SYNLAB: Active Pathways
Using active tangibles and interactive tabletops for collaborative modeling in systems biology
Active Pathways is a tangible tool that enables the collaborative practice of discovery and learning among novices in biochemical modeling. The project was integrated into the environment of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Georgia Tech, where the use of models combines learning with scientific discovery. We built on ethnographic research of the practice and problems in systems biology labs, where novice graduate students try to master a new area and immediately put their knowledge into practice to solve real problems. Using participatory and user-centered design methods, we designed, developed, and evaluated tangible/embodied interactions that can facilitate collaborative modeling of biochemical processes by novice researchers. Our process engaged students from systems biology research labs and introductory modeling courses. Our longer-term goal was to apply the research outcomes and use the tangible system in research and education in biomedical engineering at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
Contribution and Role
As a designer on the team, my role was to define multi-device interactions, task flows and interface design for the table-top and active tokens/tangibles.
Interaction Design: Designing Interactions for different devices used as active tokens (Sifteos, Smart watch) and fitting interface on tablet (Touch-based Information Visualization).
Interface Design: UI for active token screens (Sifteos, Smart watch) and fitting interface on Tablet.
Interactions and UI design for Sifteo Cubes as active tokens
Sifteo Cubes are interactive gaming platform developed by Sifteo. They offer some interesting interactions like shake, tilt and proximity. Using the interactions supported by Sifteos, tasks were designed for the Pathways like making a molecule/enzyme, making a reaction, changing concentration and running simulations.
Interactions and UI design for Smartwatches as active tokens
Pathways tabletop system was updated and Sifteo application was migrated onto android smart watch. The watch panel was mounted on a wooden assembly and used as active tokens. Following interactions and screens were designed for the system.
Interactions and UI design for pressure-based fitting interface for tablets
The tabletop system was extended by a tablet handheld extension to be used as the fitting interface. THis is to make it easy to understand and model the desirable fit while making the system more portable. The interface is novel and supports 5-finger pressure based interactions. Some of the earlier screens and interactions are shown here.