Interaction Review: Lake Ontario Simulation

For my interaction review, I decided to evaluate the Lake Ontario Dive Simulation at the Rochester Museum of Science. The interaction comes from stepping inside the simulation car and sitting in front of a screen for about seven and a half minutes. Inside, there are multiple rows to sit in because this is meant for multiple people to enjoy and learn with at once. Once the door closes and you are sitting inside, a video starts and the simulation begins. This is intended to communicate information about Lake Ontario and some of its history. A video was played with actors that took participants underwater and through tunnels (submarine simulation). The entire simulation car would turn and shake to make participants feel as if they were truly in a submarine in Lake Ontario.

The stronger elements of this interaction were the movements of the simulation car along with the big screen. While sitting in the front row, your brain make you start to feel as if you are really being shaken around in underwater tunnels. This effectively immerses participants in the simulation. The design of the underwater space was not particularly believable as real, however, the design was cohesive. Everything felt like it belonged. The animation style and colors/shading were all blending together seamlessly.

By sitting in the simulation car, you need to let yourself have some suspension from reality and believe that you are really going to be in a submarine. The darkness and shape of the simulation car do help with this. It is as if you are sitting inside of a metal tube.

This interaction could be improved by adding elements that would let participants interact further. Buttons could be added to the inside that when pressed, would turn on a light in the simulation so that participants could see clearer underwater. The simulation video itself is very old. The design elements in it are clearly indicative of outdated filming and editing techniques. If this were redone with more enhanced technology and script writing, this could be more fun for children. It is already very educational for a seven and a half minute interaction.

Adding functions and buttons to the simulation could make this more enjoyable. Things such as horns for underwater to scare fish away, something to throw nets to catch fish to learn more about them, or even just a button to turn on a light to explore could make this more rewarding. If this were set up more like a virtual reality game, I could definitely see this as being more educational and rewarding to play. Instead of sitting through a video while being rocked around in the dark, participants could be rocked around as a result of their actions like steering or shooting something (net or ray of light).

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