Making the Digital Physical - CX Lab

On the 10th of December we held the first workshop relating to the topic of ‘Making the Digital Physical’ at the Lowry centre at Media City in Salford.

Despite travel problems, and the usual prevalence of flu at this time of year, we had a great range of attendees from around the UK.  As a key element of this topic is moving beyond the perception that the digital public space will be dominated by screens (producing a predominantly visual experience) to one that includes more physically engaging all our senses, we were conscious that we needed to provide a workshop that brought this to the fore.

Although the structure of the day followed similar lines to the first workshop, the activities were designed promote the theme. Prior to the event we asked participants to bring along an object they considered represented Making the Digital Physical. This produced quite an eclectic mix including a train ticket, 3D printed objects, Clay Men, and even an onion. Whilst the objects themselves were interesting it was the explanations people gave for their choices that started to shape the day in that it gave us our first real glimpse of how the topic was perceived by the larger CX community.

This activity was then followed by a talk-come-‘show and tell’ by Paul Coulton presenting a range of projects such as Skylanders from Activision , Makies from MakieLab, and Necomimi Brain Controlled Cat ears to further explore the exciting possibilities for projects this topic provides. This again helped stimulate interesting discussions. The next activity saw participants split into groups to explore the opportunities of this topic in relation to the digital public space and its themes. These opportunities were clustered and participants then indicated which areas they would like to explore further after lunch.

The remainder of the day was then spent by these new groups physically prototyping objects that could ultimately become creative exchange projects for this topic. Physical prototyping was chosen in preference to other brainstorming techniques as it allowed a more physical exploration of what is a physical topic. Armed with plasticine, cardboard boxes, pipe cleaners, balloons, stickers, and a range of other materials, the participants started to create some very imaginative and exciting prototypes many of which are now being worked into formal project proposals. Overall the workshop has produced some really innovative ideas and we can't wait to turn some of these concept prototypes into functional prototypes.