Posts tagged “projection”

Jennifer’s War Story: Keeping the Lights on in Vegas

Jennifer Pretti is the Manager of the User Experience Design Team at Christie Digital in Kitchener, Canada.

At Christie Digital, we have a very niche population of users. Opportunities to observe them using our projectors are highly coveted by my UX team. In February 2014, we were invited by a good customer of ours, Staging Techniques, to observe their setup for the keynote address at Microsoft’s SharePoint Conference. The event was taking place at the Venetian Hotel, in Las Vegas, and the keynote speaker was going to be Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton!

Three of us from Christie made the trip: me, Chris (my lead industrial designer), and a software developer, Eric. Although I had conducted many user sessions for Christie before, this was the first time I was going on site to observe a live event setup and I wasn’t sure what to expect. My biggest worry was that, even though we made it clear we were there just to observe, I would be asked to answer a technical question or troubleshoot some problem and not have a clue what to say or do.

Setup was to begin at midnight the day we arrived. Working night shifts is very common for projectionists since it’s the best time to see and calibrate the light as other setup crews are already done and out of the way. The thought of staying up for a night shift wasn’t something I was particularly looking forward to, especially given jet lag was going to make it feel 3 hours later. But I hoped a mix of adrenaline and caffeine would do the trick.

After landing in Vegas, we headed down to the Expo Hall to get our bearings. The scale of everything in Vegas is massive and oversized, and the hall was no exception. It was a gigantic space – at least two football fields long and one football field wide – and it was completely empty and bare. Whatever vision the event planners had for the space seemed hopelessly unattainable in the 5 days left before the show.

When we arrived, big transport trucks were pulling into the hall to start unloading the many tons of equipment that would be needed to run the show. It was clear that they were behind schedule already. Trusses and scaffolding needed for rigging the projectors hadn’t yet been built, so we decided to split up, with Chris covering the first night shift, and Eric and I heading to bed to get some much needed sleep.

Eric and I returned to the site early the next morning to relieve Chris. The first few hours of our observation time were slow and uneventful due to continued delays with the truss work, but eventually things picked up, and soon projectors were being powered on and rigged into position. Excitement peaked when one of the projectors failed to power on. I stood poised to capture an epic story of problem solving and error recovery, but the crew just shrugged, taped an ‘X’ on the top of the projector, and replaced it with a spare one. Even after I got in touch with tech support to help explain the error code (highlighting quite clearly that our error messages need a lot of work), it didn’t change their approach. Time is money and using a functional projector was simply the most efficient option. Whatever the problem was, it could wait until they were back in the office to sort out.

It became clear by the end of the second night that the most interesting portions of the setup would be delayed past our planned departure date. The senior projectionist, Pete, pleaded for one of us to stay a bit longer. I think there was mix of professional pride in his insistence, but (happily for us) a realization of the mutual benefit of our presence, observing their workflows and listening to their wishlists. It was on account of his enthusiasm that I agreed to change my flight and stay an extra night. My fatigued body howled in despair. Another night shift? Are you crazy?!

There is no better place to change your sleeping patterns than Vegas. That city looks the same no matter what the hour: there are always people walking around, always a restaurant open, and enough indoor walkways that it could be any time of day. Hotel rooms come equipped with industrial-strength black-out curtains, whose existence I suddenly appreciated in a whole new light (pun intended), as I tried to convince my body that falling asleep at 10 AM was a totally legit plan.

The little sleep I got left me with major doubts that I could keep up a respectable and coherent state of mind for my last night. However, early into the shift, Pete insisted I help him colour match the displays. Colour matching 26 projectors is a very laborious activity that had us whizzing around on a golf cart, playing with light meters, and debating whether one projector was a fraction more magenta than the other. Shifting from observer to honorary crew member made the night fly by and gave me a more rich perspective of how our products are used.

