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Although the museum has only been open for a couple of months, that diversification is already happening. People are making their way here as a destination, and we have got buildings and an estate that are worthy of coming to see. The majority of what we show is contemporary. But, we do have in our collections amazing designs through the years. That strand barely existed in the old museum. You stand in front of it and wear different clothes through the ages.

And, you find out that what you thought was up-to-date is connected to something everyone was wearing in the 60s. Families is another group that the old site failed to cater for effectively. The new location with its parkland setting immediately makes it more child-friendly.

Ahead of its time, it seemed out of step with the old site which was being run down in preparation for the move. Not anymore. We have a huge overseas visitorship. To achieve this, Gibbons relies on his permanent team and an army of highly-trained volunteers. Again, since the move, he has seen a complete change in the age of those offering their services. We got a lot of students who were studying design, who wanted to become curators and who were very knowledgeable.

Almost the opposite is true here. Those really big changes are exactly what we moved for. Gibbons says providing sufficient visitor engagement without compromising safety and security is a balancing act. More specifically:.

Museums beyond Meatspace / Visitor Experience with Augmented Reality in a Museum Exhibit Setting

Customisation defines alternatives in content, devices etc. For content customisation, which options are available is decided in advance by CHPs that prepare a rich information space within which visitors can shape their personal visit on the bases of their motivations and expectations, their personal interests, preferences, background or time constrains. An example of customisation in the Atlantic Wall exhibition is the choice between the German soldier, the Dutch civilian or the Civil servant.

Customisation can affect the content received as for the Atlantic Wall or the type of device used that delivers the same content an interactive book or an interactive belt, Petrelli et al. To implement customisation the underlying formalism must allow: 1 the specification of the alternatives and 2 the declaration of how the alternatives combine and what the outcome is. In the Atlantic Wall example, three themes and two languages are available for the visitor to choose from and the language-theme combinations are available at each point of interest: the system recognises the point of interest the visitors are currently at and the smart replica they are using, which maps their preferred theme and language.

Context - awareness is the automatic ability of the system to sense the state of the interaction and to respond accordingly. A system that senses the presence of the visitor or the position of the objects and activates or stops the play of content at appropriate time shows context-awareness that combines the physical and the digital. The implementation of context-awareness requires: 1 a mapping between the contextual features monitored by the system, the devices sensing them and the types of possible events generated by the sensors and 2 if—then—else rules that check the current sensed context and fire the corresponding system behaviour.

If—then—else rules monitor the events that may determine the play and stop of the content according to what is sensed by the devices and update a representation of the context accordingly. Adaptivity is the more sophisticated form of personalisation; it requires the dynamic modelling of the ongoing interaction and the dynamic changing of the system behaviour to adapt to the changing situation. Examples of adaptivity include the use of the history of the actions and contents consumed by a visitor to derive presumed interest to select additional content or to dynamically generate summaries of the visit Not et al.

Adaptivity requires more complex behaviour rules. In the Atlantic Wall exhibition, adaptivity rules use the visiting history content start and stop, sequence and length of interactions to generate a personalised postcard and an online personal page with a visit summary and multiple activities based on this model Petrelli et al. In a different scenario that was implemented with similar hardware interactive stations with an NFC reader and three buttons adaptivity rules were used to implement a personalised quiz on natural history topics: thematic cards placed on the interactive station represent multiple-answer questions to which users can reply via buttons.

Users responding incorrectly to many questions are modelled by the system as less proficient and are presented with optional review information to reinforce learning. With meSch we aimed at delivering a flexible system able to handle all possible combinations of these three personalisation forms leaving the author in control of which combination is more suitable when. To achieve this vision, we first had to devise a formalism that was both powerful and flexible to model combinations of personalisation forms described below in 4. The Experience Schema 11 formalism has four components: 1 the narrative : a set of curated digital content items, annotated with semantic dimensions that express the context in which they can be used, i.

This deconstruction of the interactive experience into components is motivated by several needs. A more abstract interaction the appliance could be easier for the CPHs to grasp without the need to understand the many technical components needed the hardware devices. We will now explain in more detail the meaning of the different parts of the Experience Schema. The set of dimensions depends on the communicative goals of the CHPs, for example to offer different content to different visitors groups, to serve an international audience, or to map specific content to artefacts or locations in the museum.

