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Emoticons in Logos :-( May 29, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in making the invisible visible, new technologies, poetic, visual design.

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… 🙂

Innovation in Banking February 7, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in making the invisible visible, service design, social computing.
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As written before, finally some user-experience-based innovation is happening in banking. Here another interesting site: HOI, a swiss site (“hoi” means “hi” in Swiss-German), is offering a quite detailed and nicely designed calculator for personal finances. This calculator offers either the calculation of your “potential” or the suppoort in reaching financial goals. Furthermore it offers the comparison of my own results with the average in Switzerland and – if wanted – with the average of my friends, which I think is a sensible way to share financial information.

(screenshot from hoi.ch)


Steve Jobs – again… :-) December 6, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in making the invisible visible, methods, new technologies, theory.
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Here is a nice video of Steve Jobs at the WWDC in 1997 (!) – responding to an insult from the audience. The insult is not the interesting part, but Steve’s respont to it:

One of the things I always found is that you gotta start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you are trying to sell it.

Then he illustrates his point with the laser writer, a very complicated technology with an easy to understand result – the high quality print out:

And I remember, seeing the first print out come out of it [the laster-printer], and just picking it up and looking at it and thinking: ‘We can sell this!’ Even if you don’t know anything about what is in that box, all we have to do is holding it up and asking: ‘Do you want this?’ […] And people went: “YES!”

And some mistakes will be made along the way – and that’s good: at least some decision were being made along the way!


Touch Points – the card game… December 5, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in making the invisible visible, methods, service design, theory.
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During our consulting work I realize more and more that a big portion of our time is dedicated to train customers in understanding the opportunities and challenges related to Service Design. The other day, we had a long discussion with a client in the financial sector to talk about Touch Points.

Today I stumbled on these “Touch Point Cards” by Simon Clatworthy from the Oslo School of Architecture & Design. Simon is researching “methods in service design” and came up with these cards, which – I supposed – are of great help in the brainstorming phase of a service innovation:

(image source)

 I just ordered a stack and will keep you updated…

Smart Phones vs. Dedicated Hardware… November 26, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in making the invisible visible, physical interaction design, sustainable interaction design.
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At the event “Positions on Interaction Design” this year at my university I tried to explain why I moved from Physical Interaction Design to Service Design. One of the reasons is that the hope in dedicated mobile devices with innovative forms of physical interaction did not really happen – and that mobile device – thanks to Smart Phones – went the same way as the PC world: one hardware – many applications!

Today I found this nice collection of images of disassembeld gadgets, which are not only very beautiful, but which also remind me on how much waste is produced for theses single application devices:

(image source)(via boingboing)

App helping to pay off debt September 15, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in gamification, learning, making the invisible visible, service design.
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(image source)

There are various approaches of how to pay back loans. One is called the ‘Snowball Method‘: “one who owes on more than one account pays off the accounts starting with the smallest balances first while paying the minimum on larger debts. Once the smallest debt is paid off, one proceeds to the next slightly larger small debt above that, so on and so forth, gradually proceeding to the larger ones later” (Wiki).

The idea behind this method is that it is that it is psychologically rewarding to see results, “because of the psychological boost people get when they pay off a loan—it encourages them to keep working at clearing the other debts” (M.Frauenfelder)

There is an app for that – called “Debt Free”. Here a screenshot:

(image source)

I am posting this not only as service design in banking is a upcoming area, but also because this app fits into the discussion we currently are having related to Gamification:Some of the aspects off the ‘Snowball Method’ can for sure be transferred into other domains, as e.g. learning.

City & Interaction September 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, interactive architecture, making the invisible visible, media art, physical interaction design.
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The university, where I am teaching, has been awarded with the “Excellence in Teaching” award by the German Stifterverband.

The price money is being used to support interdisciplinary in teaching. So, last year, I tought a class “City and Interaction” with my colleague Markus Loeffler from the architecture department.

