Microsoft’s Richard Harper spent Tuesday at the University of Dundee.
Richard focused on Changing Humans in the evening to a large audience made up of scientists, engineers and designers. It was fascinating and focused on How the designers of computer systems have altered their vision of the human user.
He began by telling us the present is full of shadows. But how do we know what shadow to follow? The key tool is language; metaphors, similes, synonyms, contrasts and imaginings. We need to develop tools to enable us to SEE in different ways. The skill is knowing which way, when, why and what that will gain you.
So people love to chat, love to give and love to share. Using SMS, video, links we love to make our friends laugh! We all have fantastic imaginations and this is proved by the way people tie themselves together in new webs of networks.
“People want to play…and why not!”
For those who weren’t there you really missed some fascinating insights!!
Keep up to date with similar lectures coming up soon!
BBC News has a story (with video if you follow the link) on a new portable reading device:
I love reading newspapers. Really I do. But whenever I read one on the train to work or on the bus, I always seem to end up sparking complete chaos.
Either the passenger sitting next to me gets it in the face with my elbow, or half the pages of my daily collapse onto the floor into an embarrassing heap which, in rush hour, is rather difficult to clear up.
But soon my problems with paper could be over.
At Plastic Logic’s factory in Dresden, British engineer Dean Baker shows me a new kind of newspaper.
What’s new about it? Well, for a start there’s no paper – it’s electronic.
The device looks just like a table mat, it’s as light as a magazine.
But onto it you can download hundreds of newspapers and – at the touch of a button – browse through them quite safely, without elbowing anyone ever again.
Read the rest and watch the video
Interesting article from the BBC on attempts by deaf people to lobby MPs over phones:
Deaf campaigners fighting for equal access to the telephone are lobbying MPs at a reception in Parliament.
Consortium group TAG said deaf people were being held back in their jobs and lives because phone technology was no longer easily available or affordable.
Chairman Ruth Myers said it was vital services keep pace with technology.
Deaf people can communicate using phone systems which either turn speech into text and vice versa or use sign language interpreters via video link.
Another system called captioned telephony, which uses speech recognition technology to convert an operator’s voice into text, closed in December for funding reasons.
Ms Myers said: ‘No-one can participate fully in today’s fast-moving society without easy and affordable access to the telephone.
Read the rest of the article here
The iPhone has resulted in an explosion in mobile application development, including innovative uses of the built-in accelerometer. The low cost of most of the apps has also led to people experimenting with their purchases, leading some developers to rake in tens of thousands of dollars a month, making it a profitable way to spend time coding.
It’s the innovative apps that drive development forwards – even the apparently useless ones like Koi Pond (which is basically a virtual fish pond) opens up possibilities in interaction more than it offers a compelling ‘usefulness’ and, arguably, it’s this open approach to pushing the boundaries of what a mobile application can do as other developers take the potential shown in these apps and apply it elsewhere.
One such application is a heart monitor that uses the iPhone’s microphone (on the ear piece and on the phone itself) to record your pulse and keep a record. This is useful in many ways – for one thing you don’t have to wear a strap around your chest so it’s more convenient than most monitors, and second you don’t have to have a piece of paper handy to record the result, or a log book to keep a record. On the face of it, this is a simple idea – it doesn’t use the iPhone interface in a particularly overt way, but then it doesn’t need to. It keeps things simple. It doesn’t use the accelerometer, but then it doesn’t need to. It just uses the microphone but melds this with an easy to understand UI that makes use of the iPhone’s screen, which just goes to show that innovation doesn’t mean using all the bells and whistles, or doing things just because you can. Marry a good idea with clear execution, functionality and usability, and you’re half way there.
Then comes the programming (but you can always get someone else to do that…)
Take a look at this video demonstration to see how it works:
iPhone App – Heart Monitor from John Ballinger on Vimeo.
Design Week is reporting that five UK design consultancies are being sought by the Department of Health and the Design Council to collaboratte with scientists and healthcare professionals. They will be asked to develop “innovative design-led hospital furniture and equipment that could improve cleaning and reduce patients’ exposure to healthcare-acquired infections”.
The programme, called “Design Bugs Out” starts with a briefing on 2 September and will focus on research in three hospitals, identifying key problem areas.
