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Tag Archives: Computing

16 July 1
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Here comes the first smartwatch: i’mWatch

Under - Design, Industrial Design, Technology

We have seen the multi-touch watch kits (TikTok and LunaTik) for iPod Nano that came to life a while back. Now comes world’s first smartwatch: i’mWatch.

At first I thought of it as another iPod nano watch kit – something similar to TikTok and LunaTik if not exactly the same but it is not an-iPod-in-a-new-kit and the software is based on Android:

The most common operating system in the world with performances never seen before on such a small device. Intuitive interface, rock-solid stability and amazing functionalities. The operating system is the heart of i’mWatch. A surprising result that will leave you lost for words. It only takes a few steps to learn how to use it: it is simple and intuitive. Just touch, drag, swipe or pinch to use all the functionalities or open any of the apps, preinstalled or downloadable from i’mstore.

i’mWatch displays time both analogue and digital formats. It can receive calls showing caller’s name and number and enables you to decide whether to accept or decline a call without reaching to your phone on the pocket. It can be used as speaker phone, view/receive text and email messages, check weather forecast, and catch-up (via notifications) with friends on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare besides listening to music and watching photos of your loved ones.

i’mWatch is touch enabled and multitasking. It comes with 1.54” (diagonal) colour TFT display with 240×240 pixel resolution (220 pixel per inch), 64MB RAM and 4GB Flash Drive. It has built-in 3.5 mm headphone, connection and power minijack, microphone and a speaker. The watch is compatible with iPhone 4, Android devices and Black Berry with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR wireless technologies. The watch is available in variety of colors and as jewelry with – designed and assembled in Italy.

15 July 6
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TED: What Google and Facebook are hiding

Under - Media, Technology


Eli Pariser of the progressive organization MoveOn says the Internet is hiding things from us, and we don’t even know it. In this TED Talk he calls out Facebook, Google and other corporations who are transforming the Internet to suit their corporate interests.

IE6 coming to a peaceful demise

Under - Media, My Musings, Technology

We have been hoping, wishing, praying and actually struggling to liberate Internet from IE6 for so long now. The ‘kill IE6’ movement has seen all kind of phases and made substantial gains over the time. From IE6 Death (counting time when it is buried alive!) to mock funeral, and from IE6 No More to Death to IE6, the Internet is full of uncontrollable emotions and moments around this browser.

The time is nearing though for IE6 as Microsoft itself, besides sending flowers to the mock funeral last year, has joined the move to put this monster to rest that is just not dying. Microsoft has put up a website ‘The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown’ that is dedicated to watching IE6 usage dropping to 1% worldwide. It states:

10 years ago a browser was born. Its name was Internet Explorer 6. Now that we’re in 2011, in an era of modern web standards, it’s time to say goodbye.

Internet Explorer’s overall performance and irreconcilable differences with web standards aside, IE6 tarnished Microsoft’s reputation as a lead in this domain. I’m not sure how many IE9 it would take to rebuild the user confidence in this browser which is only surviving because of the OS it is bundled with.

IE6 Funeral by Aten Design Group

IE6 funeral by Aten Design Group held back in March 2010

20 February 1
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Moullinex Catalina – 3D music video made with Kinect

Under - Industrial Design, Inspiration, Media, Music, Technology

We have seen Kinect’s untapped potential. This music video for Catalina is done with Kinect, Kinect Library for Processing, Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects. It looks like that the device is now becoming an additional tool for special effects besides CGI.

The detailed production walkthrough can be found here – even the original source files are available if one would want to venture into this.

12 January 5
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Nomad Brush for the iPad

Under - Art, Illustration, Industrial Design, Technology

This appears to be something that I had been waiting for but the video and the website do not provide enough information to address all your questions. It sure is a unique artist paintbrush stylus for the iPad made with a long handle and soft bristles, but is it pressure sensitive? Is it going to work with all those paint and sketch apps out there or would come with it’s own?

The information is very sketchy and I see a slight lag in response (may be just me!) in that three seconds demo shown in the video above. Available February 2011 so meanwhile enjoy this and yes, I hope Wacom is going to wake up soon.

23 September 6
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Coloring the ‘Migrant Mother’

Under - Art, Design, My Musings, Photography

Migrant Mother

There were three things (among several) that I really wanted to do for some time:

  1. Colorize a black and white photo (that I’ve never done before)
  2. Give Recolored a try and
  3. Start using my Wacom A5 tablet that I bought a year ago for sketching and never got the time to actually use it

So, having combined all of these into one task, I picked up the iconic photograph of Migrant Mother for this, taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936 during the Great American Depression, which I also mentioned few days back.

