Academic Project
Role: Project Manager, Concept Design, Research and Storytelling
Year: Spring 2022
Team: Jake Strassmore, Jonathan Gomez, Miguel Jimenez, Alba Chavez

Who is Meow Wolf? 
Meow Wolf creates breathtaking immersive installations around the nation with extremely rich storytelling components, yet visitors tend to only scratch the surface of the exhibit’s narrative. Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station located in Denver offers immersive psychedelic art that is paired with a journey of discovery.
Meow Wolf’s immersive installations offer rich narratives full of hidden easter eggs throughout the exhibit that extends to the gift shop. During their visit patrons only tend to scratch the surface of intertwined storylines and get a limited experience of the exhibit because of overcrowding. During our research we noticed that many people left the exhibit feeling like they missed out on parts of the exhibit and wanted to see more.
From our conversations with patrons and research online we discovered that many visitors wanted to see the exhibit because it looked like fun while others really enjoyed the hidden storyline and wanted to delve deeper into the story. The team learned that both types of visitors really enjoyed the immersive lights, atmosphere and music but didn’t see many options to purchase items like these at the gift shop. The opportunity that was identified was to design a device that captured the essence of the exhibit while extending the storyline.
The solution was the Meow Orb a smart light and entertainment device that pairs with the Meow Wolf app. Users can access Meow Wolf content such as videos and cast it directly to their television. Videos sync with the lights from the orb to create Meow Wolf inspired scenes/moods from the exhibit. Users can also access additional content such as podcasts and multiplayer games straight on the app. We developed several 3D renders of our device and got feedback from Meow Wolf stakeholders.
Design Challenge

How can we create a unique experience that allows patrons to relive their memories of their visit and discover more engaging and puzzling content?

In order to get a clear understanding of what we would create we met with Patrick, Ben & Luciano, Meow Wolf stakeholders. From this meeting we got a clear understanding of the objective which was to create an eco-friendly product that marries the digital and physical world and extends the storyline from the exhibit. Because we could not physically travel to Denver we had to delve deep into online research focusing on reviews from customers and researching what other exhibits were doing and how they were doing it. 
I performed observational research by attending the Van Goh Immersive Experience and documenting what I saw, heard and felt during the exhibit and in the gift shop. Another teammate interviewed a patron that visited the Meow Wolf exhibit in Las Vegas with her family.
We created a user journey map to get a better understanding of what a customer might experience at the Convergence Station. From this we discovered a few pain points: Over crowdedness resulted in some patrons not finding out about Qpass which is an RFID card that transforms their experience into an interactive quest. Others felt that they could not take as many pictures as they wanted and found that parts of the installation pieces were not functioning and lastly the gift shop contained a lot of items not directly related to the Convergence Station.
Further research led us to more insights: patrons usually travel with friends or partners, they take a lot of photographs to later share with other friends and the lights and music were the biggest attractions.
Once we knew the pain points and discovered insights we began ideating low-fi prototypes of smart lights to capture the immersive light from the exhibit. We looked into smart light technology like Hue light bulbs and we looked at digital/ physical devices like Alexa which is becoming more prominent in people’s homes.
To address the eco-friendly aspect of our product we turned to LED lights, which emit considerably less greenhouse gasses than fluorescent lights. We also looked at recyclable plastic material for the casing of our device and added a rechargeable lithium battery.
To address the eco-friendly aspect of our product we turned to LED lights, which emit considerably less greenhouse gasses than fluorescent lights. We also looked at recyclable plastic material for the casing of our device and added a rechargeable lithium battery.

3D render by Jonathan Gomez
Testing Insights
After prototyping our onboarding application to pair with our device we ran heuristic evaluations to work out the kinks in our design. From this exercise we learned that the pairing was not intuitive, to fix this we looked at the Kasa app and their pairing process. We then changed our pairing from a code to pairing through wifi. We also provided clear buttons for the next step in pairing.

Wireframes designed by all team members

The final design was a small device that has built in LED’s that display color scenes from the Convergence Station. The light’s color and dimness is controlled through the app. Built-in speakers deliver narrations of the exhibits storyline. The rechargeable lithium battery makes it portable. Digital content can be accessed through the app and cast to the television while the orb syncs with the tv to display lights.

As designers, the team I worked with uncovered how important it is to be able to understand other processes besides the design one. In our case we learned about the steps necessary to manufacture a product; how to acquire materials, produce it and ship it. We also learned about how to develop a product tailored to our client’s specific requirements which resulted in our team creating a unique device. If given more time I’d like to further pursue the interface layout of the Meow Wolf mobile app, specifically focusing on how users acquire content and how it is displayed on their television screens. Additionally, I’d like to delve deeper into how our product would be branded at the gift shop and online.

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