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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 Рhis 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… ūüôā

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.

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.

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”

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!


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!


M2M for beginners December 3, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in entrepreneurship, innovative interfaces, new technologies, physical interaction design, prototyping tools.
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I just re-submitted a fund application for developing an M2M-development environment for non-engineers, following the philosophy of Processing, Arduino and Fritzing. Today, my colleague Stefan Hermann pointed out to me the project Twine, which is currently applying for crowd funding.

(image source)

Twine was invented by the two MIT-grads David Carr and John Kestner and already received more than 160K in funding! Well done and good luck!

(video source)

Feel the Screen December 3, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, new technologies, physical interaction design.
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One major challenge with touchscreens is the tactile feedback, which is enriching any Human-Computer-Interaction. A lot of diffenrent approaches have been developed, ranging from Ivan Poupyrev‘s touch engine¬†(2002)¬†to Chris Harrison’s and Scott Hudson’s¬†pneumatic displays:

Now, a new solution is hitting the blogosphere, by a company called Senseg: They are using dynamic electrostatic field to create changing sensations on the finger tips of the user. They call this system “tixel” – derived from ‚Äútactile pixels‚ÄĚ:

(image source)

Too bad, I didn’t have the chance so far to try this system, but according to CNET it really feels great. A great advantage of this system is that there are no mechanical parts involved. The system should be on the market with “12 to 24” months…

(image source)

(via Robert Siuda on incom; thanks!)

Pixel Everywhere… on Cars? December 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, media art, new technologies, poetic.
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Well, the fantasy is quite old: with the rising of Ubiquitous Computing many research labs proposed the idea of “Pixel Everywhere” and suggested interesting interaction paradigms with this idea.

(image source)

¬†For example,¬†Claudio Pinhanez suggested in 2001 a “Everywhere‚ź£Displays‚ź£Projector”, which would turn a space into an area covered with pixels (see image above). Jun Rekimoto suggested a range of interesting interaction paradigms for such an environment, as the Pick-and-Drop concept, earlier explained in this blog, here with a more spatial use-case:

(image source)

On the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show Toyota showed the concept car Fun Vii (huh, what an innovative name), which has this idea of pixel everywhere: One can change the look of the car instandly:

(image source)

(image source) (here more variations of decorative art on the car)

The concept of pixel everywhere is not only used for decoration, but also for meaningful interactions:

(image source)

More meaningful interactions (as we always wanted to make publicly visible who of our friends has birthday or who left us an SMS)

(images source)

(image source)

The weirdest use-case for this concept car is to use it for advertisement while being parked. I am wondering, who is controlling the ad on my car – maybe it is in exchange for a free parking?

(image source)

This concept reminds me a little bit of the work “Optical Camouflage” by Prof.¬†Susumu Tachi: I would love to use this car to make it invisible!!!

(image source)(the movie for this image: Optical Camouflage)


IFA: Finally a printer for PCBs September 13, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in new technologies, prototyping tools.
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Well, it was clear that it would come – and still I find it exciting: The Japanese SIJTechnology Inc. presented at this year’s IFA a printer for printable electronics – unfortunately starting in the price range of 125.000 US $ – which means that Fritzing-users will have to wait a little longer before having access to this technology ūüė¶

(image source)

As far as I understood, they are particularly proud on the precision of their printing and on the fact that one can basically print any kind of metal.

IFA: Data Transmission over Ceiling Light September 12, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in new technologies, poetic.
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At the IFA I particulary like the hall with all the research institutions. There is always entertaining and interesting stuff to find. This year I was surprised by the Fraunhofer (Heinrich Hertz Institute), which displayed data transmission over ceiling light:

(image source)

Today they already can reach a speed of 500 Mbit/s over a distance of 5 m, which is ok within buildings. I saw their demo and one could not see anything in the light.The main problem the researchers currently face is the problem of interference between the two directions.

Well, it is like going back to the roots – of Morse!

(image source)

First of all this made me think of all the people, who suffer from electro smog – what a great relief for them!

At the same time I like the idea that streaming data is like handling light: Imagine transmitting data with a torch: “Kleine Taschenlampe brennt, schreib ich lieb dich in den Himmel…” (siehe Markus)