Gene Lu's Portfolio

Prototyping Chalk Walk

Last week, our thesis development class held a brainstorming session where we broke up into groups to help each other come up with new ideas for our thesis topics. One idea that stood out for me was “city hopscotch.”

Ideas Ideas Ideas
I transferred the ideas that were generated during our brainstorming session over to a dedicated workspace, which happened to be the wall in my room. Classy.

Another reason why I don't have posters on my wall

Another reason why I don't have posters on my wall

In addition to the posted ideas, I included a few of my own.

  • Competitive racing among commuters that starts at a traffic light and ends at the nearest subway station
  • A map that visualizes how many calories are burned when walking from one station to another
  • Dispersing chapters of a book to various subway stations across the city in order to motivate people to move from one station to another
  • GoWalla + Nokia Vine
  • Rock Band (the game) + hopscotch = Chalk Walk (tentative name)
  • And still on my mind, Subway Snowboarding

There were a few ideas that stuck out for me, but one of them was more prototypeable than the others, which happened to be the Chalk Walk idea.

Ideating about how to get people moving in the city

Ideating about how to get people moving in the city

Chalk Walk
Chalk Walk is an outdoor challenge where pedestrians follow a set of walking instructions visualized on the sidewalk (sort of like the foot prints on those mats that teach you how to dance).

Pedestrians are presented with three tracks to choose from

Pedestrians are presented with three tracks to choose from

There are three levels, novice, normal, and expert. Novice mode consists of regular walking whereas normal mode gets a bit tricky where participants are required to walk sideways and even have to jump. Expert mode requires more physical activity where some running is necessary in order to land bigger jumps.

My roommate Dave demoing expert mode

My roommate Dave demoing expert mode

See Dave Run

See Dave Run

See Dave jump

See Dave jump

Why three modes?
Inspired by BJ Fogg’s Behavior Grid, which describes 15 ways behaviors can change, the three modes offer participants a way to transition from doing a familiar behavior (novice) to increasing behavior intensity (expert).

Lessons Learned
A Visual Library
While prototyping Chalk Walk, I quickly realized that I didn’t have a library of patterns to work with, i.e. what icon/drawing on the ground would inform participants to “run.” All I had in mind were boxes. As I drew the pathways (with the help of my roommate), we started to establish a visual library.

The Speed-Up and Jump Combination

The Speed-Up and Jump Combination

Patterns that require pedestrians to sidestep

Patterns that require pedestrians to sidestep

Motivation and Incentives
There were barely any incentives for pedestrians to participate in this public act. There was also no motivation to sustain this behavior over a period of time. If this wasn’t a prototype, perhaps some sort of scoring mechanism would be implemented.

Not particularly the most meaningful completion

Not particularly the most meaningful completion

Where to Prototype
Never chalk up a sidewalk that is right next to a business, especially a restaurant. After finishing the prototype and doing some test runs, we went over to a nearby restaurant to get some breakfast. On our way back, we witnessed one of the restaurant employees hosing down the sidewalk, which meant that I was unable to do any observations with passerbys that day. Doh!

Using chalk also has its weaknesses

Using chalk also has its weaknesses

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  • 14 Nov 2010

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