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Emoticons in Logos :-( May 29, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in making the invisible visible, new technologies, poetic, visual design.
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As some of you know, I am professor with the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam (FHP). And therefore I have to live with the fact that I work for an institution with an emoticon in their logo:

(image source)(the logo was originally designed by Thomas Manns in 1993; its current version was done by my colleague Matthias Beyrow – his office)

Now I found this sausage stand close to the Reichstag in Berlin:


(own image)

Well, maybe it is time for my university to rethink its branding…!

PS.: Before writing this post, I talked with Matthias: soon he will be publishing a book on logos for German universities. According to his research the logo of my university is not so bad – compared with others…🙂

Nice Example on Crowd-Sourcing May 29, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in social computing.
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LEGO finally discovered the creative potential of its fans and is offering an crowd sourcing environment called CUUSOO:


(screen shot taken today)

Actually, quite successful are the Minecraft ideas – not a big surprise as it merges two geek-communities!

(image source)

Thoughts on “Cross-Media” May 9, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, service design, strategies, theory.
1 comment so far

(image source)

Since 2000 the Berlin senate is organizing a regular panel discussion called “ZukunftsgesprĂ€ch” (conversation about the future) on innovation in ICT. Yesterday’s 61st ZukunftsgesprĂ€ch was about “cross-media” and I was on the panel.

Here a summary of my prepared statements, which I discussed with my team at IxDS (sorry only in German):

Ich finde, dass die Definition von Cross Media in der Einladung zu dem heutigen ZukunftsgesprĂ€ch zu kurz greift: es wird dem Thema und den Potentialen nicht gerecht, wenn wir fernsehserienproduzierenden Verlage als Vorbild zitieren oder von Popsongs reden, die auch als Klingeltöne vertrieben werden – auch wenn wir hier in Berlin im Bereich Klingeltöne eine gewisse Schuld auf uns geladen haben.

Zumal, Cross-Media hÀufig das Ziel verfolgt (so ist zumindest mein Eindruck), den analogen Nutzer in das Digitale zu holen, wie beispielsweise der ZDF Film, der im Internet weiterlÀuft, oder QR-Code auf Poster, um Posterbetrachter ins Internet zu locken.

Wir mĂŒssen Cross-Media weiter denken und vor allem aus den klassischen Sparten heraustreten und uns auf neue Experimente einlassen. Wir mĂŒssen es schaffen, dass die Storytellers und die Technologen zusammen an neuen Formaten arbeiten. Wir mĂŒssen die Leser, Fernsehkonsumenten, Kinogeher usw. zum Mitmachen einladen und zum Mitmachen befĂ€higen (empowern – wie man so schön im Englischen sagt).

Und vor allem mĂŒssen Magische Momente kreieren – magisch im Sinne von Arthur C. Clarke, der so schön festgestellt hat, dass „Jede hinreichend fortschrittliche Technologie von Magie nicht zu unterscheiden“ ist.

Konkret sehe ich drei Bereiche, wo spannende Herausforderungen im Bereich Cross-Media vor uns liegen:

