Brock Craft's Research Group Archive

The following research group descriptions are archived because they are no longer offered, the faculty member is on sabbatical, or the group is taking a break. Please contact the faculty member or an advisor to learn more about these groups.

Problematic Futures

Spring 2018

Instructors: Brock Craft and Tyler Fox

In this DRG we will use design as a tool for critical thought, reflection, and commentary. Following a trajectory of discursive design practice (radical design, anti-design, critical design, speculative design, design as inquiry, to name a few) participants in this DRG will read, discuss, and design in response to a selection of provocations drawn from critical theory, cinema, and contemporary design. We seek individuals who want to think deeply about the world, and what it could be.

We use the term problematic as a means of directing attention to thickly contextual knots comprised of bodies, institutions, and ideas. Here, design methods become a way to understand these different contextual knots as imbricating structures of lived experience. While our reading list is still under construction, participants can expect to read Flusser, Simondon, Latour, and more.

The DRG will follow a tight structure of read, discuss, and critically respond through low-fidelity prototypes meant to provoke new thought and experience. The course will conclude with three weeks of frenetic building and critique as participants make a more complex prototype.

Designing Bioluminescent Displays

Autumn 2017 & Winter 2019

Tyler Fox & Brock Craft

Bioluminescence is light produced by living organisms. Pyrocistis fusiformis is a single-celled, nonmotile dinoflagellate (algae) that emits a flash of light when physically agitated. Bioluminescent algae can be found in seawater around the world. In this DRG will explore the expressive potential of bioluminescent algae as a form of display. Students will learn how to propagate algae, use physical computing to agitate it, and utilize the affordances of this form of bioluminescence in a display.

We will collaboratively construct a display as a group, then students will divide into small teams to create custom visualizations for it. Along the way, we will consider intersecting questions regarding our topic: What are practicalities and limits of bioluminescence? What are the ethical questions of designing with living organisms? How can speculative projects such as this help provoke environmentally-sensitive design, or do they? Students can expect to gain practical skills in physical computing and interactive installations as well as to grapple with broader, theoretical questions, such as, what should living displays be used for, and why?

While we seek to develop a robust, interdisciplinary group, ideal candidates will have significant interest in, or basic skill in:

Physical Computing/Electronics
Physical Prototyping
Interaction Design
Interactive Art
Creative Coding
Marine Biology

 Smart Cities: A human-centered approach to smart cities and the built environment

Led by:

  • Brock Craft, Senior Lecturer, HCDE
  • Andrew Davidson, Senior Lecturer, HCDE
  • Brian Johnson, Associate Professor, Architecture

We are interested in exploring the design space created by taking a human-centered approach to the coordination of the digital, human and built environment in an urban setting, often referred to as Smart Cities.

This DRG will gather a small group of students together to investigate human-centered issues for highly instrumented and data-rich urban built environments.

We will be exploring questions such as:

  • What do people mean when they talk about Smart Cities?
  • What about Smart Cities is human-centered?
  • What technologies are in use or envisioned in Smart Cities?
  • What differentiates dystopian and utopian views of Smart Cities?
  • What problems should UCD address?
  • What could we address at UW?
  • How could the UW campus figure in this investigation?
  • How could regional urban systems in Seattle be incorporated?
  • How could we explore and prototype ideas to address this topic in future HCDE courses?

We envision establishing this theme of Smart Cities as a topic or thread in future HCDE courses (for the 2016-17 academic year). The purpose of this DRG is to explore the issues and literature related to the theme and develop some ideas for how various courses could embrace this theme in projects or research.

The output of the group's efforts will be:

  • Video reports summarizing the research findings
  • Plans for a possible summer course to continue the work
  • Ideas for tools to use in future prototyping courses
  • Speculation on an Urban Sensing Campus Network

We are looking for dedicated and enthusiastic students at all levels (BS to PhD) to help with this project. We will be limiting participation to a small number of students. Only those willing to commit to at least 3 credit hours will be considered.

Designing Interactivity in the Urban Landscape - II

Spring 2017

EXPLORE interactivity with large screen interfaces!
INVESTIGATE sensors and gestural interactions!
DESIGN for a high-profile interactive public display wall!

This is the continuing on going project for interactive displays at the West Campus Utility Plant (WCUP) - a brand new major power plant installation on the UW Campus located on University Way. The facility contains 12 large, street-facing, high-resolution screens. This DRG will explore and implement prototype interactions for this display, enabling passersby to gain an understanding of the University’s commitment to the environment and energy conservation, and enhancing public perception of UW Campus and UW sustainability profile. Team members will investigate possible gestural, sensor-driven interactions and incorporate feeding live data to the responsive displays. 

The WCUP displays are intended to be a permanent installation on the UW campus, and student work will be considered for showcasing at a project launch or in the media.

This project is sponsored by the Office of the UW Architect, This DRG requires dedicated and enthusiastic students at all levels (BS to PhD) to help with the project. We will be limiting participation to a small number of students. Only those willing to commit to at least 3 credit hours will be considered.

Ideal candidates will have some of the following knowledge/skills:

User Research
Contextual inquiry
UI Prototyping
Physical Computing/Electronic​s
Information Visualization

The project team will meet for 1.5 hours per week (Thursday afternoons, 3:30-5:00) and will run over the 10 week term. It may be extended beyond Spring quarter, depending on the project outcome and success.

Credits: 3

Faculty: Brock Craft, Andy Davidson, Tyler Fox