The formal representation of the narrative for the Atlantic Wall experience. This narrative structures content into multiple layers of information. Three semantic dimensions are used: for each point of interest corresponding to a multimedia interactive case 10 values , alternative content is prepared for each of theme 3 values and for each output language 2 values , for a total of 60 content items.

Other types of events in the catalogue E that we used are: proximity , the event that detects the presence of a person or a device within a specified distance from a centre; identification , the recognition of a certain object for example via visual markers ; choice , the display of a preference for example via button pressing.

This information is useful to perform consistency checks that ensure the prepared content matches the presentation abilities of the appliance. For example, the proximity event has distance range as parameter that controls when the user reaches a significant position. The formal representation of the appliance for the Atlantic Wall experience.

This appliance senses when users put down and take away objects at certain locations: these actions generate information about the point of interest associated to the location and the theme and language preference of the user. The system is capable of playing and stopping content and printing a summary of the visit.

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The formal representation of the device for the Atlantic Wall experience. Six different NFC tags are used to identify the objects that may be carried by users and each interactive station is equipped with an NFC reader. The mapping prescribes how the NFC tags are associated to the possible thematic and language choice made by the users and which NFC reader identifies which point of interest. The formal representation of the interaction script for the Atlantic Wall experience. The rules prescribe that when visitors place an object over an interactive station, the content item associated to the current point of interest, theme and language is played.

When the object is removed, the playing of the content stops. When the object is placed over the check-out station, the printing of a visit summary is activated. The formalism for the Experience Schema is open and flexible: it does not prescribe the type of personalisation, visitors type, heritage or devices to include.

It is the author who decides which semantic dimensions capture the case at hand, who defines the personalisation expressivity and makes an experience schema specific for their heritage, hardware configuration, or visitor profile e. By isolating the narrative, the schema enables the curators to focus on the quality of the content and its annotation, deferring the editing of the rules or the hardware settings to another stage possibly managed by other people.

Similarly, the declarations in the appliance specify the type of interactions and behaviour independently from the actual hardware details and the low level sensor logs, thus enabling experimentation with different technological solutions. At the entrance the visitor would receive a brooch embedding a Bluetooth beacon associated with their preferred language; in addition to the NFC-reader, the interactive case should be equipped with a Bluetooth detector to set the current language by proximity.

The part of the experience schema that needs change is the description of the device and the library of code that implements the low level management of sensors.

The “Before” Experience

More in general, the modularity of the experience schema formalism facilitates the reuse and repurpose of or parts of already deployed experiences. Multiple experience schemas can be composed by merging their elements to create more complex interactive experiences, for example to deploy interactive cases, audio narrations activated by proximity and post-visit souvenirs in one digitally augmented visit.

The modularity of the schema formalism facilitates the recombination of schema elements to create new experiences. Each row in the table shows the elements of sample experiences that were deployed in meSch. In - depth content discovery The multilayer content structure above is enriched with additional content items that provide further information to deepen the discourse in certain contextual conditions.

For each point of interest, one content item maps the question and another maps the answer, e. Whether the two items are presented together or in automatic sequence or after a user action e. The third content element is optional and describes one of the stories played onsite that may be included in longer visit summaries.

The script prescribes that when visitors place an object over an interactive station, the content item associated to the current point of interest, theme and language is played. A history of the interaction is maintained so that when a visitor comes to the same point of interest a second time, a content item providing further details is presented. When an event is detected and a certain point of interest has been identified, a feedback content on the reached location is played. More information is shown up on user request. The system then shows the next point of interest in the trail.

Different content nodes are selected and properly ordered according to the interaction history and interest of the user. The team involved in the design and installation of exhibitions is not homogeneous ; members have different backgrounds and belong to different institutions; each member has a specific expertise, role and set of skills; even the less technical members of the team are willing to use a digital tool if this is designed to match their expertise and role and requires limited learning.

The expertise split is between content curators and communicators and interaction designers and makers. We therefore defined a formalism that distinguishes the creation of the content the narrative and the related semantic dimensions from the interactive installation the appliance, the devices and the interaction script.

