design-aerobics 2012: digital design course - sample lesson
the following is an example of a lesson from the upcoming digital-design course:
sixthsense by panav mistry
as a designer it is imperative that you think about what you are telling the audience
and also let them know how can they respond. in a relatively short period digital interfaces
have gone form the stuff of make believe to a cornerstone of modern life. it is in this field
where science and design has managed to meet the demands of the 21st century
more than others. through engaging and life enriching products that are easy to understand
thousands of industries are now incredibly different than they were just twenty years ago.
computers, mobile phones, ATMs, cable television, e-readers, portable music players
and more: it has been the job of designers to make these devices look good and
also be understood.
command line interface
in the 1950s the command line helped matters a great deal even if it looks very
'back-end' to us today. before it was invented, commands had to be fed into a computer
via a punch card or paper tape in bulk. the command line, a text-only interface saw
typewriters hooked up to computers for the first time. data was entered in real time
and when the user wanted rather than in batches.
of course this was simply a start - but a good one, for instance the keyboard is still
a fundamental part of most modern computers or communication tools, and such coding
is at the core at all a computers actions. the only problem is the appearance gives
people the feeling that it is something that they don't understand and never will.
therefore most people did not become significantly interested in what computers
had to offer until Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) were implemented.
GUI and mouse
the mouse was designed in 1963 by douglas engelbart at the stanford research institute.
the mouse is incredibly important to the development of the graphical user interface.
the first instance of the 'desktop' interface came via the xerox 'alto' (1973) the computer
was not commercially available yet it shaped the future of computers, because of its
graphical user interface with icons, windows, folders and mouse input. since the interfaces
main challenge is to communicate explicitly what it can do for the user and how the
user can achieve what they wish to accomplish 'real world' metaphors are often borrowed
in digital design. it's is hard to express just how important this breakthrough was with
regards of bringing computers into mainstream life.
windows and mac OS
when it launched in 1984 the apple macintosh borrowed many of the mac OS interface
principals from the alto and made them available to the public. further more it's
applications macwrite and mac paint helped acquaint mac users with the traits of
writing and drawing programmes. it didn't take the PC industry long to catch onto
the improved usability that mac offered computer newbies.
1988, apple releases GS/OS 16-bit operating system with a macintosh-like GUI for the apple IIGS
microsoft helped the PC market overtake mac by developing 'windows' a GUI for
its MS DOS operating system - which was the most commonly used system across
many different brands of PC. PCs were able to perform as well as macs or even better,
and were easier to upgrade, not to mention cheaper - thanks to these facts and the
usability of windows they managed to take a hold of the home and office
computer market in the 90s.
1985, windows 2
microsoft grew from strength to strength - one of the most important reasons
being their 'windows 95' operating system which further developed the desktop GUI
and gave it a much friendlier feel, with 32bit based technologies. since it was
the most popular operating system at the time that the internet became mainstream
the look and feel of windows 95 and internet explorer had an everlasting affect
on how web-browsers began to look and function.
still input was limited to mouse and keyboard commands during the 90's though
some developments into digital graphics tablets meant it was already used by
specialist studios by the end of the decade and digital styluses used with hand
held communicators. the main development in terms of input during the 90s
was the emergence of the touchpad. a feature often employed on laptop computers
in replacement for the lack of a mouse. despite competition from touchballs
and joysticks the touchpad won out.
facelift a significant step in the development of GUIs came when apple released
it's long awaited 'OSX' in 2001. the new operating system tied in with apple's
resurgence in the computer market - primarily down to their radically new
looking computers which used transparent bodies or brushed aluminium.
the look of the new operating system referenced this 'modern' aesthetic
and made microsoft windows look outdated almost immediately.
