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Posts in category 'Prototype'

17 January 2009

Itsme concept evaluation

Itsme
Some months ago I wrote on Core77 about Itsme, a new “design-driven” way of organizing the contents of a PC, covering both the hardware and the software of the workstation.

The project is developed by a group of Italian researchers, led by Giorgio De Michelis.

They just published the results of an expert evaluation that consisted of 117 interviews and 201 completed questionnaires.

“We adopted a Persona based evaluation method, where we showed our community 4 scenarios, followed by questionnaires and interviews. The aim was to basically evaluate the functional features that we have designed until now, analyse Itsme key values and issues, and delve deeper into the concept to understand how users perceive it.”

In the presentation you can see their findings and the analysis made from the evaluation.

Note that the presentation might be easier to understand if you take a look at this earlier general presentation. Also helpful are these videos and a scientific paper.

17 January 2009

Experience design for interactive products

Walter Aprile
Experience design for interactive products: designing technology augmented urban playgrounds for girls (pdf) is the long title of an interesting paper by Aadjan van der Helm, Walter Aprile and David Keyson of Delft University of Technology.

Recent technological developments have made it possible to apply experience design also in the field of highly interactive product design, an area where involvement of non-trivial technology traditionally made it impossible to implement quick design cycles. With the availability of modular sensor and actuator kits, designers are able to quickly build interactive prototypes and realize more design cycles. In this paper we present a design process that includes experience design for the design of interactive products. The design process was developed for a master level course in product design. In addition, we discuss several cases from this course, applying the process to designing engaging interactive urban playgrounds.

One of the authors, Walter Aprile (pictured), was a former Interaction-Ivrea faculty member at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

via InfoDesign

2 November 2008

Thinking by design

Design thinking
In a cover article, BrandWeek explores the value of design thinking.

While the design-thinking approach may sound rather seat-of-the-pants, the truth is that it’s surprisingly regimented, consisting of three phases: observation, ideation and implementation. [...]

Focus groups have their place, but in design thinking, observation means ethnography: Noting how consumers behave in their natural retail habitats the way Margaret Mead once analyzed the tribes of Samoa. The use of ethnography as a primary tool in product development has gained widespread favor during the past decade. [...]

Phase two of design thinking—ideation—is nearly as free-form as the observation stage, but adds the critical element of synthesis. [...]

In implementation, the final phase of design thinking, low-res prototypes go high-res and then become actual products.

Read full story

29 October 2008

Tinkering as a way of knowing

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang has written a long reflection on tinkering as a way of knowing following a recent conference on the same topic. It is highly recommended reading:

“You can define tinkering in part in contrast to other activities. Mitch Resnick, for example, talks about how traditional technology-related planning is top-down, linear, structured, abstract, and rules-based, while tinkering is bottom-up, iterative, experimental, concrete, and object-oriented.”

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is a research director at the Institute for the Future, a think tank in Silicon Valley. He is also an Associate Fellow at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, and a Senior Research Scholar in the Science Technology and Society program at Stanford University.

Read full story

(via IdeaFestival)

22 September 2008

More service design symposium videos online

Service Design Symposium
In March, the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (blog) organised a symposium on service design.

Some time ago, I reported that videos of three of the presentations (Bill Hollins, Bill Moggridge, and Jørgen Rosted) were online.

Meanwhile you can also see videos and read extensive synopses of the talks by Lavrans Løvlie (co-founder of the London-based service design consultancy live|work), Ezio Manzini (Milan Polytechnic), and Mikkel Rasmussen (ReD Associates).

8 September 2008

Nokia presentations at LIFT 08

LIFT09
Two of the three Nokia presentations at the LIFT Asia conference are now online.

Raphael Grignani (Nokia Design, USA) talked about how Nokia Design addresses environmental and social issues including recycling, energy and making the benefits of mobile technology available to more people, as exemplified by the Homegrown project.
Presentation (with audio)

Jan Chipchase (Nokia, Japan) explains the trends that will shape the future social, when we will have to evolve new use-practices and put a greater emphasis on communicating our intended use to people in proximity.
Presentation

Now Adam Greenfield (Nokia Design, Finland) still.

