Proximity Lab: Studies in Physical-Computational Interface and Self-directed User Experience
Proximity Lab is a participatory installation to investigate the role of physical proximity in interpersonal communication and interfaces that promote self-directed exploration. The exhibit is an experimental interface platform designed to visualize relationships between users and mediated spaces. The system directs attention to the intersections of physical and computational space.
The study explores the relationships between disclosure and participation. Do increased levels of participation and collaboration occur when users are allowed to innovate and create new relationships with the system? Specific constructions of system logic, interface and disclosure are explored for their ability to allow users to re-interpret and in the best cases re-define the interface. Such collaborations between system architect and participant are a model for elevating interactive experience design and self-directed exploration.
Built on the premise that physical proximity is a basic unit of social communication, this study seeks to examine the role of physical interaction in social communication. The study seeks to stimulate inquiry on this topic through facilitated experiences where algorithmic logic, system observation of user behavior, and dynamic role assignment are central elements made accessible to participants for contemplation and discussion. User perception and response to the overlay of information extrapolated from user actions and system rules is also central to this study.
A platform and interface based on Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology has been developed as a central component for thesis experimentation. The interface system is designed to provide a vehicle for tracking the changing positions of multiple individuals in real-time, including the ability to discern and maintain an accurate identification of unique users in the system.
The RFID-based platform solution and installation is constructed to provide a consistent format for the observation of social interaction with controlled system rules and parameters. Other interactive exhibits exploring experimental interfaces and the concept of incidental participation have been developed simultaneously for inclusion in a comprehensive gallery installation for final thesis defense.