Working prototypes

Testing low resolution working prototypes with the user group at the ISM.

We have developed two low resolution working prototypes based on the feedback at the last user testing session. This session was useful to test some working elements and understand how a cultural institution like the ISM would use the objects.


Storyteller is designed to tell short focussed stories about historical artefacts to secondary school students through multiple media. In this case the story is about Slavery and Archaeology.



The low resolution prototype was deliberately formless, a simple cube with slots cut for the media to emerge and a fake speaker grill on the front. We also tested some initial design ideas involving separating the output elements with separate parts for images, text and audio.


One definite conclusion was that part of the appeal of the device was not knowing what type of media the next fragment would be - they really liked the unknown element of delivery, so this is crucial to take forward.


Other key comments from the testing were:


“I like the way you have to come to your own conclusions from a variety of sources”


“Humanises the process by slowing it down and allowing time to think on each element”


“Great for groups to work on separate chapters or sections of same story”



Historical Commentator creates a two way dialogue between groups of school pupils and the education teams in cultural institutions. Students can listen to expert interpretation of the artefacts and can record their own thoughts into the device to become part of the conversation.


Again, the low resolution prototype was deliberately formless, we used this session to get guidance on the interactions and the proposition rather than the form. A key consideration when developing this route was that the more elements we had to add to the physical user interface, the more complex the interactions became.



It was felt that the immediacy of recording the comment and hearing it on the database was important, and that the reflection / comments carried more weight when you knew that it was being listened to by museum staff. But this could also become a burden on resource for the ISM, as a degree of moderation would be required for such a sensitive subject.


Other key findings from the session were:


“It lets you assemble a mini museum of your own”


“Two way publishing is great, but could be a demand on resource for moderation”


“This forces users to think and reflect”


“What is the prompt question for each artefact?”


From the session it was clear that Storyteller had potential for development and was more interesting in terms of how the content is brought to life, and also allowed greater potential for reflection on the content.


We began thinking about the two routes being combined rather than being seen as separate and whether we could incorporate an element of two way communication into the storyteller route. We have decided to take Storyteller forward to develop and look to incorporate a two way element in a second design phase.  


Crucially the storyteller direction also lends itself to becoming a platform rather than a product. It could scale to become a physical content delivery platform from a variety of different cultural institutions.