Archive for July, 2007

8(eight) things you probably don’t know about me–probably

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Marc Rapp the publisher of Unique Epitome has meme’d me. So here you go: 8 things you don’t know about me:

· Some people think that I have a French accent. These people are bizarre
· I read comic books, watch animes, and play video games. But I am not the girl of your dreams
· I have a dark history of mathematics & economics
· I am not vegetarian. Animals are tasty. But they are cute as pets too
· My blog kicks ass. It always takes a while to recognize real talents
· People constantly project on me. Stereotypes of French girls are crazy in this country. But it’s true I don’t shave and hate taking showers
· I became very serious about my sculpture work. I had to prematurely end my brief foray because the fame was jeopardizing the work
· I can’t find an eighth one, you know everything about me already! Here is my quiche

My quiche Lorraine

My turn and I will meme Architectradure’s commentors!

The next UI breakthrough, physicality?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

The Design of Future Things by Donald A. Norman

A discussion by Donald A. Norman on the passage from Graphical User Interfaces, especially command line based, to Tangible User Interfaces, in particular motion based interfaces.

In my previous column I discussed the reemergence of command line language. Once these were the ways we used our operating systems and applications. Now they are reemerging within search engines. They are hidden and not easy to learn about, but I expect them to grow in power and, over time, become the dominant means of interaction.

In this column I will talk about a second trend, one that also has much earlier origins: the return to physical controls and devices. In the theoretical fields that underlie our field, this is called embodiment: See Paul Dourish’s book, Where the Action Is. But the trend is far more extensive than is covered by research on tangible objects, and somewhat different from the philosophical foundations implied by embodiment, so I use the term “physicality.”

Physicality: the return to physical devices, where we control things by physical body movement, by turning, moving, and manipulating appropriate mechanical devices.

Norman, D. A. 2007. The next UI breakthrough, part 2: physicality. interactions 14, 4 (Jul. 2007), 46-47.

Column on Command Line Interfaces available online

Full paper available at the ACM digital library

Creepcakes by designers!

Monday, July 30th, 2007

AIGA 2006 presents creepcakes for Halloween, a use of everyday cupcakes transformed into aliens, monsters, spiders and mummies!
Clever design and great imagination is always extremely inspiring …

The SynchroMate

Monday, July 30th, 2007

The SynchroMate fits snuggly in the palm of one’s hand (…) it encourages serendipitous synchronous interaction by indicating when a message is being composed for you by a distant companion through gentle vibrations and pulsing concentric circles of lush colors on the display

SynchroMate: A Phatic Technology for Mediating Intimacy, by Martin R. Gibbs, Steve Howard, Frank Vetere, Marcus Bunyan (2006)

By and large interaction design has been concerned with information exchange - technologies for the collection, processing and transmission of informational content. This design sketch discusses preliminary ideas about an alternative way to think about interactive technologies - phatic technologies - that are less concerned with capturing and communicating information and more about the establishment and maintenance of social connection. Drawing on insights and inspiration gleaned from a recent field-based study of the role of interactive technologies within intimate relationships we outline our preliminary ideas concerning technologies to support phatic interaction. Using materials collected during our fieldwork as design inspirations, we developed design sketches for phatic technologies intended to support playful connection between intimates. One of these sketches - SynchroMate - is presented. SynchroMate is a phatic technology designed to mediate intimacy by affording serendipitous synchronous exchanges.

Full case study

Selling ad space via computer etching

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Leah paid for her new MacBook Pro by selling ad space on her laptop to sponsors.

Soon you will receive a parking ticket for leaving your computer too long on a campus table. Soon you will etch ads on your body to have unlimited plastic surgery, soon you will become an ad to survive!

But I wonder, are stickers over yet? Spreading throughout the internet, the hip idea for a few years now is to etch the cover of your laptop.

I saw beautiful work out there, but never dared attacking the cover of my mac book. I prefered not following any trends, and stuck to my stickers! Among all this craft work, I chose this one from 2006 (see picture above) that is particularly interesting by Buzz Andersen.

Video, toys and perspective taking

Friday, July 27th, 2007

I discovered this fabulous experimental research on perspective taking by developmental psychologist Masuo Koyasu.

Masuo Koyasu’s web site (in Japanese only).

In the 1980s, I was interested in studying the development of perspective-taking in young children. Piaget’s “three mountains task” had demonstrated that children find it difficult to understand how something looks to a person who is in a different position from themselves. In fact, younger children exhibit a strong tendency to choose their own view when asked to indicate how an object looks to someone in another position, a tendency that Piaget called “egocentrism.” I thought there are three dimensions of egocentrism (up and down, front and back, and left and right), and that children’s difficulty in understanding different perspectives might be because they do not receive feedback about other people’s perspectives. To test this hypothesis, I conducted a series of experiments with kindergarteners.

