Posts Tagged ‘design’

An iconic mousepad

Susan Kare icon mousepad

Classic Apple icon design by Susan Kare

You can tell a lot about how much someone knows you by the gifts that they give. A good friend gave me this gift today after returning from a trip to New York.

He bought it at MoMA and the label said it was on sale for $3.95 from its original price of $14. The edges are all curled, but I don’t care, it’s a Susan Kare classic! The only thing that would have been better, would have been a mousepad showing a Moof.

IDEO Method Cards widget

IDEO Method Cards

IDEO Method Cards

IDEO’s excellent Method Cards for human-centered design are available as a widget for Mac OS X users. (Saves you $50)

Available as a download in the right column of the news page. Really easy to miss. Incidentally, Fast Company has an article on IDEO Method Cards Turn, Um, 7!

Happy birthday Method Cards!

The Brand Gap

A couple of months ago, a colleague asked me what branding was. I remember fumbling to find the right definition, and said something like, it’s the whole experience or impression you get when you recall the name of a company, organization or a person. It’s something that you can guide but it is ultimately outside your control, and in the hand of your customers.

In a serendipitous discovery, I found on Slideshare a beautiful presentation entitled The Brand Gap on clarifying what branding is, and the gap that exists between business strategy and design.

Life Caching on Mobile Phones

We\'ll soon be life caching on mobile devices

We'll soon be life caching on mobile devices

At some point in the near future, the term mobile "phone" will be too limiting to describe what we’ll be carrying around in our pockets.

Take the iPhone (or any smartphone) as an example. Currently there are 8GB and 16GB versions available, but at the rate memory is increasing and coming down in price, soon we’ll be getting 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions in the next few years (or months?). What will it mean to carry that much capacity on a mobile phone.

All my music files are about 50GB, all my photos 30GB, my email 5GB, and another couple for all the movies files shot on my camera. That means I can be carrying all my digital possessions with me on my phone. The term "phone" refers to a communication device. With high-quality camera and movie capture capabilities along with massive storage, it is something more that a mere phone. At this point it become a life caching device.

Nokia and Samsung have already been busy exploring this concept, however they are still in very early stages of development. I always thought that Cyworld needs to move in this direction in order for it to remain relevant – i.e. provide a life-caching service closely coupled with mobile service, but I digress.

For a life caching mobile device/phone to be useful/usable, it needs to address some pretty fundamental challenges:

  • Powerful Search When you have so much stuff on such a small device you need something more close to Apple OS X’s Spotlight to find the stuff you are looking for.
  • Rapid Browsing Browsing photos on a traditional cell phone is pretty painful with the key-mapped interface. Touch interfaces (à la iPhone) with flicking provide faster access and browsing experience to photos, music, movies, email and message lists.
  • Logical Cross-Referecing It’s still a communications device after all, and it makes sense to be able to access content via people. When you find a person in your address book, you should be able to view all the content related to that person.
  • Easy Backup Heaven knows what will happen if (or is it a matter of when) you lose you life-cached possessions stored on your device.
  • QWERTY Keypad You’ll need to do a lot of typing to tag all the content coming into your device and well as for posting and sharing your content with others.
  • Web-PC-Device interoperability Your portable device is good for capturing precious moments, communicating and transporting content, but for sharing the web is still king. As for editing all the movies and photos, and backing up, the PC is still your best bet. Each device has its merits and content should be easily transferable between platforms.

Personalization and Mobile Phones

Custom wood case for iPhone by Miniot

Custom wood case for iPhone by Miniot

Mobile phones and most personal electronics devices have been made for durability. My Samsung phone is finished in stainless steel, plastic and glass. It is black and shiny. My iPod Nano is aluminum.

My wallet is made of leather. When I first bought by wallet, it was stiff, and uncomfortable. But at some point in time, it yielded and started to conform to the curve of my posterior. Same thing happened to my watch strap, also made of leather. It is has morphed to the size of my wrist. Shoes, jackets, baseball caps.. I can name numerous examples.

In the flood of hyper-niched marketing world, I am still surprised that very little effort is made in the personal electronics space to take advantage of this property of personal artifacts: that it registers the physical interaction between the artifact and user. Guitar frets have show well-worn usage by its owner. Yet phones resist this natural aging process.

Most aspects of our environment can be better personalized than our electronics. We can choose wallpaper or paint color for our apartments, adorn it with our personality over time. Personalization to mobile users usually means changing the background or ringtone or those little dangley phone accessories that you see all over Korea and Japan. Nothing that registers gradually over time. Why not a mobile phone made with leather or wood. Why not a iPod where a friend can scratch their message into the surface instead of having it laser engraved.

Bamboo, the degradable phone (via core77)

Bamboo, the degradable phone (via core77)

The Chute Smartphone (via Yanko Design)

“The Chute Smartphone (via Yanko Design)

It was refreshing to see a couple of example recently. Here are two concept phone examples, The Chute Smartphone and Bamboo phone, and iWood handcrafted iPhone case by Miniot made from high quality wood (commercially available).

Yet another argument for the use of natural materials in personal electronics is environmental. Massive amounts of mobile phones are consumed each year. The rates of mobile phone penetration is close to saturation in the US, Korea and in most developed countries. It’s rare that we find any recycling of mobile phones. Most people just throw away their phones when it is broken or when they switch carriers. Here’s where the mobile telecom industry can learn from the automotive industry. There is a whole secondary industry build around reclaiming, reusing, and recycling used car parts on one front, on another front there are movements to make more efficient cars. Why are there so few examples of environmental friendliness in the mobile phone industry? I think this is a marketing opportunity that begs to be tapped for both the consumer’s and industry’s benefit.