7 September 2008

The Adaptive City, an essay by Dan Hill

Men watching data
The Adaptive City is the title of an excellent essay by Dan Hill on recent ideas around urban informatics and urban information design, the impact of real-time data and collaborative planning on urban form, and most of all the changing role and new empowerment of people living in these cities. In Hill’s words: cities as an user interface for governance, in which [citizens] play an intrinsic role.

“However, these urban informatics do become manifest in the built fabric nonetheless; they have a potential physical presence, as the model is only partly concerned with drawing data from the city. It also feeds it back. Urban information design emerges in a call-and-response relationship with informatics, filtering and describing these patterns for the benefit of citizens and machines.

The invisible becomes visible, as the impact of people on their urban environment can be understood in real-time. Citizens turn off taps earlier, watching their water use patterns improve immediately. Buildings can share resources across differing peaks in their energy and resource loading. Road systems can funnel traffic via speed limits and traffic signals in order to route around congestion. Citizens take public transport rather than private where possible, as the real-time road pricing makes the true cost of private car usage quite evident. The presence of mates in a bar nearby alerts others to their proximity, irrespective of traditional spatial boundaries. Citizens can not only explore proposed designs for their environment, but now have a shared platform for proposing their own. They can plug in their own data sources, effectively hacking the model by augmenting or processing the feeds they’re concerned with.

If a group of interested parents suspect that a small playground added to the corner of their block might improve the health of their kids, with knock-ons for nearby educational facilities, cafés and the natural safety of a more active street, they can wrangle these previously indiscernible causal relationships into a prototype and test their new designs, garnering the requisite public engagement along the way.

Everyday design could become a conversation within social software networks, and citizens have data and tools that urban designers can only dream of. In fact, professional urban designers have this data too, and thus their practice is transformed.” [...]

“The new technologies of urban informatics and city information modelling enable citizens to reflect on their city, engage in the design, adapt their behaviour and the city around them. It could well lead to a new understanding and a new respect, and so to a new city.”

Dan Hill is a senior consultant at the renowned and highly innovative engineering firm Arup. Prior to that, he was the director of web and broadcast at Monocle and the head of interactive technology and design at the BBC.

The essay will be published in the exhibition catalogue for Urban Play, a project Scott Burnham conceived and then developed with Droog Design.

24 August 2008

Digital designers rediscover their hands

Adobe designers
The New York Times reports on how software designers get hands-on with real world objects to learn to think more creatively and intuitively, featuring examples from Adobe and Mike Kuniavsky’s Sketching in Hardware gatherings.

Using computers to model the physical world has become increasingly common; products as diverse as cars and planes, pharmaceuticals and cellphones are almost entirely conceived, specified and designed on a computer screen. Typically, only when these creations are nearly ready for mass manufacturing are prototypes made — and often not by the people who designed them.

Creative designers and engineers are rebelling against their alienation from the physical world.

The article concludes: “Bringing human hands back into the world of digital designers may have profound long-term consequences. Designs could become safer, more user-friendly and even more durable. At the very least, the process of creating things could become a happier one.”

Read full story

3 June 2008

Interview with Joy Mountford

Joy Mountford
The Spring issue of Ambidextrous, the design journal of the Stanford d.school, contains a fairly long interview with Joy Mountford>.

Joy has been designing and managing interface design efforts for over 20 years. Most recently she was vice president in charge of Yahoo’s user experience and design group (where she was recently “hounded out in a particularly nasty way“). Joy also worked at Interval Research Corporation and was the founder of Apple’s highly acclaimed Human Interface Group.

In the interview she talks about the future of interface design, the privacy challenge and a lot about prototyping.

Read interview

(via InfoDesign)

7 March 2008

A conversation about Torino with Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling
Today Torino World Design Capital published an interview Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken recently conducted with Bruce Sterling. This time not about spimes, ubiquitous computing or digital fabrication, but about his experience with the city where he lived for the last six months.

Bruce likes Torino and in this interview he gives quite a few reasons why. He goes into much detail about why “Turin is really a 21st Century” and how “it has somehow managed to deal with problems that many, many other cities, regions, cultures and nations have not yet faced up to.”

