Touch Table Project: Insights from Wesley Hsu

UCSD PRIME students Lance Castillo and Wesley Hsu spent the summer in Japan designing and implementing an interactive touch table featuring MOPA's hand selected photography collection.  The touch table, My Gallery 対話型  (Interactive), premiered in Osaka, Japan at the Knowledge Capital Trial Event. The students worked with three partners: MOPA, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), and the Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experience (PRIME) program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).  See my blog post from September 14th for more information about our collaboration and the project.

Wesley Hsu took a moment to share his experience with MOPA.

Hello there.  I’m Wesley Hsu, and I was primarily responsible for working on the design and interactivity of the interface. My major at UCSD is Cognitive Science with an emphasis in Human-Computer Interaction. 

The most challenging part of this project was the scale of it.  Never had I worked on a project of this scale, and nor had I ever had this much control and responsibility over an entire project.  Initially, this was a very daunting task.  However, this ended up becoming one of the most enjoyable parts of the project as well.  I was able to come up with design ideas and ‘call the shots’ on the interface’s design, then immediately implement these ideas.  Being able to collaborate with an international committee, and then present our work alongside industry leaders and important figures in the technology field at the exhibition was an honor and extremely rewarding.

Working with partners at three different locations was certainly tricky. We would set up teleconference meetings using Webex, which was very useful, because each person could simply connect to the meeting with their own computer. Because of the time difference, it would be daytime in one place, and nighttime in another.  Needless to say, there were many meetings where we would be wearing our pajamas while speaking to our mentors!

The living situation in Japan was a rural setting, our apartment surrounded by rice paddies and a few clusters of houses.  It was very isolated and full of natural beauty. It made for a mild introduction to Japanese culture.

Picking a favorite food in Japan is really tough! My impression is that Japanese cuisine is very intricate.  The flavors tend to be simple, specific, and delicate. The specialty of the Kansai region is takoyaki and okonomiyaki. I think the sheer frequency and variety of the teppanyaki-style shops in the region would have to make it one of my favorites.  They were absolutely exquisite!

I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for the work involved in designing a good exhibit.  Interactive technology will only become more pervasive in museum environments just as in many other realms.  Particularly during user tests, it was always very fascinating to see users perform actions that we as developers had not foreseen.  It challenged our assumptions about users prior to user tests. While visiting museums during weekend trips in Japan, I encountered many interactive exhibits.  I felt like I could see the interface of these museum exhibits from a different perspective.  I can appreciate the amount of work involved in building museum exhibits.

For now, enjoy the photos and video and get a sneak peak of what will be coming to MOPA soon!