Posted by Sam Dunne
| 13 May 2013
Leaders of the industrial design world will gather in London this week at the third Product Design + Innovation conference, to reflect on new dynamics in the industry in the midst of shifting social and technological paradigms.
With speakers ranging from in-house design innovators from the likes of Nike, Cisco and Philips Design, to design agency directors of Seymourpowell, Priestmangoode and Kinneir Dufort the packed two day programme will feature expert perspective on the emergence of connected objects, wired transportation, the maker movement, healthcare consumerisation, as well as the fields of synthetic biology and energy harvesting.
Posted by Sam Dunne
| 3 Apr 2013
Could games like Papa Sangre pave the way for other mobile audio experiences?
The tech lovers at last week's MEX Mobile User Experience conference in London were treated to all manner of fantastical visions of our further mobile empowered futures; big data, connected cars, smart homes, Internet of Things, gestural interfaces, personal mini-drones—the lot.
Few presentation this year will be complete without at least passing reference to the game changing nature or dystopian social implications of soon-to-be-unleashed Google Glass. Surprisingly, however, a couple of jaw-dropping demonstrations were enough to leave many of those attending wondering whether we might be missing a slightly quieter revolution taking hold. Could immersive audio be about to come of age in mobile user experience?
Having played second fiddle to the visual interface for decades, being so often the reserve of experimental art installations or niche concepts for the blind, audio has yet to find mass interaction application outside of alarms, alerts, ringtones and the occasional novelty bottle opener. All of this, however, could be set to change, if the two fields of binaural sound and dynamic music can find their way into the repertoire of interaction designers.
Binaural Audio Spatializes Interaction
Hardly a new phenomenon (though not always well known), Papa Sangre is regarded as the 'best video game with no video ever made.' Since it's release back in 2011, the audio app game for iOS has been a hit with both the visually impaired and fully sighted. The game plunges players into a dark, monster-infested fantasy with only their ears to navigate the three dimensional underworld and rescue the damsel in distress. The incredible 3D sound effects are achieved with headphones and binaural audio—an effect that replicates the experience of hearing a sound-wave originating from a certain direction, hitting one ear before the other. Use of the screen is disconcertingly limited to only a rudimentary compass-like dial (determining the player's virtual direction of movement) and two feet buttons, pressed to take steps into the darkness. Never has a computer game monster been so terrifying than when you can't actually see it.
In the dark: screenshot of immersive audio game PapaSangre
The creators, London-based SomethinElse, developed the game by first mapping out the experiences of sound from hundreds of directions using a binaural microphone—a stereo mic the exact shape and density of a human head with pick-ups for ear drums. The algorithmic engine this produced could then be put to work transforming any ordinary mono audio into a spacialised, stereo output for listeners wearing headphones (with a fair dose of clever coding, of course).
Binaural microphone with exact dimension and density as human head
Posted by Sam Dunne
| 15 Mar 2013
'Dare We Do It Real Time' by body>data>space (photo by Jean-Paul Berthoin)
Over an intensive two days at the end the month, 100 delegates at MEX 2013—the international forum for mobile user experience, in its 12th iteration this year—will gather in central London to discuss and attempt to envision the development and future impact of mobile technology.
With speakers at last year's forum including Dale Herigstad, four-time Emmy award winning creator of the iconic Minority Report conceptual user interfaces, as well as connected car experts from Car Design Research, this year's event boasts inspiring input from the likes of content strategist at Facebook Melody Quintana, UX research guru of WhatUsersDo Lee Duddell and Ghislaine Boddington creative director at experimental connected performance outfit, body>data>space.
Right in the fallout from SXSW, and amidst mounting debate surrounding the launch of Google's Glass project, the MEX forum will explore six 'Pathways', each focusing on a particularly pertinent issue in the world of mobile UX:
Insight - How should we improve understanding of user behaviour and enhance how that drives design decisions?
Diffusion - What are the principles of multiple touch-point design and the new, diffused digital experiences?
Context - How can designers provide relevant experiences, respect privacy and adapt to preferences?
Sensation - What techniques are there for enhancing digital experience with audible and tactile elements?
Form - How can change in shapes, materials or the abandonment of physical form be used to excite users?
Sustainability - How can we enable sustainable expression in digital product choices? Can we harness digital design to promote sustainable living?
Sam Dunne, Design Strategist at Plan and Core77 UK Correspondent, will be reporting live from the event.
MEX, Mobile User Experience
Walllacespace St. Pancras
22 Duke's Road
London, WC1H 9PN
March 26–27, 2013
A small number tickets still available here.
Posted by Sam Dunne
| 27 Dec 2012
Seeing as the trend was "in like a lion, out like a lamb" (not to be confused with Snoop's new moniker or Gwen Stefani's clothing label), we'd hesitate to declare that this was the year that hip-hop asserted itself into design. Even so, our London correspondent Sam Dunne couldn't help but notice that a handful of music moguls saw fit to try their hand at a different craft, to varying degrees of success...
Will.i.am made creative director at Intel, Kanye West voes to pick up where Steve Jobs left off, Dr. Dre's Beats pulls off miraculous PR stunt at London Olympics and see sales rocket, Jay-Z adds 'Logo Designer' to his ever expanding resumé...
2012 wouldn't be the first year that celebrities—A-list to Z—tried their bejewelled, manicured hands at a bit of 'design.' Peculiar to this year, however, was a cavalier rapping on the steely gates of industrial design world—a visit from none other than contemporary hip-hop royalty. Kanye West greeted the New Year by declaring himself—with disturbing self-assurance—the rightful heir to the late, great Steve Jobs, proposing the establishment of a progressive new design studio, DONDA, named after his own dear mother.
Only weeks later, chuckles (with only a pinch of jealousy and faint hint of terror) could be heard throughout the design industry as Will.i.am was announced as the newly appointed Creative Director of bluechip giant Intel, in a similar stunt to Lady Gaga's appointment at Polaroid in 2011.
Twenty-twelve may also be the year we remember for the audio electronics industry being overrun by Dr Dre and co.—the red Beats 'b' emblazon upon vaste swathes of urbanites and the brand pulling off a remarkable PR play at the London Olympics, laughing all the way to the bank. If that wasn't enough, rap mogul Jay-Z also found time between business, babies and Beyoncé to redesign the logo for his newest toy, the Brooklyn Nets.
* * *
Core77 2012 Year in Review
» Top 25 Stories of 2012
» Slow and Steady Growth for Digital Fabrication
» Crowdfunding in the Mainstream: Good or Bad News for Designers?
» Hip-Hop Meets Design
» Designing Nostalgia
» Vehicles Increasingly Going Electric
Posted by Sam Dunne
| 1 Oct 2012
It seems like every year the London Design Festival extends its creative tendrils further and further into the metropolis. This year it's the turn of Seven Dials—the miniature round-about where seven quaint Covent Garden streets meet— to be colonised by the creative great and good.
Dezeen have comissioned 7 renowned designers to erect an installation each above one one of the Seven Dials cobbled roads. For the most part, the odd 'hipstallations' were inspired by the areas colourful development from inner-city to slum to thriving cafe culture hot spot.
The most visually spectacular of the lot would have to be Canadian designer Philippe Malouin's clear PVC "Bunting," a playful twist on a British street icon. We also particularly enjoyed "The Birds of Seven Dials," an arch of bird cages representing the areas forgotten past as a bird market—the cages poignantly left open and empty.