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What is “R U Experienced?”? April 29, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in FAQ's.
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R U Experienced is the course blog for “Introduction to Experience Design,” a first-year course for all undergraduates in the BDes degree program at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, Canada.

The course integrates principles of design process with an introduction to time based media and the methods used to design new interfaces, environments, services and products, through the orchestration of user experience. Students are exposed to the characteristics of new design opportunities made feasible by digital technologies and the pivotal role of time and attention in contemporary design.

Through lectures, analysis of a wide range of examples in communication, interaction and experience design, and through studio projects that provide opportunities for practical application and insight, students are lead through the basic concepts, methods, tools and techniques used in the definition and design of interactive experiences.

Enjoy your visit to the site. For more information please contact the instructor, Greg Van Alstyne by email: <gvanalstyne {at} faculty.ocad.ca>


Exercise 5 (final): Psychogeographics April 8, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.
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Guy Debord is the best known theorist from an (infamous) movement called the “Situationists.” In 1955 he defined Psychogeography as the “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals” (Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, 1955).

Debord also wrote “an urban neigborhood is determined not only by  geographical and economic factors, but also by the image that its inhabitants and those of other neighborhoods have of it.”

For your last exercise, practice “psychogeographic mapping” by taking mental notes during our field trip to Kensington Market. Design and post a simple map in the blog in time for our last class together, Thursday April 16.

I’d like you to

  • Pay attention to what your senses tell you
  • Record experiential effects in the route through Chinatown and/or Kensington Market
  • Think of a simple way to express your senses and feelings about the environment, the walk, the ‘feel’ of the places we go through and to today.
  • Contrast this gritty, real, textural urban experience with the digital work we will find in the gallery.
  • Consider the difference between effects that are “designed” — intentional reflections of the vision of the designer or team — and those that are “emergent” — the result of repetitive actions by numerous diverse actors, include wear, layers of residue from postering or graffiti, built up textures and shapes like those that arise as a city block evolves over time.
  • Your map should include and react to these ideas.

Thanks for everything.


Map April 16, 2009

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April 16, 2009

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map April 16, 2009

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map April 16, 2009

Posted by Lin Lin in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.
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Psychogeographic Map April 16, 2009

Posted by Adam Brace in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics, Exercises.
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Fran’s map for ex 5 April 16, 2009

Posted by Franchesca Dongha Kim in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.
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Fran’s map of Kensington marketfrans-map

Map of field trip April 16, 2009

Posted by yunyintsai in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics, Uncategorized.
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Walking and Maping! April 16, 2009

Posted by Priya Bedi in Uncategorized.
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I have no idea whan I am doing.



Cricles don’t have any meaning yet. The colours in the cricles are what I saw or felt. That’s all folks!

Psychogeographics April 16, 2009

Posted by Daniel Orellana in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.
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en route to Kensington April 16, 2009

Posted by Milica Guberinic in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics, Uncategorized.
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Hi everybody. This is my map. I was going to explain the meaning of the different objects but I think I will leave it up to you! Route to Kensington

Wait! I just realized something about my map that I thought was post worthy. The many little things sold in china town are designed effects, while the stapled telephone pole is an emergent effect.

Psychogeographic Map April 16, 2009

Posted by Yinan in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.
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Psycho-geographics! OCAD to Kensington! April 15, 2009

Posted by Ayesha Ijaz in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.
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Field Trip map

Field Trip map

My Psychogeographic Map April 15, 2009

Posted by Gingy in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics, Exercises.
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My  map  accurately reflects my feelings on our kensington  adventure. I thought  of our trip as being through specific areas   which you can see on my map. Both of the new  areas to me , Chinatown and Kensington,  are filled with pictures like they were filled with  new and interesting sensory  experiences. Like… sight, all the signs in Chinatown,  and smell of all the food we passed  in the streets. The area that is designated to Kensington has images I took  from the gallery  that  best expressed the  “bohemian”  type feel  it had.  I included and Anarchy symbol  because I found when the  guy at the gallery  called kensington the anarchist part of Toronto  it struck me as  a perfect way to describe the feeling I had when  there. The blue background of the map is very happy and upbeat  because it reflects the beautiful  weather  we had on the day we went on the trip. The OCAD  block on the ma is not as   collages and  “full”  because it is more familiar to me the   the  densely collages areas  of Chinatown  and Kensington Market.

