The ‘Universal Threshold Object' (UTO) was a project that was focussed on designing a tangible device that would increase immersion while viewing an interactive narrative, by translating actions the interactor would perform using the 'UTO' into moments of dramatic agency with appropriate physical and visual feedback.


The UTO was a team project focussed on designing a tangible object aimed at increasing immersion in a television narrative by enabling the viewer to interact with the scenes through haptic feedback. Therefore, it was important to,

  1. Explore various physical forms, in order to identify the form that would provide the maximum number of affordances required by the viewer, to interact with different objects displayed on screen.
  2. Identify a scene from a television show that could be used to design the narrative.
  3. Understand the interactions that would be relevant for the given television narrative.

The Synlab and ETV lab at Georgia tech worked collaboratively on this project and this was based on the lab’s area of focus. The Synlab was mainly responsible for designing and building of the tangible. And the ETV lab was mainly in charge of designing an engaging interactive narrative, exploring the possible relevant interactions and prototyping the same.

I was part of the team that worked at the ETV lab. The process we followed involved understanding the user characteristics by means of literature review and identifying the genres of shows that were popular and relevant for our context.

Forms explorations

Form explorations for the tangible

Designing the narrative

An important aspect of this project was to create a narrative that would work in harmony with the interaction design and thereby increase immersion. Therefore, we decided to choose a theme that would generate a visceral sensation of fear. And considering the popularity of the 'American Horror Story' we decided to use a scene from the show to design our narrative.

American Horror Story, Season 1

The complete flow chart


Building the narrative

The narrative was created by using scenes from the show. In addition to this, certain scenes were created either with Unity or filmed with the help of actors.

Universal Threshold Object - Prototype

The tangible was built using an Arduino mini, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, force sensors, vibration motors and a Bluetooth transmitter.

In order to create this interaction the Unity game engine was used along with HTML5 Video, JavaScript and CSS3.

Video of Prototype

My role

In this project I led the story-building team that not only helped finalize the whole narrative but also designed the frame by frame display such that it would effectively match the required interaction. In addition to this, I worked together with the team in the interaction design of the Universal Threshold Object (UTO).