The thing that I wanted to avoid in this exercise is to have that artificial look-n-feel that we normally get to see when a black and white photograph is converted into color. Also, rather than just adding colors to make this photograph look like a real color-photo, my objective would be to capture the essence of this photo in colors and retain it. This can be done by using a color palette that is not overpowering and simply complement the original image.

Keep reading …

20 September Share your
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Brother’s AirScouter – Retinal Imaging Display (RID) prototype

Under - Industrial Design, Media, Technology

This wearable head-mounted display concept is not new but projecting something directly onto the retina sure is. Brother’s AirScouter wearable Retinal Imaging Display (RID) prototype, shown at the Brother World Japan 2010, creates a mysterious effect, making it look as if there’s a 16-inch screen floating one meter in front of the eyes, and the scenery behind the screen seems transparent as well.

This display uses the ‘persistence of vision’ effect to project pictures onto the retina. It does this by shining a light, at a level of brightness that’s safe for the eyes, and moving the light at high speed. The images projected on the retina are recognized by the visual sense, making it seem just as if they are floating just in front of the eyes. Learn more

Amazing piece of technology, just that how one would look making a video call on this once Smartphone connection is possible or using an iPad style app in public? I never used a Bluetooth wireless headset (and will not either) having seen how people look while talking and staring at walls (or sometimes at you) in the middle of a corridor or sitting alone at a table in a restaurant or in a bus. Apologise to those who love wearing these – it is just that I can’t.

12 September Share your
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Odosketch by Odopod

Under - Art, Design, Illustration, Resources, Technology

Odosketch

Love sketching? There’s an app for you … online and for free!

Odosketch is a Flash drawing application that is developed by Odopod and was first launched in August of 2006 for an Adobe Design Gallery feature on Odopod. The tool is available online and open for anyone to use.

Odosketch - Gardening Time by moogleymog

Odosketch - Gardening Time by moogleymog

4 September Share your
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Firefox 4 introduces Panorama and Sync

Under - Miscellaneous, Technology, Usability

Firefox offering some new incredible features in its upcoming version 4. One of the new features is Firefox Panorama (formerly known as Tab Candy) which provides an excellent way of organizing tabs for someone like me who keeps at least 3 dozen tabs opened at any time. I think it is one of the best browser features after tabbed browsing itself.

Another feature that I liked is browser settings synchronization on multiple devices for bookmarks, open tabs, passwords and history. I’ve been using Xmarks to sync my bookmarks and opened tabs but with this built-in function, I’d be less worried about keeping things organized on one browser at least.

There are several new under-the-hood improvements and features such as support for multi-touch and WebM in addition to HTML5 and CSS3 but no word on improving memory usage though. Firefox 4 beta can be downloaded from here.

29 June 6
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The future of web design

Under - Design, Media, My Musings, Technology, Usability

First, I’d rephrase the title to ‘The immediate future of web design’. Second, I’d like to clarify that this article is not about design trends, typography and 100 best sites of futuristic designs.

Having visited FOWD this May in London the question that kept popping in my mind was how rapidly the digital media landscape is changing (like always!) and how quickly we can deal with it? Paul Boag from Headspace shared his thoughts around this subject that left me scratching my head. The focus of FOWD conference this time was around CSS3 and HTML5 along with many other ‘hot’ bits and bobs of design and marketing that we all love to read and discuss. The talk however that was missing is ‘What is the future of web design?’.

The capabilities of latest and smart browsers coupled with the introduction of more robust and user-friendly technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3 with JS frameworks etc are definitely affecting the design and usability in a very positive manner. But, these are not the only factors determining the future of ‘web design’ – rather, it is the introduction of new hardware or ‘new categories’ of hardware that are going to shape the future of web design this time. I see web design splitting into two major sub-categories that I call ‘Clicks’ and ‘Taps’. We would soon find designers setting their course for specialization in either of the two (no one stopping us doing both though!).

So what’s it about?

Here I would define the two categories I mentioned above:

  1. Clicks – conventional web design on PCs where interaction is achieved with cursor movement (rollover/rollout) and on mouse press or release
  2. Taps – web design for multi-touch gesture browsing on handheld devices such as:
    • Smartphones – iPhone, Palm Pre, HTC HD2, Else Intuition, Nokia N900 etc, and
    • Tablets – well, this is the redefined tablet category that iPad created. This category is ‘now’ about devices that fall in-between a Smartphone and a laptop computer such as iPad, and all the iPad-killer devices such as joojoo, WeTab, HP Slate, Google Tablet and a dozen more here.

