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Posts in category 'Jan-Christoph Zoels'

9 December 2007

Cats, kids and experience design

The Marker
Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels was profiled last week in “The Marker“, Israel’s number one business and technology newspaper and part of the Haaretz media group. Below is the English translation by Saar Shai.
 

CATS, KIDS AND EXPERIENCE DESIGN

by Ora Coren

Either a mobile-phone, a computer or just a table – Jan-Christoph Zoels sees displays all around. With Italian company Experientia, he’s designing the future of the palm of your hand: smart and friendly.

He’s dynamic, vibrant, bursting energy and ideas, and no wonder he’s one of global industry’s hottest designers, especially in the technological front. Jan-Christoph Zoels’ resume is filled with leading, multi-national corporations as Hitachi, Sony, Samsung, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, Orange, Fiat, Vodafone, Telecom Italia and Ferrero.

Conversing with him leads to the inevitable conclusion that the future is in displays. It could be a computer-screen, a large table monitor or any electronic terminal (kiosk), but it seems that what really gets him excited are handheld displays. Everything becomes interactive, intuitive, anticipating users’ needs and doesn’t warrant an entire weekend of reading and memorising instructions and large manuals. For Zoels, the interface is the essence of design.

A smart and friendly interface, one that not just addresses needs, but also provides for a pleasant experience, would probably be the main motif in future industrial design, in every possible field. Evidently, ideas and products of his are presently assimilated among brand names such as Blackberry, Nokia and even the chocolate manufacturer Ferrero, and they are all high-tech. In the time he has left, he takes the time to invest in traditional crafts, such as pepper shaker designs – that age old instrument for grinding pepper, in a polished and colorful version – for the Italian Tre Spade, which is also a versatile company, with one department making household appliances while another making shift-gears for the international auto industry. There too, Experientia, where Zoels is a senior partner, remains devoted to the principle of experience, by designing also packages, communication pathways with consumers, and the brand’s web entity.

Zoels’ very noticeable German accent rely his origin. He finished his masters degree in Rhode Island School of Design. He has another masters degree in industrial design from the Berlin Art and Design Academy.

After spending some years in the US, head of the design department of Sony’s local branch, among other positions, he decided to go back to Europe with his family, and settle in one of the world’s design superpowers – Italy.

This week he arrived in Israel, along with Experientia’s head of R&D – Professor Yaniv Steiner, also residing in Italy. Steiner is considered the technological mastermind behind many of the company flag products and projects. The two conducted a series of lectures at Bezalel School of Art and Design, in a course named “Food and thoughts” led by Yaron Ronen and Steiner himself. The object of the course was to design interactive artifacts that will support social interactions.
 

Experientia – An attraction for Israelis

The Experientia staff includes 4 Israelis out of a total of 15 employees, destined to increase to 20 by the end of the fiscal year. One might therefore think that Israel is a considerable force of global design, although it is clearly not. Industrial design is not an integral part of Israeli industries, so it’s no wonder that prominent Israeli designers are forced to find their way into international companies.

Zoels offers Israelis, known as highly creative in programming, the possibility to take a substantial leap forward to a future that is just around the corner, and to be able to combine technological developments with focusing on the user’s perspective. That is, to evaluate the needs of the users, and find new approaches for making their lives easier and more efficient.

“Especially in Israel, which is known for its software, but not for its final design of applications,” says Zoels, “it is important to move the focus from the technological aspects of an application, to the people using it. Israelis need to progress to the stages of interface. This is a higher form of design. Academia should teach that in a combined and integrated way.

There are those who work in art and those who work in code. They should work together, side by side with sociologists and designers. An interdisciplinary step is required. Focusing on the service, not the just the product. “To think broadly,” he explains.

“This was the process that molded Experientia. Two years ago we decided to establish a company specialising in many fields, instead of just another design firm,” he adds. “We combine several proficiencies within one integrated proposal to our clients”.

