Consciously Controlled!

Updated: Mar 7, 2023Personal project
Augmented Reality Mobile Application

The Why?Inspiration
Residing in the United States, I've frequently contemplated op-ed columns, viewing them as a potential expression of a "freedom of speech" privilege less common in certain global regions. In some parts of the world, op-eds aren't as prevalent, with a focus on topics like technology and stock forecasts, avoiding the political or accusatory arenas.

The What?"Consciously Controlled" is a personal project, showcasing real-time articles from the op-ed section of The New York Times within expansive speech bubbles. The large speech bubbles are reserved for NYT articles, while smaller ones symbolize less influential publications, constrained by the inability to publish "political opinions" without facing potential repercussions. The redacted parts represent the censored words and filtered phrases that never saw the light.

The How?Tools
  • Unity engine 
  • Photoshop
  • JSON file from nytimes developers site

I focused first about getting AR to work without thoroughly thinking about design. I played around with different fonts and speech/thought bubbles and placed a bunch of underscores next to each other to imitate a redacted text.

Early prototype showing an extruded plane in the shape of a thought bubble

After making getting it to work and being done with the technical stuff (documented below). Using a simple design, I was able to convey my idea visually, while also providing space for interpretation and explaining my thought process. I've experimented with different types of design, colors and placements. 

Accessibility Choices 
In order to make this design accessible, simple, and relatable to newspapers, I chose a monochromatic style. I ran the colors through a contrast checker and they passed WCAG 2.1 Level AAA, and they are color blind safe. For the font, I chose ‘Calibri’ since it has a publication look and feel to it, and is also dyslexia friendly. I went with font size of 19pt then expanded the canvas to position it relatively to meet the eye level at the position of instantiation. 

Easter Eggs
  • To illustrate that some opinions matter more than others, and to touch upon censorship and the fear of speaking one's mind in some countries, certain speech bubbles are larger than the redacted ones. 
  • Some of the redacted text is written from left to right. This is because I don't want to focus on one region.

My goal was to grab an API from an international publication. Based on my research and prototyping, I found that the NYTimes provides a customizable API key. The API Key for the Op-ed section is not available, so I've used the one for 'Article Search' and specified in the code to grab exactly two articles. 

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