Atlantis Hub Display

The Challenge

How can we design a large environmental displays that is highly readable, understandable, and engaging to members of the public?

Atlantis Hub is the central point for all travelers, so people need a display that is easy enough to make quick decisions such as where to go next, how much time it will take to their next destination, and what is activities are available.

Project Affiliation

Carnegie Mellon


Fall 2018

Using Data as a Design Material

For this project, my team and I had to learn how to work with data as a design material to meet the needs of users. This mean that we needed to understand the metadata to be familiar with groupings, causality, time series increments, and frequency of change.

Because the data that was so raw, our group created a model that allowed us to clearly see what was available to us so that we could identify all the possible relationships within the data. Additionally, we picked out important data points from the different modes of transportation and created relationships between them to see the similarities and differences. Finally, our group mapped out the destinations to see which routes can be taken using the three modes of transportation. This allowed us to figure out the number of routes to each destination to aid in our decision making about which destinations to prioritize.

Discovering the Needs of Personas

For this project, we were given three personas, a director of transportation, a retired resident, and an engineer visiting for business. We explored the needs and goals of each persona to help us further understand each of them, and made it easier to find similarities or differences. This also allowed us to identify what data would satisfy each user’s needs.

We further explored the similarities and differences between the personas by mapping them on a Venn Diagram. This helped us figure out which data is key and we should therefore prioritize. This also allowed us to explore what niche data that is only useful to one user would be acceptable to sacrifice.


During our ideation phase, our team put an emphasis on ideating based off of the needs we had uncovered from our persona-data mapping.

To utilize everyone's strengths, each person individually sketched display using paper and pen. We then studied the sketches collectively and picked out elements we liked. From there it was clear that time, and modes of transportation would be the major themes for our display, but we liked innovative ideas such as a timeline or multiple screens.

Early Iterations

We had two hand-drawn sketches for our initial prototypes because we really liked the benefits of both displays and had trouble deciding which one we were going adopt.

The first hand drawn sketch represented destinations that are available from Atlantis Hub, and contained information such as weather and travel time. We liked the idea of users such as Patrick knowing details, such as the weather or the modes of transportation available, of his destination beforehand.

In the second hand drawn sketch, we used a timeline to illustrate the time it takes to reach a destination using a particular mode of transportation, denoted by each mode's unique line design. This sketch ultimately allowed us to paint an overall travel schedule in the user’s mind and illustrate the possible ways to get to a destination.

For the next round of prototypes, we digitized our hand sketches. For the destination screen, we had cards to visually separate all the different destinations. These cards included a dedicated weather line and rectangular boxes holding the next three trips to the destination. The purpose of this screen was to give extra details to the users about the different possible trips to each destination. 

For the timeline, we had icons that represented each mode of transport to allow the user is to see what's leaving Atlantis Hub and subsequent connecting destinations. We also had different colored lines representing the status of the trip. We also included the time bar to indicate the current time.

Final Design

For our final design, we made each destination a uniform box. We also decided to split up the destinations into two screens so that we can make each box bigger to improve the readability of the text and spacing out the elements. Finally, we kept the icons, but decided to further denote the mode of transportation through line styles. We used wavy lines for a ferry because it represents the sea, and trains by closely spaced vertical lines representing train tracks.

For the destination screen, we used clear boxes and left aligned the destination name to create a consistent design language that linked the screens together. We also removed the weather since it was not the main focus. Finally, we used different colors to emphasize information that may be useful to the user.

For our final design, we decided to couple our display with a physical control to make the experience better. For the control, when an activity is pressed, it will display the location of the activity on a new map screen. We decided to come up with this control to inject some fun into our display. This is fitting because the San Juan islands are a popular tourist spot. This control would also help optimize the number of visits to the different tourist spots spots across the San Juan Islands. 

The map screen shows all the travel destinations from Atlantis hub and the possible transportation modes to get there. Whenever the button is pressed, the map display will take over the screen and there will be a blinking area which corresponds to the area where the activity is found. The blinking will occur for no more than a couple seconds. and the display will then return to alternating between the time display and the destination display.

This is a quick video that demonstrates our design using motion to incorporate changes in important data. Our motion includes transitioning destinations for the time screen, a dissolved to the destination screen, and motion that signals the changing of flight status and the amount of seats available on a train.

 A unique aspect of our project was that we decided to include a PTF app. PTF is Elizabeth's new travel program, and we thought that an app provided more value compared to a physical pass because it’s convenient for the users because a large majority of people today carry smart phones. However, we do recommend that there should still be a physical pass option for the older residents.

Also with the app, we can provide value for Elizabeth for its easy data capture. The app can track data, allowing Elizabeth to see how many new PTF members there are as well as which flights are in high or low demand to create an optimal flight schedule.

Future Work

The next step is to experiment with digital display control that changes by season since not all the activities are year round. Also, the buttons on the physical control seemed to lack perceptual affordance since it was not obvious to one of our peers that the figurines were buttons. This could be a point of improvement in future work.

Additionally, one are of improvement on the screens is that we would also implement a feature/motion that indicates the amount of time left that is for a particular screen, or an indicator that communicates to the user which screen the display is currently on. This would better communicate to the user that there are multiple screens.

© 2019 by Nathan Jen