“We spend a lot of time thinking about future trends, about the enjoyment of the user, about his current AND future needs, about the obstacles to usability and how design can eliminate those. Usually, designers focus on their process of creation. We get out inspiration from the issues the end-user faces.”

We produce a prototype relatively quickly, to allow us to test and assess ideas, and to check on potential profitability. We’re very fast and interactive. This is unique in this market.”

Usually, the process of design starts with a thousand ideas drained and ends with the one product on the market. R&D departments or academia narrow down the one thousand ideas into a hundred business opportunities. Traditionally, they also eventually reduce them to five that then get developed and tested before one is put on the market. We believe that if you can prototype these ideas quickly and cheaply and test them with potential consumers, it will be much easier to make a decision on how to best move forward. Our added value is that we offer 60%-80% certainty that the final product will indeed sell, because it is already based on experience with the consumers.”

“Most products we design are related to mobile technology, for companies such as Nokia, Swisscom, and others. The products under development are confidential and a time-span of two years is required for taking them to market.”

“One of the leading direction mobile devices are taking is joining advanced technologies and user-friendly interfaces. The combination of art and design is, in fact, the combination of need and enjoyment.”

“Art is the biggest skill in production, and this coincides with design. What is eventually produced is not only a product, but a pattern of behaviour. A way to allow new interactions between people, and between them and the product, that will fill previously unfulfilled needs.”
 

Seeing presence

“The next generation of mobile-phones will incorporate elements that are already widely available on the personal computer. In the near future we will see the presence of our conversation partners,” Zoels promises.

Exactly like MSN or Skype enable you to notice if someone is online of not, mobile communication would be just the same. Presence will require new interaction procedures. Usability will go from written text to sending mail messages and IMs. We will see who, from our contacts list, is online, and can be contacted. We will be able to see his condition, such as if he’s busy driving, and if he can answer, whether in writing or by voice.”

The design concentrates on the cognitive aspect: how to rely information and other interactions that technology supplies, in the simplest way possibility, and how to do that with the least effort from the user.

On Zoels’ mobile appears a collage of five pictures. “Through our research we found that people usually talk outside of work with no more than five contacts regularly,” he claims. Pressing one of the individual pictures enlarges it. If an X appears besides it, the contact is not available. If a V appears, communication is possible immediately. An additional batch of icons makes it possible to choose the type of communication, such as voice, message, text chat or music sharing.

We will also be able to accept requests on our mobile. For instance, when the picture of Catherine is blinking, it is a sign of an incoming message. An accompanying icon of a phone is a sign of an incoming call. The new mobile will inform us about the general location of the person we called, by cross-referencing three antennas in the vicinity.

The transition from film to digital data led Kodak to change its business model. Experientia is there to help them define their next generation services. Kodak founded kiosks to print pictures directly from the mobile-phone. “They have more than 90 thousand kiosks all over the world, in malls, photo stores and franchises in the US. In Europe they are based in electronics shops, providing the means to print swiftly and in high quality,” says Zoels.

“We conducted a research and discovered that people invest a lot of meaning into photographs. They want to make collages and albums, and add captions and comments. How is that seamlessly possible? This is the art — taking pictures and creatively composing something new,” Zoels continues.

“For example, whoever wants to make a collage from pictures of his cat and children, on his mobile-phone, would be able to access a new Kodak kiosk and personally create it, by moving the pictures from side to side, modifying their size, cropping… and virtually anything he can think of. It will be possible to add text, choose a background, and much more, in a process called Multitouch.” The new product is destined to reach the market in twelve months.

Even the Kinder eggs surprise toy, from Ferrero, will be upgraded and will no longer be just a lifeless plastic. Abiding to confidentiality, Zoels replies in suggestive questions. “Will the toy be just plastic, or embody interactivity? Maybe it will respond to hear or touch?” The product will most likely be connected to a computer or a mobile-phone, where it will be possible to control it.
 

