Special Theory of Relativity

Educational Application

This interactive communication system gives students a hands-on introduction to Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. The tablet application has been designed as a companion to physics class in the upper school.

Defining the Users

Target Group & Context of Use

Due to the complexity of the topic we decided that highschool students between the ages of 15 and 18 would be the ideal target group. The Interactive Communication System (ICS) should be accompanying or complementary to physics lessons. Profiting from the school as a calm environment, in which the students can be supported by their teachers, when necessary.

Organizing the Content

Compiling of Contents

In order to determine the content, we conducted a broad research into the subject matter of the Special Theory of Relativity (SToR).

An in depth look

We divided the topics in such a way that each of us could devote ourselves to a small area of SToR and explore it in depth.

Information Architecture

In a card sorting process, we divided the most important aspects of the research results into thematically related groups and then put them into a hierarchical structure.

Evolving Understanding

In the course of the project, our understanding of the subject matter constantly expanded and manifested itself. This is why we had to make several content-related and logical corrections to the information architecture.

Creating the story

Communication Goal

Defining a communication goal enables the group to work together on a concrete course in terms of content, narrative and visual design. Throughout the process, we adjusted the communication goal and its focus several times as our  thematic understanding evolved.

Form of Narration 

Since the contents of the ICS partly build on each other and altogether form a learning process, a linear narrative form seemed to us to be the best way to achieve our communication goal.

Defining Didactics 

For each of our three chapters we defined a local communication goal and, based on this, formulated take-aways that divided the chapter into sections that were appropriate in terms of content and didactics.

Design Approaches 

Through a large number of sketches, we have translated the didactic concepts into visual variants. 

Selection of Exhibit Type

The initial concept of a physical exhibit that spatially separated the three chapters did not offer any didactic or informative added value. Taking into account the target group, the context of use, as well as the final communication goal, we finally decided on the tablet as the exhibit type.

Creating the UI

Arrangement of Content

The next step was to combine the compiled content and the narrative structure and translate them into a visual interface. We iteratively developed the layout in a total of seven versions. The feedback from small user tests was particularly valuable.

Navigation & Interactions 

In order for the user to fully concentrate on the complex content, he should not have to worry about the navigation and operation of the ICS. When creating the navigation and operating concept, we focused on intuitive interactions that our target group has already internalised as conventions. 

Clear colour coding helps to distinguish clearly between the elements of navigation and the interactive content.

Animations & Transitions

We also relied on common conventions for the animations and transitions, which also underline the hierarchy of our system in terms of content and narrative structure. This should help the user to develop an appropriate mental model.

Creating the Personality

Color & Personality

We derived the personality of the ICS from our theme and the selected target group. We translated a list of adjectives that describe the personality of the ICS into corresponding colours by associative assignment. 

Typography

Based on the defined personality, we have compiled a selection of fonts. In a comparative table, we examined them for different criteria. Inter fulfilled most of the requirements.

We adapted the selected font to the use cases in our system and documented the final parameters in a style guide.

Reflection

Valuable User Feedback

In the course of this project, I carried out user testing for the first time. I realised how valuable und essential user feedback is for the development of a well-functioning product.

Project

  • Interactive Communication System 1
  • Semester 2
  • HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

Duration

  • October 2019 - February 2020

My Contributions

  • Research & conceptualisation of chapter 3
  • Interaction & visual Design
  • Prototyping (Protopie)
  • Film shoot & edit

Supervision

  • Fabian Schröbel

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