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How new technologies shape the design July 14, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in new technologies.
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I will start a new categorie for this blog, looking into the design challenges through new technological invention.

This future iMac concept, which was designed by kromekat, is based on the assumption that displays could become 100% transparent. “The screen can also be set to various levels of translucency, and can fade during sleep modes etc. ” – as kromekat writes.

I wonder what new interaction paradims could be developed with this kind of technology.


String-based Interfaces July 14, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, making the invisible visible, mobile, physical interaction design.

A string is a nice way to represent a 1-dimensional set of data through length.


This alarm clock by Duck Young Kong is set by pulling a string; the length of the string is representing the time remaining until the alarm goes off. This is interesting, because here input and feedback are done through the same media – the string. I am wondering why the designer did not add some kind of scale to the string so that reading becomes easier (in an earlier post I am describing a system, which does this).


The string has also been one of the earliest expamles for Ambient Interfaces: the LiveWire by Natalie Jeremijenko. In her case, she not using the lenght to communicate information, but the activity of the wire: the more the wire dangles, the more net work traffic is happening in the building in this moment. (image by Marek Plichta)

An interface based on a rectractable string was recently presented by Gabor Blasko et.al.: in this case not only the length of the pulled string is used to receive information, but also the angle in a polar coordinate system. Additionally Blasko is adding LEDs to the string to create a “1-D-display”. Scenarios of how to work with this interface include mail reading and calendar checking.
(images are courtesy of Gabor Blasko)

Sound Feedback Interfaces July 14, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, mobile.
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Due to the danger of interacting with devices “on-the-go” (a car might run over you or you might miss saying hello to your boss), there is a development in the direction of interfaces, which give feedback through sound.

An interesting one is SonicTexting, developed in Ivrea by Michal Rinott: a joystickbased text-input is enhanced by sound. I like the quality of the sound feedback, especially as Michal developed different variations – according to the expertise of the user.

Recently APPLE filed a patent for a “talking i-Pod”:
“The new iPod will tell you what it is about to play, removing the need for users to look at the screen while selecting music, and making the device safer and easier to use while driving, cycling or in badly-lit locations.” (source)

New Mobile Services July 5, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, mobile, physical interaction design, rfid.
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Vancouver one can finally pay his parking fee via phone – powered by Verrus. Call a number and type the number of minutes you want to park. Nice additional feature: if you leave early, you can call the number again and cancel the remaining minutes…


I am wondering, whether it would be nice to have gestures for these kind of services – gestures as in table whacking.

Buscom from Finland is doing a trial with Nokian on this issue: One can pay the bus fare with a simple gesture with the mobile phone:


Challenging Interfaces July 5, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in biofeedback, innovative interfaces, physical interaction design.
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During the two teaching projects on alarm clocks, which I taught in Ivrea and Potsdam, we came across various “challenging interfaces”, which would force the user into a state of higher concentration/attention.


Well known is CLOCKY, a robotic alarm clock, which runs away and hides, so that the user is forced out of bed.

During the classes I was teaching, my students also came up with some interesting “challenging interfaces”:


Hayat Benchenaa developed SEFRA, an alarm clock hanging from the ceiling, which is switched off by hitting is. Each time one hits the clock during the snooze function, it would rise toward the ceiling and therefore force you out of the bed.


Blanc-o-matic by Eva Burneleit and Katrin Lütkemöller is a blanket, which would after each time switching off the snooze-function be torn down in the direction of your feets by 20 cm. Works only in winter.


Another commercial product for a “challenging interface” is the “Pattern Clock“, which forces the user to play a round of Simon-Says.

Similar to the samples above is the Dead Man’s Switch, which is used in trains and should guarantee the the operator is not incapacitated (or asleep). There are different levels of complexity for this function, as reacting to beep.

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Another kind of a “challenging interface” is the part in onlineregistration processes, where you need to prove that you are human through recognizing some strange words (images taken from the yahoo mail registration).

Are there more challenging interfaces? And what can we learn from them? And why are we not using physilogical sensors for this task?
To be continued…