Its been  a great semesterkensigtonexpmap and that field trip  was the  cherry on top 🙂

Visual Map for our Field Study April 15, 2009

Posted by emilysoo in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics, Uncategorized.
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Psychogeographic Map of Field Trip April 15, 2009

Posted by dario in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.
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Map! April 15, 2009

Posted by Nhi Tran in Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.
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Fifth Grade Ethnographers April 14, 2009

Posted by Ruth Silver in Check it out, Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.
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Mesa Elementary School students spent the afternoon exploring their school in a way they never had before. They used blindfolds, walkers, ear plugs and wheelchairs to complete everyday tasks in their classroom and library, and while playing outside. The exercise is intended to teach them empathy and help them understand how the school, and its playground, could be more inclusive.

Mesa Principal Josh Baldner wants student suggestions to help drive playground improvements, and volunteers from the University of Colorado’s architecture schools are helping with the project.

David Leserman, a retired Boulderite who uses a manual wheelchair, volunteered at the south Boulder school Friday afternoon, helping relay to students what it’s like to use a wheelchair full-time.

“How are you doing?” Leserman asked Brendan, who was taking a break after spending a few minutes in the wheelchair.

“My arms are getting tired,” Brendan admitted. Leserman explained that using a wheelchair builds strong arms.

The 70 Mesa fifth-graders are keeping journals of the challenges they have faced while simulating impairments, and they have been tasked with brainstorming ways to make their school more friendly for their peers with disabilities.

the best and the worst April 11, 2009

Posted by Franchesca Dongha Kim in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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Best vs Worst Activates:

From the experiences of different types of activates from different classes, I would like to agree that the magic sustainability was the best activate of all. When I passed their activate setting, the first thing that made me attract to it was the unusual materials they were using, which was the soil in a huge box. With interest of suspicious look, I went up to the big box that contains real soil. Then, one of the student of that activate came up to me to plant a seed in the soil. With beating heart, I tried and said a magic word. Suddenly, the real fruit came up from the beneath of the ground and surprised me in a natural way. I did not really expect the real fruit would come up. It was no long a surprise when I found out some one lift up the fruit to the ground below the box, but the idea of popping fruit from the ground gave me a joy of laughter. Nonetheless, the more enjoyment they presented to us was, because they did not take the fruit away from us and maybe reused, but actually gave us, this idea of leaving something to us made the user happier than any other activates. Plus, as we eat the fruit or cook the vegetables they gave back at home, we can remember the enjoyments we experienced at their activate. In contrast, the worst activate I chose was the one that presented the Alice and the wonderland site. Because they set up the character models and other flat designs as wall, it made the user feel not welcomed and user did not know what to do or where to enter and how to start experiencing their activate. Somebody actually had to tell their activate was good to the users and let them know it is a fine place to experience. Due to the wrong set up, there was less connection of attracting users to experience the activate and less visual communication between the entrance and the users.

Exercise 4 April 9, 2009

Posted by brendayin in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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The best work that I have seen during the activate
The most successful activity that I like during the activate is called “the happy box”. The happy box is a huge box made by black cardboard. I like it because of the following reason.
First, the happy box gives me a very good experience when I examine it. I was lining up for my turn and when I get into the happy box, I found many eyes were looking at me. some of them have facial expression, some are cute and some of them are scary, which makes me curious to know what they are doing. Inside the happy box, we can see the people are looking are you, which is a feel of the panopticon, and you realize people are watching you so you had a interaction with the people
Second, the happy box created a very good atmonsphere. They have the music which made people have a adverture feeling during the examine. when we get into the happy box and the lady who is in front of the door is quite polite. We also have a chance to win the cookies before we leave the happy box.
Third, I really enjoy their feedbacks at the end of the activity, when we leave from the happy box we get the cookies and there are two students are doing some feedbacks. I think is a very important way to do this investigation because it really helps them improve their project.

Best vs. Worst April 9, 2009

Posted by Lin Lin in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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The best one for me, besides ours of course, would be the MAGICAL GRADEN. Personally I love to see vegetables and fruits growing on trees, so that idea attracted me the most. When a fruit and vegetable poped out from the dirt, it was a surprise. And the surprise kept going on, because you didn’t know what would show up next. Also, the idea of getting my hands dirty made me feel like I was actually at a farm harvesting the fruits and vegetables that I have planted; it was a good experience and feedback.

