Embedding passion as product attribute on This happened #8

It is almost 1 am as I returned from Utrecht, together with a bunch of other visitors from Amsterdam. The 8th edition of the This happened event took place in the Akademie Theater again, a location that fits the event very well. Just like the other editions I had a great experience; the combination of people and interesting talks to think about are a great mix. This time I needed to chew a bit more however on the review of the presentations.
this happened

Almost all speakers lacked time to present the complete story. 10 minutes is a short time and forces you to make choices in the things you can share. One of the reasons Rainer Kohlberger was not able to explain how the presented work (Theseus) fit his own mantra’s. It was nice to see how Rainer got taken away on the quality of the white of the beamer. Too bad the most interesting part of the coding and designing in one fluent flow was only touched a bit. The result is really striking nevertheless.

Before Rainer, the evening was kicked off by Helma van Rijn, PhD student of StudioLab-ID in Delft. She did a warming project for dementing elderly. Starting as investigation on the behavior the project turned into a product for sharing memories. Interesting to notice the fluent process of transition from research to product. A grey area where it tipped. In the talk I couldn’t really hear this interesting process, just at the end of the question round it reveals to me.

In her case the format of This happened with a 10 minute talks and 10 minutes of questions proved to work out very well. Something that holds also in a different way for the third speaker, Lotte Meijer. She managed to put some last topics of her presentation in the question round which surely contributed to the completion of the story. Lotte did a very charming presentation, what compensates for me the somewhat basic interaction design story she told.

Lotte Meijer showed how you can change a poor weblog into a Webby Award-winning website starting by personal drive. Something that strikes me before in presentations on This happened. The road to a good result is paved with the passionate intentions more than with solid design methods. Making things in order to think has turned out to be an overall theme of This happened. Something I can applaud for sure.

The last presentation of the evening by Fourcelabs is almost the blueprint of this believe. The making of Wip’n’Kip was very contagious and the result is great. Putting the making in front is not only the guarantee for creating something that appeals a lot to everyone, and could be built in a very tight schedule. Besides that in this project the documentation of the making seems to got as much attention. What transforms the art of making into a repetitive proces.

You maybe can discuss the solution of connecting Wip’n’Kip to the other Playpilots games, one of the two high level goals (however hard to say because not really presented), but it does not matter because of the end result. For me this is what is the important message of this edition of This Happened: one of the attributes of a good product is embedding the passion that is put in the making. Something that is more important than steering on the bare set project goals.

Looking forward to the next This happened on February 7!

This happened 6 on the soul of products

It was a remarkable edition of This Happened Utrecht again. This time with some more off-the-standard talks I think, but with high quality and good inspiration again.

The most off presentation was the statement of Matt Cottam from Tellart. In his normal life a rather straight forward (…) builder of model and apps, but once in a while he do something different. Researching the boundaries of making digital stuff. Closely together with the Berg London people, so conceptual thinking is guaranteed. The project he presented was Wooden Logic. A concept to add conductive material to growing trees. With a special developed device it is possible (in theory) to make a digital product out of every tree. A funny demonstration video made the hilarious story compleet.
There was of course a serious angle in this story. We will create objects with a soul, in the next ten years we will be introducing emotion into existing objects by making them smart. An interesting and inspiring thought I think.

The start with the children’s game Mijn Naam is Haas was much more practical, as presented by Sanneke Prins and Berend Weij. They built a 15 people company out of the game system they developed as graduates, very respectable. Well thought-through and executed. With some good insights in building game systems, not only for children. I like the insight on the difference in creating worlds in games. A storytelling world which has more boundaries than a open makable world offers a lot more result in achieving the educating goals for toddlers.