“Turin,” he says, “is one of those places that appeal to my temperament. If I were an Italian person, I would likely have been a Turinese.”

He also shares with us a content of a new story he has been writing:

“Yes, it’s a fantasy story set in Turin. The protagonist is a FIAT executive, but he’s also a necromancer. The story is set in an esoteric Turin where all the magical things that are said about Turin by New Agers are factually true.

There’s a chunk of the New Cross here and the Holy Grail is here. The Shroud of Turin really is drenched in the blood of Jesus Christ himself; there are all these ley-lines and axes of mystical power. Our hero who is an R&D investment guy at FIAT, is called into hell by Gianni Agnelli, who is dead, yet still upset about urban development issues in Torino. So he calls this former chairman down to hell to have a board meeting.

My hero, the necromancer, is accompanied by his spiritual advisor, an Egyptian mummy from the Museo Egizio whom he raised from the dead. This mummy accompanies him now and gives him good advice. It’s like the “Lone Ranger and Tonto” thing – him and his mummy. It’s a comical story, exaggerated and satirical, a fable about Turin and its issues. I could never have written it without being here.”

Bruce is now in the last days of preparation of the Share Festival that he has been curating. Come and see it if you can.

The interview is suffering a bit from poor layout and it is not so easy to see what my questions are, for instance. All the links have also magically disappeared.

Read interview

27 February 2008

Donald Norman in Torino, Italy on 15 March

Donald Norman
Donald Norman is probably one of the most prominent guests at the upcoming Piemonte Share Festival, curated by Bruce Sterling.

Norman will be part of a panel on Saturday afternoon 15 March entitled “Manufacturing Future Designs”.

The many conferences of the festival are delving into all kinds of variations of the overall “manufacturing” theme: Manufacturing Cultural Projects; Manufacturing the Streets; Dramatic Manufacturing; Manufacturing Intelligence; Manufacturing Robots; A Manifesto for Networked Objects; Manufacturing Digital Art; Manufacturing Future Designs; Manufacturing Consent; and Is Life Manufacturable?

Speakers and guests are many, including Montse Arbelo, Andrea Balzola, Massimo Banzi, Luis Bec, Gino Bistagnino, Julian Bleecker, Chiara Boeri, Stefano Boeri, PierLuigi Capucci, Stefano Carabelli, Antonio Caronia, Paolo Cirio, Gianni Corino, Lutz Dammbeck, Luca De Biase, Kees de Groot, Hugo Derijke, Giovanni Ferrero, Fabio Franchino, Joseba Franco, Piero Gilardi, Owen Holland, Janez Jansa, Nicole C. Karafyllis, Maurizo Lorenzati, Mauro Lupone, Giampiero Masera, Motor, Ivana Mulatero, Daniele Nale, Anne Nigten, Donald Norman, Marcos Novak, Gordana Novakovic, Giorgio Olivero, Claudio Paletto, Luigi Pagliarini, Katina Sostmann, Stelarc, Bruce Sterling, Pietro Terna, Franco Torriani, and Viola van Alphen.

27 February 2008

Yrjö Sotamaa on Helsinki’s new Innovation University

Yrjö Sotamaa
I recently interviewed Prof. Yrjö Sotamaa, President of the University of Art and Design Helsinki.

Sotamaa is the man behind the initiative to start a new Innovation University in Finland, by bringing together three Finnish top universities: the University of Art and Design Helsinki (TAIK), the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK), and the Helsinki School of Economics (HSE).

The goal for the new university, due to start in August 2009, is to be one of the leading institutions in the world in terms of research and education in the field of technology, business studies and art and design.

The initiative is a much bigger and ambitious version of a general multidisciplinary approach that is currently also being implemented in some other major centres of education. Design-London at RCA-Imperial will create an ‘innovation triangle’ between design (represented by the Royal College of Art), engineering and technology (represented by Imperial College Faculty of Engineering), and the business of innovation (represented by Imperial’s Tanaka Business School). Carnegie Mellon University puts design, engineering, and business students into teams to work on projects. And the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management pairs MBAs with design students in product development classes.