Having identified five key areas, each team will be asked to focus on one and given a £25,000 grant.
After the closing date for submissions on 10 October, final teams will be announced ten days later and given seven weeks to develop prototypes. Winning designs will be exhibited next summer.
You wait months for a story on textiles research and two come along at once. Following hot on the heels of the record-breaking swimsuit material,
BBC News reports on research into that Sci-Fi staple, the invisibility cloak:
Scientists in the US say they are a step closer to developing materials that could render people invisible.
Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley have developed a material that can bend light around 3D objects making them ‘disappear’.
The materials do not occur naturally but have been created on a nano scale, measured in billionths of a metre.
The team says the principles could one day be scaled up to make invisibility cloaks large enough to hide people.
(Read the full story.)
DailyTech reports on a recent spate of broken records in swimming:
All these record-breaking swimmers had one thing in common. They were wearing Speedo’s new swimsuit, the ‘Fastskin’ LZR Racer.
The LZR Racer breathes high tech. Speedo designed the suit with input from NASA, ran tests on more than 100 different fabrics, and conducted body scans of world-class swimmers. The ultra-thin suit material repels water, reduces muscle oscillations, and lowers hydrodynamic drag by up to 10%. The individual panels are ultrasonically welded together, rather than stitched. Speedo even claims it increases a swimmer’s oxygen efficiency. It can take 30 minutes for a swimmer to struggle into it and, once on, shoehorns the body into a more aerodynamic shape.
The first time the suit was put on in an official meet, three world records were broken.
This simple tool by Aaron Oppenheimer offers a useful way of describing a design project to yourself, your team, and others. Staying on track and keeping a consistent idea in your mind about what it is you’re trying to achieve is an essential part of the design process. The temptation to add thing ‘because you can’, or because you’ve just read about or seen something somewhere else means your design is unlikely ever to be finished. “Feature creep” or “scope creep” are two of the biggest enemies of design. Remember, version 2 is where you add all that stuff…
‘The Story of the Product’ is a simple tool I use to get a feel for how well my clients know what their product or service is supposed to be. It’s a simple fill-in-the-blank that describes key aspects:
The product is a _____________,
which provides _____________.
The user thinks about the product as _____________,
interacts with it _____________,
and sees information like _____________
Unlike current methods of _____________,
like those provided by the competitors _____________,
this new product _____________.
This version is very gizmo-oriented; I change it around if we’re talking about a more static product like a kitchen implement, or applying it to the design of a service. I bring something like this to project kick-off meetings, or even sales meetings, and try to fill it in as we discuss the project. Sometimes I make a big printout and we try to fill it in as a group. We’ve even assigned it as homework for prospective clients to discuss internally before meeting with us.
Read Aaron’s post in full (and subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed – it’s worth it)
Michiel van Meeteren has published a study of the Macintosh independent programming community as a PDF. It looks like it might be interesting to anyone involved in programming, but also has wider implications for the studies of communities of practice and how people share knowledge to improve their own skills – in other words ‘design thinking’ in general.
Excerpted from Michiel’s website: “
‘Indie Fever’ is the first result of a multi-year human geography research program to investigate the social and economical world of so-called ‘Indie’ developers on the Macintosh platform. ‘Indie’ is the self-chosen nickname of software developers that serve worldwide markets from the Internet, hold their artistic values in high esteem and celebrate their ability to make high quality software as small companies. [...]
Indies have organized themselves informally but strongly in a virtual community. Although they are scattered over several continents, they continuously interact over the Internet, share rumors and code, and discuss business and private interests as if they were coworkers while –technically– they are competitors. They share a common culture which is intertwined with the history of the platform they develop for and the Cocoa programming environment in particular. [...] it analyses how Indies sustain and reproduce their particular culture primarily through online means, something that is argued to be rather difficult in the social-scientific discourse.
Almost 50 hours of interviews were recorded for Indie Fever. These interviews were combined with the results of extensive data mining of blogs and other online resources. The resulting thesis focusses on both the cultural and economical aspects of the Mac Indie world and the ways these reinforce each other by applying theories of, amongst others, Pierre Bourdieu, Michael Porter, Norbert Elias, Chris Anderson and Malcolm Gladwell.”
Check out the site for a link to the PDF (I would link here but I suspect Michiel would like to track numbers)