The tangible and embodied experiences should invite the visitors to be active manipulating, moving , take decisions and do things. The content should be thought provoking; the narratives structure should be multi-layered and flexible as the stories can be related to objects on display but also to abstract themes or targeted to certain visitor types, e. The technology has to be thought of at the same time as the experience is being designed, as it affects the visit. This calls for a very flexible tool where every installation can be designed independently to respond to specific needs.

The formalism allowed us to implement an open system where it is the user who decides which semantic dimensions are meaningful for the case in hand. This gives compete freedom to the team to design the most suitable experience for their specific heritage and visitor group s. The creation process alternates online and offline, individual and teamwork activities. The authoring environment should accommodate as much as possible the way the specific team works, different expertise and roles; it should leave the curatorial team in full control of the content.

It should allow them to reuse and repurpose the elements from past exhibitions such as content, hardware and interactions. It should allow testing and fast prototyping well before installation and continuous updates after it. The elements in the formalism enable the reuse of each component independently as well as fast prototyping. The catalogue of installations magazine of recipes left and the information page of a simple recipe for practice right.

Indoor versus outdoor —the outdoor having issues of power supply, lack of Wi-Fi connection, wet weather, vandalism, etc. Size 15 — small, medium or large : size matters as small heritage and museums may be seen in full in one visit while medium and large would need multiple visits to be covered in full.

Permanent collection versus temporary exhibition to distinguish presenting a few star objects from the collection or to organise a full exhibition on a theme proposed by a curator. Type of heritage institution impacts on the way visitors behave and what they expect, e. Moreover, our co-design work showed that science museums have a greater degree of in-house technical expertise in comparison to historical museums; this can, in turn, be used by the meSch system to recommend to the CHPs more or less technically complex solutions.

In essence, organizations that operate in the same cultural domain e. Collaborative features clf store information about the author profile features described above and the list of already authored recipes with their descriptive metadata type of narrative and interaction strategy, environment of deploy, type of devices. Collaborative features are used to measure author similarity.

Constraint queries cnq collect information about the possible search constraints the author has specified for searching the magazine e. Current experience instance recipe includes a description of the in-progress authored recipe, i. Our co-design research clearly showed the importance for CHPs of reusing and repurposing both hardware and devices from previous installations as well as content. In the meSch authoring environment, the possibility of reusing and repurposing an existing recipe is core.

These semantic dimensions can be used to represent any personalisation feature the CHPs want to use e. In the previous step of the recipe creation process, the semantic dimensions and their values used by the rules to control the personalisation have been defined: it is time now to structure and annotate the content.

It was an explicit design choice taken early in the project not to create a media editor, but to import content files. This choice was motivated by the will of the CHPs to control the content, both in what is said and how it is said. Our initial study of CHPs practice showed museums generally commission to external media companies the production of high quality content: the meSch authoring environment was then designed to upload any file format and to apply the personalisation formalism on the file itself as to enable museums to maintain their current working practice.

However, a fine granularity of personalisation e. The content files can be uploaded from the local drive, searched on the museum database or downloaded from public repositories such as Europeana. Searching own databases and Europeana could benefit from contextual search techniques: CHPs talked about time pressure when preparing an exhibition and this might prevent them from spending much time searching for new material and, more often than not, they tend to use sources they already know.

Therefore, a search component with recommendation features able to take into account the current editing and provide recommendations that complement the already selected content could help the CHPs in finding new content and getting to know better their online resources. In line with these thoughts, meSch trialled algorithms that use information about the institution and the task in hand i.

The editing of the content and its conditions based on an abstract representation of files and tags was the outcome of an investigation whether the authoring of a recipe should be grounded on a representation of the exhibition space or not. A map with drag-n-drop functionalities to mark hotspots and add related content may seem an obvious choice and, as discussed in Sect. Despite its appeal, however, a map-based interface would not fit many settings of tangible interaction that are not defined by the space such as single interactive installations Wolf et al.

Furthermore, designing with a physical map of the exhibition precludes the use of the authoring environment for online experiences where the same content can be organised in different ways further online exploration after a visit based on the topics of interest Petrelli et al. For this reason, an approach that grounds the authoring process around the narratives content and the actions for their release context features was chosen.

