Academic Industry Project | 8 Weeks | Spring 2022
My Role: UX & UI Design
A Physical wallet to use during & after the visit to Meow Wolf's Convergence Station that embraces the experience with its customizable, interactive functions and allows users to solve puzzles that unlock interactive AR-features in the app.
Meow Wolf's Convergence Station is an immersive art exhibit that transports people into a new world through art, exploration, and play. Users work to solve the mysterious story by searching for clues and interacting with the exhibit. The Convergence Station is home to four alien worlds that joined in a rare cosmic event. This event caused memories to become very valuable and the new form of currency.
Visitors tend to only scratch the surface of the exhibit's narrative by physically being there. However, there are a lot of possibilities for extending the narrative after they complete their visit by tying their purchases from the gift shop to extended/alternative storylines.
During our research, we discovered that Meow Wolf has an extremely wide demographic of users. People travel to the exhibit from all different ages and backgrounds. However, one thing we did find in common is the fan's love for puzzles. Many hard-core Meow Wolf lovers are still trying to solve the story, even after multiple visits to Convergence Station. Additionally, We discovered that this is something that also frustrates first-time visitors. Therefore, our team needed to find a way for users to collect clues and continue solving the story outside the exhibit.
create a user experience that allows users to relive their memories of the visit and discover more engaging and puzzling content?
What is our solution?
Based on our research, we conceptualized an interactive wallet that can be purchased before, during, or after the Meow Wolf experience. This wallet not only provides many great benefits for the visitors during the experience, such as collecting clues, scanning QR codes, and writing down notes, but it will also allow the visitors to enter the multiverse and continue their journey after the physical experience through the app provided with their wallet.
The app contains many great features, such as allowing visitors to capture AR creatures with their camera lens during the exhibit. However, many creatures can only be visible if the user solves a puzzle sent from the app by moving adjustable pieces on the wallet into the correct position. Additionally, inside the app, visitors can view their collected memories from the exhibit, interact, explore, and relive their Meow wolf experience.
- The key to your memories.
“I mean, it's literally madness from a design perspective, but the fan bases are super loyal and super into what meow wolf is all about. . . . . The intention of the physical products is to perpetuate & reflect on the experience someone just had the Meow Wolf's Conversion Station.”
- Patrick Marsden
MaCher: Strategic Innovation & Design
MaCher: Growth & Strategy
Meow Wolf: EVP Merchandise
MaCher has not worked with much digital interaction in the past but is interested in entering the field of digital product design & sees the need for that in the future.
MaCher and Meow Wolf are B-certified companies, which means sustainable and reusable materials and consumer education are priorities.
The project constraints are loose, and this brief is deliberately wide open.
We started the project with primary research, which involved an interview with the stakeholders involved in the project.
Now that we understand the client base, we conducted secondary research. Looked into other museums, theamparks, and immersive experiences to discover ways they had to utilize technology to create a better experience for their visitors.
We found that AR is used by many museums and has resulted in a great way to enhance the experience, add value & attract new visitors.
Increase digital interaction
Experience should be accessible from home
Integrating fan’s love of puzzles
Based on our conducted research, we started to sketch out ideas for our concept.
These sketches were built upon the idea of extending the Meow Wolf experience the visitors would have at Converger Station and creating an ability to re-live it at home, focusing on interactive and immersive elements.
In this digital easter egg hunt, users would be able to care for a digital fish tank while searching for hidden items in the exhibit and then play with those collected items after the experience.
Sketches | Natsumi Takagi
A personalized passport that would open the door to the Meow Wolf universe. The Passport would connect to a phone app where users can watch memories they collected during the experience.
Sketches | Audra Walker
Dave's sketches reflected a collection of interactive products inspired by things in the exhibit that would serve as an additional function, such as light, alarm clock & music.
Sketches | Dave Giammarco
Focused on sustainability, the Injection Station would allow users to bring their plastic bottles to a machine that could melt them into a mold that forms a keychain. That keychain can be used as a visitor’s QPASS and connects to a character on a mobile app.
Sketches | Andres Munoz
We decided to move forward with
Audra's concept of a Passport as the physical product, and use ideas from the sketches for the digital aspect, such as the AR experience, Natsumi's idea of collecting things during the exhibit, and Andres's alternative to the QPASS that can be tapped at Memports.
User Journey Map
Now that we had decided on our direction, we created a user journey map to better grasp the experience from the user's perspective. Furthermore, discover potential pain points that we could turn into opportunities.
User Journey Map | Audra Walker
We created a sitemap for the architectural structure of the app, including all its features. We also did a flowchart of a scenario where the user would create an account and use the AR feature. This allowed us to quickly ideate our onboarding process and understand the steps our users would need to take before we would sketch out wireframes.
Flowchart | Dave Giammarco & Natsumi Takagi
We decided to expand on the passport idea by designing a puzzle box that users must solve to obtain their passport, giving them access to the app to watch their collected memories.
Sketches | Audra Walker
After feedback from Ben and Patrick, we realized that this concept was not reusable and sustainable, and there was an opportunity to adapt the physical aspects into a more everyday usable item.
This led us to our idea of a Travel Wallet to use during the exhibit as a place to store notes and tap at MemPorts to save the memories and clues. The wallet would also be helpful after the exhibit and provide a creative and expressive touch.
By purchasing the wallet, the user would gain access to the digital world where they could continue exploring the mysteries of Meow Wolf.
Sketches | Dave Giammarco
WHY A WALLET?
Wallets are artifacts that can tell so much about a person. They are not only functional but a personal statement and part of our identity.