2009, mac OS X 6
got users excited such as improved drop and dragging of files. vector icons which
looked far more illustrative than the bitmaps of old. there was also the 'dock' a
quick index showing your favourite and most useful applications which could hide
when not in use then reappear by simply placing your pointer to the bottom or side
of the screen. the look of OSX, with it's shiny and reflective menus was hugely
influential on the look of 'second wave' websites.
modern communication tools cant get enough of the touchpad's more sophisticated offspring.
while the technology has long been used in the public sphere for simple operations
like ATMs and retail cashiers it's only in the last five years or so that it has been more
widely explored. the most significant product to bring about this shift was the iPhone
and the iPod touch, since all competing products decided they had to be touch screen too,
it feels that everywhere you look someone is jabbing a screen with their index finger.
it's even spread to bigger devices such as computers aimed at children or the elderly
and e-readers look destined to prolong it's popularity for the next few years at least.
while the registration technology now means that touchscreens are capable of
understanding finger sized gestures they are not yet entirely accurate - especially for typing.
this has lead many to believe that there could well be a rise in the use of
touchscreen+stylus products, which combine the strengths of touch with the precision
of a pen. even though some portable devices allow for the use of a touchscreen,
or joystick to navigate their interfaces, all use the longstanding GUI framework
traceable back to the xerox alto.
current themes though the desktop metaphor still persists we can now begin to
taste the next real developments in digital interface design. perhaps the most
interesting aspect is that new players have joined the game and several routes
have already emerged - with different ideas on how we can make the most of all
the information the world has to offer. designers are finally starting to realize
that most computer users are now more than familiar with the standard desktop GUI
and are now expecting more.
the following projects highlight some of the latest developments in digital interface design:
through the use of accelerometers, magnetometers, and gyroscopes movement
of a device or body part can now be understood intelligently by devices found
in many homes, cell phones and games consoles for example. next up will be
products that sense a whole lot more. we're all more than familiar with voice
recognition and commands but what about the possibility of moving your cursor
simply by looking at where you want it to be.
new developments in the way information is displayed on screen is making the
desktop more of a 'physical space'. applications can now transform standard operating
systems and familiar GUIs into a space where regular rules of display don't count.
for instance in a program like 'bumptop' folders can be tossed in a pile or stacked neatly.
notes can be placed on the 'walls' and scaled in size based on their importance.
it's more of a virtual cubicle than a desktop.
microsoft surface is a multi-touch computer that responds to natural hand gestures
and real-world objects, helping people interact with digital content in a simple and
intuitive way. with a large, horizontal user interface, surface offers a unique
gathering place where multiple users can collaboratively and simultaneously
interact with data and each other. more
using photos of regularly photographed subjects sourced from around the internet,
photosynth creates multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features. more
aurora is part of mozilla labs’ browser concept series, an ongoing initiative to
encourage designers and developers to contribute their own visions of the future
of the browser and the web. more
in 2008 researchers at the university of tokyo led by hiroyuki shinoda developed
a display that lets users 'touch' objects that appear to float in space in front of them.
the objects appear thanks to an LCD and a concave mirror and the sensation of
touching them is achieved by using an ultrasound device positioned below
the LCD and mirror.
the university of southern california developed 'headspin' in 2009.
the 3D teleconferencing system maintains eye contact between a three-dimensional
head and several participants at the other end of a connection by projecting
high-speed video onto a rapidly spinning aluminum disk to generate an accurate
image for each viewer.
skinput by chris harrison is a technology that appropriates the human body for acoustic
transmission, allowing the skin to be used as a finger input surface.
'in particular, we resolve the location of finger taps on the arm and hand by analyzing
mechanical vibrations that propagate through the body. we collect these signals using
a novel array of sensors worn as an armband. this approach provides an always-available,
naturally-portable, and on-body interactive surface. to illustrate the potential of
our approach, we developed several proof-of-concept applications on top of our
sensing and classification system.' chris harrison
'sixthsense' by pranav mistry is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical
world with digital information allowing us use natural hand gestures to interact with
that information. information is confined traditionally on paper or digitally on a screen.
sixthsense bridges this gap, bringing intangible, digital information out into the
tangible world, and allowing us to interact with this information via natural hand gestures.
‘sixthsense’ frees information from its confines by seamlessly integrating it with reality,
and thus making the entire world your computer. more
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