The overall architecture of the meSch platform: the authoring environment with functionalities for managing the magazine and recipe editing communicates with the IoT level, managed by the meSchUp onsite platform, via the Cloud. The IoT elements are then embedded into the tangible elements within the exhibition design. Even though we have focussed on objects and places augmented via IoT sensors and actuators, the authoring environment also supports the configuration of smartphones and tablets as devices the visitor interacts with. For example, to implement a location-aware mobile guide that delivers content via smartphone when the visitor reaches a hotspot implemented via a beacon—Bluetooth Low Energy emitter , the author uploads an Android device in the appliance tab and as many beacon devices as the number of hotspots.

A bespoke app, a reduced version of the meSchUp server for smartphone, executes the behaviour rules from the interaction script of the recipe and plays the items from the narrative content network. This mechanism integrates smartphones and tablets within the meSch ecosystem as preconfigured clusters of sensors Bluetooth receiver, NFC reader,… and actuators to play audio, video and to program them within a unified authoring environment.

A prototype based on this setup was used for an indoor guided visit for two churches in the Netherlands. When the editing of all the parts of the recipe is complete, the package of the content items the narrative and the rules that govern their context-dependent play the interaction script are automatically transferred to the meSchUp onsite server that manages the execution Fig.

This is important as identifying failures in the IoT is still very difficult due to the many layers of communication protocols involved Rowland a , b. The deployment is instantaneous so that changes and additions in the contents, annotations or parameters can immediately be tested onsite Kubitza and Schmidt This is a step change in the way in which interactive installations are designed, as it allows avoiding simulation and enables fast prototyping therefore inviting CHPs to experiment more broadly with personalisation, as discussed in Sect.

The recipe is now complete and the final installation can be taken onto the exhibition floor for the visitors to interact with. This is when the authors can decide to share their new recipe in the magazine for other CHPs to see and reuse.

Visitor Experience | Cooper Hewitt Labs

This section discusses the evaluation of the authoring environment. Two different evaluations were carried out: a usability test with CHPs from the project team used the first version of the prototype to find out usability issues that needed changing formative evaluation ; the final version of the user interface the one discussed in 5. A controlled task-based evaluation was performed on the first working prototype of the authoring environment. The evaluation was run as a usability test.

The task carried out by participants fit the scenario of use we had identified in our study with the curators: starting from an existing recipe with two interactive cases as implemented in the Atlantic Wall exhibition, participants had to add a new interactive case attaching two new devices—the NFC reader and the projector—to create the new appliance and upload the required content. The uploaded content and the appliance had to be properly tagged to enable the interaction. The evaluation was carried out individually and CHPs that are members of the meSch team took part; a think aloud protocol was used Preece et al.

During the evaluation the three CHPs that took part in the evaluation were invited to comment on the user interface and on what the meaning of the different elements was, the actions they wanted to perform, and what they expected the system to do next. The think aloud protocol affects the performance time, and therefore, efficiency measures such as time on task were not taken into account. Instead, the think aloud technique allowed us to get a deeper understanding on what did or did not work for the participants.

At the end of the task, the observer questioned the participants on specific behaviours observed during the evaluation. Participants were also invited to provide comments and suggestions. Besides usability, the study allowed us to assess the attitude of curators to modifying the narrative and the customisation features that control the personalisation. The upload of new content, the adding of new values for semantic dimensions and the change of the tags did not present any difficulties, thus demonstrating that curators easily grasped the tagging system that is the foundation of the content annotation.

As part of the evaluation we also questioned their confidence in changing the script that controls the interaction and specifies context-awareness and adaptivity. Consistently with the distinction of roles and what we found in the specific study with CHPs external to the project see Sect. The summative evaluation intended to assess how the authoring environment would be used by CHPs in their everyday job.

The set up was then as naturalistic as possible meaning that we simulated the process of designing a new interactive installation. Editing by means of the authoring environment was then part of a more extended and open task. The first was a pilot and meSch was one of the many technologies available, the other three were focussed on the meSch platform.

Overall, over 40 professionals used the meSch authoring environment to create bespoke tangible and embodied interactions. These workshops provided us with a better understanding of the potential that the meSch authoring environment holds for the cultural heritage sector, how easy it is to use, and how it fits into the creative process of designing interactive exhibits. In all the events creativity was the driver and the purpose was to make an interactive installation by the end of the event. The work of participants at the event, the kit top left and the editor top right they used and two of the installations implemented bottom line.

