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Tutorial TouchStudio April 16, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, mobile, prototyping tools.

The last event at the Microsoft Software Summit in Paris was the Tutorial of TouchStudio by the Microsoft researchers Nikolai Tillmann Peli de Halleux and Michał Moskal.

They gave a nice introduction, starting with the Commodore 64 and how the main experience was to have to program this device. Exactly this experience made the C64 so successful. However, in today’s mobile phone, there is no programming environment, despite the fact, that all over the world for many people the mobile phone is the only access to computer technology.

Then they pointed out, how today’s IDEs are really supportive and have a lot of intelligent features which support the programmer while typing. However, text input on smartphones is not really suitable for programming. So, they invented TouchStudio, a programming environment for the mobile phone, where on can program with “one finger only”.

I really like the idea behind TouchStudio – and the first demo was quite impressive. It took the programmer less than a minute to program an app, which would turn off your music player when you turn the phone with the display facedown.

When working with the TouchStudio I was quite impressed with a couple of text editing features they build: the zooming to a specific line of code works extremely intuitive, the selection and completion of commands is also well executed.

(Here is a video about TouchStudio)

They already implemented some interesting access to the phone’s internal technology as the camera or music player.

The performance is also good: I programmed some Processing-like animations and they worked fine.

The code itself is still displayed as text. I am wondering whether it would add to the joy and clarity if the code would be displayed a little more visually, similar to scratch.

In some cases one needs to provide the software with too much details, e.g. a given color in the draw commands would be sufficient.

Currently scrips cannot be shared with friends or sold in the marketplace, which is another downside, but they are working on this.

And not all sensors of the phone are accessible, yet, but I guess that this will also soon be changed.

One thing I could not find out was how to change parts of the code, which are in the middle of the code, e.g. I wanted to change a “while”-statement to a “for”-statement and could not find a way to do this.

I love this tool and I am looking forward to the innovations which will happen, once lots of people can play with it!


Crowd Sourcing April 12, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, service design, social computing, Uncategorized.
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I was invited at the Tchibo Ideentag (Days of Ideas) to give a keynote. The aim of this event was to promote the Tchibo crowd sourcing platform called Tchibo Ideas.

This event was organized by the Tchibo Ideas team and by a spin-off by the d-school called Tiefenschärfe.

It was a nice event, but more interesting for me is the concept of crowd sourcing:

Tchibo Ideas is a very ambitious project, trying to achive two things:
1. a direct communication with the customers of Tchibo
2. using the community to design new products

(For my non-German readers: Tchibo is a coffee-retail-company with lots of shops all over Germany. Besides selling coffee they have each week a product theme with a whole range of products – this week under the topic “In love with my garden“. The products are mainly available during the week and after 4 weeks they completely disappear.  The whole concept is built on impuls buying and on quite good deals.)

As the main audience of Tchibo are ladies over 45, it is kind of hard to establish a two-way communication.

From the point of view of communication the platform seems to work. My feeling was that mostly the retired or bored husbands of these ladies are involved. I met one guy who invented a child-proof toilet brush, a engineer in his late 40s, not a “designer” at all…

This years winner for the best solution 2010 was Philipp Schaake, who invented Star, a self-powered children night light.

However, the Tchibo team is not happy with the crowd sourcing so far: they are hoping to address more young desigers. To make crowdsourcig more attractive, they have established a close online environment and a really fair scheme to collaborate with them.

As the target audience is kind of out of the scope for young designers, Tchibo started the “idea day” to attract young designers. One of the key note speakers, Werner Aisslinger, a well established Berlin-based product designer, said that he likes the concept of crowd sourcing, especially for young designers: it offers them a chance, which is hard to get in real life.

Compared to the crowd sourcing approach in the app-store by Apple I got the impression that the Tchibo approach is very fair. They are even helping the designers to finish their designs, they will return the licens after max. three years and they have a quite open decision process.

Let’s stay tuned: I am looking forward how this platform evolves!

Tools for Innovation – Part I November 17, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in innovation process.
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Through a couple of projects we have been doing at the Interaction Design Lab, I am asking myself, how to develop “Tools for Innovation”. By this, I mean software supported tools, which inspire and help to find opportunities and interesting interrelations.

The first tool, which I am looking at, is “Mapping”: Through a multi-dimensional arrangement of new ideas and/or existing projects one might be able to spot areas of opportunities. My professor, Hans (Nick) Roericht, and his team wrote about Mapping:

en gros
gesucht ist eine art der darstellung, die aufgrund ihrer inneren struktur, geschaffen durch “polungen” analog den himmelsrichtungen, die orientierung innerhalb eines sujets erleichtert.

(we are searching for a diagram, which supports the orientation within a subject, based on the diagram’s internal structure, which is constructed through “polarities” – similar to the directions on the compass)

Mapping should be used – according the Roericht – for the following purposes:

…für die systematische variantenbildung.
…zur gliederung von begrifflichkeiten.
…zur strukturierung der eigenen gedankengänge.
(…for systematically producing variations.
…for  the classification of the terminology.
…for structuring thoughts.)


Together with Fabian Hemmert, Andre Knörig and Julia Werner we developed a flash prototype of “Mapping”-tool, so far a two-dimensional solution

For a project about tactile mobile interaction, we used 11 axis, which could be selected within a pull-down-menue:
Based on the selection of axis the projects would be rearranged dynamically. Here a detail view:

(I did not upload the tool yet, because it is still kind of buggy)

I am wondering, how to further develop this tool. Some ideas we are having are related to more dimensions, but mostly easy access of the project library and the various evaluations. Furthermore it would be interesting to apply Web2.0 ideas to this tool. Any comment welcome!

Talk on Prototyping by Yaniv Steiner November 17, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, prototyping tools.
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My former colleague Yaniv Steiner, which whom I taught the wonderful course “Strangely Familar” in Ivrea, gave a talk on prototyping in interaction design. Here you can find a podcast and the slides.

He is also talking about the process, in which prototyping should be embedded:
I especially like Yaniv’s thought “keep it open”: prototyping should always stay a step within a process, never arrive at the goal!

(Regine from wemakemoneynotart went to Yaniv’s talk and wrote a nice blog entry)