For the last 2 and half years I have been working at TRIL. Last week I handed in my notice to join a small but highly ambitious Dublin based start-up. Leaving TRIL was a difficult decision, it was my first full time employment out of University, and it has been an amazing opportunity to work with so many talented people. My blog has been very quiet for two years as so much of my work has been classed as IP sensitive. At TRIL I had the chance to work across all research strands, working with top researchers, professors and practitioners.
My role as interaction designer was to bridge research from clinic to home. I would help take research projects from the drawing board, and transform them into something that may just work in the home. As TRIL designs for older adults, accessibility and learn ability are very important. Often it would be the first time users may have interacted with complex interfaces.
Thinking about the product holisiticy was key to many of the successful TRIL deployments. A balance was always required to both get clinical requirements and user requirements. Some projects would require stricter compliance to a technology, and others would focus on a social UX. I got the chance to work with anthropologists and social scientists. This was great as they compared observations to society and framing their observations within a context.
I worked with some amazing people, and will miss the diverse intellectual power of TRIL and Intel. Including the many who have already parted from TRIL, and have gone onto some great things.
I shall keep you posted as I make my transition to my new calling. To call it a day job, may be unfair to the night.
BONUS: You can have my old job! Yes, there is a need for Interaction Designers in Dublin. Luckily I helped create the IxDA Dublin community 2 years ago, and this would be the perfect position to line someone up for Interaction 2012. If you are in Dublin, come along to the IxDA Dublin Crimbo party for a full update on all TRIL activity.
For the last 24hrs I have been helping a team to build a website for CDS Helping Hands. As part of 24hr the web. . A big thanks to Stuart and Daragh for setting everything up and sorting us out with loads of sponsored food. Big shout-out to Joe Burger, IQContent, Bel & Bellucci and many more.
On the weekend of the 7th to 9th, I spend two days and an evening in an old renovated wheat storehouse that is the digital hub. The two days were part of the 54hr start up weekend, hosted by the NDRC
1. Come with your machine setup.
I forget that I had previously installed Windows 7, and had not reinstalled Adobe Creative suite onto my laptop. Lucky the location at the NDRC the internet connection was great (2mb download!), so it didn’t take long to get the latest CS5 demo onto my laptop. I was presently surprised with the latest CS5 updates, and especially liked the new tab feature in Dreamweaver CS5. The added time left more time sketching, and doing all the important non-computer needed work.
2. Be prepared to “make it pretty”.
I’m often referred to the guy who makes stuff pretty, and while interaction designers do like to ‘find the right design’ before “getting the design right”. There was little time to really do any research, personas, and wire-frames were created on napkins and whiteboards by the whole team. I’m a great believer in getting everyone to the white board and think prettying up wire-frames in blasiq is something you do to get clinit sign off. Spending time making wireframes is a waste of time in 54hrs, and doesn’t really help much to the development team. The process of creating wireframes on the white board, is better than the end document.
Once we had the design; I quickly started to explore logo options and colour schemes with the whole team. By involving everyone in the sketch, then to a fluid flash sketch stage, then finally in Illustrator. Logo ideas can be quickly iterated and everyone feels part of the process.
Once we had the final design, I had to draw it again in Illustrator. This cleans the logo up, and the team we very happy with the transformation.
3. Use a CSS framework.
A CSS framework means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I’m a fan of Blueprint, but have used grid 960. Blueprint allows a designer to quickly add <divs> into a smart grid, that is cross browser compatible out of the box.
4. Go beyond the 216 present of web colours.
Modern browsers can support 16,000,000 colours, Don’t pick #556 ( bright yellow) with #666 just because it pops out. Geodealio used a colour pallet from Kuler, this creates a pallet of 5 colours to help give a harmonious scheme to our app.
