Triangulation Device is an app by Jessica Thompson that generates atmospheric soundscapes based on the movement and the geographic location of the participant. The app reclaims the urban space as a place for meaningful interaction by connecting participants from different locations to co-create improvised choreographies.
UX and Visual Designer
The original Triangulation Device was built using Arduino, MIDI, GPS and xBee by Jessica. For the second version, the goal was to transition the device to an Android app. As the UX designer on the team, my task was to integrate, refine and visualize the existing experience for the mobile platform.
The first step involved defining a clear design goal and understanding the user. Based on the previous studies and observations of the original Triangulation Device, I started identifying what features could delight the user when composing an improvised soundscape. During the brainstorming session, I worked closely with a fellow research assistant Emily Arthur to define the user flow and sketch out solutions.
From wireframes to low fidelity mockups, I began visualizing the ideas and assumptions. By preparing the wireframes early, I was able to communicate my rationales with clarity while reducing the mismatch of expectations within the team. In order to avoid converging on one idea, I designed multiple versions of wireframes to discover alternative solutions and engage in a collaborative exploration of the problem space.
Upon completion of the first iteration, the next step involved conducting usability studies. Our team learned that participants faced pain points when certain features were unclear and lacked purpose. For example, the waveform graphic ‘looked cool’ and ‘visually intriguing’, but users responded that it did not enhance the overall experience of creating a soundscape. As a result, the second iteration involved rethinking about the user benefit and eliminating any features that did not add much value.
In addition, instead of creating a fancy interface, emphasis was put on keeping the design simple and minimal using subdued colours. This was done to prevent users from focusing too much on the visual interface, but rather have them immerse in the auditory experience.
Before working on the Triangulation Device, design to me was all about producing visually appealing products using good typography, colour and whitespace. However, by following a user-centred design process, I could not simply focus on creating ‘pretty’ visuals. I learned to prioritize design that works, design that solves the user problem and design that brings benefit to the user. In addition, By working closely with the developer, I became more aware of the technological constraints and learned the importance balancing the desirability and feasibility of my design.