  1. Visualisierung: Unsere Umwelt ist geprĂ€gt von komplizierten Prozessen, von komplexen ZusammenhĂ€ngen, von riesigen, frei verfĂŒgbaren Datenmengen. Wie können wir – eventuell gemeinsam mit den „Nutzern“ – diese Daten zu relevanten Wissen, gar Weisheit werden lassen. FĂŒr mich gehört es zu den medialen Aufgaben, z.B. die Prozesse/Transaktionen/ZusammenhĂ€nge in der Politik (z.B. EU), in der Wirtschaft (z.B. Bankenrettung) oder in Globalisierung (z.B. Umweltschutz) erfahrbar werden zu lassen. Der mĂŒndige BĂŒrger soll eigenstĂ€ndigen diese Daten auslegen dĂŒrfen und dafĂŒr bedarf es neuer crossmedialer Produkte.
  2. Raus in den Raum, in die Umwelt: Noch sind wir relativ statisch in unserem Medienangebot – wir gehen von einer Person aus, die sich hinsetzt, um Medien zu konsumieren. Das Ă€ndert sich gerade massiv: Wir sind unterwegs, an bestimmten Orten, in bestimmten Kontexten, wir sind mal aktiv, mal passiv, mal dazwischen, unsere Umgebung fĂ€ngt an auf uns zu reagieren, usw
    Als Beispiele seien die wunderbare Arbeit von Rimini-Protokoll, dem „Walk-In Stasi Radio Play“ (2011), die unter dem Umbrella „Location Based Services“ – oder besser noch: „Location Based Storytelling“ – fallen.
    Eine andere Kategorie von Cross-Media sind Stories, die in die Architektur, in den urbanen Raum  verortet sind. Natalie Jeremijenko hat 2009 das Projekt „Amphibious Architecture“ realisiert, wo auf dem Wasser schwebende, leuchtende Glasröhrchen eine Geschichte zur WasserqualitĂ€t erzĂ€hlen.
  3. Die Einbeziehung des „kreativen Konsumenten“: das fĂ€ngt mit dem Suchen und Finden an, passiert beim „Kreieren“ des Medienprodukts, natĂŒrlich beim „Konsumieren“ (wobei sich die Frage stellt, wo das eine aufhört und das andere anfĂ€ngt), und geht meiner Meinung nach mit dem Ende der Geschichte weiter. FĂŒr mich gehören all diese Aspekte auch in die Gestaltung des Formates – und sollten nicht getrennt davon gedacht werden (ein kleiner Seitenhieb an die Social-Marketing-Experten). Wir sprechen hier von Co-Creation, also die gemeinsame Entwicklung von Inhalten, von Erfahrungen mit den Endnutzern. So gibt es beispielsweise Ricardo Bomba, ein Charakter bei den Simpson, der von den Fans kreiert wurde. Wobei hier angemerkt werden soll, dass Co-Creation auch sehr klein sein kann: auch schon die Verlinkung, Einsortierung oder Kommentierung von Inhalten ist ein kreativer Akt!
    Die Forderung nach Beteiligung hat ĂŒbrigens auch Implikationen auf die Organisation von Firmen, also von “Verlagen” wie sie frĂŒher hießen, die im Cross-Media-Bereich tĂ€tig sind.

Cross Media verlangt Forschung!

  1. In Formate
    Auf die Formate bin ich ja schon eingeganen. Vielleicht nur so viel: Aus dem Interaction Design wissen wir, dass es sehr schwierig ist, a priori, also rein planerisch ĂŒber die QualitĂ€t eines Entwurfes zu urteilen. Interaktive Erfahrungen, wie wir sie gestalten, sind in der Tat sehr komplex, haben unendlich viele Stellschrauben und hĂ€ufig ist sind es die AusfĂŒhrungen im Detail, die ĂŒber Akzeptanz, ĂŒber Freude am Nutzen, ĂŒber Erfolg entscheiden. Daher abreiten wir sehr intensiv mit Prototypen, Prototypen in jeder Phase einer Entwicklung. Und heute kann man sehr viel schon sehr gĂŒnstig prototypisch umsetzen.
  2. In Tools
    Diese Aufgabe halte ich fĂŒr enorm wichtig: wir mĂŒssen selbst die Tools entwickeln, auch die IT-basierten Tools fĂŒr Cross-Media, und wir mĂŒssen sie der Allgemeinheit zur VerfĂŒgung stellen. Die, die wirklich erfolgreich sind im Medienbusiness (Instagram, Berlins Music-Softwarefirmen usw) sind die Tool-Anbieter.
  3. In den Vertieb: Hier denke ich muss und wird noch viel passieren. Es zeigt sich am Horizont, dass auch im Internet verstanden wurde, dass nicht alles umsonst ist. SelbstverstĂ€ndlich gibt es GrĂŒnde, kostenfrei zu publizieren, aber es muss auch GrĂŒnde (und Möglichkeiten) geben, mit Inhalten Geld zu verdienen! Verschiedene Business Modelle fangen an, sich zu etablieren, mĂŒssen aber weiterentwickelt werden. Beispiele: Kick-Starter fĂŒr Buch- oder Filmprojekte, InApp-VerkĂ€ufe (aus Spielen) fĂŒr mediale Inhalte (z.B. Koch-App von Jamie Olivier), Spotify, Flattr

