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06 Evaluation (Lonely in the crowd)


User Testing

After developing an alpha version of the program, I set up a test to see how people would react and respond to the installation so far. This was an important step for the further development of the program and the whole concept itself.


The aim was to look at the individual movement of the participants and try to interpret what they are expecting from swarms to do. It should give me more ideas of what could be implemented into the project and what maybe doesn’t work at all.


Apart from the fact that the testing did not take place in a public, urban and crowded area, the setup was quite real already. I used all the equipment I will be using in the installation as well. The wall wasn’t painted, the camera on the floor instead of the ceiling, the projector a little too far away from the wall and of course the program wasn’t finished at all. But everything was good enough to make a first test. The program created a swarm of particles for every user in a random color. The particles responded to the users distance by adjusting the transparency. They started to look at each other and moved towards the partner particle. And as soon as they collided they disappeared with a nervous random movement. The sound for creation of new particles and the collisions where implemented as well. I invited participants in different group sizes, ranging from one to four persons. The age of the people was between 20 and 30. In order not to influence the behaviour of the participants I did not introduce my project in advance. This was necessary to capture a more natural and real behaviour. All I did was press the record button on the camera and tell them to step forward.


The first thing I discovered is that I need to limit the amount of active swarms to two. With the space available at the exhibition people would not understand the interactions between swarms if there was too much happening at the same time. Even if it was just test sound samples I implemented, it worked quite well. People understood the growing and colliding of the particles much better. So the further development of the sound scape is an important part for the success of the project. The most important finding was that there have to be many more visible reactions of the swarm to the individual movement of the users. People get disappointed if the swarm does not react to their movement in a more or less natural way. If all the jumping, waving and ducking is ignored, people will walk away after a short time. So I need to implement touching, waving and the change of size in some way.