The Olmsted Ghost
The Olmsted Ghost is an AR experience developed for Olmsted Park in east Atlanta, by Fernbank. In this game, a user would wander around Olmsted Park looking for a ghost. These ghosts were at set locations within the park. As a user grew closer to a ghost, their ectoplasm reader would start to go off. They could look around for the ghost then. Once they found the ghost, the player could click him and get either historical information about the park or information about some of the trees in the park. This information would then be stored in their “Field Notes” for a user to look back at.
To create this project, we started by doing basic customer research. We talked to people from the Olmsted Park organization, who wanted the app created to help increase visitors to the park. My group also visited the park to see what was in the physical space to work with. From there, we built very basic wireframes that showed potential functions of the app and compared them to what our consumer wanted. Once we settled on creating an AR application geared towards children and families visiting the park, we built two separate prototypes. One was the screen layout and basic architecture of the app, built in Adobe XD. The second used WiARframe, a low-fi AR prototyping software to demonstrate the AR functionality during user testing.
To evaluate this prototype, we used talk alouds, post-surveys, and heuristic evaluations. Talk alouds allowed us to listen to and observe users as they go through the prototype live. From these, we found a lot of high-level and aesthetic critiques, such as typos and graphic design inconsistencies. Our post-survey questions helped us identify and address specific problem areas while encouraging open-ended discussions. Some answers included suggesting new sound effects, implementing a minimap, and redesigning the ghost indicator. We also conducted heuristic evaluations with other project teams to locate more objective issues, such as unclear documentation of terminology and few opportunities to recover from errors.
For our final prototype, we streamlined the user experience of the application. Following the evaluations we received, we took out some extraneous steps, such as putting the phone away, and instead allow the user to simply use their phone as an EMF Meter to detect nearby ghosts. We also introduced Field Notes, which allow the user to revisit facts and history they have already received from the ghost instead of having to refind the ghost each time. The app is also used horizontally rather than vertically now so that there is more horizontal space for searching and space to include the new UI, such as the EMF Meter. We built the entire prototype using Unity and the graphics were made using Adobe Illustrator. I served as the main developer for the project, building out the final prototype in Unity using ARKit.
This collaboration with Olmsted Linear Park was a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience with interaction design. For future iterations, my group hopes to be able to streamline the user experience even more and also clean up the interfaces. The app could also include more gamified modes of interaction, such as by including mini-games or changing the experience each time the park is revisited. We also hope to include more accessible options for using the game, such as by implementing different sensory experiences to track the ghost.