Designing Mechanical Ears for a Theatre Setting - An Explorative and Experimental Study
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Wearable computing and body extension are concepts that have become more and more popular in later years. In this thesis, I want to look at possible uses for wearables and mechanical body extensions in a theatre setting. How might one augment or extend the capabilities of the human body with technology, and how should the body and the technological extension communicate? These questions will be applied in the context of theatre and used to explore how wearable technology can be utilised in a theatre play to help actors make characters come alive. By making a pair of mechanical elephant ears for the Children's Theatre at UKA 2015, a student festival in Trondheim, it was possible to test the problem statement in the desired setting. After having cooperated closely with actors and costume designers, the result was very positive. Both the actor playing the elephant and the play's instructor had much positive feedback. The close collaboration proved to be imperative for the success of the process and invaluable in developing a mechanical body extension that would work well on stage. Moreover, the process revealed the importance of considering movement mapping in the particular context of use, to achieve a satisfactory result. After making a first version of the mechanical ears for the theatre play, I proceeded to make a second version of the ears with the goal to test how different mappings between user input and ear behaviour might be used to control the ears and how users would respond to this. The result was that the user preference concerning mapping for a mechanical body extension is highly dependent on who will use the body extension and in what setting they will be using it.