Classes for the 22,000 students will be in English, in order to attract students from all over the world (many of whom might end up working again for that famous Finnish multinational, Nokia, who is one of the sponsors of the initiative).

What is interesting too, is their radical choice for a human-centred, multidisciplinary, and prototyping approach.

Read interview

27 February 2008

Nokia morphs itself from within

Nokia Morph
Very interesting article on the BBC news site on how Nokia is transforming itself from a device manufacturer into a software and services company that monetises its software know-how through selling devices, and the strategic role that research plays in this endeavour. Some UX related quotes:

Dr John Shen, head of the Palo Alto Research lab, said his team was helping Nokia’s development as a services company.

“We see the intersecting of the internet and mobility. Nokia has been a device company and that will remain a lucrative business for years to come, but instead of waiting until we have to change, Nokia is looking ahead and making changes now.”

He said the focus for the firm was a “total solution”, encompassing hardware and software, but focusing on a “compelling user experience”.

“The company that understands the end user experience is going to have an edge,” he added. [...]

Dr Shen added: “When technology is below the user requirement, technology drives the industry.

“But once you cross over to the mainstream then you have to look at services and the user experience.

“The real focus now is compelling user experiences. It has to be user experience driven rather than technology driven.”

Read full story

4 January 2008

Scientist: ‘Hybrid’ computers will meld living brains with technology

Biomorphic
For sure Ray Kurzweil (author of The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology) and Bruce Sterling (who coined the term “Biot” – an entity which is both object and person – in his book Shaping Things) will enjoy this:

A scientist who successfully connected a moth’s brain to a robot predicts that in 10 to 15 years we’ll be using “hybrid” computers running a combination of technology and living organic tissue.

Charles Higgins, an associate professor at the University of Arizona, has built a robot that is guided by the brain and eyes of a moth. Higgins told Computerworld that he basically straps a hawk moth to the robot and then puts electrodes in neurons that deal with sight in the moth’s brain. Then the robot responds to what the moth is seeing — when something approaches the moth, the robot moves out of the way. [...]

This organically guided, 12-in.-tall robot on wheels may be pushing the technology envelope right now, but it’s just the seed of what is coming in terms of combining living tissue with computer components, according to Higgins.

“In future decades, this will be not surprising,” he said. “Most computers will have some kind of living component to them. In time, our knowledge of biology will get to a point where if your heart is failing, we won’t wait for a donor. We’ll just grow you one. We’ll be able to do that with brains, too. If I could grow brains, I could really make computing efficient.”

Read full story

(via UsabilityNews)

17 December 2007

A designer at the intersection of physical architecture and information systems

Jeffrey Huang
Bruno Giussani posted his running notes of Jeffrey Huang’s inaugural lesson at EPFL, the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

“Architecture and design, says my friend Jeffrey Huang (photo), are becoming the interface between physical and virtual lives. And that’s his field of study: how can constructs (buildings, cities and landscapes) incorporate digital communication systems? What are the effects of digitization on the typologies of cities today?

Last week, professor Huang — who among other things was instrumental in creating the Swiss House in Boston, now called Swissnex — gave his inaugural lesson at EPFL, the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne, where he runs the Media and Design Lab (he was previously at the Harvard School of Design). Here my running notes.”

Read full story

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.

4 December 2007

Philips Design investigating the unknown

Tattoo
The current issue of the magazine of Philips Design contains a long article about the company’s design research approach:

“Scientists send probes into deep space in an attempt to get a better understanding of the unknown. Philips Design does something similar with its own probes projects. These ‘far-future’ research initiatives often track trends and developments that are no more than tiny blips on the cultural radar, but which may ultimately evolve into mainstream issues that have a significant impact on Philips’ business.”

Read full story

2 December 2007

Kitchen Budapest summer projects

Kitchen
2007 Summer at Kitchen Budapest (Paperback)
by Bircsák Eszter, Somlai-Fischer Szabolcs (ed.)

Kitchen Budapest (KiBu), opening in June 2007, (see also here) is a brand new media lab for young researchers who are not only interested in the convergence of mobile communication, online communities and urban space, but who are also ready to get their hands dirty creating experimental projects in cross-disciplinary teams. This book shows the results of the summer projects that were more than twenty in number.

