Process of designing Storyteller

Summary

We describe the process of designing "Storyteller", a Tangible User Interface system to support teenagers' own storytelling voice. The "Storyteller" is a system that collects user's voices and movements and demonstrates that as a story by animations.

Our aims are to support teenager's improve their interactive experience as producers or re-tellers of stories and not only as listeners. The "Storyteller" system is an indoor environment consists of two main parts: a big screen and many different artefacts, as puppets, soft balls or souvenirs.

Keywords:

Tangible User Interfaces, storytelling, teenagers, Interaction Design.

Introduction

The usage of technology is involving the daily activities of life. As technology wide spreading it is affecting the daily interactions of children in different environment from home to classroom.

Druin and Solomon (1996). There is different kind of technological devices such as music instruments, game screen devices that children interact with them. (Montemayor et al., 2004)

As storytelling is a part of children lives, development of technology and involvement of that in all aspects of life, affect children lives. By enhancement of storytelling technology, children can explore their physical world. Cassell (2004) and Druin and Solomon (1996)

The children involvement in designing technologies has considered during the last decade. McNeal (1999). The understanding and reaction of children during the design of artifacts for children have been accepted. There is a need of understanding the children point of view in discussion children computer interaction. Druin (1996).

There is not a common agreement on the definition of "storytelling" among researcher; "storytelling" can be defined as the sequence of events that communicate a meaning including the passage of time. Another explanation of meaning of storytelling is to communicate with words, sounds, images. Story is common in all cultures and has the educational, entertainment, and also moral development. (Wikipedia, 2009)

For very young children the sequence of events that time is not involving is how storytelling is defended. (Labov, 1972; Engle, 1999; Peterson & McCabe, 1991, Well, 1986).

Background

There are some studies have been conducted in the area of different technologies for children ranging learning to entertainment. The studies have been done concerning the physiological and physical aspects of the children. The studies were more concentrated on behavioral aspects of children mentality and analysis of understanding of children from real world. (Marina Umaschi and Justine Cassell), Steve Benford, Benjamin B. Bederson, ( 2000), Ole Sejer Iversen and Christina Brodersen, (2007).

Researcher have done some researches for design and development of technologies for aim of childrens entertainment and leaning like Kipad, The klump. In some of researches children play the important role in design and development. The feedback drawn from observation of children behavior through experience helps researchers to design these technologies according to the childrens needs. Also some systems has been developed in order to encourage collaboration between young children which add some benefits in learning. Ole Sejer Iversen and Christina Brodersen,(2007). The study in the area of storytelling on different platforms is also approximately new area that has been considered in some studies. David Mrtsell(2007).

With the amount of search we have done, we could not find a considerable amount of work have been done for young teenagers age from 12 to 14 in the area of storytelling. We would like to present the design of user interface for young teenagers for storytelling, as it is not discussed so focus.

In this paper we start with understanding of different aspects of storytelling technology and then with methodologies we describe later, we try to answer question of how a Tangible User Interface technology supports storytelling activities involving teenagers. This paper concludes with the results out of investigation of involvement of teenagers in designing use interface for storytelling among teenagers. We will design an artifact that will attract teenagers to listen or say stories. The conclusion of this paper will guide designing future multimedia storytelling technologies.

Description of the research area

Problem statement

Storytelling of all sorts is a cultural universal and help us to understand our experiences. Through the act of storytelling, we experiment with, construct and express the way we live and our identities. We use worlds, imagery, sounds and gestures to form a story and today in our increasingly technological community we create storytelling spaces that improve our interactive experience not only as listeners but as producers as well.

However most of this spaces that support storytelling are designed for children and not for teenagers or adults.

Our aims are to design a user-friendly interface to support teenager's improve their interactive experience as producers of stories and not only as listeners also to involve them with stories created by others and support them to retell or change the selected story. The interface needs to support features that are common for devices present in a digital home context, but it also needs to support integration of more unique characteristics and features found in an available device.

Research question:

How a Tangible User Interface technology supports storytelling activities involving children?

The goal of the research

The goal of this work is to design, implement and evaluate a user interface to support teenager's improve their interactive experience as producers of stories and not only as listeners.

Another goal, is not only to make an interface that support teenagers to create their own stories but also involve them with stories created by others and support them to retell or change the selected story.

Limitations

Designing and developing a prototype of the user interface showing how the system should look like and behave and focus on the interface design and functionality, and less on the logic behind the actions. The design will not be coded into the application language but simulated with a software prototyping tool.

Method

During the design process of "Storyteller" project, we used the lifecycle model for interaction design, shown in Figure 1.

The first part of the project starts with a technical pre-study. Study existing solutions and literature on some former story telling systems and research interaction methods giving a background of what has been done in the discipline. Also this part aims at eliciting requirements and wishes for the final design by involving potential users and using mainly qualitative methods.

