New video: Kinetic Interface Design

Friday, September 10th, 2010 | Design and research, General, Navimation examples | 1 Comment

In order to make my research more accessible I have created a video that shows a number of kinetic interfaces. Kinetic interfaces are here understood as screen-based interfaces that are characterized by movement.

Kinetic Interface Design from JonO on Vimeo.

In addition to the interface examples, a number of descriptive and analytical terms are presented. These terms have been developed through analysis of kinetic interfaces in academic publications. The kinetic interfaces presented in the video are:

The Apple OSX login box

The Iconist #1 (iPad)
Disney Movies (iPad)

Flipboard (iPad)


For All Seasons (iPhone)

Cooliris (iPhone)



Music: ‘Rieth’ from Gesamtlaufzeit by Marko Fürstenberg. (Used with permission.)

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Presentasjon: Skisser utanfor boksen

Friday, September 10th, 2010 | Events, General, Navimation examples | No Comments

(Only in Norwegian)

Her er presentasjonen min frå RECORD-seminaret på AHO 10. september 2010. Her argumenterer eg mellom anna for at utforming av grensesnittet er svært viktig i sosiale medier, noko som sjeldan vert snakka høgt om. Vidare snakkar eg om fire ulike måtar å skisse bevegelse på: 1) ved å bruke video + papirprototyping, 2) stop motion, 3) digital animasjon og 4) kode. For meir informasjon, sjå artikkelen Connecting motional form to interface actions in web browsing.

Skisser utanfor boksen

Sidan det ikkje er video i presentasjonen ovanfor, legg eg ved alle videoskissene mine her. Dei er sorterte etter handling, og viser dermed ulike måtar å 1) lagre medieelement (bilete) til ei samling, 2) navigere mellom ulike medieelement, og 3) opne ei samling av medieelement. Skissene er laga ved bruk av video, stop motion og animasjon i After Effects.

1. Ulike måtar å lagre medieelement til ei samling:

2. Ulike måtar å navigere mellom medieelement:

3. Ulike måtar å opne ei samling av medieelement:

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Sketching in time

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 | Design process, General, Navimation examples | 3 Comments

“Since they need to be able to capture the essence of design concepts around transitions, dynamics, fell, phrasing, and all the other unique attributes of interactive systems, sketches of interaction must necessarily be distinct from (traditional) types of sketches…” Bill Buxton: Sketching User Experiences

This week I have been involved in teaching a group of interaction design students at the Design for interactive and social media course at AHO. The topic has been ‘Sketching with time’, and has focused on using stop motion combined with paper prototyping to sketch interface ideas. The week’s assignment was to make a photo album interface and experiment with navimation.

Before introducing the students to the technique I had to try it out myself. I found the Mac application FrameByFrame which has been brilliant for this purpose. The functionality of the software is limited, but it is free, extremely simple to use, and serves the purpose for quick motion sketching.

Here are two of the quick stop motion sketches I made:

I also tried using video, recording my actions in real time:

The video quality is quite rough (partly because I am using a really old DV camera), but I don’t see this as a big problem. The technique is primarily to be used for quick sketches early in the design process.

Video Sketching

The students got three days to make their video sketches. During these days many of the students managed to do a lot of experimentation and test out different ideas. The task was in many ways an experiment from our side, so I was positively surprised by the diversity and quality of their work. I also got the impression that they had learned a lot about timing, response and communication in the interface.

The technique has clearly some disadvantages – it is for example hard to make subtle movements and deal with details and many elements at the same time. However, it seems especially suited for 3D motion sketching, since this often requires a lot of time and skills to do on a computer.

UPDATE: see some of the videos the students made.

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Fallman on design and design research

Thursday, March 12th, 2009 | Design and research, General, Theory | 1 Comment

The 8 pages long paper ‘Design-oriented Human-Computer Interaction‘ by Daniel Fallman takes on quite a comprehensive task when it addresses what design ‘is’, how design is related to HCI, and what the relation between design and research might be in HCI.

Even if Fallman takes on an impossible task for such a short paper, he offers very interesting concepts and arguments. The paper is written from the perspective of HCI, not design as such. However, he argues that HCI has emerged as a design-oriented field. Many of the arguments and concepts presented should be relevant for design research in general.

3 accounts on what design ‘is’

Fallman presents three accounts from design theory on what design ‘is’. He calls these the conservative, the romantic, and the pragmatic.

  1. The conservative account sees design as a rational process that aims to convert an undesired situation into a desirable one, by going through rational and structured methodological steps. This account assumes that there is a ‘problem’ to be solved. Design is thought of as a scientific or engineering endeavour, and the focus is on normative design methods and generic design principles. For this account, references are given to H. Simon, C. Alexander, J. Löwgren and E. Stolterman.
  2. The romantic account gives prominence to the role of the designer, which is seen as a mastermind or creative genius. Here, imagination and creativity is seen as key abilities rather than abstract reasoning and rational problem solving. Rather then a focus on the process, the focus is on values, taste, quality and aesthetics. Art is the role model here, rather then science. References are given to R. Coyne, E. Stolterman, and P. Louridas
  3. The pragmatic account holds that design always is carried out in a specific situation, where the designers iteratively interpret the effects of their designs on the situation on hand. Design can therefore be seen as a hermeneutic process. This view draws on pragmatism and may see knowing-in-action as a specific and important kind of knowledge. Since every design situation is different, the ability to deal with different situations is more important than theories and methodology for guidance. Reference is given to D. Schön and D. Ihde.

