Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Death and Taxes 2009 from Wall Stats


Here's the embedded version of Wall Stats' Death And Taxes 2009:

"Create the world, the interface will follow" - Link to article by Adaptive Path's Paula Wellings

Paula Welling's article, "Create the world, the interface will follow", draws from her observations as an experience designer at Adaptive path and her previous work as a creator of imaginary game worlds. She points out that it is possible for user-centered designers to focus so much on people, via persona development and contextual inquiring, that the role of the real-world environment is not fully explored.

Wellings asks experience designers to look at the bigger picture.

"How can we move from a purely descriptive representation of the people themselves to an approach that explicitly recognizes design as facilitating participation in particular worlds?"

Here is a quote from the article:

"Like the worlds of video games, our real world is a possibility space* that gives depth and context to our interactions. For the most part, people live their lives in environments that provide structure to activities, relationships and opportunities. Changes of environment reveal the power of the world to enable and diminish our possibilities. Both dramatic environment changes such as living in a foreign country, going to jail, and surviving a natural disaster as well as small changes such as moving from a sunny climate to a rainy one can affect people in powerful ways."

As an observer of human-world interaction, I agree with Wellings' point of view.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

How to Find the HP TouchSmart Website: Another Example for the Usability Hall of Shame

I came across the following post about HP's marketing snafu regarding the SmartTouch on the LandorCom blog:

"I saw a commercial for HP’s new multi-touch computer. It looked cool, so I tried to look it up on HP.com. Instead I was treated to a marketing disaster of biblical proportions."

I don't know the author of LandorCom, but I'll have to agree with the comments! If you go to HP's home page, as pictured above, there is no hint that the TouchSmart PC exists.

If you do a search for "HP TouchSmart", you will find a link to the following page:

A quick glance at this page certainly doesn't give the user a feeling of what the HP TouchSmart is all about, which is a sharp contrast to the HP TouchSmart interactive webpage, which takes more time to find.

Link to TouchSmart TV ad videoclip. If you look carefully, you will find a link below the videoclip to the HP TouchSmart interactive website. From there, you can link to the TouchSmart Community site.

If you dig even deeper, you'll find some videoclips about the TouchSmart. It would be great if these videos could be easily accessed from the first pages a user might come across after doing a search for the PC!

Note: Although the videoclips have an embed feature, the clips would not embed into this blog post!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Travel Technology

Note: This post will be updated soon. I'm on vacation, with limited Internet access.

From a previous vacation: Information Display with No Information

Technology and Travel: Blurred Cellphone Camera Shot of Unruly Man on US AIR flight from Charlotte to Miami, December 20, 2008

I had just settled into my seat on a flight from Charlotte to Miami and stowed my cellphone away. At the time, I was thinking about taking a few pictures of airport technology once I arrived in Miami.

Most people would probably be anticipating the beautiful Caribbean scenes they'd like to capture, but not me. I like taking pretty pictures, but whenever I have the opportunity to capture technology out in the wild, my geeky streak takes over.

At that very moment, a very loud, bespectacled older man came barreling down the aisle. As I had an aisle seat, I got the full frontal view, and it wasn't pretty.

The man was naked! He promptly squeezed himself into a seat two rows ahead, right next to a baby, shocking the parents and those of us who had boarded the plane up until that point.

There was a flurry of commotion. Several men came out of nowhere and managed to get the man out of the seat, up the aisle through the first class section, and out of the plane. The flurry of commotion was not limited to the "rescue team". Much of the commotion came from the passengers who were looking for their cell phones and cameras to take pictures or video clips of the scenario.

The man bellowed loudly, "YOU... WILL.... NOT....PREVAIL!"

The passengers? "I'll put this on YouTube!" "I'll post this to Flickr". Some of the passengers traded their photos via phone messages.

Technology Supported Human World Interaction, right in front of my eyes.

I'll never make it as a CNN iReporter, given the results of my cell-phone photography skills:

I DID manage to get some shots of the paramedics. Pretty boring.

I'll post more pictures related to airport and cruise travel technology soon.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More for the Interactive Usability Hall of Shame: BMW Features (Via Roland Smart, Adaptive Path); Solution: MX 2009

Roland Smart, of Adaptive Path, recently posted an article about his experience attending at the BMW performance driving school, where he had a chance to see how BMW uses the Microsoft Surface in the showroom. (See my previous post, BMW and Surface Computing: Video of Tabletop Interaction, on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog).

Later in his post, Smart discusses the problems he encountered with the BMW iDrive, a computer system that combines an LCD panel on the dashboard and a controller knob on the center console.

Smart cited information from James G. Cobb's article “Menus Behaving Badly“ (NY Times, '02), regarding his user-experience with a couple of features of the BMW 744i:

Unanticipated Headrest Action
"...A block away, I adjust the seat forward. The electric head restraint rises, inexplicably, to its highest position. I readjust the headrest and move the seat again. Again, the headrest zips up, as if programmed with the wisdom that tall people have short legs.

