Deciphering Exhibit Experience

User Experience Research + Website

I evaluated 'How Efficient is Your Walk?' exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston as a part of the user interaction study for Space Robot project. This is a case study of how physical and digital interactions can be seamlessly integrated to create an enjoyable learning experience for everyone, regardless of age and physical abilities.

I interviewed the content developer and project manager of the exhibit to gain deep understanding of the creators' intent and the design processes. Based on my observations, user interviews, and personal experience, I then proposed how they might be able to encourage visitors to interact with each other and integrate learning within the natural flow of the experience.

2.744 Product Design | 2014

Observations and Proposed Redesign of the Exhibit

The exhibit is part of the Hall of Human Life exhibit and is surrounded by food-themed stations that answer questions such as what does 2,000 calories look like, how does food affect our gene expression, and where does our food come from. After discovering what 2,000 calories looks like measured in ceiling-high tubes of grapes, cupcakes, hot dogs, and carrots, visitors can walk down a 20-foot-long runway and find out how few calories (measured in number of grapes) they actually burn.

I learned from the designers that much user testing and thoughts went into positioning a uniquely kinesthetic experience within the entire Human Life exhibit. As the exhibit is very popular, the introduction video is intentionally kept over 30 seconds to discourages repetitive users from creating a long line. In addition, a wristband stores their walk score so that visitors can view their results at home and try out other exhibits if there are lines for results viewer kiosks. I especially appreciate how they used grapes as a unit of calories so young visitors and even adults can relate to the numerical results and evaluate their own eating habits and exercise levels.

My redesign improves what I saw - it integrates learning in the waiting process, improves circulation, and encourages visitor interaction.

(Un)expected use of the handrail
Accidental scanning - kids love scanning! It interferes with data collection though
People watch other people walk down the catwalk as they wait
Current design of the exhibit - the 'What revs your metabolic rate?' board blocks the view

Improved design proposal encourages visitors to interact with each other and integrates learning with the natural flow of the experience

The line of sight is improved and the hand rail is replaced with solid kiosk stands for safety. The previously awkwardly positioned 'What revs your metabolic rate?' board is moved and displayed on these kiosks so that people can learn about it while waiting in line. The narrower and directional entrance guides visitors to wrap around the exhibit, so they don't block other surrounding exhibits.

Website Development

I created a website to document the museum experience and proposed improvements. The goal of this website is to replicate the theme of fun learning experience and immerse users in the evaluation process of this exhibit design. The website centers around the image gallery to navigate users through my visit. Quotes are provided on the top of the page to help understand the creators' design intent. The website design was well-received for clarity and its narrative.