About MEML

Housed within USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, The Mobile & Environmental Media Lab’s design methodology straddles the cultures of visual storytelling, games, and interaction design. Accordingly, our work mashes together conceptual tools of storytelling (dramatic arc, character motivation, conflict, obstacles, and resolution) with the core concerns of game design (systems, procedures, constraints, objectives, resources, core mechanics). Our research has explored context- and location-specific mobile storytelling, interactive architecture, vehicular and environmental lifelogging, and automotive experience design.

Overall, this research investigates the idea of ambient storytelling and how the built environment can act as a storytelling entity that engages and interacts with the people in specific spaces. Development of personalized responsive environments is enabled as people engage with these locations and build a relationship with the spaces they spend time in every day. By integrating context-aware interactions and access to backstory about an environment, ambient stories emerge and can be accessed through mobile and pervasive computing technologies and applications.

Our current research concepts came out of early research about new models for mobile advertising in which the goal was to create compelling experiences in contrast to the current state of mobile advertising, which relies on banner ads or text messages. The idea of backstory, location and context-specific information about products and objects became a recurrent theme when thinking about new forms of advertising. This became the groundwork for our current research into ambient and mobile storytelling. In addition, the practice of lifelogging, or documenting and broadcasting oneʼs daily activities with wearable computing devices, has been another important focus of our research. However, instead of people documenting their activities, we focus on designing lifelogs for the built environment. These lifelogs for physical spaces combine various building, environmental and human sensor data, as well as collaboratively-authored character development. These elements, when combined, create the groundwork for ambient, mobile storytelling.