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Building a Lab

I thrive in an innovation-driven environment. At Second Story, in partnership with our technical leads, I built an interdisciplinary lab and design process to facilitate prototyping and tinkering with emerging interaction paradigms. When we first started planning the lab space and process, it was my goal to see every designer comfortable and eager to work in there alongside their technology partners. Below are just a few of the lab experiments that I led from an experience design perspective:

Zero-touch Technology

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, will people ever feel comfortable physically touching public displays and controls? While there is much uncertainty around the future of interaction, we quickly experimented with what it would take to retrofit old interactions with zero-touch techniques. Recently featured in Fast Company, our suite of zero-touch prototypes are helping us learn, discover, and refine for potential future interactions. Learn more here.

Switchable Film

Can something as simple as slightly obscuring the view into something pique curiosity and incite a playful interaction? We upgraded some picture frames with LEDs and a switchable film that turns clear when an embedded ultrasonic sensor detects presence. Hung at the end of one of our main hallways, these frames enticed people to pause, look, and engage. See more here.

Nitinol Wire

Breathing life into found materials in our lab, we're translating movement modeled in 3D to the physical space with shape memory actuator wires. The organic nature of the way that this wire moves is unlike any other dynamically controlled actuator we've seen. Our experience design team is dreaming up new applications that leverage the beauty of these imperfect movements. See more here.  


Listening Lights

We were curious about how a visible indicator of our studio's collective emotional state would alter our behavior. We handcrafted an icosahedron lighting fixture that incorporates nanoleaf tiles and a Philips Hue programmable light bulb to listen into our Studio's Slack conversations. The light alters in color and movement based on an emotional analysis of words typed into our group slack channels. See more here


Water Touches

As a part of our exploration across a variety of multi-sensory experiments, we wondered what would happen if we mashed up inputs with unexpected outputs. For example, what if simply touching water would give you the power to control environmental sound and lighting? We quickly connected materials we had in our lab to create a playful prototype. The interaction was delightful and surprisingly empowering. This led us to ask how we might apply a similar interaction technique to a variety of our client work. See it in action here

Secret Knock

Sometimes sensors can be used for purposes other than their original intent. We used a microphone as a sensor to detect knock patterns and created this playful secret knock interface. Guessing the secret knock unlocks content, creating a playful and intriguing entry into any core experience we might dream up. Our team had fun thinking of applications for this type of interaction, ranging from corporate workplaces to immersive theater venues. See more here

Projection Mapping

Our ongoing projection mapping experiments were given a twist when we started projecting on delicious doughnuts. Does augmenting an innately delightful, multi-sensory experience provide an extra payoff? We crushed through dozens of doughnuts while testing and tweaking dynamic animations. 


Responsive Retail

Too many digital interventions within physical environments go untouched or are completely ignored. We imagine a retail environment that responds to customers' natural behaviors and creates a surprising, yet seamless experience. We created a suite of different responsive prototypes that sense, see, touch, know, guide, and track customers. 

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