Interaction Lab is initiated and founded by Ubiquitous Interaction research group in 2014 for providing a space where novel interaction in between human, computer, and the physical environment can be developed and experimented.
Most of the time HCI experiments in early stages are required to be conducted in a controlled environment for scientific considerations. However, in the process of designing an experiment, a flexible setting is already demanded long before the experiment begins. Not to mention how different the experiments will be when designing for different research topics. The idea of constructing a lab for HCI research experiments emerges.
Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki has provided a 26.5-square meter room for this purpose. The lab is located in Kumpula campus Exactum C237. The room was emptied for us to construct a space with highest freedom also following interest from other research groups (Prof. Teemu Roos head of Information, Complexity and Learning research group).
So, how can we transform the empty space into an environment that breeds novel interaction? Several principles that we bear in mind when designing the space are:
1. Controlled but with high flexibility
The main purpose of building Interaction Lab is to provide a convenient environment for designing and setting up HCI experiments for studies. Since the research topics that we are conducting vary largely, the space should be very flexible for easy setting up while the environment is still well controlled.
2. Dedicated for experiment only
To distinguish it from ordinary office space where people sit all day and occupy the space with coffee cups and dried stains, the space is designed to be used for experiments only. No one should do the kind of work in the lab that could have been done in any other offices. There are no ordinary tables and chairs that normally sit in a specific corner and staying forever. This principle also complies with the first rule, which is to maximize its flexibility.
3. Encouraging discussion
When designing an experiment, even at the setup stage, people might encounter various issues and would need to pilot the study and refine the procedure. The lab should provide as well a space for encouraging discussion and facilitate decision-making.
Taken above principles into consideration, the design has gone through several iterations with valuable inputs from the lab’s potential users and our researchers. The space consists of three main areas. The main part of the lab is a free space with highly adjustable furniture and modular rack system. There are two tables and two chairs all with casters and, at the same time, are easily adjustable in all dimensions to comply with experiment requirements. On one side of the wall, the modular rack system allows researchers to mount equipment easily, while on the other side sits a plain wall which suits conditions where minimal visual interference is required as well as serving as the screen for projection. The entire space could be modified quickly to fit all sorts of experiment requirements.
At the other end of the space near the entrance, we’ve created a more casual corner to boost creativity. Facilitated with a large whiteboard, the corner is best for discussion or brain storming sessions. The lab also exhibits best papers and prototypes for reference next to the corner, which we believe that it would also inspire the discussion and designing of HCI studies.
Interaction Lab is now ready for HCI experiments and design explorations. Exhibitions on the latest research take place here frequently.
Last updated on 29 Jun 2016 by Khalil Klouche - Page created on 29 Jun 2016 by Khalil Klouche