User & User+

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This might be stating the obvious for most researchers but I just need to get it out of my system. In user centered design we have long studied users and their environments, networks, gadgets amongst other things. Their information processing, memory, recall and other cognitive abilities were solely measured on their individual brain competencies. In my understanding this is no longer true for most urban users we come across. A lone user with only his brain to assist him on any given task has ceased to exist. What exists now is this combo of a person, his mobile device and his headphones. This seem to have become our new default urban user, I’d like to call it ‘user +’ . Waiting for my flight to Delhi at the Stockholm airport, I could see almost 90% people as our ‘user +’. It is unimaginable to see them doing anything, being any place stripped off these two accessories.  We are seeing innumerable virtual services building on the existence of User+, it would be interesting to think of physical products & spaces acknowledging the competencies of these users as well.

Interacting with fake reals

For the past few days my interest has been piqued by these forms of interactions where the user interacts with these very honest fakes of the real objects. They have a very strong underlying tone of playfulness at the same time represent the objects in their bare minimal functionality. These are some of the examples that have caught my attention in the last few days.

Tremo Cup concept from MIT Health & Wellness Hackathon

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RCA project using conductive carbon paint

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IPad mini ad behind Wired Magazine

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All three examples involve different levels of interaction but still seem to follow the same approach of playing with fake reals.

Interaction 13 – Toronto

With 100 BPM being awarded at the Interaction Conference I had the fortune to travel to Toronto for a week. My encounter with the city began with the free wifi at the airport. I can never thank airports/ country enough when they welcome travelers with free wifi without singing up, paying up, providing phone numbers or any other collateral. Having wifi in a country where you have no other active means of communication is a pleasant feeling and takes a lot of anxiety off my head by just being able to speak to my parents on reaching the new shores.

Due to really tight schedule in the weeks leading to my travel I had unfortunately not planned anything for my trip. I reached Toronto Pearson late in the evening and clueless about how to get to Backpacker’s Inn rushed to check with the information service at the airport. I reached the inn 2 hours later taking a bus, two trains and a long walk. The inn is centrally placed in a pretty busy district. It is a very charming, restored Victorian house.

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Unfortunately have no pictures of the place from the outside. I shared a dorm with three other British girls who had been in Toronto for the last 4 months and seemed very settled in this little room. One of them, a journalism graduate has been on a lookout for a job but could just manage a sales job. Job scene seemed even worse in the UK apparently but she seemed to be enjoying her year long adventure.

Breakfast next morning was unsurprisingly pan cakes with maple syrup! I had more than my share then walked to my hotel for the next few days- Radisson Harbourfront.

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This is what meta me on the way, I was thrilled by the sight of the bay and open blue sky, this view has become such a luxury in long, dark Umeå winter.

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View from my hotel room.

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2013 Interaction Awards for 100 BPM


100 BPM_low res

I am so thrilled about 100 BPM winning the Interaction Awards in empowering category! We were competing with some of the biggest names in the industry including Nike, IDEO, R/GA, Lunar, Cooper, Google amongst the others. It’s incredible how a 2 week project could win such accolades. 100 BPM also won Red Dot Concept Award 2012. I guess I will have to finally finally package the prototype after Christmas to present at the conference after much procrastination…not a bad incentive after all. Read more about the project and the process here.

Concept + Process Video:


Check out the whole list of winners.

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Face…What?!?

For last week we have been working with Aesthetics of Interaction (AOI), partially based on Lundgren S.’s thesis on Teaching and Learning Aesthetics of Interaction. Our last assignment was to re-design Facebook based on two other people’s vision giving our own interpretation on those visions. The Aesthetic ideals I worked with were Efficiency and Playfulness. The visionaries painted a rather grim image of Facebook in my opinion, making it very Wall Street profit and loss platform where you interacted with people who increased your “social Value” and got away from the ones who didn’t. To sum it up, this version of Facebook should :

• Recognise how useful the contact is for personal and professional goals.

• Identify how powerful or interesting another person is and to make use of that social capital.

• Create Darwinist purge of friendships where stronger connections remained and the rest disappeared.

