Son, you can have this watch when it stops ticking

Tudor watch

With all the excitement of smartwatches and wearables of late, I couldn’t help but think about the value and meaning we place on jewellery, objects and knickknacks. Pieces we’ve lived with all our lives, holdding a significant importance, and regarded as absolutely irreplaceable – but probably cost little to nothing to own. But the value they hold isn’t measurable, more often than not, they belonged to someone else before us. Now, some context for the title of this article. I was only a boy; my dad a young man, when he told me

Son, you can have this watch when it stops ticking.

as I admired the Rolex GMT Master II with the black face, and blue and red bezel snug around his wrist. So began my wait. For the next few weeks, when my dad would come home from work, I would conduct a daily inspect, to see if those hands had given up – ‘common, how long could a battery last?!’. Anyone who knows a little about watches, would know that I was going to have to wait more than a few weeks. This particular watch was built with a self-winding mechanism, which harnesses the kinetic energy from moving your arm. A perfect example of my dad and a long prank, it wasn’t the first and certainly not the last. However, as my dad is somewhat of a collector – no hoarder of watches, he did recently gift me a beautiful Tudor watch, he’d owned it for years. I need to take it off for showers and light rain; it’s not a great fit on my wrist; runs a few minutes slow; and needs to be wound on a daily basis. Despite all this, I love that watch, and wear it when I can, weather permitting. So, what is it that makes this watch so good?, I know it’s not it’s ability to keep time. Why did my dad want to share it with me? (I hope it’s not another one of Scott’s pranks), and why do I now cherish it? When I look at the jewellery, objects and knickknacks of today, and wonder if I would feel the need to share or pass them on to the next generation. Would they really want a smartwatch from 10 years previous, with a battery life of 3 minutes, and 257 software updates to install before it will tell them the time. Do you still have an emotional attachment to your smartphones from contracts past? Ask yourself, how would your kids respond if you handed down your mobile phone from 10, 5, 3 even 2 years ago? I am not convinced these ‘things’ are cherish-able beyond the term of their usefulness. They seem designed to NOT create a lasting connection, so that in 12 months time you will be crying ‘I need an upgrade’ for the latest model. But, imagine we did want to create a connection, and make ‘things’ that we keep, cherish and share – how would we go about it? Well, I believe we start by giving ‘things’ meaning, and making them personal. They need to reflect our styles and connect with our lifes. Yes I would like to have the same gadgets and gizmos as everyone else, but I would like mine to be special. A ‘thing’ I consider to be as cherish-able, and sharable as my dad’s old Tudor watch. With todays technologies, it is conceivable that we could personalise and customise the mass produced ‘things’, and make them more than disposable, undesirable remnants of the past. In line with this, I believe the Co-Design work being carried out by BESiDE researchers Sara Nevay and Dr Chris Lim, proposes an interesting approach to how we think about the design of liveable lifelong wearables. By including me, you, the user in question; in the design process, it is possible to create ‘things’ that serve not only the function of their being, but are desirable and pleasing to the beholder. So lets stop trying to making wearables for this purpose and that, and start designing #cherishables that people will someday passdown and share.

Interactions speak louder than words.

Interactions speak louder than words poster

Here is my poster due to appear at UIST 2012. If you are attending please come and say hello. -Kyle Interactions Speak Louder Than Words (PDF)

special thanks to The Noun Project and all the designers for creating the beautiful icons used within this poster. “Created using symbols from The Noun Project collection” iPhone from The Noun Project Brain designed by Arjun Adamson from The Noun Project Microphone from The Noun Project Television from The Noun Project Document from The Noun Project Building designed by Benoit Champy from The Noun Project Grass designed by bryn mackenzie from The Noun Project Sofa designed by Sofie Hauge Katan from The Noun Project Projection Screen designed by John Caserta from The Noun Project Cloud from The Noun Project Cloud Refresh designed by Adam Whitcroft from The Noun Project Line Graph designed by Scott Lewis from The Noun Project

Touch-screen touch typing?

Ok lets just accept that touch-screens are here to stay, they are in our cars, pockets, supermarkets, atms etc. Most of us are familiar with the on-screen qwerty keyboard and are able to compose text messages relatively quick. I draw the line at text messages, although htc desireHD and ipad are able to send and receive emails I point blank refuse to compose emails on the things. It takes me longer, I make more mistakes and it raises my blood pressure (may not be fact). I believe I’m not alone with my frustrations, many of us are able to touch-type quite the thing on the classic physical keyboard. Sadly this skill can’t be directly transferred to our touch-screen keyboards. Read More…

Testing application accessibility

Ok so it’s been a while since I have posted anything, guess I broke my plans for posting once a week. Anyways testing you apps accessibility, currently I’m talking about iOS, however the same concepts apply to Android, WP7, Rim etc. When is comes to web design there is no shortage of tools and applications to help designers and developers validate and evaluate their sites code and accessibility e.g. W3C, Wave and aDesigner. However the same cannot be said for developing native applications for the mobile platforms. Whilst the OS giants provide accessibility API’s and guidelines (some more detailed than others) they fail to supply us developers with methods of assessing how we did. Sifting through your applications page by page using the Accessibility Inspector (iOS only) can be grueling process. *ASSUMPTION ALERT* As a result developers don’t do it. They just validate, check for memory leaks and submit to the stores. Why should they care? Apple don’t! Google don’t!, Windows don’t!, Rim don’t! The applications just get approved. Misuse a icon, or cut into someones profit margins and your app will be kicked back in your face in a heartbeat. Make your print magazine or news papers available in digital format and provide no screen reader (e.g. Voice Over, Talkback) support whatsoever. APPROVED!

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Cloud based emergency service tracking (I Had A Dream…)

diagram of emergency vehicle sending coordinates to cloud service then viewed by cars nearby

Ok so this is a bit of a weird one, I guess it came to me in a dream where for some unknown reason I was completely deaf. Not sure what this dream says about with me but it was interesting. I began this experience feeling a little anoyed having just subscribed to 3months of Spotify premium (Still waiting on them giving me 12month free for my GuestList idea.) then not being able to full enjoy it. However as the dream developed I did other things including take a driving lesson. Read More…

iOS: Font size to fit Label

Screen of tv guide menu, showing the fonts scaling to fill the buttons

I found a little snippet of code for resizing font sizes based on a UILabel size somewhere on the web (Sorry if it was your code, I couldn’t find the page again. But all credit to you!) The code below will take in a chunk of text, font name, minimum and maximum font size and a container size (width and height), and in return it will give you the font that will fit that space.

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Mobile TV Guide

tv guide iphone app mock ups

The next stage of my research, The mobile TV Guide. As you might have read from my earlier posts I’m interested in mobile devices and accessibility. This next project is no different, focusing on the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) design and interaction methods. Whilst we are all familiar with the use of a grid layout; channels down the side and time along the top on our digital TVs, a system that works “Ok I guess” with the standard remote control for the majority of people. The same cannot be said for these applications that mimic this design on mobile platforms.

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