Roman Hairstyles Mirror


For the User Experience Design module, we had to create an Interactive Media piece that would fit into The Yorkshire Museum and could be paired with an existing artefact.

Based on user research, I created the Roman Hairstyles Mirror (made in Processing with the OpenCV library). When visitors walk past the mirror, a random Roman hairstyle will be placed on them, on-screen.

I was invited back to the museum to present the project to staff and exhibit curators as a result of getting one of the highest marks in the year.

The Brief

For this assessment you will develop an interactive media prototype designed to be used and installed at the Yorkshire Museum as an interactive experience. Your challenge is to ensure that your design and prototype fits the requirements of the museum. Your design should consider the aims of the museum, how people use the museum, and how your design would be used and might fit into the physical environment.


User Research

The first thing I wanted to do was get a lot of information, before I could even start thinking about the type of prototype that I wanted to develop. I decided to start with collating the most recent 50 reviews on TripAdvisor for the Yorkshire Museum, Castle Museum and Art Gallery. I thought that TripAdvisor would be the best place to start as this is a place where people feel like they have something meaningful to say about the place they’ve visited.

I went through all the reviews and took information from each one, a topic that the comment related to and whether they were positive or negative. I thought that this would be a useful starting point and would show some of the key things that museum visitors would be thinking about. I put the information into a visual (see below) which would help put all of this information into a meaningful view. The larger the word, the more it was mentioned. I also conducted an anonymous survey that I sent out to friends, family, as well as which I completed with some of the visitors at the museum.


From my research, I found that the items that were recognised least by the visitors were the Roman coin purse, jet Medusa pendant, as well as a preserved hair piece. I was quite surprised by these findings as the purse is in a separate cabinet all on its own, so I would have thought people would have seen it. The Medusa pendant and hair piece are within cabinets with other items, so I was expecting to see this outcome.

I decided to gather all of my research and feedback from both tasks and complete a thematic analysis on the data. My reasoning for this was so that I could allow some key themes to appear which would help me shape the creation of my solution. Once I’d completed the thematic analysis, I derived 9 key themes that my prototype should be centred around. These ranged from making sure that people were getting their money’s worth, to making sure that the piece would be accessible to everyone.


Design Thinking

Following my thematic analysis and the findings from it, I tried to mould these into a primary and secondary persona that I could use to further aid the creation of my prototype. With this also being a core User Experience project, I decided to try and focus on using as many of IBM’s Design Thinking ideas that we’d learnt, as possible. In order to do this, I went about trying out methods such as Big Idea Vignettes, empathy mapping, storyboarding and a few others.

Once I had a wealth of different ideas to choose from, I started to pick a few that I thought would be a good fit. I then storyboarded them to flesh each idea out a bit more and give myself a better idea of how they would work. I now started to cut down the ideas and focus more on the quality of the ideas I had.

This left me with two ideas. A set of QR codes around the museum exhibits that would direct users to an interactive website where visitors could upload a picture of themselves, manipulate an image of the artefact to be in the image with them, and then share this to social media. My second idea was a Roman Hairstyles Mirror, which would essentially be a mirror that would show visitors themselves with a roman hairstyle.


For a number of reasons, I chose the Roman Hairstyles Mirror, I knew that I would be able to make it to a good standard, it met a lot more of my principles and I thought it would be great for groups of visitors to use at the same time. I liked the idea, however, I felt it was missing an educational aspect and I knew that this was something I strongly wanted to be in the piece.

I decided that it would be good to add a few new features to my original idea. I wanted a camera function, this would take a screenshot of the visitor with the hairstyles applied and could e-mail the visitor the picture so that they would have something to take away with them. I also added a button that would display information about each of the different hairstyles, such as who would wear such a style and what it meant.


With a better idea of the design of my prototype, I went about developing it. For this I used Processing as it’s a language I feel comfortable with. I made use of the OpenCV for Processing library and just a standard webcam built into my laptop.

I was quickly able to get a very basic version of the program working, which would just display a square above someone’s head. To make sure that I accurately captured realistic hairstyles, I went about manipulating images of Roman statues, removing the hairstyle, then colouring them appropriately.Along with realistic hairstyles, I created a tile of information for each style. This was then added to the prototype with the functionality to scroll through the tiles one by one and learn all about what each style meant and the type of person that would wear it.

Following the completion of my first prototype I decided to conduct some research with a key stakeholder at the museum. I showed them an early paper prototype video that I’d created and ran through a questionnaire asking for their feedback on the key interactions and whether they thought this would work with visitors of the museum. The stakeholder explained to me that users like to be able to go through all the information in their own time, so instead of the hairstyles appearing randomly on visitors, they should be able to scroll through the hairstyles in their own time. I was also able to get feedback about the placement of the prototype.


Overall, this has been my favourite project that I’ve worked on so far. The journey from the conception of the idea to seeing it all the way through into development has been very exciting. I’ve also enjoyed making sure that my prototype is tailored to the Museum visitors and seeing the end product, compared to others I’ve completed, this definitely feels like a living project that’s evolved over the 10 weeks to meet the criteria I set myself.

I was invited back to the Yorkshire Museum following the completion of the project. I presented my work to a number of employees and exhibit curators, answering questions about my work and discussing challenges and decisions I’d made.