Some more straight forward Interaction Design promised to be the work on the iPhone app for Classics by Sebastiaan de With. Or better; it was about experience design, because of the strong focus on finding the exact right experience in folding pages and putting books on a shelf. Impressive to see that Apple borrowed the design for the iPad iBooks app. They helped the popularity of the app a lot to put it in the commercial of the iPhone. The downloads rose from 250k to 2,5 mln.
Sebastiaan delivered a solid This Happened presentation with the exploration of the most important choices he had to made in the design process. From animation to color pallet, and behavior of the books and icons. Classics offers royalty free books and the preparation for the app in making tiny PDF-files turns out to be a real monks work (is that also a English expression?).

Last but not least was Keez Duyves from PIPS.Lab, a collective artists that create music performance theater with high audience involvement. He showed how they developed the app Radarfunk. A good performance need to be simple and silly and the simplicity of Radarfunk is very strong. The idea to transform a loop control into a circle a genius move.
And especially the play aspect in it was cool. But above all it showed how a strong clear and essential concept for a tool can be extended to an unlimited number of installations and performances. And besides that, it turned out to be a great product in order to achieve a purpose: keeping PIPS.lab together.

The play factor as driver to achieve another purpose was shared in all presentations in a way, but to declare a theme for this edition I think we need more poetic stuff. I think you can see in every presentation a struggle between the translation of real life interactions to a digital invironment. They all make their own choices how to do that and what the role of this choice was. The choice for an figurative adaptable worlds for toddlers by Mijn Naam is Haas and the choice for the animation effect to make a crispy reading experience in Classics and the choices in making noise rythmes in Radarfunk. The project of Matt is completely on this theme of course and played in that sense a key role in This happened 6.

As Bill Buxton points out in its supplementary Skype-presentation: the beauty is in the experience. Looking forward to the next edition!

Enhancing and dissolving technologies at This Happened #5

This evening I visited again a very inspiring This Happened. Four talks with a perspective. This time in a new bigger location which could not prevent the event be sold out in one minute again.

I gave myself a kind of spell to distillate a not existing theme on every TH-night till now, so the organizing guys (Kars, Ianus and Alexander) were challenging me to do so again. It would be easy to add the label game play to this night, because all the talks connected to that more or less. But game principles are part of every good interaction, so that would be not fair and just confirmation of the quality of the designs.

But I can see some resemblance in the talks. Let’s first sum up what we have seen:
Continue reading Enhancing and dissolving technologies at This Happened #5

Touching the senses at This Happened #4

This night I did attend This Happened for the fourth time. It was a great night again. Kars, Ianus and Alexander managed to mix up a fine program with different points of views on interaction design. And just like the other editions you can experience an emerging theme I think. I borrow this from the first talk of Janneke Sluijs: embodied embedded cognition can be coined as the binding theme.
Continue reading Touching the senses at This Happened #4

This happened, the art edition

Last evening the third edition of This happened Utrecht took place in Theater Kikker. As always four projects were introduced by the makers in 10 minutes and 10 minutes of discussion with the audience completed the story of the making of the product. And as the previous editions the talks were interesting all in its own way. This time their were three out of four art project in contrary to the events before, which gives interesting insights.

Last time I discovered a central theme that was not intended by the organizers of This happened (Kars Alfrink, Ianus Keller, Alexander Zeh). This time I can’t say I found a theme that obvious, apart from the mentioned art angle. Maybe you can say that the craftsmanship in creating the solution was an analogy in the projects, but in the end this is more the central theme of This happened of course.
Continue reading This happened, the art edition

Het thema van een 2e inspirerende This Happened

Maandag 23 februari vond de tweede editie van de Nederlandse (of Utrechtse) versie van This Happened plaats. Deze cyclus lezingen over interaction design staat in het teken van de weg naar het eindresultaat, in plaats van het resultaat zelf en wordt georganiseerd door Kars Alfrink in samenwerking met Ianus Keller en Alexander Zeh. Het was weer een inspirerende avond waarbij duidelijk een ander thema boven kwam drijven als de eerste editie.
Continue reading Het thema van een 2e inspirerende This Happened