5 Theses on IT and the (near) Future of Retail May 2, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in mobile, social computing, theory.
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Together with my friend Ilaria Forte, CEO from RadicalFuture, I prepared a short talk on how technology will have an impact in retail, especially for large multi-channel retailers. We developed the following 5 thesis on that subject:

FUTURE WAVE 1: technology –> access to information –> give power and control to the customers

NOW: new technologies provide to the customers fast and easy access to tremendous amounts of information upon which to base their buying decisions.  The tech-empowered consumer “knows everything already“ and is often more informed about a given product than most of the staff within the store. Above all, knowledge means power and control (e.g. negotiate purchase at the lowest price in the market).

HINTS:


(image source)

  • Instant information on products as e.g. price check App by Amazon or the goodguide App, which give instant information on the sustainble aspects of a product
  • Support in the entire context of the product as e.g. “Project Help” by Lowes.com, with tools to help archieving complex tasks in your home with amongst others a project “Calculator” or a “How-To” or a buying guide.

TOMORROW: consumers are getting wiser, access to information will be easier and faster. Consumers will demand higher service standards, offline and online.

IMPLICATIONS: consumers will expect staff excellence, superlative service and proved expertise. Retailer will need to get smarter, transparent and trustworthy. Upgrade store staff skills through training might be too expensive and not enough.
By using innovative technologies that integrate information assets and business processes, retailer will improve service levels at relatively low cost.

FUTURE WAVE 2: technology –> automation + simplification –> make easier everyday life tasks

NOW: new technologies and improvements make the overall shopping experience faster, more simple and more flexible for the customer. Consumers are looking to connect with retailers anytime, anyplace & anywhere. They can decide where (virtual or physical space), how (mobile, online, in-store), when (24/7).

HINTS:


(image source)


(image source)

  • Shopping experience seamlessly integrated between online, mobile and offline as e.g. “Buy Online – Pick Up at Store” by HomeDepot or Apple EasyPay (“While in an Apple Store, quickly purchase accessories on your own with EasyPay (requires iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S)”)

TOMORROW: the whole purchasing and buying process will become simplified and faster thanks to integrated applications (online, mobile and in-store).

IMPLICATIONS: consumers will expect easy shopping experience, 1-click shopping especially for low involvement, low price and frequent purchase product categories.

FUTURE WAVE 3: technology –> access to real-time data –> make consumption a truly personal experience

NOW: personalized-shopping thanks to real-time data is mainly used by online retailers. Personalized tools include public profile, community settings, registries, gift and shopping lists, product reviews, personalized content and shopping lists.

HINTS:


(image source)

  • Audience detection for more personalized shopping experience as e.g. .g Intel AIM Suite, which “is able to discern a person’s gender, race, approximate age and, based on the contours of the person’s face and positioning, just how long he actually looks at the screen.” (White Paper: “Video Analytics for Digital Signage Deployments”)
  • Strong integration of store staff for personalized retail experience as e.g. concept “Identitymine Store”, presented by Microsoft: “Customers Create Preferences On App For Tailored In-Store Experience” und “The shopper can use their app to create a profile, browse products and make a shopping list. When they arrive at the physical store they can check in using the app and contact the store assistant, who views the customer’s profile, shopping list and purchase history using the app on a Windows tablet. The assistant can identify the customer in-store from their profile picture.” (source)

TOMORROW: address the needs and preferences of individual consumer online and in-store

IMPLICATIONS: access to data will be more and more the lifeblood of any retail marketing operation. Real-time interactive analysis of customer‘s preferences will deliver rapid customer insights. It is important to personalize a customer’s experience in the store.

FUTURE WAVE 4: technology –> network supported social exchange and interaction–> make shopping more social

NOW:  social shopping is a pervasive trend. Consumers share products, purchases, and deals with friends and family.  Recommendations mainly based on purchases and searches, reviews from other customers and friends.