Ecology in fashion

Another trend in design is ecology. The aforementioned pepper shakers, for example, are manufactured in an ecologically friendly manner. “In the United States, it is mandatory to enter the market with a story, a narrative on that. The number of ecologically aware costumers is rising. Those are 30-40 years-olds with money, not looking for plastic from China, but for a nice present for a friend. How do you infuse value with attractiveness? With an ecological fingerprint,” says Zoels.

A new development by Steiner was presented at a European art fair and attracted a lot of attention. Deutsche Telekom already turned to Experientia to further test the application.

The development is based on a large, inner-lit table, which is entirely an interface. The user places and moves his hands above it, and pictures from exhibition catalogues appear on the screen. Kids and adults activated the table without any need for written instructions.

When speaking of future trends, it is impossible to ignore social networks such as Facebook. Zoels is convinced that those too will find their way to mobiles that will gradually become more like laptops and less like phones.

In other words, the small screen and advanced technologies are about to become very dominant in our lives. To those afraid of new technologies, there’s also good news in this prediction. The industrial designers will make sure that even users not accustomed to high-tech will receive a friendly interface, without complicated and unnecessary applications, and might even enjoy it.

28 September 2007

A mobile revolution is taking place in the developing world

Phone use in Africa
The mobile platform is currently undergoing somewhat of a revolution in the developing world — and so are people’s lives — with Africa now more advanced than the rest of the world in terms of mobile banking. The user experience challenges are only beginning to be addressed.

If you want to keep abreast on developments in this field, here is a crop of news stories from just this last week:

A recent special report in Business Week on how basic cell phones are sparking economic hope and growth in emerging — and even non-emerging — nations. The report takes a particular look at the micro- and macro-economic impacts of this development, and what it means for local entrepreneurs and major mobile operators. It also features an online extra on the use of mobile phones by artisans and tradespeople in rural India, a summary graphic and a slideshow;

A Reuters story on the beeping boom in Africa, what the social practices are, and how that is pushing mobile operators to innovate their services;

A post on the Vodafone R&D Betavine blog on the Mukuru Kash service that like Paypal will store funds that you pay to them online and then set up a voucher which can be redeemed at the petrol station for fuel;

Next: bridging the digital divide, a recent post by Niti Bhan, where she puts developments in the bigger picture of bridging the digital divide between the digital haves and have nots, and wonders what will happen if all these people in the developing world can also start accessing the internet from their mobile devices;

In a recent post on mobile banking, Barbara Ballard of Little Springs Design guides us to three blogs on the topic: Mobile Banking (news and analysis from Brandon McGee, a VP in charge of mobile banking), Mobile Money & Banking, and Mobile Banking, the blog of Hannes van Rensburg, CEO of a South African mobile banking provider Fundamo.

Note by the way that all the user research work by Jan Chipchase and others seems to have paid off: Nokia dominates the mobile handset landscape in India with an astonishing 74% market share.

26 July 2007

Former Experientia intern, designer on Pentagram Design project that just won prestigious IDEA award

Interactive model of Lower Manhattan
Former Experientia intern Nina Boesch was the designer and programmer (under the creative lead of Lisa Strausfeld) on Pentagram Design‘s “Interactive model of Lower Manhattan” that just won an Industrial Design Excellence Award.

Co-sponsored by BusinessWeek magazine and the Industrial Designers Society of America, the Industrial Design Excellence Awards recognise the best product designs of the year.

This interactive architectural model of Lower Manhattan is the visual and educational centerpiece of Wall Street Rising‘s new Downtown Information Center. It provides information about the area’s history, points of interest and events. The model also serves as a communal space that visitors and residents can gather around, fostering a sense of community. A gyro-mouse is used to navigate and highlight streets, buildings and other sites, and information about the selections is projected onto the model. In addition to practical information, there are also eight short historical documentaries about the area.