My beagle, whose job description is ''scan roadsides for squirrels,'' is in the back, moving from one side window to the other. Each time he shifts, sensors in the seat take note, and the right rear headrest whirrs up as the left one whirrs down. For the next two hours, the headrests dance in tandem, as if trying to provide comfort for restless spirits."

Dangerous Radio Station Control While Driving: The iDrive Controller Menu
"Pull the iDrive knob back to select the ''entertainment'' menu.
Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click ''memory.''
Scroll to the top of the next menu and highlight ''M FM.''
Scroll to the right and click ''manual.''
Twist the knob to tune in a station.
Click ''memory'' -- twice -- to store it.

In a lesser car, you might simply twist a knob. In the 745i, tuning the radio is an interactive experience at 75 m.p.h. After a bit of this, you may wonder what's the fuss over handheld cellphones."

Smart also pointed to Jasper van Kuijk 's (12/24/07) post on the Uselog.com product usability weblog, “More iDrive Reviews; the Evolution of a Bad Idea“. Here are some excerpts:

The Truth About Cars: BMW iDrive Editorial (Robert Fargo)

"...If BMW believed that iDrive was the intuitive future of driver control, why did they equip the new Seven with two CD players? Maybe it's because the dash-mounted single CD can be operated manually, while the six-stack system requires iDrive."

Technoride: Mid-Course Correction for BMW's iDrive (Bill Howard)
"...This third variant adds the function buttons, much like programmable PC function keys (they can be programmed, you know, just that no one does anymore) or radio buttons on your car audio system, to the four-way iDrive controller."

Mobile Experience: BMW iDrive Really Sucks
"The iDrive is so freaking useless..." (My quote from the van Kuijik's source, Andy, author of the The Mobile Experience blog)


Driving It: Car Interfaces and Usability (Wayne Cunningham, CNET)
Discusses Jacob Neilson's basic principles of usability and how they can be applied to car interfaces. Touches on BMW's iDrive, Audi's Multimedia Interface (MMI), the Mercedes-Benz Cockpit Management and Navigation Device (COMAND), and touchscreen LCD's.

Although Cunningham reports that he most usable interfaces he's seen in cars are touch screen LCD's, I beg to differ, given my experience with my Honda's navigation system! (I'm saving that one for another post.)
(Picture of the iDrive, from Cunningham's post)

MX 2009
For those of you interested in the managment of user experience, Adaptive Path is putting together a conference that addresses the business side of the UX equation:

MX San Francisco: Managing Experience through Creative Leadership March 1-3, 2009

Sara Beckman, Co-Director of the Management of Technology Program, Haas School of Business
Margaret Gould Stewart, Manager, User Experience, Google
Margret Schmidt, VP, User Experience Design & Research, TiVo
Bruce Temkin, Forrester Research
Marty Neumeier, President of Neutron
Khoi Vinh, Design Director for NYTimes.com
Dan Roam, founder of Digital Roam
David Butler, VP, Design, The Coca-Cola Company

(Highlights from MX2008 can be found on the MX webpage, after the introductory blurbs about the speakers.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jonathan Brill's Point & Do: "Your Guide to Natural User Interfaces"

Jonathan Brill consults on multi-touch product strategy and is the author of the Point & Do blog/website that is full of interesting applications, demos, links, and comments related to natural user interface applications.

Here are a few of the videos he's posted:
(You can visit his website for additional information, including how to participate in the Multi-touch Book Club discussion of Dan Saffer's book, Designing Gestural Interfaces.)

Infusion's Multi-touch Applications

David Smith's Raptor: Building Games with a Tabletop Computer
Raptor: Building Games with a Tabletop Computer from David Smith on Vimeo.

Prototype 3D Media Viewer for Surface
Prototype 3D Media Viewer for Surface from Clarity Consulting on Vimeo.

Prototype T-Shirt Designer for Surface

Prototype T-Shirt Designer for Surface from Clarity Consulting on Vimeo.

Snowboard Designer

Surface Promo from IdentityMine on Vimeo.

Prototype Whiteboard for Surface

Prototype Whiteboard for Surface from Clarity Consulting on Vimeo.

More from lm3labs: Ubiq'window & Reactor.cmc's touch-screen shopping catalog, AUDI's touch-less interactive showroom screen, and the DNP Museum Lab

Lm3labs has been involved with innovative, creative interactive applications for quite some time. I came across the following items during recent visit to the company's news blog:

Catalog Browsing in Japanese Streets


Touchless Sapporo from Nicolas Loeillot on Vimeo.

I get tired of shopping if I can't quickly find what I'm looking for, so this display, or something similar, would be quite helpful to me, especially if it was linked to both the shopping opportunities nearby as well as good bargains online.

This concept is a big improvement over the static maps I find in most malls and shopping centers. It would also be quite helpful to me when I'm out shopping with my daughters, as we could plan out our shopping trip more efficiently.

With the present economy, people who are considering the purchase of an automobile have many options. To assist in the decision-making process, an Audi dealership in Singapore used a large-size interactive holography, based on Lm3lab's touchless Ubiq'window 200:

Audi goes Touchless from Nicolas Loeillot on Vimeo.
(Mosaic Solutions coordinated the interactivity project.)

