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“We realized that the best way to deal with fatigue was to enable users to rest their elbow on a table or the arm of their chair. Our tests showed that for the first two buttons on the right side, the users had great results. Fatigue was minimal even after several minutes of interaction. To reach the two buttons on the left, however, the users had to raise their elbow, which brought back the problem of fatigue. This proved to be true even when we put all four buttons in a stack formation or a square formation. We kept coming up against the issue that only some of the points were convenient to select without having to bend the wrist or elbow in an uncomfortable way.”

Link: Designing a Practical UI for a Gesture-Based Interface (omekinteractive.com)

Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/56155476@N08/6660001925/

“Results suggest several benefits to learning including an increased motivation to learn; increased parental engagement; more efficient monitoring of progress between pupil and teacher; greater collaboration between teacher and pupil and between pupil and pupil. It appears that one-to-one. Tablets offer a sense of inclusion that allow children, irrespective of socio-economic status or level of attainment, an opportunity to thrive through a new pedagogical model of pupil-led learning.”

Link: One-to-one Tablets in Secondary Schools: An Evaluation Study (PDF, tabletsforschools.co.uk, via)

“Desktop apps, just like Web apps, are also showing the effects of mobile. This is clearly visible in the new designs of icons and dialog boxes. The latter, which were often complex, multi-paneled widgets that required lots of interaction, have now been greatly simplified with far fewer options in a single pane. In addition, the use of widgets that can substitute for typing data values is becoming more widespread. For example, sliders are now much more common as a way to enter values and they will continue to gain popularity. Likewise, spinner controls.”

Link: Mobile as the Driver of Desktop Software Design (drdobbs.com)

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John Siracusa writes about the perils of crappy embedded software.

“All of this software is terrible in the same handful of ways. It’s buggy, unresponsive, and difficult to use. I actually think the second sin is the worst one, especially when it comes to appliances and consumer electronics. Dials and knobs respond to your touch right now. Anything that wants to replace them had better also do so. But just try finding and watching a YouTube video on your TV and see how far you get before your brain checks out. It’s faster to get up off the couch and walk to a computer-or, you know, whip out your iPhone.”

Link: CES: Worse Products Through Software (hypercritical.co)

The article includes a great collection of examples of how to use animation in mobile UI.

“Transitions and subtle motion-based animations are emerging as a new and compelling mobile design material, worthy of being learned and being used with efficiency and grace. The addition of movement to a mobile experience can provide clarity, information about context and, frankly, a dash of joy and fun. …Artful animation has all but invaded the mobile user experience field. Whether it is the transitions between screens of a mobile experience or the behaviors applied to UI elements that can be interacted with using gestures, motion has become a significant mobile design element. It’s a design material you can use to help guide users through the mobile experiences you create.”

Link: A New Mobile UX Design Material (smashingmagazine.com)

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An interesting analysis of the shrinking market-share of seven handset makers.

“Motorola was then still in that typical USA-mindset thinking of smartphones as primarily enterprise-oriented ie business phones and made several smartphone design mistakes including ill-fated Windows based smartphones that failed to succeed right as the iPhone was proving to the USA market what Nokia had already years before proven to European and Asian markets – that the consumer market for smarpthones was far bigger. What focus Motorola did in 2008 and 2009 was into the wrong market segment (enterprise) and on the wrong platform (Windows).”

Link: The Seven Biggest Collapses in Mobile Handset or Smartphone History (communities-dominate.blogs.com)

This nice, short documentary commissioned by Microsoft explores the future of UX which, unsurprisingly, has a strong focus on connected devices.

Link: Connecting (connectingthefilm.com)

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“The difference is evident. The Google+ app reveals the navigation chrome only when you’re not scrolling downwards, allowing it to display more content. The margins have been trimmed back and the color blocking draws your attention to the interaction points. But the sparseness isn’t as harsh any more. There are now textures used to give it a layered feeling that is noticeably absent from its older apps.”