Figure 1. Experimental Situation
A:Child,B:Experimenter,C:Sample Photos,D:Place to put toy animal(s),E:Three toy animals,F:Still camera or video camera

The task in the first experiment was to face a camera set up across from them and then to arrange one to three toy animals in a way that would produce a photograph like the sample (Figure 1). Forty-three percent of the four-year-olds exhibited front and back egocentrism by placing the toy animals’ backs to the camera. That tendency had mostly disappeared among the five-year-olds and six-year-olds, but it became clear that hardly any of the four- to six-year-olds could position two or three toy animals in the correct left-to-right order. In a second experiment, I used a video camera instead of a still camera and provided video feedback, showing an image of the toy animals as viewed from the opposite side on a color CRT monitor. In the control group, which was shown only the CRT monitor, the children were able to correct their front-back egocentrism on their own but were not informed of their errors. Even in the experimental group, which received instruction and practice in correcting left-right egocentrism, the effect on their post-test results was clearly small (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Mean number correct in each condition

Until the age of about seven, most children facing a teacher who says, “Let’s raise our right hands” while raising his or her own right hand will raise their left hands.
Incidentally, research into perspective-taking abilities has traditionally focused on investigating how children understand other people’s viewpoints, but I have noticed a serious limitation in the paradigm commonly used to study this. In the case of the “three mountains task,” even if children can’t directly guess the viewpoint of a person in another position, they can solve the problem by conducting a mental simulation in which they imagine that they have gone to the other person’s position, or by a type of mental rotation, in which they imagine that the object has been placed on a lazy Susan and rotated to the correct position. The lack of methodological distinctions in the perspective-taking paradigm was a major problem. As I was worrying about how to think about this problem, I encountered research into “theory of mind.” In particular, I spent ten months as a visiting scholar in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford from 1994 to 1995, where I had the opportunity to come into contact with the front lines of British research into cognitive development. After returning to Japan, I began studying “theory of mind,” but at that time, hardly anyone else in the country was doing so. Without intending to, I have had to carry out the role of “missionary” in the field of “theory of mind” in Japan.
The most famous experiment in “theory of mind” is the false belief task (the so-called “Sally and Anne task”) of Josef Perner and his colleagues. “Sally puts a doll in a basket. While Sally is away, Anne takes the doll out of the basket and puts it into a box nearby. Sally then returns and the child is asked where Sally will look for her doll.” In general, three-year-olds can’t pass this task, but they become able to do so between the ages of four and six. It has also been demonstrated that even high-functioning autistic children can’t pass this task. It is odd that most young children are easily deceived by this task, which is no problem at all for adults. I have been observing the daily lives of children at a Kyoto kindergarten once a week for three years, as well as conducting developmental research, including the false belief task. As a result, I have obtained longitudinal data on “theory of mind” (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Results of a longitudinal study of “theory of mind”

The data presented in this figure began with 15 children, with 4 more children transferring in at the ages of four and five, for a total of 19 children at the end. Only one child regressed from being able to pass the task to failing it, but he was a boy who became extremely nervous and made mistakes in the testing situation at age five and six. The fact that I was conducting experiments on children with whom I was in contact on a daily basis made me feel that I could interpret the results more broadly.

Why Toys Shouldn’t Work "Like Magic"

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Mark D. Gross, Michael Eisenberg, “Why Toys Shouldn’t Work “Like Magic”: Children’s Technology and the Values of Construction and Control,” digitel, pp. 25-32, The First IEEE International Workshop on Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning (DIGITEL’07), 2007

The design and engineering of children’s artifacts-like engineering in general-exhibits a recurring philosophical tension between what might be called an emphasis on “ease of use” on the one hand, and an emphasis on “user empowerment” on the other. This paper argues for a style of technological toy design that emphasizes construction, mastery, and personal expressiveness for children, and that consequently runs counter to the (arguably ascendant) tradition of toys that work “like magic”. We describe a series of working prototypes from our laboratories-examples that illustrate new technologies in the service of children’s construction and we use these examples to ground a wider-ranging discussion of toy design and potential future work.

Kinetic vs electric toys

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Odo by Sony

We change our habits and we design accordingly. In the era of socially responsible design, a new business model is emerging. Discovered on Idealist, Odo by Sony is a generation of toys that takes advantage of user-generated kinetic energy. As mentioned in Sustainable Day: “there are a lot of conceptual solar powered cell phone prototypes and hand cranked chargers popping up in response to the strong consumer interest in more environmentally responsible products but in general consumer electronics usually lag behind in the development of green alternatives.”

Odo Spin N’Snap

In 2005, I co-designed Playpals, a set of figurines with their electronic accessories that provide children with a playful way to communicate between remote locations. In our first prototype, the figurines were activated using the child-generated kinetic energy. We tried to find a branch of alternative to electrical by using reverse motors.

Playpals movie

Abstract by Joëlle Bitton

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Abstract is the upcoming interaction installation by Joëlle Bitton at Gallery EF in Tokyo.

On the theme of waiting and the perception of the time passing-by: inviting visitors in a space where the body and its movement play the role of interfaces. From a point of view on the Japanese garden and its vision on the surrounding, aesthetic and philosophical world, this project is inspired by the tension between elements intentionally thought here in a contradictory dialog: abstraction and texture, concealment and disclosure, empty space and framed space. This installation places the visitor on the razor’s edge: always on the border, between two worlds, passing from one to the other. This is the experience of difference and of a fragile balance, of what is called in the Japanese culture, the impermanence of things. The latter is then staged in a relationship to the cycle of time, to the emotions that the expectation of something to happen can generate.

Joëlle’s portfolio

E-puzzle at IDSA IDEA 2007

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Discovered on Gizmodo, the BusinessWeek/IDSA IDEA 2007 Awards Gallery presents the E-puzzle designed by Peter Chen. The pictures appeared to be self explanatory.

At first I wandered what the e-puzzle could do, because it seems like a child is moving pieces around on a most probably “interactive map”. What could it do? Play “bip bip” sounds? tell a winnie the poo story… in any case, from the picture it did not seem great. Just e-something.

However it is more innovative than that, even if improbable for quite a while, the concept idea is to use e-paper that parents could download patterns to and that children could endlessly discover and assemble. The idea to play with tangible pieces using unlimited digital information is fascinating.
Now how interesting is the project for children? For parents? It seems it can save space (less puzzle at home), money (10000 puzzles into one), offer control (my child will play with a family picture and not a winnie the poo!) …