I do not currently have the necessary overview to evaluate these categories, though I wonder if they may be a bit simplified and exaggerated. I do not think many designers (my self included) would position themselves in either one of these categories. In practice, it seems to me that design may sometimes include rational problem solving, sometimes ‘mysterious’ creativity, and most often the specificity of the situation at hand. The emphasis will vary from field to field, from designer to designer, and from project to project. However, such categories provide us with means for discussing what design ‘is’, which is essential in a theoretical inquiry. This understanding may further influence the way design education is conducted, and how the role of design and designers is understood at a general level.

Sketching as design thinking

To get closer to what design ‘is’, Fallman considers the role of sketching as an archetypical design activity. He argues that designers’ thinking is mediated by sketches and prototypes. The materials ‘talk back’ to the designer in an ongoing dialogue between the designer and the sketch.

…design involves the designer in a necessary dialogue with the materials of the design situation, from which the design problem and its solution are worked out simultaneously, as a closely coupled pair. (page 231)

In this unfolding process problem setting and problem solving (Schön) are seen as intertwined activities, in a search for a coherent, well-balanced whole.

[Design] … must not simply be seen either as a question of problem-solving, as an art-form, or as a bustle with reality: it is on the contrary an unfolding activity which demands deep involvement from the designer. ” (page 231-232)

Rather than seeing design as a hybrid discipline between art and science, design should be considered as a tradition guiding action and thought, which spans across many disciplines.

Design-oriented Research vs. Research-oriented Design

Fallman proposes a new way to distinguish research activities in HCI that involve design production.

  • Design-oriented Research has knowledge of some sort as the main contribution. This is the conduct of academic researchers, and should be conducted when the knowledge would not be attainable if design production was not a vital part of the research process. Here, the designed artefact is considered a means to an end, for example for exploring possibilities outside a current paradigm.
  • Research-oriented Design has production of new artefacts as its main motivation, not the production of new knowledge. Nevertheless, this production may relate to research in many ways. I suppose what is normally considered development would fit within this category.

Fallman argues that Design-oriented Research should include problem setting as an important part, while Research-oriented Design most often has problem solving as its main component.

Relating this to my own work, it is clear that doing a PhD entails scholarly and academic research where the aim is to produce new theoretical knowledge. The production of artifacts is subordinate. However, I think the production of artefacts can play an important role not only in informing theory, but also in embedding, presenting and visualising theory. In a social-cultural view on artefacts, the artefact does not in itself have a determined meaning. Nontheless, an artefact may play an important role in the dispersion of knowledge, as long as the theoretical argument is made clear and apparent.

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Seminar: Research by design

Friday, December 5th, 2008 | Design and research, Events, General, PhD school | 1 Comment

The Research by Design seminar was arranged yesterday as part of the PhD school at AHO. It was a rather long day of presentations, more or less relevant to my project. The image below is from the last presentation, many had left at this point.

Research by design seminar

Chris Rust (webpage) presented A Hopeful Marriage: Artistic Inguiry in the Academy 1993-2008, and shared experiences from the UK on practice-based research. Some key points: good research practice is the one important criteria, avoid excess of theorizing, don’t create a monster, build theory through practice, own your research and argue for it, a thesis must be visible and permanent, research should be a single inquiry.

Timo Arnall & Einar Sneve Martinussen presented Touch: Designing an Internet of Things, and gave a general overview of the Touch project at AHO, described through a series of themes.

Birger Sevaldson was Being Specific about Practice Based Research in Design: An Attempt at Mapping the Field, and is in the process of mapping the field of Practice Based Research. A difficult but important task.

Michael Weinstock gave a presentation on Forms and Process in Nature and Civilisation, and showed how we can understand the emergence of cities, civilisation and information systems by looking at processes of metabolism and evolution in nature.

Michael Hensel is Constructing a Research Programme: Performance-Oriented Design along a Biological Paradigm. He is investigating the possibility of going from a function-oriented architecture to a new paradigm inspired by biology, where performativity is a key issue.

Mick Eekhout presented an example of Designing and Prototyping of a New Generation of Composite Sandwich Structures for Free Form Architecture. We got to see how technological research may be carried out in real world projects.

Børre Skodvin (Jensen & Skodvin) gave insights From Architectural Practice, on the relationship between practice and research seen from a practitioner.

Pattie Bell Hastings (webpage) presented The Misuse Manifesto, related to her artistic work in progress, with ideas related to technology and mobile misuse.

The seminar was a bit long, and except of Chris Rust and Birger Sevaldson’s presentations, there were few attempts to discuss and problematize the concepts and practices of ‘research by design’. We saw many examples that were interesting in themselves, but without being placed in a theoretical context it is hard to see how they help us to develop better theories or practices of ‘research by design’.

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