User Experience Design Q&A (CAA2019)

S36: User Experience Design in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

We were asked as presenters at the UX design session” at the CAA2019 conference ( in Krakow Poland, 25 April 2019), to answer some questions by the session organizers: Francesca Dolcetti, Rachel Opitz, Sara Perr

Overarching themes to be explored..

  • How, if at all, are we experimenting with critical thinking/reflection in design and value-led design?

As I said, not seriously, in my presentation, I decide to tackle that question by writing a book about it (Critical Gaming: Interactive History and Virtual Heritage).

  • What are the spaces in our workflows and practices that afford more experimentation with design?

Spaces: creative spaces are messier with big tables and bigger whiteboards.

Key discussion questions:

  1. What does ‘success’ look like in terms of the user experience (UX) design process for archaeology/heritage? What constitutes ‘failure’ in relation to the UX design process for archaeology/heritage?

My answer is specifically heritage, as I believe archaeology may differ (sometimes).

I think there are 2 main questions:

  1. the user experience of the product/simulation itself
  2. the extrapolated and after-event user experience (what happened after they were in the experience)?
  1. Failure (in a game, AR or VR) means lack of engagement or interest with content or with instructions, lack of understanding.
  2. Lacks memorability, does not lead participant to consider, explore, revisit reasons why we should preserve, conserve or communicate the heritage content and its cultural significance.

NB success is the negation of 1 and 2.

  1. What should the role of archaeologists and cultural heritage practitioners be in the development of UX and User Interface approaches for use in the discipline?

Involved from beginning and during the process, provide expectations of answers, domain expert walkthroughs of content as presented and understood by others, part of audience when results and observations are completed. More specific answers depend on specific context so cannot answer further.

  1. What are the unconscious choices you’ve made in your design processes, of which you later became aware?

Expect the public to notice things that I notice, under-estimate time and attention needed to solve specific problems, double-meaning words like “challenge” in evaluations. Get the participants to appreciate the simulation, (this is NOT what we should be doing).

  1. Are archaeologists and heritage professionals ethically obligated to state the values driving their design practices and explore the role their values play in the process? Why or why not?

This is a difficult question because although I say yes, for me the question is when? DO these values become revealed (if people can clearly reveal their values) during the digital heritage experience, before, or after? Do we want too much attention spent on the designers or archaeologists or heritage practitioners’ values? How much is too much?

  1. What values are implicitly embedded in your design processes and products? Have you ever considered applying ethical, feminist, queer, decolonial, or value-sensitive design? How did – or might – you structure such community-minded design work? And where (i.e., in relation to which processes, outputs, practices, tools, etc.) would you apply it first?
  • I attempt to provide more than one way, strategy, reading etc to complete a task, if specific tasks are required.
  • I attempt to coax the player/participant to make decisions themselves and revise their initial views and tactics.
  • I try to show the messiness, incompleteness of any digital “reconstruction” (OK, they are approximate simulations, recreations at best, not reconstructions).
  • I would like, if possible, to show the process and thinking behind the way simulations are set up and depicted the way they are.
  • I would rather the community engage with the game design first and foremost, rather than the game itself. By designing they have to make design and therefore heritage-related decisions.

I am sure this is very rough and approximate, but I tried to answer it all in ten minutes.

CAADRIA 2019 Wellington

Mafkereseb Bekele (centre) winning a Young CAADRIA award
Mafkereseb Bekele (centre) winning a Young CAADRIA award

I was the second-author of two papers presented at CAADRIA 2019: INTELLIGENT & INFORMED in Wellington New Zealand, and they are now published in CUMINCAD. The primary authors were Mafkereseb Bekele for the first paper (he won a Young CAADRIA award) and Hafizur Rahaman for the second paper, both are colleagues at Curtin University, Mafkereseb is a PhD student here and Hafizur is a Research Fellow.

The primary objective of this paper is to present a redefinition of Mixed Reality from a perspective emphasizing the relationship between users, virtuality and reality as a fundamental component. The redefinition is motivated by three primary reasons. Firstly, current literature in which Augmented Reality is the focus appears to approach Augmented Reality as an alternative to Mixed Reality. Secondly, Mixed Reality is often considered to encompass Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality rather than specifying it as a segment along the reality-virtuality continuum. Thirdly, most common definitions of Augmented Reality (AR), Augmented Virtuality (AV), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MxR) in current literature are based on outdated display technologies, and a relationship between virtuality and reality, neglecting the importance of the users necessarily complicit sense of immersion from the relationship. The focus of existing definitions is thus currently technological, rather than experiential. We resolve this by redefining the continuum and MxR, taking into consideration the experiential symbiotic relationship and interaction between users, reality, and current immersive reality technologies. In addition, the paper will suggest some high-level overview of the redefinition’s contextual applicability to the Virtual Heritage (VH) domain.