5. Be able to convert a PSD to CSS/HTML to Template.
Be aware that working with django monkeys, you are going to have to take sexy photoshop and make it work. You need to know the whole process of cutting up images, creating CSS and then finally adding it the template files via SVN. This means your code needs to be clean and usable, so try to start with a good naming convention for you CSS classes. Adding HTML comments with a visual guides also allowed developers to more easily implement the ‘look and feel’ in hard code.
Bonus Tip 1. Have Fun, and share knowledge.
One of the best aspects of the start-up weekend is that you can ask stupid questions about the back-end or iPhone application and the wonders of the django framework. It was a great event and working around a round table made working as a team very efficient. You will be respected as the graphics guy, and they will quickly notice that an interaction designer can bring more than flows, personas wire-frames and really deliver on a project.
Bonus Tip 2 – Turn UP!
Unfortunately there was only 4 User Experience / Interaction Designers at start up weekend, compared to 30 odd developers. Its a shame to see so few designers take up the quick challenge, design and development doesn’t have to take 6 month cycles and start-up weekend proved this. If your a UX designer in Dublin, join the IxDA Dublin to keep up to date with the latest Ux and IxD events.
I dedicate this post my team (@godealio), who won the Dublin Start up weekend.
geoDealio is a service that provides real time, location based deals. Four of the team are moving the project forwards, and there will be a beta released very soon.
I would like to thank Sean, Amy, and Clint. The sponsors for hosting such a great event, it all went very smoothly, and the food was good. With some of the best muffins and doughnuts I had in a while. The whole event had a great vibe, and I met many cool people.
Recently my blog has been very quite, mostly because I can’t blog about the TRIL centre and secondly because I have been very busy doing the below. This post will show the growth of the IxDA community as we prepare for our one year anniversary.
I moved to Ireland one year ago to start my first graduate job as an interaction designer. I had just graduated a product design degree at Middlesex university, and was luckily to get the a job at the TRIL centre. My degree had prepared me well, but as I was the only interaction designer I wanted to get in touch with the IxDA community.
My first port of call to getting in touch was to contact the IxDA forums, I happened to stumble upon Seamus Byrne posting. I got in touch, and within a week we had our first meeting at The South William. One of the many great pub venues in Dublin.
While interaction design is mostly concerned with the of defining the behavior of products and systems that a user can interact with. Which typically centers around complex technology systems such as software, mobile devices, and other electronic devices  .
While IxD is young field there are tons of great books to help budding and established interaction designers.
This is a cracking little book, Its short and to the point. The book explains nearly all of the aspects of commeriazling a project and includes working out a BOM and pricing your product. The book has solid theory around the commiseration process and also gives some nice case studies that Philip had worked on. The book includes a section called “Industrial design maters”, Its nice to see a non-design person notice the importance of Product / Industrial design.
This book is a true beast, at 739 pages. I only got this book last week and it is superb. It covers the “Cooper” Design process as outlined in About Face 3. But, goes into more practical examples of how to undertake the work. The amount of practical examples of good and bad work is great. Kim shows you how to make a persona, What a good Mood-board looks like, and how to write design documentation.
Along with it this book breaks down the roles of Interaction Design, Visual Design and Industrial Design. In doing so, I think Kim has made one of the best Industrial design process books.
This book talks about process that Kim Doesn’t.. and that’s Making stuff, and New stuff that we haven’t had before. Tom has created a book full of easy to understand explanations of micro-controllers along with PHP and Ethernet code to get projects connected to the Internet. The book goes a step further and provides a examples for a group of micro-controllers. He explains and shows code for three RFID readers. While he doesn’t explain the fine details of HEX communication he has created a great book. If I had this at college, nothing would be safe from my screwdriver, and everything would be hooked up to microcontroller.
This book is a lot drier than others in the list. Like all of the O’Reilly cook books it just gives you code snippets to help you. In the case of Air 1.5, these code snippets are Air Specific so the code will make you Air Application look a lt slicker.