Nina Boesch was born in 1978 in Bremen, Germany. She studied at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen, Germany (where also current Experientia collaborator Marion Fröhlich graduated from) and at the Rhode Island School of Design (where Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels studied and taught and two other current Experientia interns – Laura Cunningham and Young-Eun Han – graduated from).

Last year Boesch won the 2006 Adobe Design Achievement Award in the category “interactive media” with her RISD thesis project “Manhattan Dissected“, an interactive application based on a subjectively viewed Manhattan. She started working for the New York Pentagram office after her graduation in 2006.

Janina was an Experientia intern in January-February 2006 and worked on several projects, including the design of this blog.

6 May 2007

LIFT conference video selection

LIFT 07
I found some time today to watch the videos of the 2007 LIFT conference presentations. Here are my preferred ones:

  • Panel discussion on technological overload with Stefana Broadbent of Swisscom Innovations (14:25);
  • Daniela Cerqui, anthropologist at University of Lausanne, about “Towards a society of cyborgs?”;
  • Jan Chipchase, principal scientist at Nokia Research Center, about “Literacy, Communication & Design” or how illiterate people are lead users for people who want simplicity;
  • Régine Debatty (we-make-money-not-art.com) and France Cadet (french artist) about “do biologists dream of robotic art?”;
  • Nathan Eagle, research scientist at MIT, about “Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control”;
  • Fabien Girardin, researcher at the Pompeu Fabra University, about “Embracing the real world’s messiness”;
  • Adam Greenfield, principal at Studies and Observations NYC, about “Everyware: Further down the rabbit hole”;
  • Sampo Karjalainen, chief creative officer at Sulake Corporation, about “Open-ended play in Habbo”; and
  • Jan-Christoph Zoels, director of user experience design at Experientia, about “Jumping jack flash – new forms of interactions”.
7 February 2007

Jumping jack flash – new forms of interactions

LIFT 07
My Experientia business partner and friend, Jan-Christoph Zoels, is one of the main speakers at LIFT 07, a conference that starts today in Geneva, focused on the “challenges and opportunities of technology in our society”.

In his talk tomorrow entitled “Jumping jack flash – new forms of interactions“, Jan-Christoph will present “some key trends and design ideas for our interactions with devices, services or applications”.

“As more and more devices support location-aware, contextual or rich media, how will we interact with them, choose content, navigate or connect multiple sources of information? The presentation explores gestural, haptic and other sensorial interfaces for a variety of applications. The success of Nintendo’s Wii game controller exemplifies the migration of traditional task-based interfaces into the realm of explorative and entertaining interactions. What will the poetic interfaces of tomorrow be?”

Other speakers include Robert Scobble, vice president of media development at Podtech; Régine Debatty of we-make-money-not-art; Stefana Broadbent, head of User Adaption Lab at Swisscom; Jan Chipchase, principal scientist at Nokia Research Center; Bruno Giussani, writer; and Sister Judith Zoebelein, editorial director of the Internet Office of the Holy See; to name just a few.

UPDATE:
- Tom Hume’s notes on Jan-Christoph’s talk
- Jan-Christoph Zoels : quelles nouvelles formes d’interaction ? French summary by Daniel Kaplan
- Audio interview of Jan-Christoph Zoels by Nicole Simon

1 February 2007

Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels on interaction design

Antwerp
This Monday (29 January 2007), Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels gave the opening speech during an interaction design workshop week at the Higher Institute of Integrated Product Development, Antwerp, Belgium.

During his presentation, he started from the definition (by Rogers, Sharp and Preece) that interaction design is about “creating experiences that enhance and extend the way people work, communicate and interact.” He then described the four key areas that interaction design is focusing on — human-computer interaction and interfaces; technologically mediated human to human interaction; interaction between humans and devices in contained enviroments like museums, shops and offices; and responsive architectures and spaces — and showed a large number of examples to highlight how the field of interaction design is developing.

A video of the lecture (30 min.) can be seen on Google Video.