To validate the hypothesis that virtual heritage papers are reliant on providing scholarly argumentation based on 3D models, and convenient access is provided to these models where relevant, this study reviewed 264 articles from the last three available proceedings of major digital heritage events and conferences (14 in total). The findings revealed this was not the case, few contain references to accessible 3D models. We discuss why this may be so, and we outline recommendations for ensuring that virtual heritage 3D models can be preserved and accessed.

3D Digital Heritage Models as Sustainable Scholarly Resources

Dr Hafizur Rahaman and I just had an open access article published (online)  “3D Digital Heritage Models as Sustainable Scholarly Resources” in MDPI Sustainability in a Special Issue.

Abstract

If virtual heritage is the application of virtual reality to cultural heritage, then one might assume that virtual heritage (and 3D digital heritage in general) successfully communicates the need to preserve the cultural significance of physical artefacts and intangible heritage. However, digital heritage models are seldom seen outside of conference presentations, one-off museum exhibitions, or digital reconstructions used in films and television programs. To understand why, we surveyed 1483 digital heritage papers published in 14 recent proceedings. Only 264 explicitly mentioned 3D models and related assets; 19 contained links, but none of these links worked. This is clearly not sustainable, neither for scholarly activity nor as a way to engage the public in heritage preservation. To encourage more sustainable research practices, 3D models must be actively promoted as scholarly resources. In this paper, we also recommend ways researchers could better sustain these 3D models and assets both as digital cultural artefacts and as tools to help the public explore the vital but often overlooked relationship between built heritage and the natural world.

CAA 2019 presentations

More for my own use, here are two papers accepted for CAA2019 in Krakow Poland, 23-27 April, 2019.

Author Erik M Champion (Mafi?)

Title Mixable reality, Collaboration, and Evaluation (S36: User Experience Design in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage)

If we are to move past one hit AR wonders like Pokémon Go, scalable yet engaging content, stable tools, appropriate evaluation research, long-term and robust infrastructure, are essential. Formats like WebVR and Web XR show promise for sharing content across desktop and head-mounted displays (without having to download plugins), but there is also a non-technological constraint: our preconceptions about virtual reality. For example, in a 2018 Conversation article “Why virtual reality cannot match the real thing” by Professor of Philosophy Janna Thompson) she argued that virtual reality (and virtual heritage in particular) attempts to provide accurate and equivalent realistic interactive simulations of the existing real world.
VR is not only a possible mirror to the current world. As Sir David Attenborough noted about the Natural History Museum’s “Hold the World” VR application, it provides a richer understanding of process, people can move and view virtual objects that are otherwise fragile, expensive or remote. And it allows people to share their mashups of reality, mixable reality. Collaborative learning can compel us to work in groups to see the bigger picture… your actions or decisions can be augmented and incorporated into the experience. However, there are few studies on collaborative learning in mixed reality archaeology and heritage. This presentation will discuss two projects, (one using two HoloLens HMDs, one a game where two people with different devices must share and control one character,) the theories adopted, and the range of possibilities for evaluating user experience in this collaborative mixed reality.

This is related to part of an article on VR for tourism that was submitted to the online Conversation website, this abstract will be further modified and updated.

Authors: Erik M Champion, Hafizur Rahaman

Title: 3D Models: Unwanted, Unknown, Unloved (Session S37: 3D Publishing and Sustainability: Taking Steps Forward)

Given the importance of three-dimensional space and artefacts to archaeology and to heritage studies, one might therefore assume that publications in the area of virtual heritage are heavily reliant on providing scholarly argument based on 3D models.

To corroborate this hypothesis, we reviewed virtual heritage proceedings of five major digital heritage conferences one could expect to be focused on projects incorporating 3D models. A total number of 264 articles across 14 proceedings were studied, and the results will be tabulated and presented.