The second part of the project is to design and develop a prototype based on the result from the pre-study. Designing and developing a prototype of the user interface showing how the system should look like and behave and focus on the interface design and functionality, and less on the logic behind the actions. The design will not be coded into the application language but simulated with a software prototyping tool. The prototype will contain the basic and certain features that require evaluation and it will not have all the functionality that will be found in the final version. The graphics and the interface in the prototype will be simple and should not be seen as representative for the final.

The third part of the project is to test and evaluate the prototype empirically and analytically. The prototype that have be developed at the previous stage will be tested and a user study will be carried out to evaluate the user experience of the user interface.

As the lifecycle model for interaction design is not a definite guide for how the work should be done, we also used a bunch of interactive design methods, such as brainstorming [ ], Six thinking hats [ ], Tiny fingers [ ] and Wizard of OZ method [ ].

Target Group

The target group is teenagers, girls and boys, between 12 and 14 years old. The group are living in the north of Europe but can be found anywhere in the world.

Design description

The "Storyteller" system is an indoor environment consists of two main parts: a big screen and many different artefacts, as puppets, soft balls or souvenirs that we can call "Magic Artefacts" or just "Artefacts".

The users can start and create their own new story or search the database by title, topic, other user's name, etc., for an existing story and select the one they want to play with. The next step is to choose the "Artefact" that inspires them, to create their avatar and start interact with the system.

The "Artefacts" are the main input devices and the screen which has a stable position is the output device. The "Artefacts" are equipped with sensors that record user's voice and detect user's signals and movements and transmit data through a wireless. An "Artefact", as it is identified by a kind of ID number, corresponds to a specific user and to a computer persona on the screen. The system recognize and analyse user's gestures and understand if an "Artefact" is held by a user or is motionless.

The avatars that are in use on the screen are interesting and interactive and the user's control them with the help of the "Artefact". The avatars can interact with each other thus one user would have the chance to infect an other active user.

Study Description and results

In this chapter we describe briefly, followed by a results analysis, how we started with the initial idea creation, continued with interviews and tiny fingers and finally how we used the Wizard of OZ.

Initial Idea Creation

We started with brainstorming and came up with the first basic ideas about the "Storyteller" system and we continued with the "six thinking hats" [ ] method to evaluate this ideas. We talked around for about 20 minutes changing "hats" and the way we were looking at our ideas with our main intention to gather a lot of opinions on our primary ideas. We finally get a rough description of "Storyteller". The inputs could be voice, voice level, sweating level, pulse, heartbeat rate, movements and the outputs would be lights, music, voice and changes on the wall of the room.

In order to continue with our interviews, we also decided upon user group.

Interviews

When we decided about the initial ideas of the "Storytelling" system, we had to define our target user group. We couldn't "design for everyone", for kids, teenagers and adults we had to clear our target user group.

First we decided that our target group is upper secondary school teenagers and then we created a persona. A persona is a concrete person among our target user's group and gives us a vivid picture of our target users.

Afterwards, we created a short, open questionnaire to help us take feedback from our target user group and we found three potential users to conduct three interviews.

Based on the result of the interviews we decided to do the next changes on our primary ideas. We decided to add a one-to-one mapping between users and avatars on the screen. We will not have more sensors than those on the artefacts, gesture detectors, and voice recording. We will use different artefacts as an input device. We will use music if it is appropriate or the user wants to.

According to the previous analysis we modified our initial ideas and we created an actual prototype to use it in a small user study inspired by Tiny Fingers.

Tiny Finger

For our tiny finger tests we invited three users. We decided to focus on the artefacts as inputs, animations on the screen as an output, and voice recording/play. We created puppets to use as artefacts. We asked the users to chose the puppet which like the most and use it, narrate their story, listen to it or an other story and change an other story and finally we asked for users opinion about the proper output animations and their suggestions and comments.

With the help of observation during the tests and the users' interviews we got many useful feedbacks. The user according his emotions holds the artefact in different height. If the user is happy holds the artefact in a higher level than when he is sad that holds the artefact at a relative low level. Besides when the user is happy or angry do the same, 'hit' the artefact. Users focus on the artefact and narrate their story to it and he is not focusing at all at the screen which maybe is because of our quite "quick and dirty" prototype.

User might not want to play with the system immediately, thus we should not display any avatar on the screen until the user choose and touch an artefact. We decided that we will keep the pressure and the position/ height of the artefact and the voice of the user as input.

Wizard of OZ

We used Wizard of OZ method to evaluate our previous work while collecting some more user's feedbacks on input parameters, output animations, and the mapping between them. The basic idea is to use a person to simulate the responses of the system [ ]. We didn't build a real environment but we used a simple room and a person, who was the "Wizard", was hidden behind the screen and adjusted the outputs on a screen according to user's reactions. Three users was invited for our Wizard of OZ study.

Conclusions and discussion

Conclusions

Discussion

Suggestions for future research

It is more than obvious that a lot of research still needs to be carried out. An accurate evaluation of the end users willingness to use such technology is necessary to be performed. Questions as, if end users accept and intend to use the system, should be answered.

Moreover, in the next future work could be involved further design changes to the chosen TUI providing end users with the ability to use of personal objects rather than the set of used artefacts.

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