HINTS:


(image source)

  • Social Shopping goes beyond recommendations as e.g. Ticketmaster’s feature of seeing where you friend are seating when purchasing a ticket


(image source)

  • The fun part of shopping is to be social as e.g. the TweedMirror by Nedap – even though the implementation of this concept is too nerdy from my point of view, but the direction is right!
  • Social Experience must be enabled as e.g. wiht Triptrotting, “who will help you feel like a local when you travel.”

TOMORROW: social commerce is expected to grow (forecasted $30 billion in 2015). The role of social media will continue to grow in the world of online shopping and beyond. From online to offline: the social aspects of the web will improve shopping experience in-store.

 IMPLICATIONS: put together all forms of commerce and channels (mobile, social networking, e-commerce, email, and in-store) into one “syndicated” experience. Customer deals, offers, promotions, and experiences must be one with the brand and the brand experience.

FUTURE WAVE 5: technology –> participative tools –> enable customers participation and co-creation

NOW: creating is a global trend: the active consumer, develops solutions and shares them with the community, which then again can learn and improve. Crowd-sourcing, liquid democracy and open-source are hints toward this trend.

HINTS:

(image source, screenshot)

Consumers like to create and share  as e.g. in the DIY-scene, but also in recipes as e.g. Food52, the „the first crowd-sourced cookbook“

TOMORROW: customers will become more active. we will see more and more co-production, involving consumers in the whole process. consumers will want to have support in their active approach to consumption and they might even want to share the revenue, which is generated through their activities.

IMPLICATIONS: retailers will need to clearly identify the key areas for active consumption. Enabling the consumer to create needs to be applied both, online and offline, from design to selling.

MWC 2012 – Women March 13, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in poetic.
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Well, the Mobile World Congress is kind of a very techy-businessy event – with lots of men in their traditional uniform of white shirt and suit.

Of course in such an environment, some products do tell a lot about the phantasies of these men, or at least of some of them:

The iPad Receptionist is a concept from Japan: the idea is that you install an iPad at your front-desk or at the bell. Visitors can then interact with this wonderful lady:


(by Analog12)

Even stranger is a similar concept of Virtual Assistant by Narada Robotics from Spain, a projection of a lady, which the user interacts with through voice. Interesting is that the screen, where the lady is projected to, has the shape of a lady. They advertise with the “closeness feel” to the user-client interaction (source):


(by Narada Robotics)

Last but not least a service also offered at the MWC: Modellvilla by MobileKing is a “sorority style house with over 100 beautiful, young models”. The users can interact with these girls “24/7”:


(own scan)


Well, I am happy that I am not the psychologist you has to interpret these offers…

 

MWC 2012 – Software March 13, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, mobile, new technologies.
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Second part of my MWC-Report:


(own image)

The App-Planet was not at all what its name promised – in fact, there were hardly any apps being shown at this year’s MWC. Talking to my colleague Johannes Landstorfer we assume that this is related to the fact that today more and more app vendor do not have to sell through the large telcos, but through the app stores directly to the customer.

As Apple did not participate, the MWC felt like a big Android party – (sorry guys at Nokia…)


(own video)

Actually, the only booth, which showed Apps, was Android.However, for somebody in the field, it was not really exciting. The presentation also lacked any form of excitement: no new releases etc:


(own image; I am not sure, why Google presented this material exploration wall, as nothing is less haptic than the smartphone world…)

A large part of the software offerings were related to easy-creation and easy-portation of apps:

iTude is one of these companies. They have a good description of why they do what they do: Mobile apps are coming of age. Simple brand presence apps no longer captivate consumers. Consumers expect mobile apps to have the same functions as online services. At the same time, companies are struggling to catch up with developments in mobile apps. Lulled by a decade of stable internet technology, they now find it hard to adapt to the fast changing mobile world. iTUDE has developed mobile apps and mobile websites since 2006 and has a proven track record of professional, successful apps and websites. (source)

AppSpotr was one of these service providers: their claim at MWC was: “Build your native app in 5 minutes”.
Their apps run on iPhone and Android and can be update “anytime, anywhere for everyday changes.”


