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3 posts from February 2011

Interaction 11 Recap: Thinking on the Outside

Bill Vanderplank

In early February, a number of frogs attended this year's Interaction 11 conference, sponsored by the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). Our time in Boulder began with a fresh blanket of snow and ended with all-you-could-drink absinthe at the closing night party. In my contribution for the conference, I taught a three-hour workshop called "Better Ideas Faster: Effective Brainstorming for Interaction," which focused on the unique tools and techniques that interaction designers bring to bear in translating research findings into actionable design concepts that cohere into large-scale systems.

This year's conference has been hard for me to summarize—not because of the absinthe, mind you—and in combing through my notes and reflecting on the experience, more questions have emerged than coherent themes.

Continue reading "Interaction 11 Recap: Thinking on the Outside" »

This Week's Challenge: Chatty Baby Bib

(don't) Cry

While wandering through the Gap, you notice a hat that can broadcast your latest Facebook status. Or a scarf that displays @replies to your Twitter account, writ large in sparkling letters. Or a belt buckle that warns you when traffic becomes busy on your usual route home.

Mobile phones and tablets are only the first wave of connected devices—and our notion of what a "device" looks like is going to radically change. I find my designerly eye drawn most to wearable technology: clothing that can gather and display information, provide control to other devices or services, or otherwise remove our notion of the screen-based interface from human-computer interaction. If the current Arduino craze is any indication, our clothing can be enhanced with embedded processors, sensors, and lightweight software that communicates with cloud computers via Wi-Fi or cellular data networks.

How do designers create concepts that describe how to exploit these novel uses of technology? In this challenge, you're going to try and envision how a piece of wearable tech can be used by our most demanding technology users: babies.

You've been hired by a technology firm that wants your help in devising a line of baby clothing that is able to monitor body heat, pulse rate, blood pressure, and other biometric information. The clothing can then change color or display information regarding what data has been collected over time.

In 60 minutes, create a 6-panel storyboard that describes a critical usage scenario for this baby clothing, being sure to clearly show the context of its use.

If you want to take it further, move from a drawn storyboard to creating a photo-real video scenario that shows a faked prototype. Or, if you have the skills, a real prototype!

The above photo is by Pedro Klein on Flickr, shared via a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license on Flickr.

Slides from "My Top 10 Design Business Failures"

This Thursday and Friday, I provided two lectures for SCAD's Entreprenurial Forum 2011 in Savannah, Georgia. This event was presented by SCAD's Office for Career and Alumni Success, and was designed for students across all majors to gain perspectives on how they can become successful as businesspeople in today's economic climate.

The above slide deck is from my second lecture, called "My Top 10 Design Business Failures." You could call this my greatest hits album of major business mistakes I've made over my career, both as a freelancer and while working within agencies of all shapes and sizes.

My first lecture, "Being an Agency of One," kicked off the event on Thursday night. I talked about the four primary areas that any designer or artist must master in order to create the foundation for a successful business practice and be responsible while doing what they love:

  • Understanding your business model and what sources of revenue can support it
  • Designing the appropriate touchpoints required for well-considered client service
  • Discovering how effective project management creates sustainable studio success
  • Crafting the philosophy and plan that drives both your personal practice and your business practice, via a framework that David Conrad and I created called "The Elements of Design Studio Experience"

You can see an 11-minute clip of me answering student questions after the first lecture on the SCAD eLearning site. Some of these student questions I will be readdressing on this blog in the coming weeks.

If you live in Seattle and want to dig deeper into this material, please join me for the Design Business for Breakfast Series in Seattle, which is going on right now. Registration is still open for the last three talks. The next one is this Wednesday, February 23rd.

All of this material is drawn from my current work-in-progress for HOW Books, Design Business from A to Z, which will be out in the Fall of 2012. Both presentations were deeply informed by the following collaborators, who deserve great thanks: Erica Goldsmith, Fiona Robertson-Remley, and David Conrad.