UX Studio Practices | The UX of gravity

Brief 🔍

Design an artifact that expresses the experiential qualities of gravity.

Teammates: 🤝Masa, Hugh, Zoe and Chun

Research Methods 📚

We used the "Body Storming" and "Behavioural Mapping" methods to do our project. In the beginning, the relationship between gravity and time came up in our idea generation. We got to talk about how children experience time more slowly because of a. Relative age, and b. Faster heart rate. Gravity and time exist together, and we thought it would be important to give time just as much attention as gravity as a physical force, and the interplay of the two in a real-world, observable setting.

Moreover, after reading Abadie, Lloyd and Shelhamer's "The Human Body in Space", I understood more about "What happens to our body in space?". Researchers got a lot of data from Scott Kelly, who is the first American to spend nearly one year in space. They found out that his body has some changes when he went back to the earth, which is so different from the normal person. And the Gravity affected him his body. (Abadie, Lloyd and Shelhamer, 2019) If you are in space without gravity working on your body, your bones lose minerals, with density dropping at over 1% per month. By comparison, the rate of bone loss for elderly men and women on Earth is from 1% to 1.5% per year. (Abadie, Lloyd and Shelhamer, 2019) Therefore, I thought that will be interesting to do more research on human body and gravity. Then, we chose the park "St Mary's Churchyard" as an area of observation to start our project.

Map of St Mary's Churchyard

Photos of doing observation

The Behavioural Mapping

How we mapped the motion of people and what actions we saw (for each age group) 🤔

I mapped the younger age groups. I found out that they moved considerably quicker than the older. They also changed course often and were distracted easily.

Observing the behaviours of the approx. 10 year old boys AND girls, I saw that they spent only 10-20 seconds playing on one of the playground objects before switching to the next - on the slide -> on the merry go round -> back to the slide etc.

For the young adolescent group, we observed the behaviour of one boy AND girl. In terms of movement they covered a lot of ground in the park, but were less frantic - walking not running.

The middle aged group were noticeably more sedentary, and the 60+ group even more so. Both covering a lot less ground than the younger groups and ‘exploring’ less of the park.

Photos of producing the 3D map

Behavioural Mapping

3D Map

Our 3D map seeks to communicate three main focuses of our mapping stage, developed through further exploration into gravity and time and what we observed in the park. The first is the most straightforward - the age groups

The second is more abstract, that is that we built our map in five dimensions to contextualise the aspect of time.

Then the third is gravity and it’s relation to time, and in this context the experience of time for each age group.

Classmates were watching our map

Time Correlation

We found out that gravity slows down the relative time. Now as we know that time is the actual ageing factor, the person under lighter gravity than yours would experience time faster than yours. This will cause him age faster than you. And someone living under a stronger gravity than yours would age slower than you.

Therefore, we used objects with different mass to showcase the correlation between time and gravity. The fastest object represents the oldest people as they experience time the fastest and the lightest object is for children who experience time the slowest.

After doing the research, we drew as a result of the studied actions and how that will inform our project moving forward.

There is a double function of gravity in relation to time - it creates the time that we exist in and also physically ages us as we move along the timeline.

We saw that the younger you are, the less resistant you are to gravity, and it has less control over you in terms of your range of movement.

Photos of Preparation

Final outcome 🤞

During the final presentation, we started with "Physics 101" to explain our project findings.

Physics 101: The Post 👨‍🏫

Physics 101 poster

I designed the simple interactive poster. The poster you see is a 2D translation of the bodystorming we did. The black hole represents a very strong force of gravity, and the shapes are points in space.

Matter warps time as well as space, the closer you are to an object of large mass in space, the slower time passes, relatively speaking, this is known as gravitational time dilation.

So a minute here would be an hour here and a day here.

Final Presentation Photo

Gravity Bracelets: The Experience

Our experience seeks to make physical the notion of gravitational time dilation. Each bracelet represents a gravity strength, blue is 1G, red is 5G, yellow is 10G, and the white is 0G, using no bracelet as a base measurement.

The materials for experience

So we created the task for the volunteer. It is let them try to get to the prize (pineapple) with four different forces affecting their performance. As gravity increases, time runs more slowly. The bracelets with a higher gravitational force impede the user, meaning it takes longer for them to complete the task.

Photo during the experience

Under 0Gs, time runs very quickly, so the task can be completed rapidly, representing the speed of time. 10G is the highest, and it takes the participant longest to get their hand through the tunnel, representing the slowest passage of time.

Project feedback & Reflection

We received some valuable feedback from our classmates. They like the interactive map we did. However, for the gravity experience, they suggest us setting 3 boxes and creating a few more sets of bracelets so that more people can do it together. And, we can see their reaction more easily. They also suggest us to increase the difficulty of getting the prize in order to present the gravity effect. I thought all of them are useful comments. It would be great if we can improve them and consider more details.

References 📖 Abadie, L., Lloyd, C. and Shelhamer, M. (2019). The Human Body in Space. [online] NASA. Available at: https://www.nasa.gov/hrp/bodyinspace [Accessed 25 Oct. 2019].

Smetacek, V. (2002). Balance. Reino Unido: Nature Publishing Group, p.481.

Kiefer, C. (2011). Time in Quantum Gravity. The Oxford handbook of philosophy of time.

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