Some of the basic concept for the E-Books project have remained unchanged since the beginning, but the device has gone through several iterations, altering most radically in response to playtesting (thank god for playtesting).
From the beginning, I wanted to tell stories about physical books, but I wasn’t sure what that would look like. I pictured a flat device that, when a book was somehow “plugged in,” would display information about the book on a screen or projection behind it. I wanted the interaction and triggering of the information display to somehow be related to the way that people naturally interact with books—either by a page-turn or gripping the book, or wiring in the pages. I created an initial prototype to test some of these things.
I. The First Prototype and Playtest
Main Takeaways: Content, Wiring, and Thank You Playtesting
Content: By simulating the “slides” with pieces of paper in the upper fold of the Macbook case, I could test the kinds of content and information that people responded to most. Some wanted the device to have more utility, providing notes and annotations, but the most common feedback was that they wanted more vivid information about the stories in the specific text—dog-eared pages, where the book has traveled, who owned the book, etc.
Wiring: I had a dummy plug to simulated plugging the book in, but Dominic recommended RFID to keep the books wireless. I was sold.
II. The Second Prototype and Playtest
Main Takeaways: Trigger Interaction, Content (pt. 2), and Thank You Playtesting
Trigger Interaction: I had this idea for the slide trigger that involved a book clamp that the user would slide her hand into, pushing down onto an FSR after she turned to a new page (another iteration had a circuit on the bottom of this device that would be completed by copper tape on certain pages of the book). In playtesting, it became clear that that device was cumbersome and an unnatural way for people to interact with books. It also focused their attention too much on the book, and not enough on the screen. This caused me to revisit an idea I had early on using a light sensor and light that would be interrupted when the user turned pages.
Content: I heard from multiple people that the premise of the project and the content needed to be clearer from the get-go, and they wanted a better picture of the connection between the book and the person who owns it.
III. The Final (with pretty pictures to come):