counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


July 2006
19 July 2006

Kitchen cabinet: new ideas for connecting people and politicians

Kitchen cabinet
Kitchen Cabinet is a project, initiated by the UK Design Council, to design and prototype new systems of interaction between (UK) MPs and constituents and to create an open resource of ideas, suggestions and best practises that MPs can use to strengthen the connection between people and politicians.

“[People] don’t know who their MP is, what he does and they certainly don’t trust him. Like many in Britain, they feel disconnected from the very person meant to represent them.”

“Our research suggests that this can be changed, in part, by making the hard work of MPs more visible, and better communicating their role and relevance. We’re finding that it’s very important that MPs have spaces and opportunities where they can engage more proactively with their constituents — not only when a crisis erupts.”

“Kitchen Cabinet starts with the constituent’s perspective. We have been listening to the perceptions and experiences of constituents in North East and South East England and we are in the process of identifying a number of design opportunities that MPs can use to improve their relationship with local voters.”

- Kitchen Cabinet website
Project summary presentation (pdf, 964 kb, 11 pages)
Complete user research report (pdf, 1.71 mb, 107 pages)
User research summary film (55 mb, 10 min.)

19 July 2006

Whirlpool tests “smart” washers and dryers

Whirlpool washing machines
Whirlpool Corp. is looking to speed up the day when most consumers will be able to monitor and control appliances from their computers and cell phones.

The world’s largest appliance company on Tuesday began testing “smart” washing machines and dryers at three homes in metropolitan Atlanta.

The pilot project, called “Laundry Time,” is designed to making doing laundry easier by sending alerts to consumers via televisions, computers and cell phones.

In a recent demonstration of the project at a Whirlpool studio in Atlanta, messages from a specially equipped front-loading washer popped up in real time on a television screen in a different room.

Consumers can also get instant messages from computers or cell phones telling them, for instance, that a wash cycle is completed or that a dryer has not been turned on.

Read full story

19 July 2006

Real Time Rome: MIT reveals Rome’s live traffic info via mobile phones

Real Time Rome
In a two-page article, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports on “Real Time Rome“, a project by Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab that “uses aggregated data from cell phones, buses and taxis in Rome to better understand urban dynamics in real time. By revealing the pulse of the city, the project aims to show how technology can help individuals make more informed decisions about their environment [in the hope that] it [will] be possible to reduce the inefficiencies of present day urban systems and open the way to a more sustainable urban future.” [Text from project website]

[The text below is from La Repubblica, freely translated by the author of this blog]

“In large cities millions of mobile phones constantly communicate their exact location to the mobile operators. Nothing surprising: these phones function precisely because companies like Tim, Vodafone, Wind and H3G can locate them at any moment and provide them with a clear signal. MIT will use the mobile phone location data from Rome that it obtains from Telecom Italia (obviously under anonymous aggregation), to proces them in its computers in Boston, and to return them to Rome in a map that shows the movements of the inhabitants of the city.”

“The results of this processing, which involves the use of complex algorithms (that for instance can figure out the difference between a very slow mobile phone located in the pocket of a pedestrian from one of a driver stuck in traffic) will arrive nearly instantaneously, so that the city will have real time updates on its traffic situation.”

“With the availability of such a tool, people cannot only choose the least busy street to go to a restaurant, but also the least busy restaurant itself. By analysing the location of mobile phones with a particular country code, it is even possible to analyse the flows of tourists: where are the Germans going? How are the Japanese getting around? By combining the traffic data with those of public transportation, one can immediately understand if the bus distribution in a city corresponds to user density, therefore user needs. People can use their mobile phone at any moment to check the presence of the closest taxi and call it, or they can find out where they can find the nearest (and next) available parking space.”

“The “Real-time-Rome” will be presented in September at the Biennale of Venice 10th International Architecture Exhibition.” […]

“The project also involves Google, (the Rome public transport company) ATAC, Samarcanda Taxi and the City of Rome, which will provide mega screens during the testing phase so that Romans can follow their own movements throughout the city.”

19 July 2006

Don Norman’s case for activity-centred design

Don_norman
In a column written for Interactions Magazine, Donald Norman argues that human-centred designers should not just create clever taxonomies, but also task-onomies.