Wallets are sentimental and emotional for many. People attach memories to wallets.
In almost any major art museum, you'll find wallets in the gift shop because people want to take something home from the experience they can actually use.
Connecting the Physical & Digital
Now that we decided on the physical appearance of our product, we needed to find a way to tie it to our digital component naturally- the app.
Based on feedback from our professor, we explored the option of adding another layer of functionality to the customizable pieces that come with the wallet. Therefore, we brainstormed ideas of the pieces that could be moved around to create an interactive experience within the app.
We wanted to re-establish the puzzle aspect we discovered in our research to be desirable for the visitors. Users could solve puzzles and unlock features and clues by decoding messages in the app on how to move their wallet pieces correctly.
Sketches | Audra Walker
To understand how we could create the wallet, we made an exploded view of all the pieces and layers that would make it up – An embedded circuit board, an RFID shield to protect user's data, and the inner liner and card holder for the notebook and user's cards.
Exploded View | Dave Giammarco
Using the sketches, we began creating our prototype. We wanted the wallet to have the same feeling as the Meow Wolf exhibit, creative, otherworldly, and capitative. We brought random artifacts together to make the outside of the wallet textured, like an art piece.
Physical Prototype | Julia Wetterdal, Audra Walker & Natsumi Takagi
Budget & Cost
We researched material, labor, and manufacturing costs for the physical and digital prototype. Unfortunately, we were unable to get quotes due to the time frame on this project. Therefore, these numbers are estimates based on research.
BOM | Andres
Now, it was time to create the wireframes for the digital side of our concept, the app, to get an idea of the desired layout and interaction patterns. We focused on four main features that included usability during and after the exhibit.
Wireframes | Team effort
We tested our wireframes on our peers and this were our key takeaways:
The forum and photo filter feature were unnecessary & “would get old fast”.
The AR feature should have a tutorial.
The buttons aren’t intuitive.
The memory vault was the most loved feature.
AR feature to collect creatures.
Photo feature to take pictures on with Meow Wolf filters.
Memory vault to collect & re-watch memories
Forum feature where users can connect. Post or read theories & finding from other people on the app.
To get an idea of how an interaction might play out between the user and our app, we created our prototype based on an experience a user would possibly have when pushing the wallet and using our product in the exhibit.
After purchasing the wallet, the user would now get access to a personal ID that would be used to set up a profile in the app. This way, everything scanned with the wallet during the exhibit would now be stored in that account.
When arriving at the exhibit, a prompt on the screen asks if they want to keep the interactive puzzle on. If the user chooses to do so, notifications may appear asking to move the customizable objects around on the wallet to decode the messages.
The AR feature allows the user to spot creatures within the exhibit not visible to the human eye. Through this lens, the user can discover, learn fun facts about and collect these creatures in their personal collection.
After the exhibit, the user can access and rewatch the memories collected at the Memports through the Memory Vault feature. Providing the ability to search for clues and hidden messages they may have missed the first time around.
Digital Prototype | Team Effort
Once the account is created, the user can now explore the app. Q-DOT history is a feature that provides some background information about the Convergence Station to prepare the user for their visit.
3D rendering | Natsumi Takagi
We received a lot of positive feedback from the stakeholders. They really liked the concept of the wallet and appreciated the reusability of that kind of product. Their research also found puzzles to be one of the top-selling products right now, so they liked that it was integrated into our product. MaCher suggested the idea of having the ability to purchase the wallet before the visit and shipped along with the tickets, which opens up many opportunities for users to learn more about Meow Wolf, its background, what users will experience when they go, and how to use the app before they go.
Meow Wolf brought up a great point about accessibility and that the app must be available for everyone, not just visitors that buy the wallet, since it still has a lot of great content and features to take advantage of, such as the AR experience and memory vault.
Meow Wolf's Convergence Station, located in Denver, is an immersive art exhibit that transports people into a new world through art, exploration, and play. Users work to solve the mysterious story by searching for clues and interacting with the exhibit. Visitors tend to only scratch the surface of the exhibit's narrative by physically being there. However, there are a lot of possibilities for extending the narrative after they complete their visit by tying their purchases from the gift shop to extended/alternative storylines.
During the research phase of this project, we discovered that Meow Wolf has an extremely wide demographic of users. People travel to the exhibit from all different ages and backgrounds. However, one thing we did find in common is the fan's love for puzzles. Many hard-core Meow Wolf lovers are still trying to solve the story, even after multiple visits to Convergence Station. Additionally, We discovered that this is something that also frustrates first-time visitors. Therefore, our team needed to find a way for users to collect clues and continue solving the story outside the exhibit.
In this academic industry project, SMC IxD were asked to find a solution to bridge the physical world with the digital and extend the experience at the Meow Wolf art exhibit.
However, the pain point we found was that most people did not understand the story or focused too much on trying to solve it, so they missed out on the whole experience.
Meow Wolf has a broad fan base with a good mix of ages and interests. Therefore, to understand their needs and wants, we research online communities such as FaceBook groups, reedit, discord, and youtube channels.
In the future, I would like to explore some identified opportunities for the wallet:
The interactive and movable pieces on the wallet could be powered, making the parts light up, move around and make sounds.
The AR-creatures could be brought into the world outside the exhibit, making the Meow Wolf universe more accessible and allowing for a more lasting experience.
Lastly, we found multiple options for materials that could work for the wallet, such as conductive velcro and magnetic circuit board pieces.
I had a great experience doing this project, and working with a great team of very talented designers, each with their unique skill set, made the process flow very well and always enjoyable.