8 November 2006

Experientia shows gesture-based interface at international art fair

Artissima
At Artissima, the international fair of contemporary art in Torino, visitors are able to use simple hand and arm gestures to browse a visual catalogue of recent art work exhibited at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, an important museum in the city.

The technology is based on sophisticated gesture recognition, while the end-result for the visitor is a radically simple content navigation system in which the images are projected on a large screen, and interaction is performed via nothing but a flat luminous surface.

The project was developed by Jan-Christoph Zoels, Yaniv Steiner and Ofer Luft of Experientia, the Turin-based international experience design consultancy.

A prototype of the gesture-based interface was previously used to navigate Google Earth and to guide club dancing during a music rave. The various interfaces are all based on the smartRetina™ technology, which provides the designer with a programmable “eye”, allowing him to easily design new experiences and interactions which do not require a tangible interface.

YouTube video

5 October 2006

World Usability Day on 14 November – major event in Milan

World Usability Day
The Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) organises on 14 November 2006 its second global World Usability Day, with events in more than one hundred cities around the world.

The World Usability Day event in Italy, which is also aimed at a non-specialised audience, will take place at the University of Bicocca in Milan on 14 November from 10am to 2pm. The aim is to share a design culture that puts people and usability at the centre of innovation. In particular, the day will focus on two themes:

  • How prototypes can promote usability – with speakers Yaniv Steiner (software prototyping specialist), Daniele Galiffa (3D user experience specialist), Prof. Roberto Polillo (HCI and prototyping specialist) and Roberto Giolito (Advanced Design Manager at the FIAT Group).
     
  • Integrating usability and creativity to achieve ‘pleasure of use’: with speakers Régine Debatty (we-make-money-not-art), Giovanni Padula (founder of CityO and Creativity Group Europe), Jan-Christoph Zoels (user experience designer and Experientia co-founder), Prof. Giorgio De Michelis (computer science) and Prof. Sebastiano Bagnara (cognitive psychology).

The Italian event is sponsored by Experientia and organised by Experientia’s president Michele Visciola, who is also the president of the UPA-Italy chapter, member of the editorial board of UPA’s User Experience Magazine, and author of a recent Italian book on web site usability.

During the event, which will be moderated by Visciola, Matteo Penzo will present the UXNet network.

More information can be found on www.webusabile.it.

15 September 2006

Belgian experience design lab getting off the ground

Media & Design Academy - Experience Design Lab
One of the exciting initiaves within the Belgian C-Mine project is a new Experience Design Lab within the Media & Design Academy, a platform with the double function of integrating and transforming the various disciplines of the academy, and enabling the school to reach out to and collaborate with the social and economic tissue of the region they are in, through a new and engaging vision.

To better define the vision and the concept of the lab, the academy has invited some authorities in the field for a one day conference on Friday 29 September. Nathan Shedroff will deliver the keynote address. Other speakers include:

Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken myself will moderate one of the sessions. The project is guided by academy director Henk Heuts, project manager Jan Louis De Bruyn and programme manager Virginia Tassinari. Virginia, who only last year moved to Belgium from Italy, coordinates the content development of the lab and is one of the driving forces behind its visioning.

The event, which will be held in English, is open to an interested public, so if you are near that area, do register on their website.

The Experience Design Lab and the C-Mine project in general are endeavours close to our heart, since they are sited in an area Mark grew up in, embody a social and engaged vision of design, and are driven by a dynamic group of young people.

26 July 2006

Experientia partner leads new media workshop in Canada

Jan-Christoph Zoels at Banff New Media Institute
Interactive Screen is the title of an acclaimed new media development think tank, organised each summer at the Canadian Banff New Media Institute, to focus on the creative, social and business impacts of digital art, technologies and networks.

The 2006 workshop (August 13-18) is (again) lead by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels, described in the Banff Centre newsletter as “one of Europe’s leading interface and application designers”.

Interactive Screen attracts a mix of international and Canadian new media luminaries and rising stars to reflect on the current state of the art and the shape of things to come.