“Many of the design tools used by the Human-Centered Design community lead to well-structured, carefully organized designs, often using powerful card-sorting and hierarchical clustering algorithms to make similar things be located near one another. Call this the “Hardware store” organization. Hammers are in the hammer section where they are all logically arranged. Nails are in the nail section.”

“The hardware store organization is based upon a taxonomy: appropriate for libraries and for stores where the major problem is locating the desired item out of context. But note that some stores have learned to provide activity-centered organization in addition to their normal classification. Thus, smart food stores put potato chips and pretzels next to the beer. And some even put beer next to the diapers, so that when a shopper makes a late night, emergency trip to get more diapers, why there is the beer, temptingly convenient. Sensible, well-organized logical design would not support this real behavior.”

“The best solution is to provide both solutions: taxonomies and taskonomies. Some websites organize all their items logically and sensibly in a taxonomic structure, but once a particular item has been selected, taskonomic information appears. For example, if examining a pair of pants, the website might suggest shoes and shirts that match. Look at a printer and the website might suggest ink, paper, and other related accessories. Buy a book, and the website suggests other books on related topics, or sometimes, books purchased by other people who also bought the book under consideration. Such recommendations based upon past behavior are often superior to recommendations based upon logic.”

Read full story

19 July 2006

Misunderstood phones costs industry US$4.5 billion [Cellular News]

Mobile device
A new report from WDSGlobal has revealed that 63% of mobile devices returned as faulty are in perfect working order. This ‘No Fault Found’ (NFF) returns rate exceeds the industry average for general consumer electronic devices by 13% and is costing the mobile industry US$4.5 billion globally. These findings drawn from 15,000 monthly post sales support calls taken on behalf of a major UK retailer are directly attributable to the generally poor user experience met by mobile subscribers when first using a mobile phone.

Closer examination of the ‘No Fault Found’ returns calls revealed that 38% were from users abandoning devices after struggling to use a specific application, 13% were based upon mis-sold devices, where users claim that the device did not fulfil the purpose for which it was sold, and 49% were from users who diagnosed lack of service pre-configuration as a device fault.

With each device returned costing operators, manufacturers and retailers in the order of £35, the overall bill to the UK mobile industry is approximately £54 million and US$4.5 billion to the global mobile industry in wasted expense.

Read full story

(via Usability in the News)

17 July 2006

Human integration and the death of the device

Brain interface
In an article on the website of MEX – the PMN Mobile User Experience conference, editorial director Marek Pawlowski writes about the future of user interfaces, mobile handsets and human integration.

“Technologies exist today to help evolve mobile devices towards more natural, seamless interfaces.”

But, Pawlowski ponders, “if technology [were to] negate the requirement for a physical handset, will users eventually abandon mobile devices? Is the handset fundamentally a barrier to a good user experience? Is the best user interface one which doesn’t exist at all?”

“The primary barrier to more ‘human’ mobile interfaces is humans themselves. We are creatures of habit and followers of fashion. We are accustomed to interfacing through keypads and soft-key confirmation buttons and we will be slow to change our ways. Indeed, there is an argument the last 20 or so years or ‘keyboard culture’ have fundamentally changed our perception of what is natural. For many young teenagers, key-based input is their first language: they text in preference to voice calls, they instant message in preference to group discussion and they type in preference to handwriting.”

“Owning the mobile device itself may also be additive to experience. In a society which values consumption and where marketing messages convince us to aspire towards physical ownership of the latest technology, we have come to naturally associate the best experience with the most expensive devices. Vanity, competitiveness, fashion – all of these thoughts govern our willingness to invest time in learning to work with inefficient interfaces.”

Read full story: part 1part 2

16 July 2006

Emotionally aware computer designed to read people’s minds [Business Week]

Emotions research
University of Cambridge professor Peter Robinson “has developed a ‘mind-reading’ computer that can interpret reactions and feelings by analyzing a person’s facial movements” (see research project website), writes Mark Scott in Business Week.

“Developed in conjunction with researchers at [the Affective Computing group of the] Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the computer uses a camera to capture people’s facial expressions and then applies sophisticated pattern-matching technology to recognize emotions ranging from confusion to concentration.”