(own image)

Additionally to the easy-development of simple apps, specialized easy-to-use app kits were presented:

AR was very prominent amongst these specialized kits. The best I saw was Metaio, a software, which could recognize and augment (in real time) 3.d-situations. The demo was a model city, where augmented fires started a various buildings. This technology could be very interesting for a lot of use cases, unfortunately most AR-applications presented at MWC were around augmenting ads, packages or magazines…


(image source)

Ads seems to be the driving force in a lot of offerings at the MWC:

Smaato is offering the integration of ad in your apps.

Mobile Marketing was also a huge topic, even though I never really understood, what it is. I guess these companies make it very easy to send out your message via all available mobile chanels, be it SMS, Bluetooth, App or Websites. CyTech is such a company.

MWC 2012 – Hardware March 12, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in gadgets, light, mobile, physical interaction design.
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(own image)

Here my personal report on the Mobile World Congress this year in Barcelona:

1. Even though by the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth (according to Cisco), M2M is still just for the industry: None of the exhibitors understood that M2M (Machine-to-Machine or ‘Internet of Things’) could be an interesting field for inventors, startups and  small or medium sized companies. All the ready-to-use-technologies that I saw were pretty heavily directed towards engineers – at not (as with Arduino or Fritzing) towards the community of creatives.


(own image – excuse the quality)

Of course one can find the good old use-cases as home-network, health and car, and very little applied and innovative M2M-products. So, you can imagine how happy I was when I saw Glowcab by my friend David Rose. Next to his product, At&T showed Garmin GTU, a pet GPS–tracker, and Amber Alert GPS, the same for kids:


(own image)

2. Mobile phones are getting boring – just more of this and more of that:

– More Pixels


(images source)

Even though the 41-Megapixels offered by Nokia 808 PureView are not meant to be stored directly, but to improve the quality of the images, I just want to show that it is all the same, but more in the details.

– More Computing Power

It has been long time that I got excited about the performance of computers – but at MWC this topic was – as expected – huge. Wow, a quad core 1,5GHz mobile phone – please show me, for what we can use all this speed!!!


(image source)

– More Design


(image source)

The mobile phone industry decided to go down the lane of the wonderful black monolith (known form the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”) – and now some of the major players are trying to add some design to this object:

Nokia is very proud of the “one-piece polycarbonate body”, which comes in various colors. For me it rather looks like an unnecessary add-on:


(image source)

Sony shows with its Xperia U another mobile phone with an interesting feature, similar to Philips AmbiLight from 2002: the transparent bar is illuminated and “echoes” the major color currently on the screen. I couldn’t find out, why – besided on looking different…:

(view at 0:43)

Medias, the mobile phone brand of NEC, is showing a double-screen-smartphone “Medias W”. Well, “pixel everywhere” – who knows, maybe we will be seeing it one day in real live!


(own image)

– Finally: Mobile with Projector

IxDS, the company where I work with, did already in 2008 a project on exploring the potential of pico-projectors in mobile context. We came up with a couple of ideas and concept, none strong enough to make our client launch such a product right away. But now, Samsung came up with Galaxy Beam. A long line of visitors had to wait to experience this device in the dark-room. I was rather disappointed as the use-cases were nothing special: projecting slides from a presentation, home made videos or downloaded stuff…


(image source)

3. Mobile Sensing – still exciting!

Just one example – to not turn too nerdy here: ST Microelectronics presented a 10-axis-accelerometer-board. I first was not sure for what this should be good (another tilting-based game) until they explained to me that with this technology, they can “determine location reliably to within a few metres even in the absence of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) satellite signals.” (source) – which is good for indoor location tracking. Wow!


(own image)

4. Mobile Actuation – there’s hope…

I finally had the chance to meet some guys from Immersion: they were displaying their “HD Haptics“, which was pretty impressive: Their demo was a selection of musical instruments on a touch screen, you choose one and then shake the mobile and can really feel the instrument. It is hard to describe, but it really gives me hope for richer tactile interaction. Technologywise, the system is based on piezo – I guess similar to my friend Ivan Poupyrev’s touch engine from 2002.