The lack of accessible 3D models, usable projects, or ways in which the 3D model could be used and critiqued in a scholarly argument is of great concern to us. We suggest that long-term usage and preservation of virtual heritage models are worrying and persistent issues, and their scholastic impact is severely compromised. We suggest there are least three critical issues: we lack accessible, durable and complete infrastructure, which is essential for storage and preservation; we still don’t have a shared understanding of how to develop, integrate and demonstrate the research value of 3D heritage models; we also lack robust, long-term publication systems that can integrate and maintain both the 3D models and their relevance and functionality in terms of both community engagement and scholarship. We recommend seven practical steps for ensuring that the scholarship going into the development of 3D virtual heritage models, and arising from 3D virtual heritage models, can be fully implemented.

$420,000 ARC LIEF grant awarded

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2018 round 1 [LE190100019]

Time-layered cultural map of Australia
Administering Organisation: The University of Newcastle
Investigators

  1. Prof Hugh Craig (Chief Investigator)
  2. Prof Deb Verhoeven (Chief Investigator)
  3. Prof Paul Arthur (Chief Investigator)
  4. Prof Andrew May (Chief Investigator)
  5. Prof Rosalind Smith (Chief Investigator)
  6. Prof Ning Gu (Chief Investigator)
  7. Prof Erik Champion (Chief Investigator)
  8. A/Prof Mark Harvey (Chief Investigator)
  9. Prof Victoria Haskins (Chief Investigator)
  10. Prof Lyndall Ryan (Chief Investigator)

The Time-layered cultural map (TLCMap) of Australia is an online research platform that will deliver researcher driven national-scale infrastructure for the humanities, focused on mapping, time series, and data integration. The TLCMap will expand the use of Australian cultural and historical data for research through sharply defined and powerful discovery mechanisms, enabling researchers to visualise hidden geographic and historical patterns and trends, and to build online resources which present to a wider public the rich layers of cultural data in Australian locations. TLCMap is not a singular project or software application with a defined research outcome, but infrastructure linking geo-spatial maps of Australian cultural and historical information, adapted to time series and will be a significant contribution to humanities research in Australia. For researchers, it will transform access to data and to visualisation tools and open new perspectives on Australian culture and history. For the public, it will enable increased accessibility to historical and cultural data through visualisations made available online and in print.
URL: https://www.arc.gov.au/grants-and-funding/apply-funding/rms-funding-announcements-web-page

Free Workshop: 3D to Mixed Reality: From Regard3D to HoloLens (23.11.2018)

3D to Mixed Reality: From Regard3D to HoloLens

(register on Eventbrite) Friday 23 Nov 2-4PM Curtin University Library Level 5

3D models adopted/generated from image-based modelling techniques are increasingly used in research, shared online, incorporated into digital archives, and developed as assets for 3D games and for Virtual Reality applications. On the other hand, various HMDs (Head-Mounted-Display) offer Mixed Reality experiences; help us to experience and interact with virtual environments and objects via gesture, speech, gaze, touch and movement. This workshop will demonstrate how to make 3D models from photographs with free and open source software (FOSS, Regard3D), how to import a 3D model to a specific Mixed Reality HMD (Microsoft HoloLens), and you will also learn how the HoloLens can interact with the 3D model in mixed reality.

We will be using the following software:

  • Regard3D
  • MeshLab
  • Unity3D
  • HoloToolkit

What to bring:

You can just register and attend the workshop. However, it is better to bring your own laptop/device, preferably with the following software pre-installed (installation may take an hour but is free of charge):

Please register to secure your place, and cancel your ticket if you are no longer able to attend, as places are limited!

Authenticity and Communicating the Past

Day 1 of #ComPDA conference (program) at the University of Cologne and authenticity is a big topic in Q&A

I wonder if

  1. a workshop session on writing a charter/guidelines on Authenticity in Digital and Interactive media would be of interest.
  2. A gane idea where exoloring and avoiding or collecting the most authentic would be part of the gameplay
  3. A tool inside a game/VE to show levels of contestation/interpretation/historical authenticity can reveal the schema/paradata postplay or preplay..

Xavier from Edinburgh is now talking about the exciting non educatonal aspects of Assassin’s Creed (Origins vs Odyssey for example) – I wonder if someone has done a survey of the game assets/narratives and scored/compared their educational/authentic-inauthentic/’fun’ levels and areas. Are fun and education really always directly opposed in these sort of games?

References

Assassin’s Creed

General