According to the author, “automakers, online retailers, and teachers are interested in the potential commercial and educational benefits of the mind-reading computer, which could enable the use of more personalized and adaptive products, services, and learning experiences,” although there are some serious privacy concerns about the increased collection of personal information this technology implies.

- Read full story
– Related articles: BBC News, BBC Radio 4 (mp3, 13.6 mb, 14’51), Daily Telegraph, Reuters, Times Online

14 July 2006

Measure user experience through engagement, not satisfaction

iMedia Connection
“Satisfaction has long been considered the cornerstone for evaluating the strength of a company’s relationship with its customers. After all, a satisfied customer should have no incentive to take their business elsewhere, right?”

“But what do we mean by satisfaction? Is it the process by which we meet a need or the effect of satiation that follows? This distinction can mean a world of difference. Engagement — that is, attracting and engrossing customers — is the measure that will determine the true value of a customer relationship.”

This is the argument of Brian Manning, user experience specialist at Molecular, a US technology consulting firm, who then goes on to give five reasons why we should shift our collective focus toward engagement.

1. Satisfaction is a measurement of past experience, not an indicator of future behavior.
2. Extremely satisfied customers often act and behave no differently than less satisfied customers.
3. Engaged customers become the medium for the message.
4. Negative engagement can hurt you more than you know.
5. Engaged customers add more to the bottom line.

Read full story

14 July 2006

Report: The next step in brain evolution [Sunday Times]

Teens online
Technology is dividing us into digital natives and digital immigrants, says Richard Woods in a long story in the Sunday Times that ponders the impact of rapid digital change on the way we think.

“Emily Feld is a native of a new planet. While the 20-year-old university student may appear to live in London, she actually spends much of her time in another galaxy — out there, in the digital universe of websites, e-mails, text messages and mobile phone calls. The behaviour of Feld and her generation, say experts, is being shaped by digital technology as never before, taking her boldly where no generation has gone before. It may even be the next step in evolution, transforming brains and the way we think.”

“That’s what makes Emily a ‘digital native’, one who has never known a world without instant communication. Her mother, Christine, on the other hand, is a ‘digital immigrant’, still coming to terms with a culture ruled by the ring of a mobile and the zip of e-mails. Though 55-year-old Christine happily shops online and e-mails friends, at heart she’s still in the old world. ‘Children today are multitasking left, right and centre — downloading tracks, uploading photos, sending e-mails. It’s nonstop,’ she says with bemusement. ‘They find sitting down and reading, even watching TV, too slow and boring. I can’t imagine many kids indulging in one particular hobby, such as birdwatching, like they used to.'”

The article goes on to quote Lord Saatchi, Marc Prensky, an American consultant and author, Steven Johnson, author, Dr. Anders Sandberg, who is researching “cognitive enhancement” at Oxford University, Helen Petrie, a professor of human-computer interaction at the University of York, Pam Briggs, professor of applied cognitive psychology at Northumbria University, Nathan Midgley of the TheFishCanSing research consultancy, Andy Clark, a former director of cognitive science at Indiana University and Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University

Read full story

14 July 2006

The future of human-computer interaction [ACM Queue]

ACM Queue
Prof. John Canny of the University of California at Berkeley has published a thoughtful and in-depth article on the future of human-computer interaction in the July/August issue of ACM Queue, a publication of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), “the world’s first educational and scientific computing society”.

He claims that “for many years [the development of] HCI has been evolutionary, not revolutionary” and that “this is about to change” because IT is moving in everywhere (e.g. PC’s outside the office, cellphones, gadgets) and there is now rapid progress in the capabilities to make these devices context-aware, socially integrated, and personalised for the user, with more sophisticated perceptual interfaces (e.g speech, vision).

The article then goes on to stress Canny’s own work in perceptual and context-aware interfaces and introduces the rest of the magazine (content not available online) which covers the state of the art in these new interfaces.

In speech interfaces, full continuous large-vocabulary recognition opens up whole new application possibilities for smart phones and may do much to break the usability barrier for these devices. Most of this technology was developed by VoiceSignal. The issue opens with an interview with Jordan Cohen, a pioneer in this field, about the growth of cellphone speech interfaces, their potential, and the challenges still remaining.

