Debut Interaction Design Course Takes Flight with Innovative Student Projects
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2011 by Clay Walsh
Students present their final projects in Timken Lecture Hall [photo: Alister Lee]
This spring marked the first course offering from the college’s newest Interaction Design Program—set to officially kick into gear on the San Francisco campus in the fall. "Introduction to Interaction Design," taught by Interaction Design chair Kristian Simsarian, filled to capacity within 48 hours of open registration. The course attracted a diverse array of students, whose backgrounds included graphic design, industrial design, photography, fashion, film, animation, and fine arts.
During the semester students redesigned BART kiosks, mobile apps, developed unique concepts for Zeum: San Francisco's Children's Museum, and created user-experience concepts for fictitious airlines for their final projects. To prepare for the end-of-term project, each student worked in a team of four students with a design coach from interaction design companies such as Method, Rypple, and IMVU to create their inspired air travel concepts.
From Chair Kristian Simsarian
Simsarian remarked, “I am incredibly impressed by the skills and aptitude of the students in this class. To echo a quote from coach Ben Fullerton, the new generation of students seems to have a natural ability to think across multiple touch points and design quality user experiences, and I’ll add this is a skill and privilege that has been hard won by the interaction design community at large."
Final Project: Redesigning Air Travel
The final project presentations were held on May 6 in Timken Lecture Hall on the San Francisco campus. For the "Re-Designing the Airline User Experience” presentation, four student teams displayed their projects before a panel of judges, who represented Smart Design, HOT Studio, Google, and IDEO.
Each of the four design teams was asked by a fictitious client, “Consolidated Air,” to redesign the user experience for the client’s oldest brands: FamilAir, HolidAir, 1DollAir, and LuxeLignes. The required project deliverables included a three-minute travel experience video, a physical touch-point prototype, and design specifications.
The new FamilAir concept was based on a family-style experience focused on groups traveling together, even when traveling on separate flights to the same destination. The booking experience included a user-friendly social poll to connect groups and facilitate the destination-planning process. For those who travel alone, social media concepts and seating would bring such persons together.
Students also designed custom-color RFID luggage tags intended to keep a group of travelers together as well as designed facing seats to create a special pod to share family-style meals, movies, or games, making traveling in groups lively and interactive—"like a living room in the sky."
Another design challenge focused on HolidAir, a holiday package-based airline whose goal is to make the flight itself a part of the overall travel experience. Students selected Peru as a destination example and designed destination-specific preparatory checklists to use while making reservations online.
Once at the airport, travelers can check in at a kiosk featuring a photo booth that offers a scenic background of the intended destination. (Imagine posing with a llama!).
Throughout the trip, by partnering with travel publisher Lonely Planet, the HolidAir system provides on-screen recommended attractions in Peru, a digital tour, and even an interactive food guide with Peruvian recipes and cooking videos! The onboard food was also destination specific, giving travelers a chance to acclimate to the culture during the flight.
On the return trip, travelers are rewarded with complimentary drinks for uploading travel photos and writing reviews, thus ensuring up-to-date reviews and information for the next travelers.
The 1DollAir team focused on rebranding the airline experience from inexpensive to adventurous and changing the name to 1$air. It featured specialized adventure packages for the budget-conscience, 20-something traveler in mind. When booking a flight, the more friends who join, the more you save (i.e., 10 percent discount per additional friend).
Designed for young travelers who use smart phones and tablets, the airline provides charging cradles and enables travelers to enjoy in-flight entertainment on their phone, while saving the airline money by not providing entertainment. Through proposed partnerships with Zipcar and Airbnb, travelers could assemble a custom-budget travel package for their destination.
Through the onboard service AirHive, travelers could ask other travelers questions, share media, and access profiles of those with whom they are traveling, staying, or wanted to meet.
The kiosk’s pay-by-weight luggage feature and other innovative services made a lasting impression with the audience and judges, who chimed in with pointed questions.
For the luxury business-class traveler, LuxeLignes provides a seamless traveling experience that competes with private jets. A special car picks up the traveler at home, who is greeted at the airport by a “Luxcort” with champagne in one hand and a personal digital tablet in the other.
LuxeLignes is an airline that takes care of passengers from start to finish, personal to professional—including a spa package with bath soaps and chocolates and networking opportunities via a “ProLUXEional” LinkedIn app that connects users with other professionals while in flight. Professionals can also avail themselves of an onboard bar and private conference spaces.
The Winning Presentation
Although all the student teams of CCA’s soon-to-launch Interaction Design Program were applauded for their unique airline projects that demonstrated strong innovation and creative technical design, 1DollAir impressed the judges the most.
Noted 1DollAir team member Max Ellinger: “The project was a great experience and contributed to my overall understanding of working successfully in teams. It was an amazing opportunity to work through the steps of human-centered design—the set of techniques and principles at the heart of the course—and come together with a talented group to make an exciting, cohesive presentation.”
Bo Brockman, the first student to officially declare Interaction Design as his major, was also on the winning team. When asked why Interaction Design, Bo responded, “Because this field has career opportunities. Someone will always be needed to help people interact with the growing avalanche of information now and in years to come. It fits nicely with my skill sets and the program focuses on teamwork-based education.” Read more from Bo Brockman »
In summarizing the experience, Simsarian is anything but vague: “This is a fantastic beginning to a vibrant, modern, and deep interaction curriculum.”
About the Interaction Design Program
CCA’s Interaction Design Program prepares students to create meaningful and innovative designed experiences in the realms of work, lifestyle, and play—from computers and mobile devices to interactive physical spaces, games, and social networks. Learn more, including how to apply.
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