Home (Not So) Sweet Home

Anthropocene Hybrid Exhibition 

Interaction Design, Fall 2019


Create a temporary (3–4 week) exhibition featuring an artist or issue currently on exhibit. The client (Carnegie Museum of Natural History) wants to use digital technology to enhance the visitor’s experience in ways they are not currently doing. Consider how technology can augment content, increase learning and/or make the museum experience more interactive.

Skills & Tools

Physical Prototyping, SketchUp, LittleBits, Unity3D


Currently, there's a disconnect between people and the way we experience the impacts of climate change. Living in a first-world society, the immediate effects of our actions are seemingly intangible to us. So, how might we build concrete artifacts that give people an emotional, experiential perspective of their futures?

Defining Anthropocene

(n) the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

Target Audience

Carnegie Mellon students (ages 18–28), CMU Faculty (ages 30–65), tourists/prospective students


Since we're creating a physical model of the exhibition, it was important to make sure the various interactions and experiences of the museum stay consistent for visitors. With this mind, I started by creating a moodboard with typeface and color schemes at play.

Storyboard and Prototype Iterations

I knew I wanted to structure my exhibit like a home in order to play with this preconceived notion that home is a safe place where we can leave our worries aside. Instead, I wanted it to manifest in an informative way that the topic of climate change isn’t something avoidable.

There are some major hotspots in this exhibit: 

(1) sidewall where users read the introduction

(2) dining room with fake, rotting food on the table where visitors can see the effects of climate change.

(4) The visitor then goes to the interactive screen-based wall about lead pipes

(5) call to action section where visitors fill out their names/email on the wall to commit to a 30-day challenge to address climate change in a small way and get check-ins from the museum via email or text.

Storyboard​ #1

Rough Physical Prototype of Storyboard​ #1

Iteration One Limitations

After building out the model of my first idea, I realized that the sizing wasn't quite accurate. If it were a 1:1 model, the walls and interactions would've been untouchable by the average human. Furthermore, the current interaction with the interactive wall doesn't really provide a unique experience since it's extremely screen-based. The next iteration should focus on an immersive method that shows change over time.

Parti Diagram

In order to understand the navigability of the exhibit, I created a parti diagram to understand the path I want people to take. Although it's difficult and near impossible to force people to follow certain navigation, it's still worthwhile to consider the possible paths.

I wanted to pick a path that re-emphasized the coziness and feel of a home to create a sense of security that contrasts the reality of their carbon footprint

I ended up incorporating both version one and two where there are three main framings on the topic getting people to care about climate change: existential, probable, and the call to action. The existential is more abstract and general (dining room) whereas the probable is more prevalent to Pittsburgh. Because the probable is the core that will likely hit visitors more, with the middle wall, the back can be the interaction about lead pipes that also doubles as the “heart of the home.”


  1. Dining Table about CO2 (Touch)

  2. Shower with Lead Pipes in Pittsburgh (Sight)

  3. Garage with the New Car Smell of the Future (Olfactory)

Interaction One: Dining Table about CO2 (Touch)

Target Audience: “I don’t understand how a plant-based diet will help the environment. I’m just going to lose out on the core nutrients and proteins.”

This interaction is one of the first things the visitor will come across. It’s a dining table with different foods that emit varying CO2 emissions. For instance, lamb emits 39.2kg of CO2 per kg consumed where tomatoes only emit 1.1 kg CO2 per kg consumed. These numbers would correspond with the weight of the food on the table. As the visitor tries to pick up the different options based on the menu, then they’ll find tomatoes to only be a few ounces and the lamb to be several pounds.

Interaction Two: Shower with Lead Pipes in Pittsburgh (Sight)

Target Audience: “This is 2019. Water is safer than ever, and what’s the big deal if there’s a little lead here and there? What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”

After thinking about how I could change my original interaction to something that was less touchscreen-based, I used Gravity Sketch in the Oculus to see what this interaction might be like on the floor and was based on stepping on the map itself to trigger the density of lead-based sewer systems across Pittsburgh

SketchUp Model

SketchUp Model

This prototype is rather low fidelity so I decided to prototype this out in Unity with a script where each click correlated to a point on the map.

GravitySketch Drawing

This was also a doable interaction to create with Little Bits, so I used a pressure sensor connected to a LED light that represented the density of the lead pipes.

Interaction Three: Garage with the New Car Smell of the Future (Olfactory)

Target Audience: “I can’t imagine not having my car. There’s no way our society will be dependent on public transportation. I mean, have you seen how unreliable and slow it is?”


This interaction allows the visitor to enter through this funnel-like wall to experience the “new car smell of the future” which sprays a scent that correlates to how CO2 emissions from cars will affect the smell/state of our atmosphere. It’s a highly potent scent so I decided to contain it within one cylindrical section so that the smell won’t escape to other sections of the exhibit.

Gamification of the Call-to-Action: Personalized Starter Kits

Version #1:​ In my first draft, the call to action seemed just like a large ethnographic survey and it didn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things in providing people with privacy or agency.

Instead of hoping that people would voluntarily sign up for extra emails or texts, I considered better gamification of the end goal that’s exciting for those of all ages.

I took my own motivators and excitement driven by when new packages come in the mail, so what if the same concept was applied here.

Final Physical Model