The issue’s second article looks at computer vision-based interfaces. James Crowley, who directs the GRAVIR (Graphics, Vision and Robotics) laboratory at INRIA Rhône-Alpes in France, is a leader in this area, who developed a rich model of context considering “situations” and “scenarios.”

The third article looks at context-awareness in a biology lab. Gaetano Borriello, computer science professor at the University of Washington, leads us through some field tests of the Labscape system, which is intended as an efficient but unobtrusive assistant for cell biologists.

In the final article, Jim Christensen and colleagues from IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Lab argue for human interpretation of context information. They describe two systems that exemplify this approach: Grapevine, a system that mediates human-to-human communication to minimise inappropriate interruptions; and Rendezvous, a VoIP conference-calling solution that uses contextual information from corporate resources to enhance the user experience of audio conferencing.

Read full story

13 July 2006

Can a crowd really edit our daily paper? [The Guardian]

The Guardian
Can a crowd really edit our daily paper? This is the lead question for an opininon piece by Vic Keegan of the UK newspaper The Guardian.

“The digital revolution is turning ordinary people into both creators of content (whether videos, online journals or books) and arbiters of the process that decides what gets published and how it is rated.”

However, Keegan is not convinced that this approach might work for anything but niche publications.

“News selection based on the ‘wisdom of crowds’ may be brilliant when applied to technology stories but could easily turn into the madness of crowds and the death of serious news if applied to everything that happens.”

“A journal in which all content is judged by readers runs the danger of making the Sun look distinctively upmarket.”

Keegan concludes that “newspapers may turn out to have a comparative advantage in becoming “trusted sites” at a time when an explosion of blogs not only makes it impossible to read even the best of them regularly but also to decide what is true.”

Read full story

13 July 2006

Consumer generated campaigns

Kodak - create your own commercial
TrendBlog reports on how marketers are engaging consumers to do the marketing for them, by sharing self-made content and creating their own commercials, mostly for fame, sometimes for money. The article contains some short case studies from American Express, Current TV, Kodak and Revver.

“As technology enables consumers to carry out their creativity and produce actual content without any outside help, marketers can actually start to harness the creativity of their own target group. Given their freedom, creative consumers might show real talent. Some of them probably won’t even describe themselves as consumers but as aspiring filmmakers, creatives, art directors, producers. Consumers actually become one with the brand.”

“Consumer Generated Campaigns offer a new, strategic way to make it beyond the screen into the actual life of the consumer, by simply sharing their personal material. Since people are increasingly eager to share their life, pictures and videos, this concept is bound to be successful.”

Read full story

13 July 2006

Crowdsourcing: consumers as creators [Business Week]

Threadless T-shirt
Writer Paul Boutin writes in Business Week about a “new trend [that] allows customers to help design the products they buy” and analyses a paper on the topic of crowdsourced product design, written by Susumu Ogawa, a professor of marketing at Kobe University in Tokyo, and Frank Piller, a professor at TUM Business School in Munich, and recently published in MIT’s Sloan Management Review.

“Crowdsourcing is the unofficial (but catchy) name of an IT-enabled business trend in which companies get unpaid or low-paid amateurs to design products, create content, even tackle corporate R&D problems in their spare time.”

“Crowdsourcing is a subset of what Eric von Hippel calls ‘user-centered innovation,’ in which manufacturers rely on customers not just to define their needs, but to define the products or enhancements to meet them. But unlike the bottom-up, ad-hoc communities that develop open-source software or better windsurfing gear, crowdsourced work is managed and owned by a single company that sells the results.”

“To paraphrase von Hippel, it relies on would-be customers’ willingness to hand over their ideas to the company, either cheaply or for free, in order to see them go into production.”

Read full story

12 July 2006

Negative user experience of World Cup on mobile phones [MEX]

World Cup mobile user experience
The 2006 World Cup in Germany was seen for a long time as a potential watershed for mobile data usage and a great way to drive momentum around mobile TV in particular. As the event drew closer, the industry became more realistic in its expectations: broadcast mobile TV was still barely out of the pilot stages in most major markets and patchy 3G coverage, high subscription costs and poor viewing quality were limiting the uptake of streamed services.

However, right up until the opening of the competition, some research companies were still bullish on the revenue prospects. Informa T&M predicted USD 300m revenues from mobile TV services during the World Cup.