This book was left over from Ben Sykes, a member of the IxDA Dublin. This book covers all of the basics of the brain, and touches on the basics of neuroscience. This book is very introductory, and is a good starting point if you want to understand more about peoples underlying human behavior.
This book is an introduction to the Arudunio, but If you are going to shell out £10 just buy Making things talk. This book covers the basics of the Arundio, but I think it should really be free with Arudino.
An OLED is a form of LED. Unlike an LED, OLEDs come in a sheet form and can thus be made in to any shape and bent into any form. In the comming years OLEDs will replace LCD’s and Plasma screens leading to super sexy milimeter thin screens.
The one concern about the Electroluminescence is that it runs on an very high voltage, but with low current. Motorla has a cool patent going back to the 80′s and it outlines a nice voltage reguator that ups the voltage from DC to AC.
I hope to making some more prototypes soon, and testing the battery life of such a display.
Its been almost 10 months at TRIL so I decided to post some updates here. Unfortunately I can’t really talk about TRIL work, which may make this post a bit dry!
During my time I have learnt an awful lot, and it was a running start from graduating. TRIL is a really interesting project and I get to work with a huge range of people from Neuroscientists to Signal Processing Engineers.
Most of my time in has been spent on project for the social connection strand, Building Bridges. (See a Video Here)
(ii) Building Bridges to Health, Learning and Fun
The aim of this program of focus groups, ethnographic interviews and in-home technology trials is to explore new ways to maintain, stimulate and increase the social activities and interactions of older people through the use of both existing and new technologies. This project will address the following broad research questions:
• How can the social connectivity of community dwelling older people from within their own homes be improved?
• What would a home-based technology that strengthens existing social networks and allows the creation of new relationships look like?
• How acceptable might this be to different groups of older people?
• What might the social organisation of such a network look like? (for example, virtual befriending and peer mentoring schemes, friendly caller services, interest-based groups)?
• How could the strand effectively measure and evaluate the success of a social connection technology?
When I joined I got a prototype AS3 application hand crafted my a contractor at Intel. Learning an application of this size took some time, but I’m finally starting to feel comfortable with it. I have loads on interesting insights and lessons which I will try to process with our IP committee so I can share them with the Flash Community.
Working in an Industry / Academic project is a lot of fun as an Interaction Designer as every day is different and I get to . . .
• Help work through ethnographic research.
• Develop Scenarios.
• Create Wire Frame —> Photoshop Comps —> Flash Demos.
• Create Content for devices.
• Run usage analysis programs.
That just a short list of the stuff I can talk about. Getting posts through the IP committee will properly mean I will start writing better content for the site.
What is SEED DATING?
SEED DATING is a fast-paced event designed to spark off creative connections and allow people to share and develop ideas for innovative projects in arts, science, technology and media.
SEED dating was yet another great event put on during the Lightwave exhibition of the Science Gallery. The event meant meeting 10 different ‘luminares’ from a wide range of fields. Architects & Designers to Neuroscientists and Mathematician.
You get three minutes to introduce, brainstorm and come up with an idea. I found three minutes a bit short but after a couple of introductions we just got onto ideas. There appeared to be two types of people, ones with ideas, and people who wanted to help facilitate your idea.
I found that most people struggled to get a lot of strong ideas. Some people already had the idea and weren’t even too keen to discuss any other idea. It was easier with artists and fellow designers who are use to having lot of ideas and are happy to throw ideas away.
The one highlight was that I was one of the winners along with David Shulman, we got free lunch at the Science cafe to help develop our ‘gestural user interface for consumer lighting’.
As part of the science gallery exhibition I got to take part in Tom Scarffs Arudunio workshop. The workshop covered all of the basics, and was a nice introduction to the open source micro-controller. Tom focused a couple of the projects with a MIDI interface, but it was good to see how I could use the same very simple techniques to apply to Flash.
I have some very exciting Arudunio projects planned, both at work and with personal digital projects.