The profile picture now was a representation of your “social value”, more your social value more complete it is. In the center box you could see the most influential people (spindles) weaving your social fabric and contributing to your image. Your posts and the status messages now occupy the central position in the interface since they fuel your social value. The weave graphic curves were created by how much these key influencers were in turn influenced by each other or other people.

Another view of your friends determined how your contacts were positioned according to your personal and professional goals and where the influencers sat (red ones being important and the grey ones being useless). Thickness of the lines showed the overlap between your contacts. So you could better control your interaction with them.

The bull-shit controller function could warn you how your post could possibly affect your social value before you even post it.

 

Nature Behaviour & Expressions

It was like revisiting those 4 weeks in NID working on nature and form only this time it was getting inspired by behaviour and expressions. Niklas gave us an interesting excercise to pick an animal and translate its expressions and behaviours to a man made product. It was an exploratory excercise but in the end had to have some logic. Me and Maria worked with elephants as inspiration. This half a day exercise’s result is below.

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Experience Prototyping- Week 1- Video Prototyping

3rd semester beginning and we dived right into the most intense 5 weeks of the programme- Experience prototyping. First week of the 5 week module started with video prototyping with dutch film maker Ruben Van Leer. The underlying theme of these 5weeks is system between people and objects.

I collaborated with Adam Henriksson and Miguel Peres to work on an interactive video installation. We started with brainstorming on different layers of interactivity we can introduce with videos and during the process got fascinated with aspects of deception, space and time within videos.

Our initial idea for the installation was to show a person’s presence in a space from different perspectives. One never looks at himself from god’s perspective. Even in the mirror one can only see a’mirrored’ image of self which is not the true image. Stemming from this fact we started off to build a space where a person could see his own body form interacting and in relation to that space; to understand one’s physical relation to the space better. We used several webcams with a processing sketch to get live feed from different angles onto one video projection. After numerous trials and testings we got 5 cameras from different webcam brands to work together.

While playing with video feeds we got drifted from our initial idea and got pulled towards the other interesting imagery we were able to produce with these numerous cameras. In the end we decided to put together an intallation which was largely inspired by British artist David Hockney (see his work below).

The final installation became a piece for three people to work together to form a complete image of a collaged face. Three cameras recorded and processed live images for people to work with.

initial explorations

final installation setup

Screen grabs

Here is a video by Ruben documenting process for the batch.

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Flawbulous

Each flaw has a story to tell, the story of it’s origin and sometimes what follows it. Perfection is ideal, it’s unquestionable and desirable but it’s the flaws which add character and foster interesting thoughts. In a supermarket, on a shelf full of soup cans eye catches the dented can first and wonders what happened to it and to it alone. Mind wanders off imagining different origins of the dent & how it made its way on the shelf. Flaws are a great inspiration to writing stories I say!

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Lango @ Microsoft Design Expo 2012

Lango- a service design concept that me and Siri (sirijohansson.com) worked on in our Spring Semester at Umea Institute of Design was picked by Microsoft to be presented at their annual design expo in Redmond! The concept was picked from the other 3 concepts in the batch for its “relevant focus area and emotional connection of the concept”. Following is the presentation that helped us make it to Redmond.

Design Expo is a part of two day faculty summit organised by Microsoft every year. We also showcased Lango at the Demo Fest amongst other cutting edge projects coming out of Microsoft Research.

Here is a video with all the presentations.

http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/default.aspx?id=170894

I will try my best to cover my four days experience in the beautiful city of Seattle and amazing Microsoft campus in the following posts.

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Life Lessons from TETRIS

Creating right conditions for the right time even if it is not now.

Those who have played Tetris are familiar with series of unfitting, out of place bricks at one go that just wouldn’t fit anywhere. What do you do in that case?…you just put them where they could be least harmful in the wall, where there is still promise of fixing the gap in the future. And when the time is right and you get the right bricks it all falls into place. I guess life is a lot like that too. In tough times instead of giving up you still play what comes your way and put things in the least harmful places at that time, even if they are painful but making sure that they still can be fixed when the time is right again. And when it is, you will have your perfect wall.

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