Espaistory: defining design requirements for site-specific story-authoring tool

“Espaistory” is an application aimed at supporting the collaborative authoring of site-specific narratives by children. The application has two main goals. On the one hand, it aims at scaffolding children’s interest and awareness toward their social and physical environment. On the other hand, the application aims at facilitating conditions for collaboration and co-creation of content. The application can be used to create fictional narratives or to work on content knowledge related to specific places (e.g. historical sites, their neighborhood, etc.).


My role

This project is currently being developed at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. In the project I’ve been in charge of researching, defining design requirements, working with users and coordinating the design and research team

Defining the project

Context: the project form part of the methodological research “Evaluation-Driven Design” , funded by Ministerio de Economia y Competividad


  • enable children’s collaborative site-specific content creation
  • support coordination and collaboration
  • support embodied improvisation in storytelling

Target users: 7-10 years old children



  • Develop a novel Augmented/Mixed Reality solution
  • Allow children to explore and create meaning of their social and physical environement

The initial research: combining theory, ethnography and Enactment workshops



  • Review of traditional approaches to support storytelling
  • Review of related works


20160511_104657-880x440Ethnographical analysis of children activities related to creating audiovisual stories

Context: 8 days, 4 schools (8 hours per school), 60 children

Method: field notes


The importance of choosing
  • allow children to choose between different sources (e.g. images for the background / characters / music..)
The importance of creating
  • allow children to design their project (plan & create their narrative)
  • offer prompts to stimulate creative process
Balance planning and improvising
  • offer instances  for brainstorming and planning
  • allow space for improvisation
  • show to children the potential of the system so they can think about “suitable ideas”
  • allow them to repeat
the human-machine choreography as a way of working on collaboration
  • assign children to different roles
  • each role should be relevant for the final outcomes
  • the different roles need to properly coordinate between themselves in order to have everything working
  • do not centralize coordination
the shared perspective
  • the space should be shaped in a way that all children need to be able to see what the others are doing and  what they are creating
the value of self-evaluation
  • record their creation to allow them reflect upon it

Enactment workshop

Using embodied empathy understand user experience


  • Researchers enact  what children will do during the experience
  • After that researchers discuss around relevant design questions to postulate design hypothesis

Defining requirements

Content Creation User Experience Interface
  • Wide wall: Afford different possible paths to support storytelling and content creation and enable children to get involved at different level of content creation
  • Modulating guidance : offer prompts to stimulate creative process
  • Offer instance for brainstorming and planning
  • Allow space for improvisation
  • Show to children the potential of the system
  • Low floor / High Ceiling: easy to start with; allow for “expert” usage
  • Afford space/time for reflection/observation
  • Afford collaboration and social learning
  • Assign children to different roles
  • The space should be shaped in a way that all children need to be able to see well what the others are doing; what they are creating
  • Record their creation to allow them reflect upon it


The initial prototype

The design is currently underdevelopment. For the initial prototype we designed a hardware solution based combination of an Android tablet and a Philips PicoPix PPX3414 pico-projector bundled in a box and case. At the same time we developed an initial Android application to facilitate content creation.

In this initial prototype, children could create their own contents (drawings or pictures) and display them in the physical environment. The system allowed children to carry around the device and project their own contents directly on the physical environment.child_miniprojector