Georgia Aquarium's Predator

Changing the perception of sharks from fear to fascination using Augmented Reality.



My Role


User Research
Interaction Design
Visual Design
Prototyping
User Testing


Timeline


Sep - Dec 2019
Academic Project


Tools Used


Figma
Sketch
Marvel
Torch AR
Premiere Pro


Team Members


Gurudutt Perichetla
Candice Butts
Yash Lara
Sonam Singh
Yangyi Xu



Since this project is under an NDA, I cannot share the majority of information on this site.

If you'd like to know more, contact me.



BACKGROUND

Expansion 2020


In Fall 2020, the Georgia Aquarium will open a 45,000 square foot expansion which will be home to a new shark exhibit titled ‘Predator’. The aquarium currently houses eight shark species, and this could expand with the opening to the new gallery. The additional sharks will arrive from a variety of sources, including accredited zoos and aquariums which share a common vision with the Georgia Aquarium.

The Aquarium wants to incorporate Augmented Reality in the new exhibit to present immersion about these sharks and incorporate immersion. This project was a collaboration between Georgia Tech and the Aquarium, for our “Research Methods in HCI” class.



THE CHALLENGE

A Change in Perception


The aquarium came to us with a specific problem regarding the perception most people have of sharks. The aquarium is aware of the fact that most people have a negative perception of sharks. Sharks are often feared and are considered dangerous predators.

The problem statement given to us by the aquarium was of changing this perception:


How might we change the perception of sharks from “Fear to Fascination, and then to conservation and celebration”?


The aquarium aims to bring about this change across all people of all ages since the fear of sharks is a very common emotion among everyone. The aquarium wants to change this perception and wants everyone to understand that sharks are an integral and necessary part of the ecosystem.



THE SOLUTION

An AR Experience


We designed an AR Checkpoint experience designed exclusively for the Magic Leap 1 as a storytelling medium to help understand the importance of sharks.





THE PROCESS

Planning our Research and Design


Research


Competitive Analysis
Observations
Surveys
Interviews
Elicitation Methods


Synthesize


User Personas
Empathy Maps
Storyboards
Jobs-to-be-Done


Prototype


Divergent Designs
Prototypic Walkthrough
Low Fidelity Prototype
High Fidelity Prototype
Interactive AR Prototype


Evaluation


Expert based Tesing
User based Testing



RESEARCH

Competitive Analysis


Our initial desk research focused on how technology was being used in different aquariums and museums around the world. We performed a competitive analysis considering The Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco, The Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo, The Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and The National Museum in Singapore, High Museum of Art, Paper Museum.

We uncovered the use of kiosk systems, installations and the use of AR and VR solutions. Also, we understood the budgetary and technical limitations of using certain technologies.



Observations


We used observations as an exploratory research technique to understand how the visitors in the aquarium behave and how they interact with the different artifacts in exhibits. Each member had an individual observation session that lasted around 1.5 hours, followed by a group observation session to better understand the visitors’ behavior in each exhibit.



We found out the different user groups in the aquarium: Children, Young Adults, Elderly Adults, and people with disabilities.



On-site Survey


Following the observations, we launched a survey to get more information about the visitors and study their experiences in a very short period. Our survey was conducted by recruiting individual participants in-person at the Georgia Aquarium.

Some of the Survey Questions and Responses





Interviews


We used the interview technique to get a better understanding of the different aspects of the visitors’ experiences. Our goal was to supplement the understanding we had gathered about the likes and dislikes of the visitors from survey and observation with a detailed understanding of the ‘Why’s’ of those through semi-structured interviews. We conducted three contextual and two non-contextual interviews.



We found 4 major themes from the results of our interviews:



Elicitation Methods


We used two kinds of elicitation methods (photo and drawing elicitation) to understand people’s perception of sharks. This was a key research technique that helped us gain information about how we could change the perception of sharks from fear to fascination. The majority of participants for this research method were students at Georgia Tech, while some were people that we met in our apartments and public.

Upon analyzing this information through content analysis and affinity mapping, we found out that most people have negative associations with sharks (e.g. ~40% of the responses were related to words like dangerous and mean), while a small proportion of the people seemed to have positive perceptions (e.g. ~15% of the responses were related to words like interesting and highlighting the importance of conservation). The remaining responses were about the physical attributes of the shark and their aquatic habitat.



SYNTHESIS

Our Research Findings


With all our research insights, we then began to figure out how all these factors connect to shape the visitor experience. We began developing story-telling techniques - personas, creating empathy maps and storyboards to better understand the user and the context.



User Personas & Empathy Maps


Based on our 4 user groups, we made personas and empathy maps to better understand the users and their motivations.









Divergent Designs


We came up with 4 designs that could be implemented in the exhibit.









PROTOTYPE

Prototypic Walkthrough


Based on the insights for the feedback sessions, we came up with a combination of divergent designs and conducted a prototypic walkthrough. We used the Wizard of Oz Technique to simulate the exhibit. 8 participants were divided into 2 groups, while each group was followed by a moderator and note-taker.





Final Prototype


AR Checkpoints in the Exhibit



Magic Leap UI Guidelines


Magic Leap's user interface is designed with Transparency in mind. We designed our entire design system consisting of elements and components closely adhering to the guidelines laid out by Magic Leap.



Entry to Checkpoint 1: Onboarding


A major goal of the onboarding process was to familiarize the user with the platform, the headset, and the different interaction methods. We allow the user to choose his/her adventure for a personalized experience. Using a Shark Assistant helps in fostering empathy using a first-hand account of how sharks live in the wild.




An Early Demo of our initial onboarding experience



Checkpoint 2: Fish Finder


The Fish Finder feature allows users to view sharks through the Magic Leap 1 headset and hover over a shark and select it, in the display view. This allows the system to analyze the shark using Computer Vision and perform a quick search through Georgia Aquarium's database to retrieve information about the shark. Narrative voiceovers aid with presenting the information, in real-time.


An Early Demo of the Fish Finder Experience



Checkpoint 3: Cleaning up our Oceans (Interactive AR Game)


In order to increase awareness of how oceanic pollution is affecting the lives of sharks and marine animals every day, on a global scale, we came up with an interactive game wherein the user will clean up the oceans by removing trash.




EVALUATION

Expert Based Testing


We chose to conduct think-aloud sessions with experts from the Georgia Aquarium and Georgia Tech, wherein they were required to freely use the different elements of the design and express their thoughts and feelings aloud. This step was followed by a short unstructured interview where we asked questions about the overall usability of the design and gather general feedback on the design. Specifically, we wanted to know if the design met the Aquarium’s goals of educating guests through emerging technologies while immersing them in the Predator experience.



User Based Testing


Users also participated in a think-aloud section, but this time it was task-based. The users were asked to engage with all aspects of the prototype.  Our goal was to:

1. Determine whether our three proposals of interaction were engaging
2. If the three proposals were easily understood
3. Discover blind spots where our prototype did not meet participants’ expectations.  


We used moderator based ratings on the participant’s level of success in completing each proposed task.