I didn’t sleep until I was on the airplane later that afternoon. I welcomed the rest, but felt a pang of regret for not extending my trip long enough to see Bill Clinton speak. As social media began to light up with pictures of the event, I cheered for Staging Techniques and Christie for a job well done. And smiled knowing that Bill Clinton was walking on the same stage where I had been, just 24 hours ago.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Autom, a weight-loss robot coach – Autom's human qualities, if primitive, were an important factor in keeping 15 dieters motivated during a trial in the Boston area. Another 15 slimmers were given a computer with a touch screen running identical software to Autom's and 15 had a paper log. Each had to stick to a certain eating and exercise regime. The average time someone used the robot — almost 51 days — was nearly twice as long as with paper — almost 27 days — and 40 percent longer than with the computer. "Even if you have an animated character that looks exactly like Autom on the computer screen, you cannot have the same interaction as you can with an actual robot," Kidd says. Kidd says the fact that people were able to humanise Autom made the information it gave them seem more credible. Maya, Casper and Robbie were among the names users gave their robots. Some even dressed them in hats and scarves.
  • We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat [CBC News] – Companies working off Nova Scotia's coasts have been told to supersize their lifeboats to accommodate bigger workers. The current standard for lifeboats is based on a person weighing 165 pounds in a survival suit. The proposed standard is 220 pounds. "The reality is such that the workforce is considerably larger nowadays," said Dave Scratch, the regulator's chief safety officer. A lifeboat may be rated for 50 people, but that doesn't mean they all fit. "We've had a number of [exercises and drills] where they actually wouldn't. We found that most lifeboats had to be downsized just because people were larger and wouldn't fit in the allocated locations," said Scratch. The board is following the lead of the U.K., which adjusted safety regulations after a study found offshore workers are heavier now than 20 years ago.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Topeka, KS changes its name (for a month) to Google, KS – I wrote about this sort of bombastic advertising in interactions ( referencing the dot-com era's Half, Oregon, and the classic Truth or Consequences, NM
  • Toy Traveling – Travel Agency for Teddy bears and cuddly toys – [Productizing the" trend" of taking pictures of your stuffed animals on your vacation] Is your darling exceptional? Give him extraordinary present – trip to Prague – the beautiful heart of Europe. Except amazing experiences, he will bring back home many great photos and other presents. Do you collect stuffed toys, dolls or other fun “non-living” friends and you believe they also deserve rest and vacation or an outstanding experience in an interesting country? If you do, pack up its suitcase, wish it a nice trip and send it to the Czech Republic where your friend can enjoy the historic beauty of Prague as well as other services that will leave both you and your friend satisfied. Let it go on cool trips, group events and wellness therapy in the heart of Europe – done with respect to your friend and loving care. We are tolerant and unbiased. We will be happy to welcome all kinds of your toys regardless nationality, race, religion, sexual preferences, age or handicaps.
  • A list of UX-related sessions at SXSW Interactive [Nick Finck] – There's a great deal happening at this event! Here's one attempt to filter (including our session on UX methods!)

This Year’s Virtual Model

Not new, but new to me: Lands’ End Virtual Model, allowing people to shop online for clothes and see what the clothes would look like on a person. The idea is that the person is you, the shopper, but there’s a fundamental disconnect between projection onto a mannequin (digital, even) and projection into a mirror. The person in the mirror is us. It doesn’t approximate us, it looks exactly like us and it naturally moves in response to our every movement. The virtual model is clumsy in comparison.

I think the whole notion of seeing the clothes in context is (including in combination) is brilliant, but I think the conceit (and it really is just that) of presenting this us a projection of us is completely wrong. Looking in the mirror is the gold standard and this breaks that badly. There’s a lot of customization (just like an avatar builder) of height, weight, body type, skin tone, hair style, etc.

So I started with

Umm, hello, body image norms?

and eventually customized him/me/it to end up with

Umm, is it weird to post this? It’s virtual, but the concept suggests this approximates what I look like in my underpants. I can tell you not to worry, it really doesn’t, but the idea seems a bit transgressive, because of the level of accuracy we expect from representations. A photograph isn’t me, but carries a certain truth. Also don’t worry, no actual underpants pictures of me are coming up in this post either.

As for the virtual me, I think we’ll feel better if he/me has some clothes on!


Frankly, I think this Simpsons avatar is more true version of me, even though it abandons reality, it also offers a kernel of truth and overall feels more accurate.

Update: maybe the avatar isn’t meant to be a model, but instead an effective salesperson?

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Morphed photos help dieters visualize a thinner self – ThinnerView is a service that shows dieters how they'll look if they achieve their goals for losing weight. Customers begin by uploading a photo of themselves at their current weight. From there, ThinnerView hand-alters the image based on the customer's requirements, bone structure and body shape to render the most realistic results possible—it does not use simple, generic slimming software. Within two to three working days, the customer can download their "after" image, share it with others or post it on their Facebook page. $14.99 for the first image

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Hallmark Cards to feature licensed audio content from NBC Universal – NBC Universal has sealed a new licensing deal with Hallmark Cards that includes the use of the company's film and TV content. Sound cards from Universal films such as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Sixteen Candles" and "Jaws" will be included as well. Ditto "The Office," "30 Rock" and "Battlestar," as well as NBC News archives. Beyond cards, the deal includes "a wide range of social expression products."
  • Escapism in Minutiae of Daily Life – nice NYT review of Sims 3 – It is almost impossible to avoid the temptation to make a Sim version of yourself, either as you really are or as you wish to be. In that sense the game presents basic but important questions: What kind of person am I? What kind of person would I like to become? How do I treat the people around me? What is important to me in life? What are my core values?

    Children usually form their tentative answers to these questions without considering them explicitly. Adults, by contrast, often confront such issues, even tangentially, only in the context of intense emotional involvement, some sort of crisis or high-priced psychotherapy.

    Most video games exist to allow the player to forget completely about the real world. The Sims accomplishes the rare feat of entertaining while also provoking intellectual and emotional engagement with some of life’s fundamental questions. I love aliens and zombies, but a little reality in my gaming once in a while is not a horrible thing.

Projective Techniques for Projection Technologies

Projective Techniques for Projection Technologies, my paper for the dux05 conference, has just been posted online. Check it out here!

To facilitate the development of a new home-entertainment device (a portable projector with built-in speakers and a DVD player) we conducted in-home interviews that explored home entertainment activities, presented a demo of a rough prototype, and brainstormed with participants about future refinements.

I don’t often get to talk about my consulting work, so it’s great to have a fairly detailed case study published and available.


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