The six day program features case studies, workshops, performances and one-on-one mentoring, allowing participants the time and space to share in understanding of the social, cultural and business potential of new media.

This year, Interactive Screen challenges its own boundaries by exploring the ambiguous notion of margins and migrations. Margins can be taken to mean ‘profit’. They also point the way to the ‘outside’. These terms provide participants with a means to turn and twist the meaning of media. Media forms have the power to migrate through the boundaries that define our experience — turning them inside out, and outside in. At the interface, it becomes possible to make ‘profit’ share in the values that we choose to make ours.

21 June 2006

Play Today – an Experientia report on the latest trends in electronic toys and games

Play Today - current trends in electronic toys and games - by Experientia
Over the last few months, Experientia, the experience design consultancy, has been exploring the latest trends in electronic toys and games and gathered the results in a small internal report.

Rather than just keeping it all for ourselves, we decided to upgrade the report into an external document, which is now publicly available.

Report author Myriel Milicevic (who worked with editors Jan-Christoph Zoels and Mark Vanderbeeken, both Experientia partners), introduces the report as follows:

Technology is not just propelling the adult world, its forces have also set a driving spin on the worlds of toys and fantasy.

How will our children’s development change as they journey into life, softly wrapped within responsive illuminated blankets? How different will their perceptions be of themselves and their world, from the ones that we once had about ourselves and our world?

This is not an exhaustive document. It merely tries to gather some observations of what is out there, what the masterminds of the toy industry are cooking up, what makes kids and adults go crazy, and how the small rebel players in the game try to break the rules and make up their own.

Feedback is warmly welcomed.

Download report (pdf, 4.7 mb, 71 pages)
(updated link)

11 June 2006

Interaction-Ivrea’s final show

Limited edition
I have just uploaded a series of short features on the graduation projects by the final students of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, now located in Milan.

List of featured projects (some of which were supervised by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels):

- Ana Camila Pinho Amorim: uni.me
- Aram Saroyan Armstrong: Pooptopia
- Dave Chiu: Thimble
- Didier Hilhorst: Patchwerk
- Oren Horev: Talking to the Hand
- Tristam Sparks: Undiscovered Country
- Victor Szilagyi: herescan
- Nicholas Zambetti: Occasional Coincidences
- Alejandro Zamudio Sánchez: Mulecular Urban Ludic Entity (MULE)
- Haiyan Zang: Control Freaks

Download graduation speech by Jan-Christoph Zoels, senior associate professor at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea and senior partner of Experientia, at the graduation of the last 17 graduate students of Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

As of next week, the Institute will be entirely absorbed within the Domus Academy‘s ‘I-Design” programme. Domus Academy will keep on using the brand name “Interaction Design Institute” but not the staff nor the vision of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

11 June 2006

Discover and experience location-based services

Herescan desktop
From advertising, to gaming, to civic services, location-based media are augmenting our surroundings with layers of information. But how to juggle all these services?

herescan is a suite of tools that allows you to discover and experience location-based services and media while you are out and about”. It was developed by Victor Szilagyi as his graduation project at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

“The system comprises of a mobile application, a server-based content aggregator and a hardware peripheral that makes you aware of the content around you without keeping you glued to the screen.”

herescan is designed for urban explorers — individuals looking to sample the full range of experiences their surroundings can provide.”

“By employing a wander, discover and train model, herescan slowly learns your tastes and suggests relevant content and services. While moving through town, herescan continually searches the internet for content related to your location and serves up new perspectives into your everyday environment — from news clips and archival photos to llive recordings from the performance venues that give your hometown its unique flavour.”

The project was co-supervised by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels in his capacity as senior associate professor at Interaction-Ivrea.

Visit thesis blog

(This post is the seventh in a series of short features on the graduation projects by the final students of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, now located in Milan. As of next week, the Institute will be entirely absorbed within the Domus Academy‘s ‘I-Design” programme.)

