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Tactful Calling goes live December 12, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in Uncategorized.
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IxDS has been working on various innovations projects with the Deutsche Telekom. One rather larger design research project was “Gender Inspired Technology” or “Woman’s Phone”, which tool place in 2008-2010. I briefly wrote about this before.

Today a project which came out of this collaboration with Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost and her Design Research Lab at Deutsche Telekom was released as a “technology demonstrator”: Tactful Calling is an Android app, which allows the caller to indicate the urgency of a call as well as the time frame he oder she would like to have for the conversation. Instead of answering an incoming call when busy, Tactful Calling allows the recipient to press one button and indicate to their caller that they are busy and will call them back later.

This app is quite exciting as it is challenging a core part of our phone culture – the way we place and accept calls. When you look closely to how people place calls on Skype or how they use SMS to make sure that a call is not disturbing, it is surprising that such a change of culture is only happening today.

The technical implementation of Tactful Calling is still quite complex as it requires both – caller and recipient- to have the app installed – and as it needs an additional IP-based server-client-connection. However, the shift in how to place calls is quite exciting! Let’s see what is going to happen when people discover this beta version…


PS.: The app is not running under Android 4.0 – yet!


Plakatzeichner June 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, making the invisible visible, media art, new technologies, Uncategorized.
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I went to DMY 2011 last night and saw a couple of nice installations, one which I like for its poetic approach to robotic art. It was done by Simon Deeg and Andreas Picker (from milz) and supervised by my friend Claudius Lazzeroni. Simon and Andreas created a robitc arm, which drives a pen – “by an interaction between the user and the machine: You tape – he draws”. So, the user sticks tapes in three different colors on a piece of paper and then the arm draws based on some secret algorithm lines between the tapes. I liked the simplistic, yet very poetic approach of this work.

(I didn’t take pictures, because I was sure I would find pictures online – but I was wrong. So this is a picture of the printout, which was handed out at the event)

I am sure that this work was inspired by the wonderful analog drawing machines by Claudius, which he calls solographs. Claudius defines solographs as “physical situations which leave their marks”- in face they are machines, which move a pen more or less randomly.

(image source)

They are not only beautiful to watch (as here), but also creat quite aesthetic results, which are a nice antipole or addendum to Claudius’ other passion, Generative Gestaltung.



Service Design for Banking May 6, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in service design, Uncategorized.

I am currently preparing a short talk on the topic of how service-design can improve our experience in banking, especially in branches.

The future of banking is in my point of view clearly online and – for certain aspects – even mobile. One of the loudest advocats of this future scenario is the blogger Chris Skinner, who shouts in his blog (and maybe somewhere else): The branch-based banking model is dead.

A more serious looking research by the Centre for European Economic Research proves his point: The authors M. Köhler and G. Lang did a market research and had 250 experts participating in their questionnaires.

First they show that the number of branches in Germany are declining:

(image source)

The surveyed experts indicated that they think that the number of branches will decline also in future:

(image source)

This is so far not too surprising, and I am sure this is true for most developed countries. According to the authors, banks are focussing not so much on closing branches, but on transformation of existing branches. They describe six different concepts for branches:

  • Vollservice-Filiale (full service branch)
  • Beratungsfiliale (branch for consulting – with highly qualitfied employees)
  • Selbstbedienungsfiliale (self service branch – as of today only for basic banking services applicable, but maybe in future for more. One suggestion is to get customer loyalitee through additional services at the terminal as e.g. ticket sales)
  • Banking Shop (in the paper also called ‘Credit-Shop’) (like a retail shop – the “contrary of the ‘branch for consulting'” – it is all about selling banking products in highly populated areas)
  • Erlebnisfiliale (experience branch – to offer an emotional experience related to the brand of the bank)
  • andere Filialkonzepte (others – highly specialized towards a certain audience)

(I arranged the order according to the ranking of significance by the experts)

So, this means that still the full-service branch is considered to be the most important concept of a branch. According to the authors, however, 1/5th of all transaction will be done in ‘branches for consulting’. They recommend that banks need to design their branches closer to the needs of the customers – and not to just offer the one fits all-branch.

In Berlin, we have one example for the Erlebnisfiliale: The Deutsche Bank branch Q110 in Friedrichstrasse:

(image source)

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!

Talk at Carnegie Mellon August 11, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in Uncategorized.
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Today I gave a talk at the CyLab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh/USA. The topic of my talk was “Physical Interaction Design”. I was invited by Prof. Yang Cai, who is heading the Ambient Intelligence Lab within this department.

I am impressed by CMU, especially as the boarders of faculties seem to be quite open. My friend and host, Yang, for example was also teaching a art class. I also met Suguru Ishizaki, who is a typographie professor, now teaching full time in the English Department: as communication is more than words, they wanted to have a designer in this department. Furthermore I visited the Human Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), which has staff from all kind of faculties.

A podcast of my talk is available here.

Apple patent application for Gestures for Touch Sensitive Input Devices March 28, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in Uncategorized.
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Apple submitted quite a complex patent for Gestures for touch sensitive input devices

Hrmpf has a nice overview about this patent. I think this patent shows one of many fields, where Interaction Designers can apply their skills.

Thanks, Gesche.

Tactile Information Representation March 28, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in physical interaction design, Uncategorized.


An accelerator pedal, which tells the driver, how close he is to thenext car: the closer he comes, the harder it is to press the pedal.


Another forcefeedback concept, done by the students James Tichenor and David A Mellis in my class in Ivrea: Feel the Music (please scroll down): Here the station tuning knob indicates by force feedback, whether you found a station or not.

Apple PCB design and more March 2, 2006

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Historical Computer Ads (in German) tell a lot about the perception of technology in the “old days” – quite inspiring!

With my former colleague Massimo Banzi I once had a long discussion on how Apple (or better: Steve Jobs) really took care of the look of their PCBs already in the early days… Obviously it helped!

Multi-Touch Interaction February 8, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in physical interaction design, Uncategorized.
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ftirhand_tile.jpg ftirphoto_tile.jpg

Jeff Han hat zusammen mit Yann LeCun von der NYU einige interessante Projekt zur Interaktion mit Touchscreens gemacht – Touchscreens, die in der Lage sind, mehrere Berührungen gleichzeitig zu verarbeiten. Auch hat Jeff eine kostengünstige Technologie entwickelt, die solche Berührungen wahrnimmt – für normale Displays und für LED-Matrix Displays. Ein paar inspirierende Filmchen sind auch dabei. Bei ACM ist ausserdem ein Paper zu dem Thema veröffentlicht.


Studentenprojekt auf GIZMODO February 6, 2006

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hourglass.jpgDie digitale Sanduhr von Fabian Hemmert und Susann Hamann, die in meinem Kurs “Objects and Spaces as Means of Interaction” entstanden ist, wird heute auf Gizmodo vorgestellt:

The aim of this stunning product is to make a new kind of alarm clock, which would focus on the amount of sleep you should be getting, not what time you wake up.