Experiential Technology & Design Studio

Project Title: Experiential Technology & Design Studio

Long Title (if desired): Equipment to support a new Experiential Technology & Design Studio

Project Lead's Name: Phil Alexander

Project Lead's Email: alexanp3@MiamiOH.edu

Project Lead's Phone: 513-529-1637

Project Lead's Division: CCA

Primary Department: IMS

Other Team Members and their emails:

  • Matthew Board, boardmj@MiamiOH.edu, ART/AIMS
  • Michael Bailey-Van Kuren, baileym@MiamiOH.edu, MME/AIMS
  • Jerry Belich, belichjd@MiamiOH.edu, AIMS
  • Bob De Schutter, deschub@MiamiOH.edu, EHS/AIMS
  • Murali Paranandi, paranam@MiamiOH.edu, ARC/AIMS

List Departments Benefiting or Affected by this proposal:

  • Interactive Media Studies
  • Art
  • Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Entrepreneurship

Estimated Number of Under-Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 200

Estimated Number of Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 0

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem: Problem: Technology is often referred to as having two sides: a hardware and a software side. Game development is evidence of an industry that engages in meaningful, transdisciplinary collaboration through software development. Physical computing, artificial intelligence and robotics has the potential to be meaningful, transdisciplinary collaboration on the hardware side of technology. Currently, Miami’s Oxford campus has spaces for students of various disciplines to engage in transdisciplinary activity for the creation of computer games and other interactive media. However, a space for students to engage in physical computing, robotics and other physical, transdisciplinary spaces is necessary.

CCA and AIMS needs an instructional space that facilitates team development of physical technology prototypes. This proposal aims to create a dedicated space which maintains the materials, tools, and systems required for technology development in CCA. Currently, the Building Interactive Objects course does not have an appropriate space for conducting these activities.

Proposed Experiential Technology & Design Studio: The studio will be an active learning space supporting team design, fabrication and assembly of technology prototypes. The studio will maintain the capability to fabricate prototype circuit boards and small plastic parts, solder components, assemble components, and program devices. This proposal also accounts for the safe storage of prototype materials and projects to maintain the studio as a multi-use space. In Building Interactive Objects: Arcade Interface Design (IMS 253), a cohort of 25-30 students will utilize the full capabilities of the lab to develop new and creative game controller interfaces that integrate user activity into the context of the gaming environment. This requires a combination of hardware, electronics and software integration.

In addition to physical technology prototypes, the Experiential Technology & Design Studio will house all of the necessary equipment and space to explore the creation of physical (board) games. In 2017 and 2018, physical games have taken the crowd funding website Kickstarter.com by storm. The demand for these unique play experiences have drawn a significant amount of demand from supporters on Kickstarter. Crowdfunding for games was up overall on Kickstarter last year, with a massive increase of nearly 30 percent. But that boost was entirely due the success of tabletop games. Video games remained relatively flat. According to data provided to Polygon by Kickstarter, there were nearly 400 more successful tabletop campaigns in 2017 compared to 2016. Earnings were up more than $36 million, an increase of at most 36 percent. The average successful tabletop game raised $65,418 in 2017, compared to $59,181 in 2016.” The creation of physical games, requires the use of physical prototyping technology such as the CNC Router and a 3D printer. Physical games typically come with intricately sculpted miniature figurines that players can paint. This adds to the interactivity and appreciation for the games. Physical game also create an intrinsic and actual, social experience that is lacking in many online multiplayer games.

Human Robot interaction will be a focus for the Experiential Technology & Design Studio. Michael Bailey-Van Kuren has taught HRI Human-Robot Interaction (MME 375) for 5 years in a variety of spaces. This growing field merges user interaction design with devices that can physically interact with the environment. Miami recently received $400k in robot funding from RAPIDS in 2018. HRI related hardware accounts for $55k of this funding and the Experiential Technology & Design Studio will provide a new home for these robots. "According to Gartner, Inc., the number of objects connected to the Internet of Things will reach 25 billion by 2020. These devices will drive insights and efficiencies for a number of industries, including manufacturing, engineering, and retail." Exposure to HRI at Miami, will provide graduates with important insights into the role of technology in future organizations. The considerable ramp up in the research of functional robotic prototypes utilizing artificial intelligence such as those seen from the creators at Boston Dynamics, introducing students to the technology and ethics surrounding this type of physical, interactive technology is an important part of their creative education. The Experiential Technology & Design Studio will provide a collaborative environment for all aforementioned disciplines to explore the common goal of robotics, intelligent machines and interactive physical devices yet to be imagined.

In addition to these primary uses, the studio will support “learn by doing” courses such as Co-Lab I, II, and III (IMS 228, 229, & 328), Introduction to Game Design (IMS 212), Introduction to Game Studies (IMS211), and Game Pre-production & Production (IMS 488/489).

How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project: A combined human robot interaction space and interactive electronics prototyping environment for games and interactive media students will be a unique lab/studio space in higher education. Equivalent spaces often exist in engineering colleges. However, the integration of human centered design, business, and technology that occurs within the IMS curriculum provides a unique and necessary approach to interactive prototyping activities. Experiences in the Experiential Technology & Design Studio will provide MIami graduates with a unique perspective for problem solving at the intersection of business, user experience, and digital technology.

How will you assess the success of the project: Assessment will be based on three measures reviewed on a semester by semester basis.

  1. Number of students enrolled in Experiential Technology & Design Studio based classes.
  2. Number of new devices / interfaces developed in the Experiential Technology & Design Studio.
  3. Number of courses utilizing the Experiential Technology & Design Studio.

Total Amount Requested: $20,500

Budget Details:

  • (6) Soldering Stations at $150 each = $900
  • (1) Othermill Desktop CNC Router at $3300 each = $3400
  • (30) Electronics Prototyping Kit at $160 each = $4800
  • (6) Storage carts at $400 each = $2400
  • (1) AST2 two material 3d Printer at $3000 each = $3000
  • (15) Heavy duty electronic production workbenches with power at $400 each = $6000

Totals = $20,500

In order to develop prototype arcade game interfaces or wearables, students need to be able to develop custom electronic assemblies. The CNC router supports the development of custom circuit boards. Secondly, the electronics prototyping kits include microcontrollers, sensors, lights, and motors for testing various hardware ideas quickly. Furthermore, the soldering stations and production workbenches support the assembly of electronic prototypes. The two material printer would supplement other 3d printing capabilities on campus and allows students to quickly iterate from digital design to physical prototype and test part assembly with the electronic components. The storage carts promote the safe and orderly storage of prototyping materials so that other other courses can utilize the studio space.

Is this a multi-year request: No

Please address how, if at all, this project impacts any of Miami's BCSAE, 2020, or divisional plans: Miami's BCSAE The Experiential Technology & Design Studio supports the mission of the proposed Center for Design Impact. Prototyping is one of the six main stages of design process. The ability to develop quick physical digital prototypes will provide the interdisciplinary project teams in the CDI with new resources for exploring problems.

Recruitment of High Performing Students Students of the future will want to work on the future. The combined introduction to the Experiential Technology & Design Studio and the newly developed RAD Lab will become a strong point for recruiting high performing students for CCA and across the university. The labs demonstrate the universities commitment to undergraduate education and the future directions of liberal education.