With the winners decided on the field, we can take a somewhat more realistic view of users’ experiences with mobile data during the competition. An NOP poll of UK subscribers (commissioned by Olista) found 29 percent of people who used a World Cup service were ‘first time’ data users, persuaded to experiment by their desire to keep up-to-date with events in Germany. Clearly the industry’s marketing was persuading people to try new applications.

The same survey found that 44 percent of all customers (i.e. both new and experienced mobile data users) would not use the service again.

Far from building momentum around mobile data, these figures would suggest the net result of the World Cup has been to generate a negative user experience among mobile subscribers.

Read full story

10 July 2006

Emphasis on user needs is key in European innovation strategy

Finland's EU Presidency logo
Success in the global economy is increasingly determined by firms’ ability to respond innovatively to the changing views and needs of customers and users – the demand-side of the market. So far, the way in which market demand facilitates innovation has received less attention in European policy formulation than the private and public funding of R&D and expenditure on education, which typically represent supply-side policies.

This paragraph is lifted from the first page of the paper “Demand as a driver of innovation – towards a more effective European innovation policy” (pdf, 54 kb, 6 pages), a discussion note to the informal meeting of the competitiveness ministers that takes place today and tomorrow in Jyvaskyla, Finland.

“For this reason,” the document continues, “it has become important to ensure that European innovation policy places sufficient emphasis on market demand and the needs of users.”

Huw Jones of the news agency Reuters comments: “The presidency’s heavy emphasis on the role of market forces and competition, particularly in traditional public services, may raise hackles among some member states, but is likely to find some backing from the EU’s executive Commission. “Innovation is where Europe appears to lag most behind its main competitors,” the Commission said in a statement. “The EU invests about a third less in research than the United States, and the EU/U.S. innovation gap has not narrowed in recent years. Meanwhile emerging countries like China and India are fast becoming world-class centers of research and innovation,” the EU executive said.”

According to the Reuters story, Finland is taking the lead role in pushing forward European innovation. The basic idea is to move from a “supply-side” approach (i.e. specific targets for aggregate R&D spending) to a “demand-side” approach that will make European firms more sensitive to the demands of the market.

(via The Business Innovation Insider)

10 July 2006

Women and consumer technology [CNET News]

D&G phone
Leslie Katz and Erica Ogg of CNET News wrote a long feature story with many examples on women and consumer technology. Women, they say, “have a message for gadget makers, and it’s not all about pink.”

“Out of $107.2 billion spent [in the US] on consumer-electronics technology in 2005, men accounted for 54 percent, or $57.9 billion worth, of those purchases, and women took care of 46 percent, or $49.3 billion, according to market research firm The NPD Group. That’s an 18 percent increase in spending by females compared with the previous year, when women rang up $41.9 billion in gadget purchases. Men spent about the same amount in 2004 as they did in 2005.”

“It’s increasingly not just about having a gadget, but having a functional product that enhances the life of the family,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group. “The idea that people go online to go shopping–that makes the computer (purchase) something of a household decision. It’s not just guys in charge of the gadgets.”

“Whether the wallet is being wielded by a stay-at-home mom, a working woman or any of the other countless variations on the 21st century female, gadget makers are taking note. Major companies including Apple Computer, Motorola, Eastman Kodak, Sony and Nintendo are giving products like cell phones, USB flash drives and handheld game devices bursts of color and graceful lines, and featuring women prominently in ads. Some designers, meanwhile, are developing products with an exclusively female audience in mind.”

“Most of the women I know play a lot of different roles in their lives, and they’re all very important to them,” said designer Steffi Card. “They don’t use (a gadget) just for business. They need it for their personal lives, their friendships, their family, all of these things.”

- Read full story
View image slideshow

10 July 2006

Snapshots from the future

Snapshots from the Future
Danish futurist Peter Hesseldahl has published a new book called Snapshots From the Future, which includes 7 short stories that describe life 25 years from now, reports Dominic Basulto in the Business Innovation Insider.

The full text of the book, translated in English, is available at the website of Danfoss Universe.

According to Peter, the book is “light and inviting” and has a heavy emphasis on pictures in order to keep the reader engaged.