Link: Google finds its design voice on iOS (thenextweb.com)

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“Along with teleportation, speech-driven computers and hand-held wireless communicators that flip open, the medical tricorder was one of many imaginary future technologies featured in “Star Trek”. Ever since, researchers have dreamed of developing a hand-held medical scanner that can take readings from a patient and then diagnose various conditions. Now, nearly five decades after “Star Trek” made its debut in 1966, the dream is finally edging closer to reality.”

“…[AliveCor] has developed an iPhone case with two electrodes that can perform an electrocardiogram (ECG). Dr Topol recently used a prototype to assess a fellow passenger on an aircraft who was suffering from chest pain. He concluded the passenger was having a heart attack, and the plane was diverted. Other firms are also developing medical add-ons for smartphones. MobiSante, based in Redmond, Washington, has devised a smartphone-based ultrasound system that was granted FDA clearance in early 2011. A hand-held ultrasonic probe plugs into a smartphone, which generates and displays an image. It costs $7,500, a fraction of the price of a conventional ultrasound.”

Link: Medical tricorders: The dream of the medical tricorder (economist.com)

“Within the next five years, your mobile device will let you touch what you’re shopping for online. It will distinguish fabrics, textures, and weaves so that you can feel a sweater, jacket, or upholstery – right through the screen…It’s already possible to recreate a sense of texture through vibration. But those vibrations haven’t been translated into a lexicon, or dictionary of textures that match the physical experience. By matching variable-frequency patterns of vibration to physical objects so, that when a shopper touches what the webpage says is a silk shirt, the screen will emit vibrations that match what our skin mentally translates to the feel of silk.”

Link: IBM 5 in 5 2012: Touch (ibmresearchnews.blogspot.com)

The GE design team created “soundtracks” for each of the company’s different brands, from which they derived the UI sounds.

“Each piece is between one and two minutes in length, and while they’re all variations on the same general musical theme, they all sound completely different. And that’s precisely the point–all that time spent figuring out what…the brands would be was about pinning down the essential qualities of each, and how those qualities differed from one another.”

“…Only with those soundtracks established, Bingham says, could his team create a truly cohesive collection of interaction noises. “Once we became more and more settled on what that long-form piece was,” he recalls, “we used that as a sort of grandfather of all the other sounds.” In essence, the long-form pieces served as sonic templates. “We derived from that long-form piece–from the cadence, from the rhythm, from the instruments used–all of what turns into the interactive sounds.”

Link: GE’s New Emphasis In Appliances: Sound Design (fastcodesign.com, via)

“When engagement is treated like a UX feature or function instead of a defining sensibility, you get less of it. At risk of sounding “meta,” one of the great design challenges innovators increasingly confront in increasingly competitive markets is how to get their best people to engage around engagement. You need to devote as much creativity and ingenuity around designing for engagement as you do for the entire user experience. A decade ago, companies hurt themselves by treating “interface design” as what you slapped on to your finished product. Today, innovators hurt themselves by treating “engagement” as a subset of the total UX. Don’t make that mistake. Re-engage with engagement.”

Link: Don’t Confuse Engagement with User Experience (hbr.org)

A fascinating story not only about the development of MeeGo (and the decisions, compromises and changes along the way), but how products lose their way as they journey through the corporate machinery to get to market.

“The Harmattan UI was originally based on the Activity Theory principle, a frame of reference for studying human behavior and development processes…The system would adapt to the way the user interacts eith it, to ensure reciprocated interaction.

“…The people who became the directors of the user interface design in late 2009 didn’t understand the whole concept of the Harmattan UI and it was abandoned…Home view was [re]designed to be straightforward and simple. It would only contain a quick launch bar and an application launcher button (in the middle of the screen in the picture). Widgets were abandoned completely and lot of effort was put on multitasking. The UI was simplified largely.

“The user interface became very similar to competing smartphones in the market. Although the UI was cleaner and familiar looking for the developers, it wasn’t competitive.”

Link: The story of Nokia MeeGo (taskumuro.com)