Now, how on earth is this categorization going to affect the future of web design?

The answer lies in the hardware and OS capabilities of these devices, in the refined mobile usability experience and in multi-touch gesture browsing that we are getting accustomed to. These elements are going to drive the future of web design and would heavily affect the ‘Clicks’ side of it.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to us, if we look closely at the development within the Smartphone industry and what these iPad like devices are trying to achieve, that our PCs are going to be offloaded with the Internet that we’d be carrying with us in the form of Smartphones or tablets. This major addition in web design serving platform would trigger a shift in our overall design approach which is governed by the medium and its capabilities – isn’t it?

Photo source 邪恶的正太 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/juehuayin/4556617846/)

Clicks – conventional web design or web on PC

The immediate future on this front apparently seems to be overrun by new browsers (or browser war) and their capabilities in supporting and rendering HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. These technologies are going to change the web and interaction design landscape forever, but the best thing that is going to happen is the amount of unprecedented focus to usability and accessibility (this – mostly for handheld devices!). Web design would ‘seriously’ have to act like an interface between business/communication and technology, and technology and people. A designer can only perform these functions by being part of all of them!

Now, without going into web 2.0 vs. web 3.0 argument we can see that user behaviour has changed within the past few years especially with the introduction of social media, information accessibility on mobile devices and cloud computing. Still, it is changing rapidly with higher expectations as limitations are falling away within digital arena. Such demanding user expectations mean shift in design approach from inside out (function follows design) to outside in (design follows function).

So my dear fellow web designers, to get ready for the future, we have to take seriously what business and market analysis is and how online business strategies are formed. How projects are conceived and KPI’s outlined. How perceptions are changed and online brands are built. How technologies are decided and information architecture is laid out. How user journeys are developed and usability testing is done. How our designs perform functions and deliver results. How we market and measure it.

Our role as a web designer is one of the driving forces behind this web evolution where we have to rediscover our niche every two years or so – or we are simply outdated. We don’t design websites anymore – we are required to design businesses, functions, systems and measurable performance with solid results. This might be the only profession in the world where one can enjoy a successful career by being a generalist than a specialist!

Taps – web design for multi-touch gesture browsing

Mobile computing is the other side of web design that is fast becoming a norm where web interaction is faster and smarter than ‘Clicks’ with less or no bells and whistles attached. Where everyone (business/service) has to redefine (separate websites, widgets and apps) themselves because of the medium itself, its usability and user behaviour.

Apart from a few, all those new handheld devices are coming with their own OS nowadays or adopting new operating systems which may look a bit chaotic right now but within a few years when dust is settled there are going to be a few winners. The most common element in the development of modern multi-touch handheld devices is that they all are focusing on innovation and usability. Usability is universal hence making all these devices look and perform more or less the same in the end! Additionally, these devices are all multi-touch that we run by tapping and swiping fingers on screen with one or both hands. This gesture browsing means that we cannot use conventional ‘Click’ designs or the design approach effectively (where interaction is performed by additional devices such as mouse etc) for this medium.

This fundamental difference in the usability of web design would split it into two categories that I highlighted above. Web on PCs or ‘Clicks’ is where interaction is performed by a mouse so the design would follow conventions set for that medium whereas for multi-touch devices we would be confined (but not) within the capabilities of this medium. This segmentation is creating a whole new exciting conversation. If we look at what Bonnier and BERG has done in the form of ‘Mag+’ for Popular Science magazine the point here would be easier to understand. It was a prototype that they conceived and iPad has actually done it.

Photo source Bonnier R&D (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonnier_rd/sets/72157622918954909/)

If you have used iPad or watched this Mag+ prototype video, you would agree that this kind of user experience cannot be developed for the web on PCs where user interaction is indirect (though exceptions are there but their practicality is in question!).

We have to come out of ‘Web on PC’ state of mind to be able to conceive the presentation and interaction design for these new mobile devices. This requires extensive research and dedication that would result in unique apps, interface designs and interaction.

Conclusion

I would highly recommend young designers to build skills and/or understanding in frontend development, and keep a close eye on the advancements within this area. If you already have frontend skills then polish them and acquire knowledge in other areas to get ready for a multifaceted role that you are going to play in the coming days. This time, it wouldn’t be a choice to stick to ‘design-only’ excuse.

I shared my thoughts around the ‘Future of Web Design’ here and what it holds for us. It would be interesting to know what you think about this subject so please feel free to share it below.

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