Lm3labs has been involved in the museum industry, and recently collaborated with the Louvre-DNP museum lab to create an exhibit in Tokyo, Japan.

From the Museum Lab website:

"The Louvre - DNP Museum Lab is a special experimental space in which the Musée du Louvre exhibits works and provides an in-depth explanation of them. In an exceptional atmosphere, visitors can take time for the leisurely viewing and appreciation of artworks from the world's largest museum."

"A circuit with a wealth of multimedia mediation devices draws visitors into the history and analysis of the works, letting them follow in the footsteps of the artists in question and affording an insight into the details concealed. This ground-breaking feature al lows visi tors to discover the hidden face of some of the museum's masterpieces."

"New works are presented at Museum Lab every six months in an entirely novel approach to artworks.

According to information from the Lm3lab's website, " LM#LABS has built a series of solutions to serve the museum and culture industry. Interactive solutions are based on computer vision and have the common point to be easy to deploy and manage. LM3LABS' solutions are highly engaging and easy to use....they create on natural interaction with digital content...people use their fingers to interact and discover."

Slide Share by Lm3labs:
Outdoor Ad: The Future is Interactive (Asia Outdoor Advertising 2007)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Usability of a Remote Control

I usually blog about user experience and usability related to emerging technologies and off-the-desktop applications, but today, I thought I'd share my frustrations about something that has been around for quite a while, the remote control.

My New DISH Network Remote Control

In order to learn how to use this sleek buttony device, we received free lessons and a handbook from the DISH Network installation guy!


Too many buttons!

So I did a search and found
Chris McEvoy's website page devoted to the topic:
Usability of a Remote Control

The pictures below are from McEvoy's site, and demonstrate a remote-control "re-do" by
Apogee, a usability research and consulting services provider.

The remote control on the left is the "Engineering-Centered" version, typical of most remote controls. The remote control on the right is the "Human-Centered" version.


Unfortunately, human-centered remote controls seem to function only when traveling in packs of 2 or 3. Isolated from the pack, they are not helpful in controlling everything found in a home entertainment center!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Urban Screens: Streaming Museum in Cyberspace and Public Space on 7 Continents

Streaming Museum is "a new hybrid Museum for the 21st Century that presents real-time exhibitions in cyberspace and public spaces on seven continents". Some of the recent events/exhibits have been played out on urban screens.

"Conceived as a source of free cultural content and public service messaging created by artists on the environment, education, and health...Enables interconnectivity of a diverse global community focused on culture, and gives artists the vehicle to act as cultural ambassadors as their work crosses the geographic divide..Invites visitors at each venue to upload pictures via cell phone or email to the Streaming Museum website"

From the Streaming Museum website:

"Artists and Innovators for the Environment" Part Two: (December 3 to February 3)

"December 3 - February 3 Andrea Ackerman, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Agnes Denes, Jaap Drupsteen, Ben Edwards, Buckminster Fuller, David Jr. & One-Eyed Doll, Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta, Marty St. James, Robert Snyder, James Tunick, Jacob Ter Veldhuis, Stephen Vitiello, Julia Wolfe, and other visionary creators."

Details about the public spaces supporting the exhibit

Link to schedule of exhibitions in public spaces in various countries

Links to on-demand viewings in cyberspace:

Streaming Museum website: http://www.streamingmuseum.org

Second Life; Ars Virtua New Media Center:

Youtube, Blip.TV, Facebook, MySpace, iTunes, Twitter, RSS, email subscribers

Part 1: Artists and Innovators for the Environment (October-December 2008)

"October 3 to December 3 John Cage, Cedar Lake Dance, Agnes Denes, Jaap Drupsteen, Buckminster Fuller, Brian Mackern, James Nachtwey, Nunatak, Emanuel Dimas de Melo, Pimenta, Anni Rapinoja, Huang Ruo, Gustavo Santaolalla, Robert Snyder, Jacob ter Veldhuis, and innovative designs for environmental sustainability by Chuck Hoberman and others."

Nina Colosi, Founder & Creative Director of Streaming Museum

Urban Screens Melbourne 08

Monday, December 1, 2008

Usability & User Experience, A work in Progress: "Ubicomp is like a 5-year-old wishing for a pink pony"; "Ubiquitous Computing and UX Design"

I came across a post from the Near Future Laboratory's blog:

Ubicomp is like a 5-year-old wishing for a pink pony
-Julian Bleeker

"Complete Ubicomp fail. I mean..they can't even get this most simple of scenarios straightened out and they want to put my refrigerator and toaster oven on the network?"

The author of the post was a guest at an upscale hotel room that featured sensors that turned on the lights. Unfortunately, the lights turned on at random times, resulting in a sleepless night, and a grumpy, resentful blogger. A great example for the Usability Hall of Shame.

Via Thomas Purves: "Apparently no one really wants to reboot their socks."

To learn more about about UX and ubiquitous computing, see Mike Kuniavsky's post, "Ubicomp UX Design at Dansk-IT" and the link to his keynote presentation, "Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design".