We had the opportunity to invite international experts to support this class: Prof. Mark Shepard, Prof. Mette Thomson and Prof. Gesche Joost were our external reviewers and gave important input.

The focus of the projects developed by interdisciplinary teams of students were quite broad, covering these four areas:

  • Making the Invisible Visible
  • Bringing Web 2.0 into Architecture
  • Enhancing Architecture
  • Join-In Architecture

(images taken from project sites, for authorship please refer to here or to the projects directly by clicking on the image)

I think that we were able to understand the potentials of “City and Interaction”. Would be nice to apply our insights in real projects, either in the area of Location-Based-Services or Urban Planning or Architecture.

Here you can find a list of the projects.

E-Mobility Hub July 20, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in making the invisible visible, service design, sustainable interaction design.
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One of our current projects with a major German car manufacturer is the development of a unique experiences when charging an electronic vehicle.

This is in fact a great service touch point, which offers e-car manufacturers the opportunity to distinguish from other brands.

Fraunhofer, one of Germany’s largest research organizations, has been looking into e-mobility since 2009. In this presentation Florian Rothfuss, the leader of this area, discusses various aspects of e-mobiliy. I particulary like his concept “From the car park to e-Mobility Hub (Aus Parkhaus und Auto wird der E-Mobility Hub)”, where he turns the spot for charging an e-car into a rich experience:

(image source)

In this concept I do not only like the idea of extending the e-car-experience into novel services (as e.g. renting a segway), but also that the facility itself turns into an extension of the philosophy of an e-car: with transforming the car park building into a green support for the city, the good deed of driving an e-car gets expanded, which is a nice additional service for the drivers!

Poetic Interaction Design July 5, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in making the invisible visible, physical interaction design, poetic.
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With my undergrad students I discussed the need of more poetic forms of Human-Computer-Interaction. Of course, light, non-permanent (in German: ‘flüchtig’) forms  for displaying data as through air flow always come to our minds. One example is the project Web Presence – Presence Web” (2009) by Michael Hohl:

“Visitors arriving at the website are indicated by the curtain billowing gently in a momentary breeze, just as a real visitor to the room would.”

This short video shows the prototype (actually, the concept itself is very poetic and beautiful, however the documentation is too nerdy for my taste…)


Interface Design Positions – Boris Müller June 21, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in learning, making the invisible visible, theory.
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My colleagues from university and me were hosting an event with the topic “Position in Interface Design” last week. Here some thoughts from my colleague Boris Müller:

Boris basically presented three thoughts, which he wanted to see discussed a little more in future:

(photo: J. Landstorfer)

“Why do the things actually look the way they do?” – a hint that everything around us is designed, even though we forget sometimes. Especially with technical or digital products humans tend to take certain solutions for granted because it seems that the technology requires them to be a certain way, which is not true! More work and responsibility for designers!

(photo: J. Landstorfer)

The second thought of Boris caused a lot of discussion: he presented the dilema of Interface Design to be somewhere inbetween “Appolonian” and “Dionysian”. By “Appolonian” he means inivsible, action-oriented (efficient) solutions, which are rather more intellectual pleasure, while “Dionysian” represent more impressive, more sensual, more physical pleasure in interface design.

I think I understand what Boris meant by this “Dichotomie”, but I am not sure that I follow: a good interaciton is invisible and an intellectual pleasure, but is also sensually fun – I would think. But I am really not part of this really impressive “design-centered-design scene” as my colleague Frank Heidmann formulated it – and I think Boris meant these people when talking about “dionysian design”…

(photo: J. Landstorfer)

In the last part of his talk, Boris used the nice word play (by Donald Rumsfeld when arguing the Iraq war) and discussed that in interface/interaction design there are

  • known knows, which we need to teach
  • known unknown, which we can solve with out methods
  • and unknown unknown, and that’s what we need design research for.

Thanks for an inspiring talk, Boris!