The worst one would be the STARING CONTESTS. My friend was in that class, and I asked him before about what would be going on, he said “You just stare others.” That’s it? “Yeah, it’s a staring contest, what else are you expecting?” I guess he was right; I couldn’t really expect anything other than looking into others’ eyes without blinking for a while. The whole concept was too simple and was not original; I saw this game on TV shows quite often before, they should have added more ideas based on that game to make it interesting. I don’t think I’ve got much feedback on it, and the winning price wasn’t really an attractive surprise.

The Best Worst April 9, 2009

Posted by Wenhao Jian in Uncategorized.
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For the best project, the hair cutting one has my vote. The setting for the project is to pretend a hair salon, and we are the customers. First I signed up for the list and waited for my turn. And when I entered the private room, they took a picture of me. Two barbers were serving me. They just acted like cutting my hair for real, but I believe that they were cutting some fake hair. But the cut hair were dropped so that it gave a feeling that they are cutting my hair. The project has some advantages in making the participant curious and exciting.  And they also take a picture of me when they finished the cutting. So they also provided some feedbacks. The project has potential and could be more elaborated.

The worst one for me is the Happy Box, which most of you voted for the best one. I waited at the line and finally entered the interesting looking black box. I could not tell what happen when I entered. Suddenly I heard a voice counting down from 10 to 1. And many eyes shown and stared at me. I was a little suprised, but mostly questioning. I did not know what the hell was happening and I did not like the atmosphere. Then a cake sent to me and I left. In summary, I don’t even know what is the significance of the thing! Too little communication confused the participants a lot, and I think that’s the main problem. I think the prototype has a lot of potential but those guys need to develop it much further.

ActiGREAT! April 9, 2009

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Da Bomb!

Feedback: Happy Box

I was attracted to this experience because it was visually appealing as it was a big black structure in the middle of the main entrance area. I waited in line to enter the Happy box. Outside a class mate was standing at the entrance getting people excited to for their experience and controlling how many people entered at a time; three people being the limit. I entered the experience by myself. When it was my turn I was guided through an entrance, which was cloaked with black plastic bags. The inside was also black and was shaped like a cylinder. There was nothing for me to look at as the space appeared to look the same from all angles. Once I was settled an audio track started which started a countdown. As the count got closer to one it started to slow down and become a bit distorted. This started to raise feelings of anxiety as I anticipated what was going to happen. At the count of one, eye slots opened around the cylinder and I found myself standing in the dark room with about a dozen or more pair of eyes staring at me. This made me feel uncomfortable because I didn’t know how I should act. After a couple seconds of staring, a drawer popped out from the wall, which had a small cupcake inside. I took the cupcake and then exited the room through another black plastic bag. The overall experience gave me an over all anxious and uncomforting visceral reaction which is what I believe they were trying to create. After exiting, another classmate was waiting on the outside to guide me over to a table where other members of the class were recording reactions from the experience.

Da Not So Bomb.

Feedback: Alice in Wonderland

As I approached this experience I saw a lot of construction paper; cut out shapes of flowers and grass. I was greeted by members of their group welcoming me to Alice in Wonderland. It seemed unorganized because they were not confident in their experience. I was lead to a table, which had some snacks on it and was decorated like the tea table from the movie. Just from seeing the movie I assumed that I would be seated at the table and they were going to attempt to recreate the tea party seen from the film, but unfortunately it was only there for visual appeal. I was told I could play with a croque game they had made with paper or get my picture taken with a cardboard cut out of the queen from the movie. I enjoyed the tactile aspects of the experienced, that they had parts where I could touch and move things. Overall it wasn’t a HORRIBLE experience, but loving Alice in Wonderland a bunch, I found it to be kind of a let down. I failed to find a use of metaphor or any other tactics that were used to create an awe factor.

The Best and the Worst of Activate April 9, 2009

Posted by dario in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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The Best and the Worst of Activate

In my opinion the best experience was the happy box because its touchpoints were well executed. Location, signs, advertisement, actors were connected resulting in an intriguing experience. The box itself was very well located, centrally positioned in the main hall, right across the entrance doors, its size and form instilled lots of curiosity. The bouncers helped to stimulate my interest in it by what they were saying. The processes were fairly clear and direct: I got some information that in order to give it a try I should wait in line and that two people should go together. After waiting for my turn I was instructed to go inside the box. It was pitch black for a second and then I could see pair of eyes through little apertures, there were many of them, monitoring and staring at my actions. The actors were impartial to my actions. The Panopticon feeling of being over watched might have been more intense and intimidating if I were trying it alone, the fact of trying it in pairs caused less impact on me. The gut feeling of being overly observed endured only feel seconds because I felt it a little noisy inside and I could not discern any sound but the sense of disturbance due to the darkness was strong. I felt more uncomfortable because of the feeling of being a subject of voyeurism. The “treat”, a cupcake, made me feel like a mice in a lab awarded by its accomplishments. I would suggest that they should had tried to invert the position or roles for the participants, for example, let them be part of the group observing other people and seeing the other side of the experience. The questionnaire afterward should be shorter and more intuitive. I really enjoyed the metaphor used.