11 June 2006

Patchwerk, a social tool to analyse popularity and status in the digital world

Patchwerk
Patchwerk is a social tool that analyses popularity and status in the digital world. It was developed by Didier Hilhorst as his graduation project at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

“A suite of web-based tools allows people to manage and track their digital identity and compare their status with others, individually or in groups.”

“The Patchwerk web application gathers what you publish and what is published about you. It lets you manage your publications in a centralised and easy-to-use environment. You can join groups, add friends and compare yourself to others”

You can access Patchwerk through a widget or directly through its website.

The project was co-supervised by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels in his capacity as senior associate professor at Interaction-Ivrea.

Download thesis report (pdf, 911 kb, 47 pages)

(This post is the fourth in a series of short features on the graduation projects by the final students of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, now located in Milan. As of next week, the Institute will be entirely absorbed within the Domus Academy‘s ‘I-Design” programme.)

11 June 2006

Pooptopia, a pet waste removal urban game

Pooptopia
Pooptopia, the Interaction-Ivrea graduation project of Aram Saroyan Armstrong, is a pet waste removal service/game that explores the interplay of service design and entertainment.

A few days ago Régine Debatty summarised Pooptopia on her own blog we-make-money-not-art as follows:

“Pooptopia pushes the boundaries of the rising service economy and joins a new breed of games that reclaim the urban environment for play, while struggling to become economically self-sustainable.”

“Pooptopia LBS is a pet waste removal service for city neighbourhoods. It utilises location-based technology to locate, monitor and respond to problem areas. The service incorporates stakeholder action into the solution by empowering dog owners, poo-haters and poo-hunters to easily mark the location of pet waste for pick-up by the Pooptopia service and municipal sanitation workers.”

“The goal of the Dark Treasure (Tesoro Scuro) game is to discover dog poo, make a picture of it and email it, with the location of the finding and your name or the name of your team. The claim will earn you points. You can earn double point if you also mark the exact location of your discovery on Pooptopia’s Tesoro Scuro Map. This “treasure map” is used to create nightly pick-up routes for the Pootectors, Pooptopia’s pet waste removal squad. Over time this data helps define zones as “Pooptopias” and “Puptopias”, which affects the cost of dog ownership and rewards responsible canine-loving communities: the poorer the rating, the higher the service fee.”

The project was supervised by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels in his capacity as senior associate professor at Interaction-Ivrea.

Visit thesis website

(This post is the second in a series of short features on the graduation projects by the final students of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, now located in Milan. As of next week, the Institute will be entirely absorbed within the Domus Academy‘s ‘I-Design” programme.)

11 June 2006

uni.me, a new mobile communication service centred on people’s availability

uni.me
What if a mobile phone could provide easily glanceable information of people’s availability?

To answer that question, Ana Camila Pinho Amorim developed uni.me, a new mobile communication service and Ana’s graduation project at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

uni.me supports us in the management of our social network. People’s availability is the main criterion of uni.me’s interface design, which is centred on people and time, rather than folders and functionalities, and explores the distribution of people on (and off) the screen as the way to define people’s availability to one another.

As illustrated by the image on the left, the essence of the interface visualises our availability. The phone user’s availability to others is defined by opening and closing her scope of availability [light-blue circle], and therefore including more or less people within it. Other people’s availability to the user is visible by the colour change of the bubbles: people represented in white are currently available to her, people in blue not.

In fact, the interface is much richer and also allows for address book functions, text messaging, voice and data transfer, call and calendar management, etc, all of which is described in detail in the thesis report.

The project was supervised by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels in his capacity as senior associate professor at Interaction-Ivrea.

Download thesis report (pdf, 7.55 mb, 60 pages)

UPDATE: Read Régine Debatty’s review of this project

(This post starts a series of short features on the graduation projects by the final students of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, now located in Milan. As of next week, the Institute will be entirely absorbed within the Domus Academy‘s ‘I-Design” programme.)

