So I went on a journey to find a narrative experience that I don’t like and redesign it to be more collaborative and interactive.

I thought about the things that I most love and the ones that are kind of sacred to me: reading a book, being at a play or listening to a talk at a conference. Then I thought about how could I redesign that experience to make it even better? And realized that I CAN’T. No technology is going to make it more immersive or better than simply sitting at a theatre or reading a good book (at least for me).

Some of my inspirations in enhancing reading and storytelling experiences are low tech:

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S by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst.
Kcymaerxthaere by Eames Demetrios
Kcymaerxthaere by Eames Demetrios

And then the question popped in my head:

What is wrong with the narrative experience?

The thing that unites being at a play, reading a book or sitting at a conference is that you have your individual connection to a stage and a person on that stage, but at the same time you also sit among many other people, so while it being your individual isolated experience, it’s collaborative as well.

How can I ENHANCE the collaborative experience sitting in a room among many people by not intruding the individual one?

That is the question that carried me to the following idea: when you get immersed in a talk or a play, you forget it’s a talk or a play, you feel part of it. It’s all in your brain. You can measure it.

So my idea in short is: enhancing a conference experience by better understanding your audience by tracking their neural response to the content and connecting alike minds during or after an event.

Looking at it through agile human-centric design principles it could look like it:

WHY: the challenge

How to enhance the conference / play experience, so “alone” experience stays alone but also collaborative? Also how to smartly use technology, so it helps but not distracts?

Also: in many cases of well-organized events, they are a lot about post-event interactions: how can you curate that?

WHO: the audience

The target group of people for this experience would be anybody going to a conference. It solves a problem how to find them. Good thing about conferences is that when attendees arrive (if you curate your audience well), they are eager to communicate with others, look for connections and possible follow up interactions. They come curious for ideas, knowledge, inspiration and motivation to carry on with things they do or want to do.

The best way to understand the audience through this experiment would be to understand their emotional connection to the content by measuring their brain waves.

THE CONCEPT / ELEVATOR PITCH

Speaker giving a talk is one to many experience. When listening to a talk, everybody has individual focus but if everyone (or majority) responds with the same emotions, you can feel the room light up or cry, or what not.

It’s already a collaborative experience: how can you enhance it and get more out of it by also not intruding the individual experience?

How can you make the collaborative experience more tangible?

This is where technology comes in… when you get immersed in a talk or experience, you forget it’s a talk, you feel part of it. It’s all in your brain and you can measure it!

Idea: use of sensors to find matching neural activity and use it for event or post-event interaction:

  • by connecting people with matching brainwaves patterns post event
  • or have them reseated by matching brainwave patterns at the conference

PROCESS

  1. Track brain patterns: using EEG to track key brain patterns and capture precise data. This could be done with a smaller selected group of people before the event (during rehearsals) to be able to distinguish key patterns
  2. Distant measurement through wearables and sensors for every single participant during the conference (so we don’t need to have 800 EEGs)
    • we would need a few matching data points to allocate every single individual in the room to the data patterns recorded earlier
  3. Design the experience according to the data that we receive

DEVICE

  1. Beacons to lock in data to specific location
  2. EEGs + sensors
  3. App to record data + communicate with attendees

Note: this should stay of low intrusion to attendees, i.e. they shouldn’t have to do anything with the app (press, etc.) to be able to fully focus on the content

Next steps would be: the MVP, Iterations, user tests and final implementation.

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