The Worst was  the “Pollock, Van Gogh, Picasso, YOU”, their advertisement was promising but they didn’t deliver it. They missed the point completely wasting the touch points, great location, great signs, and posters with poor results. The experience didn’t engaged to much to the feeling of being an artist or that the actions of painting were made by the user. The metaphor was lost because they were unable to expand the experience; they should have done a better use of the user scenario and avoided some weakness of the project. The canvas was permanently on the ground, there was no surprise in terms of use and the interaction was too obvious.

The goodie and the shitty April 9, 2009

Posted by Eric Chan in Uncategorized.
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I think one of the best that beside OURS was the one that’s call We Art Toronto.  It was a pretty creative idea.  First of all, the theme is about art, which related to OCAD.  It was started by a people painting on a triangular box.  After awhile, they will put the triangular box together.  I think it brings back a really nice feedback when you see how nice it turns out to be.  The only thing is you have to stay there long enough to see they put the box together.

The worst one was the starring contact.  At the beginning, i think starring at a person you don’t know is kinda awkward.  It doesn’t has any feedback cept feeling awkward.  You would get a cookie if u win, and thats about it.

Best and Worst of Activate! April 9, 2009

Posted by emilysoo in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!, Uncategorized.
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After seeing all of the first year projects for Activate, I think that our class had the best project, but since we can’t pick ours, I think that the Makeover Project inside the Room next to the Butterfield park was the best. It was a great experience as it made the participant scared as you were getting your hair cut. They had real sounds that created great feedback, when they had scissors cutting your hair, and also the buzzing of the razor. Their experience also had great visceral components to the experience, because you could see hair falling onto you as you had your hair cut, and also the hair colour was the the exact same as your own. Not only that but before they started cutting your hair they took a picture of you before you had your makeover. Also they spun you around so you couldn’t see what was being done to you in the mirror. This created an element of curiosity for the participant as they didn’t know what they would look like in the end. The experience was somewhat tactile, because of how you could feel the hair falling down, and also the way the hair dressers were pulling on your hair, pushing against it. In the end of this experience, they provided you with your end result picture, in which someone photoshoped a wig on your head, and it was funny to view in the end. Not only that but they even sent the image to our emails, once the activate event was over. This was a good idea to take the participants email, so they would be able to receive something even after the experience was finished. Overall, this experience was really fun, and it was one that i remembered most!


The worst experience I think of Activate was the Alice and Wonderland project. As I walked into the entrance of the installation, I thought that I would receive something amazing, as it was alice in wonderland. However when I entered, all I received was a group of people saying “Happy Birthday” , sitting down on at a tea party table, with decorations. They also asked us to play a ball game with a stick, and that wasn’t really fun, as there was no real feedback to that game. They asked us to take some cookies, and asked us to play that ball game, that was about it. There wasn’t really anything to experience, and I think they could of done alot better, with this particular theme. Overall this was a bad experience, and I didn’t receive any good feedback from that installation. 

Our project however created great feedback, and the affordances were really strong because of the video and sound created when the ball was put into the whole. The participant was able to place themselves in 6 different experiences which were extremely fun. I think it worked our amazing!

Priya’s doers and booers April 9, 2009

Posted by Priya Bedi in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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Let me start of by informing you that I didn’t take a break, and it was entirely my option to do so. SO I didn’t get much of a change to go around and experience the other activities that were there.

The one i liked when i heard about it was the Happy box. This is because it had all the experience that I was looking for. It had a sense of surprise and wonder when the eyes can be seen and also an extension which was the cupcake to relieve you of the fear that they had caused.

The one that I disliked the most was Crickey! I thought it was boring and lame right after I put my hand in the alligator mouth. This is because they had an extension but no way to build any excitement leading up to the point.

Well that’s all I got.

Later days!

Best and Worst Documented! April 9, 2009

Posted by forrestvieira in Uncategorized.
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So I spent about 10 minutes arguing with my mother about which installation was best because she wouldn’t listen to me when I said I had to chose an experience other than the one our team did. In conclusion, and not to be bias, I would say out of every group I saw and installation I experienced, ours definitely had the best response and most interactive and fun experience.