From we-make-money-not-art:

“The chapter on Mobile Expressions demonstrates the kind of playful content that can be created using mobile phones; Intelligent and Charming Things is about the way that objects around us can interact with us and even create a culture of their own; Dynamic Media Interfaces shows compelling new ways to explore (or perform) digital content; i guess i’ve lost everyone here and you’re already busy reading the book but i’ll keep on describing the catalog just in case. So, we’re now at the chapter called Community Technologies which comes up with ideas for a better support for communal interaction and communication. The remaining pages are dedicated to a brief presentations of some of the workshops which took place at Kitchen Budapest (aka. KiBu).

Some of the projects developed are simples, other are quite sophisticated, some will appeal to the hacker, others have a clear interaction design feel, they are sometimes poetical, often thought-provoking and always interesting.”

Download book (pdf, 20 mb, 168 pages)

12 November 2007

Book: ‘Processing’ — and the design critics rave

Social network
Processing is an open-source programming language that can be used by students, artists, designers, architects, researchers, and anyone who wants to program images, animation, and interactivity. There were many people involved in making Processing to what it is now, but at is origins were two people – Casey Reas and Ben Fry.

Casey and I were both involved at the meanwhile defunct but very well known Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. I got to know Casey as a warm, humble and brilliant interaction designer and a very strong artist.

Now MIT Press has published a book by Casey and Ben on Processing and the recommendations it goes with are worth quoting:

“Processing is a milestone not only in the history of computer software, of information design, and of the visual arts, but also in social history. Many have commented on the pragmatic impact of the open source movement, but it is time to also consider Processing’s sociological and psychological consequences. Processing invites people to tinker, and tinkering is the first step for any scientific and artistic creation. After the tinkering, it leads designers to their idea of perfection. It enables complexity, yet it is approachable; it is rigorous, yet malleable. Its home page exudes the enthusiasm of so many designers and artists from all over the world, overflowing with ideas and proud to be able to share. Processing is a great gift to the world.”
Paola Antonelli, Curator, Architecture and Design, MOMA

“This long-awaited book is more than just a software guide; it is a tool for unlocking a powerful new way of thinking, making, and acting. Not since the Bauhaus have visual artists revisited technology in such a world-changing way. Ben Fry and Casey Reas have helped a growing community of visual producers open up fresh veins of expression. Their work proves that code is open to designers, architects, musicians, and animators, not just to engineers. Providing a powerful alternative to proprietary software, Processing is part of a new social phenomenon in the arts that speaks to self-education and networked engagement.”
Ellen Lupton, Director of the graphic design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and Author of D.I.Y: Design It Yourself

“A whole generation of designers, artists, students, and professors have been influenced by Processing. Now, a handbook is published that goes far beyond explaining how to handle the technology and boldly reveals the potential future for the electronic sketchbook.”
Joachim Sauter, University of the Arts, Berlin, Founder, Art+Com

(via Bruce Sterling)

5 November 2007

Does sustainable product development require user-centred design?

Design is the Problem
Nathan Shedroff, the new programme chair of the MBA in design strategy at California College of the Arts (see also this post), gave a very powerful talk entitled “Design is the Problem” at the recent Connecting ’07 congress on the topic of sustainability and design.

His presentation (pdf, 2.7 mb, 81 slides) provides an overview of the various sustainability frameworks and provides insight on what sustainable product development actually means, or could/should mean.

Far down in the presentation, new words pop up to describe the sustainable design process: “user-centric design”, “iterative prototyping”, and experience”.

Nathan clarifies: “More meaningful products as well as ones that better meet our needs don’t require us to buy more and more things (in order to fill those needs and desires). Fewer, more meaningful, effective, and sustainable products will be more fulfilling and more sustainable than more and more less fulfilling, effective, and meaningful ones. In addition, devices that adequately meet our needs, especially technological ones, often have the effect of not only dematerialising competing products but also products in other categories (like the iPods and iPhones are doing).”

According to Allan Chochinov of Core77, Nathan is now working on a new book which has the same title as his Connecting ’07 lecture. I am already looking forward to it.