As most participants did not know each other, the first was an ice-breaking activity. They were then introduced to the meSch vision of tangible interactions and were shown examples from meSch case studies in order to inspire their creative work. Then each group was invited to choose an exhibit from a selected collection around which to create a new interactive experience.

Creativity was the driver: each object came with a comment attached that was expected to trigger curiosity, e. Any discussion or decision on what technology to use was expected for day 2 when the concept was established. The rest of day 1 was spent finding inspiration from the object selected and brainstorm around possible engaging interactions. When the concept was well formed, both the technical implementation and the installation setting were discussed with the meSch support team that advised on the best way to implement the concept day 2.

This implied to specify the narrative structure and the interaction strategies. Albeit the concepts were envisaged independently from any specific hardware and software solution, in most of the cases the imagined interactions could be implemented by adapting existing experience schemas already supported by the authoring environment, e.

None of the participants had seen or used the meSch authoring environment before. As part of the introduction to the workshop day 1 , they were shown a demo of the editing and the deployment, but then they focussed on the creative activities. In anticipation of the events, the meSch team had prepared material for participants to familiarise with the authoring environment. The familiarisation tasks were of two types, video-based tutorials used in The Netherlands and Ireland or paper-based simple tasks used in the UK , and were available to all participants.

While logs were recorded across the three meSch events, 20 different qualitative data sets were collected by the three organising teams, e. The 13 groups prototyped personalised interactive tangible installations at various levels of completeness and sophistication, they designed and deployed their ideas and some became part of public exhibitions. The logs show that all the groups edited the content by uploading files and tagging them and, when inspected, the vast majority of the recipes were judged well-formed; this shows confidence and understanding by the participants in creating a narrative structure suitable for their intended interaction.

Similarly, appliances and devices were also changed and tagged, apart from one group that needed a new device purposefully built for their installation.

Visitor Experiences

Interestingly all groups, to various degrees, looked at the interaction script, and 2 changed it as a different behaviour was needed to implement the concept. The logs and the observations show that different groups displayed different attitudes when using the authoring environment: some made a change at a time and tested it in full thus followed precisely the sequence of steps suggested in the familiarisation task , while others found their preferred way such as uploading all the content files and then tagging all files in a single go before deployment.

It is also clear that mistakes were made, e. In the logs, we also looked for evidence of exploration and inspiration, e. Although we identified different explorative behaviours, most groups showed an interest in the searching, browsing and inspecting recipes beyond what they needed for the task in hands. They looked both at the collection of recipes available to them as a group as well as to all the recipes in the magazine.

An interesting behaviour was displayed by one group that repeatedly looked at the original recipe they cloned while editing their own, possibly indicating that they were repeatedly checking their actions were correct and they were learning-by-doing. While for nearly all groups it was a matter of adapting existing recipes to their ideas, in three cases their concept required the use of sensors that were not provided by the hardware kit available, such as a magnetic switch or a short-range proximity sensor.

The technical support was able to compose those new sensing devices that were then included in the authoring environment and used by the groups. This is a further demonstration that the proposed framework is flexible to the point of adding new devices on the fly and then personalise the content on those. The flexibility of the platform that allowed customisation, change and the update of existing installations was widely noted. The possibility to create new recipes in an independent way by using only their own knowledge and expertise was also highly valued.

Finally, the learning-while-using approach was also pointed out as very positive; this extended to the possibility of splitting the effort and collaborating around the same task. Among the limitations pointed out by the technical participants were the constraints imposed by the simple behaviours available. They also expressed the wish to create new scripts, but, to do this, substantial documentations must be created. Questions on how to add new sensors or actuators or to trigger multiple media simultaneously were the most frequent requests showing they were already envisaging how meSch could be used in their own institution.


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Indeed they put forward ideas of using it with the audience to create new exhibitions or with children to let them explore hands-on new technological frontiers namely IoT and Cloud Computing. These were for us most unexpected but point to new possible uses of the meSch platform. The criticism put forward by the curators and communicators was the lack of documentation and limited number of illustrated examples as only a few recipes among the dozens offered had a video tutorial.

