Wednesday, July 25, 2007

User Experience (aka: UX) What is it?

The importance of considering a user experience within the design process is increasing among design professionals. But what does UX mean? The link below offers a definition.

“User experience is everything a user sees/feels/hears/smells/tastes with respect to a product.”

UX Discussed

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Innovation: The Swiss Fitness (Stability) Ball

Sometimes innovation happens by simply changing the context, as with the Swiss fitness ball. Originally used in a physical therapy context 40 years ago, it has made it way into fitness facilities and homes as a low cost, multi-purpose fitness tool.

The Stability Ball’s clinical application began with Dr. Susan Klein-Vogelbach, a Swiss Physical Therapist in the early 1960's. It was made by an Italian toy maker, Aquilino Cosani, and sold primarily in Europe as the Gymnastik. The Stability Ball had met with success in the world of clinical rehabilitation and move into sport fitness in the 1980's.

On a recent trip to the gym I actually interacted with the oversized ball, and to my surprise I quickly recognized the variety, support and flexibility it provided to my routine that far exceeded the floor mat or weight bench in building one's core strentgh.

A Brief History

Core Exercises

Swiss Ball Book

Video of Exercises

Friday, July 20, 2007

Making Wireless Work in America

In 2003 I proposed as part of my graduate thesis that the time had come to create a wireless infrastructure for city environments. As a product designer I focused on the product that could make this a reality, by designing the next generation parking meter. The basic concept was that the parking meter has parsed physical space in city environs for more than seventy-five years. And in the digital age the very same device can be extended to parse and create assess points in virtual space. (more on that later)

In the past ten to fifteen years countries without established telecoms or infrastructure have moved more quickly in adopting and exploring the potentials of digital technology, thus leap-froging over countries with existing industries, connecting common folk to one another and to both public and private services.

Changes are now afoot in America. Proposed changes in governmental policy (FCC) and a forward looking business plan by Google have the potential to provide American's with greater access the internet. Overall the result could mean a less restrictive wireless environment, allowing American's usage/adoption rates of mobile devices to catchup to Southeast Asian citizen's whose percentages far exceed ours.

Google has plans to purchase from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) slices of air wave spectrum that they would use to provide wireless assess to the internet.

If Google has its way American citizens will soon be free to select a provider and handset independent of the current restrictions imposed by carriers like: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile etc. whose plans obligate consumers to use only the options offered by that service provider.

Google Wires Mountian View CA

NY Times Article

CNN Article

NY Times Article

USA Today Article

Financial Times Article

NYTimes Article

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Power of a Well Conceived Graphic

The image below, taken from Time magazine, captured my attention by its representation of America's withdrawal from Iraq.

This piece demonstrates the subtle but effective balance of a well conceived and execute work of graphic communication. Especially haunting is the void left by the lifting of the "A" (fashioned in the colors of red, white and blue) from its place in "Iraq"; essentially leaving "Iraq" broken/separated into parts and the "Q" alone and isolated.

Design Pays a Visit to the White House

The National Design Awards sponsored by the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum of New York honored top designers at a ceremony at the White House yesterday.

This is a great achievement in that it raises the profile of the profession's contribution to American life and culture.

Washington Post Article

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Design Icon: The Chuck "All Stars"

The most successful athletic shoe of all time was first introduce in 1917.

This American icon has since been purchased by Nike. It is said that "Cons" where the first shoe designed specifically for basketball. They grew in popularity after being adopted by the high school basketball player Chuck Taylor in 1918.
More recently, the shoes have disappeared from basketball courts, but are prized by "punk rockers" and "old school heads" as a fashion statement none-the-less they continue to be a popular cultural icon.

History of the "All Star"

Converse Site

Observation: Design Opportunity - Luggage

This week I had plenty of time to observe travelers as I sat for hours waiting due to airline delays and cancellations.

But to stay focused on the positive I noticed that there is still plenty of opportunity to provide travelers with additional luggage options. Over the last decade or so we have witnessed the deconstruction of the travel experience. On the positive side more people have been granted assess to air flight, but on the negative the industry has not adapted leaving consumers to suffer through various inconveniences.

Again to keep this short and focused, the wheeled carry is one innovation that has been adopted in large numbers particularly by the frequent travelers. And, the adult backpack is area that is ripe with potential as the more progressive luggage companies have begun to address. One can still quickly identify the novice traveler that attempts and often struggles to manage the last century over sized bag which they over packed. Fortunately, the large suitcases have been replace in large measure by smaller more mobile pieces.

It is still very evident that identifying checked bags is a significant challenge for passengers with similar styled luggage. A simple solution would be to offer consumers the option of customization. The Timbuktu2 (the creators of messenger bag) have offered this option for more than fifteen years.

Unfortunately, I know of no marketing campaign by any of the large luggage manufactures that are educating consumers of the choices and benefits of using their products? What about luggage for children that travel? A final thought, there exist an exciting opportunity to explore different shapes that are fashionable and functional.

Addendum: On second thought I am aware of one company that is addressing the opportunities that have come with an increasingly mobile society - Tumi.

Tumi is the luggage of choice for the traveling business professional. I have noticed that they produce high quality products and that they are continuing to expand their product line.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Design Strategy: Looks Like the Wii Wins

Last fall (Dec 8, 2006) I posted an open question as to which game console strategy would be most successful, and now the evidence is coming in. Sony announced last week that it will cut the price of its Playstation console, and this week Nintendo introduced new supplemental products (i.e. balance board) and software effectively differentatinig its console from the others. This will no doubt help Ninetendo establish its brand as affordable and fun for all.

By extending the use of the console to support fitness goals ties directly into consumers desires to participate in a fitness program. Another winning strategy that will continue to expand their share of this competitive market space.

Wii Fit: Active Play

PS3 Price Cut

Washington Post Article

Wii Forecast

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Landscape Designer: Piet Oudolf

Though I am not yet a land owner I do envision creating a beautiful landscape that values texture, color, variety and low maintenance. This seems in contrast to the large expanses of flat green grass that defines the landscaping aesthetics of many home owners.

Piet Oudolf has been selected to design some of the highest profile garden projects in the world, including the World Trade Center Memorial Gardens. He has been influential in making more people aware of perennials.

Oudolf New-Wave Gardening

Millennium Park Chicago

Battery Park NYC

Highline Project NYC

Friday, July 06, 2007

Interface Design: IPhone Moves Away from the Scoll Wheel

Apple's new IPhone has left the iconic scoll-wheel of the IPod behind and opted for a touch-flip-momentum interface. I wonder how difficult of a decision was it to make?

I have grown to appreciate how easy the scoll-wheel had made it to scan through hundreds of songs. I guess I will have to experience this new approach to see if it also brings with it's own surprises.

Why Apple Ditches the Click Wheel