Virtual Browsing Experience

For this project, we worked with the new Hunt Library on Centennial Campus at NC State. We worked in pairs to create interactive touch points for the library’s MicroTile screens. These screens were located in various areas within the library. My partner and I chose the Immersion Theater, this was a room with a curved MicroTile wall that was located off of the main atrium. The MicroTiles did not have touch capabilities, and instead utilized a touch AMX Tablet to interact with the screen.

Like the name suggests, we wanted to create an immersive experience. The Hunt Library is going to have most of its collection secured in a vault where book are retrieved by a BookBot upon request. Because of the lack of physical library shelf browsing, we decided to tackle the problem of virtual library browsing. Because of the virtual nature of the library, we wanted to create a very tactile connection and a solution that would enhance the experience of book browsing, not just mimic it.

Our solution was a system of Micro-Environments. The user would use the AMX tablet as simply a track pad to navigate the MicroTile screen. The way the Micro-Environments worked is that the user would search for a topic or subject matter it would take them to an image of a place on campus where that topic takes place. In our project this was the weaving lab. Within the environments, there are annotated objects that represent sub topics within the larger scope. You can zoom in and out of the space, drag and drop multiple topics into a box to view more than one at once, and filter out searches within the environment itself. This solution was used to create a system of associative browsing that also would broaden the users view of not only where the topic takes place, but also where they take place at the university. All of the environments would be located on campus in order to create a relationship between the library and the university.The subjects/topics are organized in pools that take you to one over arching topic. So, if you searched weaving, textile technology, or history of weaving, it would all take you to the same environment. This form of associative browsing is an attempt to expose you to topics you may not have seen before, like spontaneous browsing.

When the user requests books, the personal information stays only viewable on the tablet. This creates a sense of private vs. public information. So other visitors can stop and see what you’re doing, but won’t find out your student ID number or which library you want it sent to.