Besides ours, I guess I would have to choose the “Happy Box” in the main lobby, straight ahead when you walk through the entrance of the main building…although I wouldn’t exactly consider it a “happy box” when you first walk in because I felt slightly uncomfortable with so many eyes staring at me. Also, when the automated countdown came on, my initial thought was at the end of the countdown a bunch of arms would launch out at me from under the eyes…and I really did NOT like the thought of that. I don’t think the experience itself was very interactive, but after seeing the cupcakes, it did make me smile (it also made my mom squeal really loud). I did feel however that the survey at the end was too long (there were too many questions) and it took away from the experience. In them doing that, it made it feel like what we had just experienced was merely just a school project that they needed feedback on. (….I think I gave a lot of critical feedback considering I’m saying this was the best :P)

As for the worst…I found the “Predator Vs. Prey” to be quite boring and unenticing. Although it was going on all through the building, I didn’t feel engaged the the game. I felt the buttons were a waste of money and I actually just ended up putting mine down somewhere because I didn’t want to pin it to my clothes. It seemed like anyone who actually was playing got annoyed with having to pin and unpin the ribbons and then repin it onto their clothing. I found many buttons on the ground which just lead me to believe that I was not the only one that found this experience less than uneventful.

I think we did great as a class in putting all of this together and a super special thanks to the set team for their work on the structure building.
I think we definitely had the most successful installation and the feedback I got from audience members (including my mother who I’m sure everyone could hear laughing and screaming everytime something happened) was the same.
Thanks to Greg and Ruth for being so involved as well! (as I’ve heard a few stories of other teachers who decided to leave it all up to the class and not bother with them at all :P)


Best and Worse at Activate!!1 April 9, 2009

Posted by Daniel Orellana in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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The project that stuck out for me was the Magic Grow dirt pit in the entrance area. To be fair I might just be more interested in the mechanics of it, but I liked the surprise of different fruits and vegetables popping out when planting seeds. The feedback was very satisfying. The different kinds of fruits and vegetables made me try it myself, rather than passively watch. Even if I understood the concept before trying, seeing a giant watermelon emerge was still hilarious. Perhaps they could have taken that idea further, who knows what bizarre things could pop out? That may have helped them give their project a message of sorts, but I digress. The visceral appeal of getting my hands dirty was hampered by the way they executed instructions. They had students hand out seeds and demonstrate who to bury it. Personally I think they missed out on a more intuitive sequence. Give me a seed and a giant dirt table, and I already know what to do. When planting the seed the fruit may have come up a little early, but it’s forgivable because I was really impressed that they managed it at all.

The worse was the “Your 15 Minutes”, or the “Pollock, Van Gogh, Picasso, YOU” project. It was a fun contraption, but there was no experience to reflect on. The paper on the floor already had paint on it, giving away the result. When I participated, I was expecting some surprise, it went exactly as I’d imagined it. In light of the class’s content, the project was like a joke with no punchline. They tried to extend the experience by handing out a small card with a URL where they’ll upload photos for us to see, but I had no interest in going to see them because I knew how they’d turn out. Unfortunately the drab weather didn’t help there cause.

The funny thing is that Dario’s evocative feedback project was related but immensely more memorable. And made by one man!

Activate: Good and Bad April 9, 2009

Posted by yunyintsai in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!, Project 3: Activate!.
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I was not able to see all of the projects at Activate, and the only few I experienced were not as interesting as I expected… But if I have to choose one favourite, I would say “Happy Box.” It evoked curiosity and an interesting visceral reaction in the users. A big black box and a long lineup raised my curiosity. (But I might leave if I was not recommended to experience it by other people since it took me lots of time to wait.) Inside the box, it was totally dark and quite at first. When I was wondering what would happen next, suddenly many pairs of staring eyes appeared on the walls! Actually, I was not scared or surprised by them because I was busy taking photos at that moment, yet I believe it could create a good feedback in other users. After that they sent out a cupcake which I’m not sure it was a reflective design or not. I also like the idea that they had a survey right after the users went out the box, it makes the users feel like, as someone have mentioned, had been a subject of an experiment.

The worst one… should be the OCADVAS. Obviously, it did not require much thought and effort, lacking visceral, reflective, and behavioural reaction. The only feedback was the paintings on the person’s skin which was very predictable. I did not even want to try it when I passed by, but I thought it might have some hidden meanings after the whole experience. Surprisingly, that’s all…