was “clunky.” So I went to PetSmart and bought a 7″ hamster ball and crafted a “booster stand” out of foam so that the Wiimote fit snugly inside the ball. I also created a Wiimote coffin — a case for the Wiimote that covered the buttons. It is currently shaped like a brick but I plan to sculpt it wand-shaped.

In addition, I finally put together some parts I ordered from onto a small breadboard to create an IR LED light array. Each LED can be turned on/off with a switch, and controls a differently-colored dot in a rough IR interface within WiiPaint.

Wiimote ball, Wiimote coffin, IR LED board

I plan to be finished with WiiPaint by the end of spring break (3/29). After that, I will run some more studies, hopefully in a gallery setting, and start writing the thesis. Next month, I’ll be preparing for the following conferences:
CHI 2009
ACM Creativity & Cognition
Wellesley Ruhlman
Boston CyberArts

Onward! :D

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