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Developing your personal identity guidelines November 15, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in design.
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Delightful November 15, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in delightful.
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I had another one of those delightful moments while shopping for T-shirts at Threadless yesterday.

A lot has always been said about the triad: useful, usable, desirable. I actually prefer using delightful instead of desirable. In my opinion the math is like this: useful + usable + delightful = desirable. A product is desirable to people because of a perfect combination of those 3 aspects.

There’s a lot of research around affective computing and the like. Most of this research is focused on: how do we measure desirability? How do we measure emotion? As a designer, I am actually more interested in finding out which designs and interactions delight people.

Since I know what delights me, I decided to start posting example of these things. And maybe, from that, gain a better understanding of these delightful moments. A lot of this I know through my own common sense. But it doesn’t cost to observe even more.

I didn’t see anyone from Apple at the Design & Emotion Conference in Hong Kong. And still, all their products are super desirable and delightful. How do they do it? Well, we can see it, right? And, most importantly, we can experience it in their products, designs and interactions.

I’ll finish this post with a few definitions of delight.

From latin “delectare”, which means “to charm”
1. To please (someone) greatly
2. Take great pleasure in

Oh, darling, what a charming design that is! 😉

First timesculpture advert, from Toshiba November 13, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in video.
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And the making of Toshiba Timesculpture:

More info here: http://www.toshiba.co.uk/upscaling/

To design, by Paul Rand November 10, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in text.
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To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit, it is to add value and meaning, to iluminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse.

Paul Rand
From Design, Form and Chaos

“Living Landscapes” interactive at Epcot Center October 20, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in interactive installations.
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In this five-screen interactive experience created by PlayMotion, groups of up to 250 people compete and create together in a series of 5 interactive games. It’s the pre-show to the Soarin attraction at Epcot Center.

The technology is rather simple (IR illumination & cameras) — so it’s the design and artistic direction that really stole the show. Finally a great idea for the poor people that wait in line for hours in the Disney Parks! I’m starting to wonder when people will start saying they’d rather wait LONGER in line. 😉 Kudos to Disney on this.

Google I/O ’08 keynote by Marissa Mayer September 24, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in talks.
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This is the keynote speech by Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of Search and User Experience.

She talks about the simplicity of their designs (specifically the search engine). And also mentions that the user doesn’t need to know how much the back-end is complicated, they just want to get their work done.

Design as a science rather than art: Today we can test interfaces with users and mathematically know which one is the most effective for your target audience. It’s not about personal taste (art), rather it is about usability and usefulness. And these are all measurable. There is the ability to iterate and measure things. And optimize user experience in a way that is incredibly scientific.

Here are some very nice quotes relating to <i>Understand users better than they understand themselves</i> (The quotes speak for themselves, I don’t think I need to add anything here)
“If you don’t listen to your customers, some else will.” – Sam Walton
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

What I appreciate the most is Google’s <i>healthy disrespect for the impossible</i>. They tackle very complex problems and don’t feel intimidated by them. If they can solve it by 90%, it will do a great help to humanity.

She also talks about how <i>imagination is a muscle</i>. At Google they sometimes solve problems “just for exercising imagination”. I agree with Einstein that imagination is more important than knowledge, and I agree with Marissa that we need to exercise it.

And finally it was very surprising to see that that famous 20% of time that Googlers can spend on their own products has actually generated 50% of their current products and features. This is what happens when you let people work with what they’re passionate about.

Elegance and simplicity September 21, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in text.
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Here’s a passage from the book Desiging Visual Interfaces that I’m currently reading. This book is from 1995 and still today most designers seem not to understand and apply these concepts.

Elegance derives from latin “eligere” meaning to “choose out” or “select carefully”.

Elegant solutions reveal an intimate understanding of the problem and an ability to ensure that its essence is grasped by the consumers as well.

Simplicity plays a central role in all timeless designs. The most powerful designs are always the result of a continuous process of simplification and refinement. Before you do anything else to improve the quality of a design, make sure you have reduced its formal and conceptual elements to the absolute minimum. The benefits of simplicity are functional as well as aesthetic in nature.

  • Approachability: Product support immediate use or invite further exploration.
  • Recognizability: Presenting less visual information to the viewer makes a design more easily assimilated, understood and remembered.
  • Immediacy: Simple designs have greater impact than complex designs because they can be immediately recognized and understood with a minimum of conscious effort.
  • Usability: Improving the approachability and memorability of a product necessarily enhances usability as well. Simple designs that eliminate unnecessary variation or detail make the variation that remains more prominent and informative.

Urban pixels September 14, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in ambient displays, interactive installations.
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Urban pixels are wireless, solar-powered lighting units for cities that blur the boundary between digital display technology and traditional urban lighting. By combining a renewable energy source with RF communication it is possible to achieve a self-sustaining, distributed display network that can be attached to any building surface and reconfigured with ease.

The key components of the system are: RF radio, microprocessor, LEDs, solar cells, battery pack. The current design of the pixels integrates communication, lighting and solar charging.

Learn more about the project and watch an installation video here:

Polygon Playground September 14, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in interactive installations.
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The “Polygon Playground” is a new art & technology project by WhiteVoid.  It consists of a large scale interactive object that can accommodate up to 40 people at the same time. The installation features a software aided 3D surface projection system to cover the object with a seamless 360 degree projection mapping. An additional sensory system detects peoples positions and proximity and changes continuously according to presence, movement and touches of its visitors.

Their hardware and software system can be applied to any 3D body to turn it into an interactive object.
Here’s the project web page: http://www.polygon-playground.com/

Gates Looks Into PC’s Future as Career Shift Approaches June 26, 2008

Posted by Melissa Quintanilha in innovative displays, innovative interfaces, physical interaction design.
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Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates will soon retire from his full-time duties, but he will continue to work on the natural user interfaces that he believes will advance computing beyond the keyboard and mouse. Devices such as Tablet PCs with handwriting recognition and Surface tabletop computers that recognize objects and human touch are the machines of the future, Gates says. No one expects natural user interface technologies to completely replace the keyboard, as there is no better interface for inputting text, not even voice recognition. Microsoft’s Chris Pratley says people talk at about 20 to 30 words a minute while many people can type twice as fast as that. Furthermore, voice will always have some small error rate, probably more than typing, Pratley says. Still, Gates estimates that the keyboard and mouse account for about 95 percent of the interaction between people and computers, and he believes that percentage will drop significantly. While Microsoft has invested heavily in alternative interfaces, so far Apple and its iPhone have made the most progress in converting multitouch technology into mainstream products, says Gartner analyst David Smith. In addition to touch technology, Gates is still a strong supporter of Tablet PCs, which have not seen the sales Gates once predicted. However, improved Tablet PCs are increasingly being adopted in insurance and medicine, and Gates says there is still a significant opportunity for the technology in education.

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