Exploring Historical, Social and Natural Heritage: Challenges for Tangible Interaction Design at Sheffield General Cemetery

Authors: Luigina Ciolfi, Daniela Petrelli, Fabio Caparrelli, Nick Dulake, Robin Goldberg, Mark T. Marshall, Matt Willox.

Date: 2013

In: Proceedings of NODEM 2013, Stockholm, December 2013, NODEM Digital Repository

Abstract: This paper discusses ongoing research exploring the potential for tangible interaction technologies to enhance activities at Sheffield General Cemetery (SGC), a conservation area of rich historical, social and natural […]

Abstract: This paper discusses ongoing research exploring the potential for tangible interaction technologies to enhance activities at Sheffield General Cemetery (SGC), a conservation area of rich historical, social and natural heritage located in Sheffield (England). As well as a historical park displaying significant works of art and architecture, the cemetery is also a local nature reserve. SGC is managed by a community group that organizes volunteer work for conservation, guided tours and other community initiatives. In our project, we are exploring the challenges of visitor access, interpretation and appreciation at such a complex open-air heritage site and how novel technological installations could support the activities of visitors and volunteers. Our focus is particularly on tangible interaction, and on how integrating digital capabilities into material objects and spaces can provide immersive and engaging experiences for users (Petrelli et al., 2013). The research we are conducting follows a co-design approach, whereby our multidisciplinary team of designers, developers and social researchers is collaborating closely with SGC volunteers both in documenting and reflecting on the complexities of this heritage site, and in exploring design ideas and rapid prototypes of tangible interaction concepts to be discussed and evaluated on site.

In the paper, we present results of our empirical work highlighting the challenges for access and interpretation at SGC: its outdoor and open nature, the significant seasonal changes, and the complex interweaving of historical, artistic and natural heritage occurring there. We will also outline design themes that have emerged from the series of field studies conducted at the Cemetery that are shaping the current phase of design exploration and rapid prototyping of concepts merging digital and physical interaction in the context of the site.

The abstract can be found in the NODEM digital repository: http://repo.nodem.org/?objectId=106