An Immersive Reading Experience

For our Interaction Design studio class at Carnegie Mellon University, my teammates, Lisa Otto and Saumya Kharbanda, and I were challenged to design, prototype, and demo an augmented reality (AR) experience within a 2-week timeframe. Together, we came up with a prototype exploring how AR could enhance the personal reading experience. I was primarily responsible for the physical prototyping, photography and demonstration of the project.  


Process

We built the idea of using AR and reading from Saumya's first project in the class. We all found the topic interesting and showed potential for interesting AR implications. At first we wanted to move forward with a digital reading experience, suggesting that readers read from projected or screen-based text. We began prototyping for this experience by utilizing the peppers ghost effect. I built a simple prototype for this using glass, wood and cardboard.

Thinking through the hardware required to create the Pepper's Ghost Illusion to prototype an augmented reality

Thinking through the hardware required to create the Pepper's Ghost Illusion to prototype an augmented reality

The Pepper's Ghost Effect can be seen here where light seems to be projected above the book. 

The Pepper's Ghost Effect can be seen here where light seems to be projected above the book. 

After experimenting with the peppers ghost effect and reading, we all agreed that the digital experience lacked the tactile pleasure of thumbing through a physical book, so we decided to include them in our design. As we started thinking about how AR could play a role in book reading, we were inspired by a clip from "The Fellowship of the Ring" where the environment visually changed as the intensity of the mood changed.

We were inspired by The Lord of the Rings and how a change in lighting, sound and volume can influence the mood of a story. 

 

We wanted to include this matching of visuals and mood during the AR reading experience. At this point, the screen and glass prototype became obsolete because we needed a way to visually alter a larger space. We began experimenting with projectors and how we could visually change an entire room, table, or space. We also thought about the story we could tell for the demo, the interactions that story may entail.

 

We also thought about how we could give the user control over the AR experience. Instead of resorting to buttons, which seem misplaced in a reading experience, we thought about how the user could engage in tactile interactions, such as wrapping up in a blanket, to adjust the intensity of the AR reading experience. We added the ability to pull passages from the book and set them aside for later.


After our two weeks were through, we demoed the concept to the class and got valuable feedback about the project. Our next steps would likely be to find a more universal way of controlling the experience since blankets do not always accompany readers. We also would need to consider how people would store and organize more than one passage. 

We used contrast in light color and intensity to visually support the mood of the contents in the book. Then we added sound to bolster the mood of the book even more. We experimented with tactile as well as digital interactions to help readers take control of their enhanced reading experience and collect memorable passages from the book.