(own image)


(image source)

Well, another interesting approach to mobile actuation was presented by the Japanese company ChatPerf. They propose an mobile actuator, which sprays perfume:


(image source)
Currently they only have a prototype:


(image source)

5. Body!

Well, there was very little real “Physical Interaction” at the MWC – more or less as expected. So it was nice to meet the friends from Oblong Industries: they presented their new intuite interaction tool called Mezzanine:

Design Tool Design February 23, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in prototyping tools.
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Bret Victor, a designer who worked amongst others for Apple and Al Gore, talks about creativity and tools and has some important principles he follows when developing his tools:

“Creators need an immediate connection to what they are creating.”

He means by this that – while creating – changes has been experienced immediately. I agree on that: in art and design this is called “thinking within the material”. Bret says that “so much creation is discovery – and you can’t discover anything if you cannot see what you are doing!”

Applied to software developement, Bret is criticizing that coding (aka writing text into a text editor) is disconnected from the result. One works “blindly” in the text editor – “without an immediate connection” to the result.

Instead Bret is suggesting a system, where result and code are next to each other, and where changes in the code affect the result immediately. These changes can be done by typing of by a slider, which allows to change values dynamically:


(image source 3:46)

This is programming philosophy is also working for dynamic results as computer games and for complex programming algorithms!

Bret is applying his design principle also to electronic design – based on simulation:


(image source, 25:59 – with the mouse one can change the current)

I am a little surprised that – for design of analog electronics – Bret is talking about the simulation – even though they look wonderful and convincing for the chosen example. I would think that his principle applied to design of electronic circuits would be rather based on doing the real thing than playing with a simulator…

Regarding Fritzing, I am wondering what this philosophy would mean. I guess the first step would be to have more transparent programming environment for micro controllers, which not only allows the modification of values and code in real time, but also give feedback on every single piece of information available, be it on value of datatypes or on current situations at various ports. In a next step it would be interesting to develop certain electronic components, which can change their behavior dynamically (as a resistor).

Great talk!

Charging your e-Car while Driving February 23, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in new technologies, physical interaction design, sustainable interaction design.
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One of the big project we at IxDS did last year was about the user experience of owning an e-car. Of course the charging (and the fear of running out of energy) were important aspects of our design research.

Today, I found an interesting concept for a racing car described in the NewScientist: most exciting to me is the idea of charging the car while driving. Based on the wireless charging technology developed by HaloIPT, the idea of the concept car is to embed this technology in the racing track:
Drayson wants to populate the racing line on racetracks with the pads, so cars charge from the track during races.


(image source)

Imagine, what this means for the user experience!!!

M2M for very beginners February 17, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in gadgets, new technologies, physical interaction design, prototyping tools.
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As I wrote a couple of months ago, I am currently preparing a new research project which focusses on the easy access for non-engineers to the so called “Internet of Things”-technology.


(image source)

The other day I stumbled over a wonderful project called “Ninja Blocks“. This is basically a piece of open source hardware, which can easily be connected to the internet and allows basically anybody to set up simple rules based on “triggers” and “actions”:

Example Triggers:
“Movement has been detected”
“The temperature has risen above”
“You’ve been tagged in a photo on Facebook”
“You’ve sent a new tweet”
“A button has been pushed”
“Sound is detected”
“Your friend has checked in”

Example Actions:
“Display text on an LCD display”
“Play a sound”
“Send a tweet”
“Open a relay”
“Turn on a light”
“Send an SMS to my phone”
“Post a message on Facebook”
(source)

What a great idea!

The block itself contains an RGB LED, a built-in temperature sensor and an accelerometer, four expansion ports and a regular USB port allow you to add further inputs and outputs.

The basic design philosophy follows quite a high-level approach, not comparable to Arduino. I guess that is the way to go: though this kind of plug&play approach even more people will be attracted to work creativily with hardware.

All the best for your kick-starter initiative, Ninja Blocks!

 

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