The Institute for the Future blog has posted a concise review of the book, including a review of the 7 scenarios for the year 2030:

Your memories as a multimedia presentation. The liferecorder is an electronic gadget descending from the mobile phone, the iPod and the camcorder. It is capable of recording and storing every action, appointment or experience in your life.

Digital aura. No more fumbling with keys, mobile phones or portable computers. Use your digital aura to signal to everything and everyone.

As you wish it. Rebuild your car in ten minutes, have the colors of your nail polish change with your mood – or create your own line of furniture as if it was built from LEGO bricks.

Pharming. Future farmers grow artificial meat from the molecular level – and energy is a major cash crop. It’s hard to recognize the old country side.

Our extended nervous system. Wearing the scanner net you can sense what others feel – or you can control a robot or virtual character.

Drugged. Welcome to a future where taking drugs to perform at your best is… natural.

Robo-pet, man’s best friend. Our surroundings come alive. Toys will speak, systems will think, and we will become very emotionally attached to our robots.

10 July 2006

The dance of people in public spaces [The New York Times]

Grand Central notes
Last year architect and set designer David Rockwell was hired to design the “interior experience” (arrival, departure, retail space) of the new JetBlue terminal being built at JFK Airport, writes Jesse Green in the New York Times (as reported by Christopher Fahey in Signal vs. Noise).

Looking for a new angle on movement vs. environment, Rockwell took a strange turn: He hired choreographer Jerry Mitchell to help him.

The duo started out by looking at what they considered well choreographed spaces in New York, like the Grand Foyer at Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central Station, and Union Square.

The New York Times article “Passengers May Pirouette to Gate 3” (permanent link) examines the collaboration and takes a look at the dance of people in public spaces. There’s also an accompanying audio slide show that looks at the process and its results.

8 July 2006

Going online for health [International Herald Tribune]

Continua Alliance
The costs of health care have gradually been passed along to the end user; more and more, the information needed to manage our health is within easy reach as well, on the Internet.

The European Union, for instance, last month opened Health-EU Portal, an Internet gateway to reams of data and references on topics from alcohol to toy safety.

In addition, the Google search engine now gives you an easy way to refine your results when you are seeking information on something as basic as headaches: on the resulting page of links, you can then choose to get other pointers sorted by treatment, symptoms or in categories like “from medical authorities” and “causes/risk factors.”

And a large consortium of technology companies, led by Intel and ranging from Philips and Samsung to IBM and Motorola. this month formed an alliance to figure out how to produce home health devices that communicate over the Internet using just one standard. They foresee a day when not just the costs and information but also the tools for managing health are in the hands of the patient.

Read full story

6 July 2006

More information on Dott, the UK regional design initiative

Dott 07
Dott is a ten year programme of design innovation, initiated by the Design Council, that will take place every two years in a different region or nation across the UK.

The programme encourages the innovative use of design as contribution to economic, cultural and social success of the UK and will provide the opportunity for designers, businesses and public service providers to engage with citizens in improving national life through design.

Dott will be an inspiring, involving and educational initiative for young people and various groups of citizens. Its aim is to raise knowledge of the value and importance of design to our wellbeing.

Each Dott biennial will respond to the specific needs and ambitons of the region concerned. The aim is to foster an inclusive and participatory approach to design that will stimulate long-term change and create a lasting legacy.

The first Dott – Dott 07 – takes place in North East England in 2007. It is organised in partnership between the Design Council and the region’s development agency, One North East and led by programme director John Thackara and executive producer Robert O’Dowd.

Dott 07 will take eight core themes – energy and environment, sustainable tourism, school and community, health and wellbeing, mobility and access, town and country, food and nutrition, and housing and home – and work with local communities within the region to frame specific challenges as design opportunities.

Dott 07’s projects are organised into three programme strands: Public Commissions, which involve real people in real places, exloring how design may improve an aspect of daily life; Education, aimed at school pupils, college students, teachers and local communities, working together in collaborative projects; and Design Showcases, which are events in museums, galleries and festivals that explore the present and futures of design.

The recently relaunched Dott 07 website – which comes with its own blog – illustrates some of the projects, which are already in the works: Lo Carb Lane, Future School, Health Wise, Alzheimers 100, Move Me, Smart Town and City Farming.

The results of all Dott 07 projects will be presented at the Dott 07 Festival in October 2007.