Marriott Six Degrees
I worked on the MIT Mobile Experience Lab's team to help design/prototype a way to connect the growing tech savy audience within Marriott's hotel space. The goal was to provide ways to help connect busy, business driven, travel weary, users while avoiding any sort of matchmaking connotations.
After a series of ideation meetings, we settled on a touch table surface to let people to visualize their connections in the hotel lobby space. Creating visual, publicly acknowledgable links between people sitting at a table was a way to encourage serendipitous conversations without being forceful. The table would react with users' mobile devices placed on the table. Visualizations of connections like professions or hometowns between people at the table could be shown. I focused on wireframing the table and ensuring UI design and interactions were cohesive with the mobile application.
I did a number of sketches to quickly explore different approaches for the table. Connections between people are color coded. Tapping on a node shows a profile view with an algorithmically generated conversational paragraph about the person. Actions and information shown on the device instead of the table would remain relatively private due to screen glare and the user having control of the device.
In order to take advantage of the materiality of the table I proposed the use of a veneer to cover everything with semi transparent wood. To 'reveal' the interface, everything would be illuminated underneath the veneer everything except the dark spaces that made up the digital interface. This way, users would tap the unlit wood to interact with the table.
Having users interact with the material instead of the screen would reinforce the tactile quality of the wood. Additionally, the table would function completely normally when unlit. The team designed and built a simplified web-based screen visualization and an LED enabled table.
The prototype was tested at a Marriott lobby in December. Talking to people within the hotel space validated our hypothesises of users being mostly interested in the business side of the equation. We also learned that there was concern for what information was made publically available and how immediately connections were visualized between people sitting at a table.