Practical tips on how to set it up such as a reliable WiFi or a list of possible suppliers were also voiced as useful and missing. From the observations, we noted how the changes of simple elements in the interaction needed a technical person able to amend the interaction script. For example, a switch on the interface could control if multimedia content is played to the end or if it is stopped when the NFC tag is removed, but in the current implementation this simple change had to be coded in the script. A clear limitation observed was the bottleneck created when groups wanted a new component built and integrated, e.

While we had a highly technical person at each event, this was often not enough if two groups asked for bespoke solutions or the request came too late in the process for the expert to implement it. In this paper, we have described the 4-year work that was carried out in the meSch project to design, develop and evaluate an organic platform that supports cultural heritage professionals in creating and deploying personalised, tangible an embodied experiences for visitors for the most diverse heritage settings.

We took the decision of starting afresh and did not make any assumption of what personalisation in cultural heritage means, neither on how we could support its creation.

Engaging The Visitor: Designing Exhibits That Work

With a radical approach, CHPs were involved in a co-design process that empowered them to influence the editing environment under development. Studying the process of exhibition design, we gathered a deep understanding of the current professional practices and discovered that very different professionals are involved at different points in time, with completely different skill sets and roles. This means that those responsible for the content creation were not involved in the technical development, although consultation among the team was frequent.

We concluded that an environment for editing personalised and interactive installations should strive to support the teamwork in the most seamless way. However, this ambition was challenged by the great disparity of attitude to technical aspects: on the one hand we wanted to offer an easy-to-use editing environment so that curators and communicators could create the content and decide under which conditions it would be delivered; on the other hand we wanted to be able to offer a powerful tool for creating personalisation.

This double-aim guided us in the process of defining a flexible formalism while at the same time designing a user interface and the interaction that could fit with the abilities, expectations and current practice of curators and communicators that are not interested in learning how to master the technology.

In its final implementation, the meSch authoring environment supports CHPs in the whole cycle of creating an interactive and personalised exhibition. It provides examples of installations offering both inspiration and a means for learning what is possible and how to do it. To simplify the editing while maintaining a powerful representation, we deconstructed the complex process into a limited number of elements and phases.

Focussed studies on specific critical activities such as the willingness of curators and communicators to edit the interaction script that controls the behaviour of the final installation , enabled us to take informed decisions on what tasks should be proposed to the user and how those should be carried out. We believe that the co-design approach enabled us to design and implement a far superior editing environment than the one we would have been able to create had we followed a more traditional approach.

This was evident in the evaluation: a large group of CHPs showed confidence in using the authoring environment to deploy the narratives on the devices that composed the interactive installation and independently troubleshoot it if this was needed. The independence and autonomy of the CHPs was one of the early motivation of the meSch project Petrelli et al. From a technical point of view, the representation formalism we developed proved to be open and flexible.

We deployed a number of very different installations within the cultural heritage sector and we have now started to apply personalisation in areas such as tourism and retail Cavada et al. The simplicity of the final solution should not be underestimated as it is the outcome of an integrative and lengthy study on the many aspects involved in personalising tangible and embodied experiences for heritage.

Our final reflection is on the co-design process we followed. Looking to this challenge through the eyes of the professionals we were able to clearly define the key elements that could change the perception of the technology needed to bring personalisation to the exhibition floor. On the premises of shared decision making implicit in co-design, we had to accept that the most advanced personalisation techniques and possibly the most exciting for us as researchers were not sought by the professionals who instead were interested in simple but effective ways of designing visiting experiences inspired by their own creativity and ambitions.

However, it doesn't necessarily take into consideration visitors' emotional journey. The concept of experience design recently started to gain prominence in the museum field. It privileges emotions and focuses on the quality, enjoyment, relevance and transformative power of the visitor experience. In this full-day workshop held at the Natural History Museum of Geneva, we will cover the principles of experience design while participants, following well-defined methodologies, create experiences in situ.

Experts will share best practices and participants will take part in discussion groups on human centred design, design for emotions, designing accessible experiences, creating narratives, etc…. A detailed programme can be found here. Careful, exception: this pre-conference workshop is taking place at the Natural History Museum of Geneva and not at the CICG convention centre like other workshops. Participants will receive joining instructions in due course. Wed NHM1. Skip to main content. Experience design in practice.

Pre-conference workshop. Exhibit development. Experts will share best practices and participants will take part in discussion groups on human centred design, design for emotions, designing accessible experiences, creating narratives, etc… A detailed programme can be found here.