17 April 2006

New features, new look and new home for Putting People First

Experientia
This is the first post in the relaunched Putting People First, a gateway full of resources for the experience design community.

Sporting a clean and refreshing design by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels and Janina Boesch, PPF is conceived to function as an entry gate for all matters related to experience design, user experience and innovation.

Features and tools

The top navigation bar, an idea of Experientia partner Michele Visciola, organises all categories, including some new ones, grouped under easy-to-remember headings, whereas the right-side column features “The Guesthouse”, with feeds from a guest blog and the latest news from Experientia.

The site takes advantage of some of the more advanced WordPress technologies. Readers will particularly appreciate the Live Search and Live Archives tools, which allow highly accurate search and easy access to the archives. For more information on the how and why of this site, check the About section.

Guest bloggers

We are pleased to announce that we will be opening up Putting People First to guest bloggers and guest contributors. If you are interested please write us: info at experientia dot com.

URL, post links, redirects, email updates and new rss feed

The URL is www.experientia.com/blog. All old post, category or archive URL’s on the former TypePad blog at blog.vanderbeeken.com will automatically redirect to the corresponding page on the new site.

However, please make sure to update your rss feed (which will not update automatically) and bookmarks.

You can also choose to receive your Putting People First updates via email rather than via an rss reader or by viewing the web site

Webmasters and bloggers: it would be nice if you could also update your blogrolls and post links. If you linked to a particular post (you can check this by doing a search for “vanderbeeken”), click on it and you will automatically be taken to the same post on the new site.

Design and development credits

The site was redesigned by Jan-Christoph Zoels and Janina Boesch. Technical development was in the hands of the WordPress wizzard Beverly Tang.

17 February 2006

Mattel workshop on play experiences for the next generation

Mattel_workshop
Looking to generate new ideas about the future of play, Mattel invited the Interaction Design Institute to present concepts during its company-wide Play Experiences for the Next Generation workshop.

Children discover the world through play. Playing shapes human mental and physiological development, social relationships, identities, and learning processes. The emergence of the computer as an interactive medium has elevated the importance of computer play and computer games, which are of particular interest commercially.

Digital technologies increasingly inform play opportunities, from creating imaginary worlds to enabling new social interactions (for example, distance communication). Physical computing brings a tangible component back into computer-mediated play. Games, as a form of intentional play, are interactive by nature, as every player is a participant and cannot remain a passive observer. Games touch on almost every area of interaction design, starting from social interactions between numerous players to HCI issues when it comes to designing the actual physical or virtual interfaces.

The workshop was lead by Jan-Christoph Zoels, a senior partner at Experientia and senior associate professor at the Interaction Design Institute.

Visit workshop website

25 January 2006

Experientia attending LIFT conference

Lift06
Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels will be attending the meanwhile sold out LIFT conference next week. If some of the Putting People First readers are going to Geneva as well, do seek him out.

Aside from his role in Experientia, Jan-Christoph is also a senior associate professor at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, where he teaches graduate students and leads collaborative innovation workshops with business, including Sony, Hitachi, Nokia, Alcatel, Orange, Fiat and Telecom Italia. Previously he was director of information architecture for Sapient (New York), and senior designer at Sony Design Center USA, responsible for strategic product development.

18 October 2005

Experientia site launch

Experientia
Today we launched the website of Experientia, the new experience design company founded by business specialist Pierpaolo Perotto, usability expert Michele Visciola, user experience strategist Jan-Christoph Zoels and communication strategist Mark Vanderbeeken.

The site contains plenty of information on who we are, our approach and our experiences. In a few days we will also add the Italian version of the site and upgrade the design of this blog.

Please feel free to provide us with your feedback.

The site was built in WordPress by Beverly Tang. Photography and site design are by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels and designer Aram Armstrong. Logo design is by Christian Palino. Texts are by all of us, and I took care of editing and project management.