Open source development has taken hold in software design, and is beginning to show up in electronics hardware design as well. Thus far, however, open source has been limited mainly to the engineering side of development. Open source tools for design tend to be abysmal, largely because there are no designers working on them. And open source has not made a blip on consumer-facing issues like licensing, warranties, and customer support. Should it? What impacts could it have, and how can the design community help to bring that about?
We spend a great deal of time thinking about and documenting design in two dimensions via sketches, flows, and wireframes, often for designs that are also rendered in two dimensions. We very often consider and incorporate three dimensional use and environmental information obtained via ethnography, contextual inquiry, and user studies. But we seldom evaluate or fold in the very real effects of a user’s relationship with design over time.
We live in a world where our ability to be connected and constantly available has changed in a remarkably short period of time, with profound effects on our behaviour. As designers, we are often asked to reflect this always-on state in the products, software and services we help to create.
Inspired by President Obama’s vision, government agencies have stepped on the accelerator and are opening up their agencies, data, and missions to the public like never before. With 305 million people in the US, that’s some lot of potential customers and users. And this audience spans different demographics, ethnicities, education levels, and levels of interest in government.
This year, we’ve seen the mobile market make incredible strides in technology. The iPhone, Android and Palm platforms have increased their functionality well beyond just being a phone and have added critical functions such as faster internet connectivity, video cameras, GPS and compasses. Handheld gaming devices have also converged, adding cameras and accelerometers to their devices.
From NFC mobile phones to Nabaztag and Nike+, there is an entirely new class of consumer product that becomes almost useless when disconnected from the network. How can designers deal with the vast complexity of designing not only interactive physical products, but the connections and resulting interactions with the data that they produce? In the Touch project we have been working with designing interactive products and services that involve RFID, NFC and mobile devices.
One of the reasons why product and technology failures are important is that they can be seen as “seeds of the future” or “good ideas before their time”. A common example lies in the use of personal communication with pictures, which failed several times in its phone instantiation, but is now a huge success with laptops, PCs, webcams and Skype.
In the context of design, this talk with discuss how failures can be explored through field research and eventually help creating innovative products or services.