How do you move from software to hardware UX? Care to share your insights? experience?

18 Feb 2010 - 2:13am
2 years ago
7 replies
1460 reads
Melvin Jay Kumar
2007

Hi,

Good day to you'll.

I was wondering if anyone has transitioned from developing user experience
for software to hardware products?

I've been in the software/web environment for the past 8 - 10 years.
Experience ranges from packaged software to web applications , portals ,
Intranets, Search, mobile, etc...etc...

I would like to learn and explore experience design for the hardware
environment. ( E.g. Hand phones , MP3 players , Interactive TV,
etc...etc...)

Anyone care to share your insights on how you transitioned? or what I can
use from my current software skill sets to the hardware environment etc..

Any course of study to get the background? Any books to recommend? Places
where I can get the experience from?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thank You.

Regards,

Jay Kumar

Comments

18 Feb 2010 - 7:24am
Tiago Correia
2010

Hi Jay

Maybe the first step could be to start playing with Arduino (
http://www.arduino.cc/) a simple hardware board to control any type of
device.

Just search the web and you will find several experiences and tutorials how
to use it.

--
Tiago Correia

18 Feb 2010 - 8:02am
Rob Tannen
2006

Jay - Are you interested in designing software user interfaces for
hardware platforms or interested in designing hardware interfaces
(e.g. physical controls)?

If it's the former and you already have strong interface design
skills, then the transition can be relatively seamless.

If it's a case of learning about hardware, you need to get involved
with people and organizations that design hardware. I'd suggest the
Industrial Designers Society of Ameria (IDSA.org) as a starting place.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49472

21 Feb 2010 - 1:00pm
jet
2008

Melvin Jay Kumar wrote:
> I would like to learn and explore experience design for the hardware
> environment. ( E.g. Hand phones , MP3 players , Interactive TV,
> etc...etc...)

I'd start with learning the basics of physical computing, which you can
do pretty easily on your desktop. There are a lot of free/cheap
opensource tools out there and two how-to books I would start with are:

Tom Igoe's _Making Things Talk_

Noble's _Programming Interactivity: A Designer's Guide to Processing,
Arduino, and Openframeworks_

--
J. E. 'jet' Townsend, IDSA
Design, Fabrication, Hacking
design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

21 Feb 2010 - 2:07pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I think going the phys comp route is way over the top for this. Sorry
folks, but doing IxD for physical computers teaches you how to do
phys comp and barely teaches you how to do IxD for phys comp. Most
physical interaction design can be done a lot more simply and easily
through the study of the following attributes of IxD that most
consumer electronics devices deal with:

1) embedded software systems. Start designing for text-based systems
instead of GUIs. Think 6 line screens with only limited resolution of
8x8 dots per character space. This is a huge challenge indeed. (i.e.
think designing for an old iPod)

2) button control types. due to the limitations imposed by
constraints such as ODMs (if ya don't know what that is find out),
size issues, and cost issues there are only a finite # of controls
that about 90% of the IxDs out there in the HW space will ever deal
with: jog dials, D-pads, etc.

3) Then there are keyboard/keypad types and these have some variety
depending on device size, but even then the rules are quite well
understood given the limited scope within each form factor size.

Then after dealing in the real world for a bit, you can explore stuff
like Arduino and learn more about phys comp and explore sensing and
gestures and what not.

I'm not poo pooing phys comp as an important tool, but I do think
there is a ton of stuff you need to learn from an IxD POV to be
practical now before you ever need to jump into the phys comp world.

-- dave

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49472

21 Feb 2010 - 2:13pm
Dave Malouf
2005

On another practical note as someone who did make this change, I'd
say per Rob Tannen's question above it is very easy to enter the
world by starting with working on embedded GUI software for mobile
and consumer electronics than it is to jump straight to physical
control interface design.

You've got the basics if you have any decent experience and all you
need is for someone to believe in your ability to transition.

The way I did it was by finding a studio that was at its core an
Industrial Design studio. They had pure desktop/web problems for me
to work on. But I was surrounded by all the other issues we were
working on and I was able to apply my knowledge of HCI, and other
core IxD principles and collaborate with the team first on embedded
software solutions and then on holistic systems design. I had to do
work on keypad designs and forced my own education in those
directions.

So find a great home. In fact, I think where i was Motorola
Enterprise Mobility on Long Island (Holtsville, NY) is hiring for an
IxD position right now. http://careers.motorola.com/ and search by
location. They have a tremendous ID studio and are trying to sustain
their IxD practice. I didn't leave b/c I didn't like it there. I
left b/c I wanted to become a teacher. I would totally recommend
working for this studio inside Moto.

-- dave

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49472

21 Feb 2010 - 3:49pm
jet
2008

Dave Malouf wrote:
> I think going the phys comp route is way over the top for this. Sorry
> folks, but doing IxD for physical computers teaches you how to do
> phys comp and barely teaches you how to do IxD for phys comp.

Maybe I misread the question, but I thought they were interested in
developing new types of hardware and not software for existing platforms.

--
J. E. 'jet' Townsend, IDSA
Design, Fabrication, Hacking
design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

20 Oct 2011 - 3:18pm
Rob Nero
2005

Great question, and one that I encountered myself as well. The answer to that question that I pursued, was to go to grad school to get a Masters in Interaction Design. It allowed me to explore the tangible and physical computing aspects of interaction that I was interested in transitioning to.

After grad school, I focused on finding a job at a company that had experience with physical design, primarily through industrial design.

I'm a big fan of arduino and physical prototyping, but I agree, it isn't the answer to making this transition happen. It is a great way to connect and talk with industrial designers though! I'm using it as a bridge to our industrial design team, as a platform of combining physical design and interaction design.

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