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BAM!
(BUILD A MUSTANG!)

Group project; AR experience design

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TOOLS

Illustrator
Maya
Unity

TEAMMATES

Team ARviation

    Jimmy Chen

    Xiaoying Meng

    Eric Zhu

    Maria Laura Mirabelli

MY ROLES

UI/UX Design
2D Artist
Documentation & Photographer

TIME AND DURATION

January 2022 - May 2022

PREPARE

Background

We are working with MuseumLab to create an interactive experience for kids to gain interest in the field of aviation. This experience will be implemented as a part of the Center of Aviation Technology and Training, managed by Hosanna House. The exhibit already covers some knowledge about airplanes, particularly in relation to the Tuskegee Airmen.

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Field trip & Meetings with the clients

We had several meetings with our clients and took field trips to the exhibition place. Originally, our client’s idea is to have a full-scale AR plane, and kids can go around space with their devices to go around and interact with different parts of the plane. But we soon found out two problems: the space is too small and crowded with exhibition pieces, so that it is dangerous for kids to go around with iPads too rapidly; and the budget is limited, so kids have to share one iPad among a 3-4 people group, which is not suitable for personal interaction. With these limitations in mind, we made more measurements and documentations of the exhibition place and started discussing our possible solutions.

DEFINE

GOALS AND REQUIREMENTS

Experience overview

Our experience is meant to be a part of the aviation exhibition. It should fit together with other activities and exhibition pieces.

Target audience

Our target audience are kids mainly 3-5th grade, guided by their teacher to view the exhibition. They are likely to come in class of around 15 people.

Exhibition space

The exhibition already includes the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, as well as some interactable activities, including a flight simulator. Therefore, we should focus more on the science and engineering side, which is not mentioned in the exhibition.

Technology

Our client wants us to incorporate AR technology into the experience. As we already have an exhibition space, we want to fit our experience into the space, and let AR enhance the experience.

Goal

Our goal is to spark the kids’ interest in the field of aviation, not only piloting, but also other fields such as engineers and mechanists. We also want the kids to enjoy the experience and possibly learn some knowledge from it.

KEY PROBLEMS & INSIGHTS

BUDGET

We learnt from our client that the budget is not enough to buy an iPad for every kid. This means that in our experience, the kids have to be divided into groups and share an iPad among the group. To avoid crowing around iPads or one kid dominating the device, we need to design something out of the screen as well.

EDUCATION

Kids naturally focuses more on games than educational contexts, so we must carefully design the context and wording of our experience, so that it educates the kids, but does not make the kids feel dull. Further, aerodynamics and airplane mechanics are complicated subjects, so it is impossible to make elementary school students understand everything. We need to simplify the context, but carefully check that the information in our experience is correct.

AR AND SPACE

Our client wants us to utilize AR technology in the space. It is better to incorporate some location-based activities in our design to best use the benefit of AR.

Brainstorm

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DESIGN

MAIN SOLUTION

Our main solution is a sequence of games which kids will play and learn in groups, under the supervision of the teacher. Through both physical and virtual games, we want the kids to get some knowledge about simple aerodynamics and the composition of an airplane.

Storyboard

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Introduction

In the introduction stage, the kids get to know the background and goal of this experience: they are guided by Charlie, a teenager with a pilot license who inherited an old P-51 Mustang from a Tuskegee Airman. They are instructed to find the correct components to restore the P-51 Mustang, and work together to assemble it.

Component Selection

This stage mainly consists of a card game, where kids must work in group. They should first put the airplane component cards on the poster according to the color, and then figure out which of the several components is proper for a P-51 Mustang, based on the hints at the back of the cards. The narrator will also navigate them through the process in the app.

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Component Hunting

When the kids find out all the correct answers, they need to decipher the morse code hidden on the card, using a morse code guide. Then, they will go into the exhibition space to find and scan the AR markers which have letters corresponding to the morse code. Once they scan the correct marker, they can virtually collect the airplane component depicted on the card.

Assembly

When they collected all the components, they can proceed into the assembly phase in the app. Using the poster as a guide, they need to figure out where each component lies on a P-51 Mustang by tapping interactions. They are provided with some guidance about the position of each component, helping them understand the possible locations of the components.

Flying

Finally, when the team finishes assembling the airplane, they can go to the runway in the exhibition space. When the app detects the runway, an airplane will appear virtually. They can fly the AR airplane they just assembled freely in the space, change its trail, and take pictures with it.

Visual Design of Component Selection Game

Logo Design

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Poster Design

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PLAYTEST & ITERATION

We first tested with our peers for general playabilities, and then tested multiple times with kids to see how it worked with our target audience. In all, we made 5 playtests with kids, each time including one or more groups of kids aged 9-11. We made documentations of the playtest, and continued to adjust the design according to the performance of the kids in the playtest and their responses in the simple interview.

Asymmetrical game vs. Symmetrical game

In our early designs, we tried to give each person in the team a unique roll, such as a historian, an engineer, and a physician. Each person has a guidebook with clues unique to their role. They need to communicate their clues to find out which component is the correct one for a P-51 Mustang. We tested this version with classmates and it worked well; but when we brought this to the kids for playtesting, they were confused and not interested, even if we tried to minimize the difficulty of the puzzle. In some cases, one kid had difficulty understanding his/her clues, so that the whole team got stuck; in other cases, one kid dominated the team and collected all the guidebooks from other people to solve the puzzle on himself/herself. Neither of these situations is enjoyable for kids. Therefore, after playtests, we decided to change it to a symmetrical game, where everyone in the team gets the information. In this way, we hope the kids can cooperate better, and it turned out that the puzzle is more solvable and less frustrating for the kids this time.

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Manuals vs. Cards

As mentioned above, at first, we tried to hand the players different manuals and guidebooks, which contain clues. But we found out that the kids had a hard time catching up with the clues, because they were hidden in short paragraphs. In addition, the manuals seemed like textbooks for kids, which seriously decreased their interest in the game. Therefore, when we were changing the game design, we redesigned it into a more enjoyable form for the kids: card games. To make the clue really clear, we distributed clues on different cards marked by colors, minimized the word used in the description, and bolded the important part of the clue. We also added card sorting game to serve as a warm up for the puzzle solving part. If the kids still have trouble figuring out the puzzle, they can still get to the correct answer by trying multiple times on iPad. As we tested with kids, we were happy to found out that they were more interested in the game, and had a remarkably bigger possibility to solve the puzzle.

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