Conceptual Design

What does the product do?

Women Easier to ‘Read’ Than Men

BBC Staff.  (2009). “Women’s Traits ‘Written on Face’.”  BBC News. Retrieved on 22 June, 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7884223.stm Summary: This article is about the findings of a Glasgow University and New Scientist study carried out by Dr. Rob Jenkins of Glasgow University and Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire.  The study examined the extent to which personality traits could be identified from people’s facial features.  The results suggest that women’s personality traits can be more easily identified via facial features than men’s personality traits.  These results were surprising (Dr. Jenkins is quoted as saying “We did not expect there to be such a big difference between the sexes.”) and may offer some insight for future research on the link between a person’s physical appearance and his/her personality. Over 1,000 New Scientist readers participated in the study which consisted of a photograph (in which, like a passport photo, the participant is looking directly at the camera) submission and an online personality questionnaire listing four personality dimensions: lucky, humorous, religious, and trustworthy.  Participants rated how they believed they fit into the four personality dimensions, and the extremes of these ratings (for example, those who are “very lucky” and “very unlucky”) were identified and grouped…

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: Interview with David Bowie

Nash, K. (1999). “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: Interview with David Bowie.” ComputerWorld. Retrieved August 1, 2001: http://www.computerworld.com/cwi/story/0,1199,NAV47-STO39387,00.html The is a screen shot of David Bowie’s Home Page as it appeared on June 24th, 2010. In this interview, David Bowie, a musician and philosopher, shares his view of the Internet and how it may evolve and influence society but also the music industry over time. His depiction of his website serves as a starting point to his argument. The individualized portal, BowieNet – where he chats with fans on daily basis and keeps a personal journal – is telltale when it comes to his approach to the net. As a matter of fact, Internet is a huge decentralized village in Bowie’s point of view. The portal – by enabling the creation of online personas and by providing links to all the fan blogs on him – offers the opportunity to foster a village-like facet of internet with a free circulation of information and a sense of community built around him and his music. In fact, such interaction enables, according to Bowie, a new way of knowing people. He confesses that he likes to take on other names to simply observe what happens in the…

Can Design Change the World?

Tanneeru, M. (2009). “Can Design Change the World?” CNN online. Retrieved June 23, 2010. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/11/06/berger.qanda/index.html Summary: CNN talks to Warren Berger, who wrote the book “Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life and Maybe Even the World” about how greater communication through design can change the world. He shies away from speaking of this change in grandiose terms, seeking to differentiate his idea as one that stems from design’s problem-solving capabilities on a case-by-case basis. Berger asserts that design, at its core, is more than making products or spaces look good, but rather, it seeks to identify a problem or an unaddressed need and solve it through a trial-and-error process.  It involves studying people and the way that they live to pinpoint ways in which their lives could be made better.  This is done through much brainstorming, prototyping, and audience testing. The Internet has drastically changed the ways in which designers work, collaborate, and even identify themselves as designers.  Widespread access to information has meant that knowledge can be passed on from one person to another at a quicker rate—meaning that one person’s mistakes can be learned from and not repeated.  Social networking groups allow designers to connect to share…

Error Opportunity Space

Confronted with one “True or False” question, an individual has a very small error opportunity space: three. There are three possible responses: true, false, or no answer. “No answer” will always be wrong, a betting man should choose one of the possible answers. But unfortunately situations where the error opportunity space is so narrow are rare. And in the real world, dealing with real problems, these spaces tend to be very large. Note that the size of the error opportunity space, EOS, makes no representations about the consequences of getting the problem right or wrong (or partially right or wrong). When the stock market tanked on May 7th, people involved in that process had a very large EOS. A week out, experts and participants are trying to figure out what went wrong and how to limit similar incidents in the future—they are trying, in effect, to drastically reduce the error opportunity space. This is a job of product designers. By analyzing the goals of the users and the system’s constraining variables, we can come up with conceptual design, interaction design, and interface design that would address the problems that were exposed on May 7th. Coming up with a solution is…

The Anatomy of Failure

On May 7th 2010, at around 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, the stock market went on a wild ride, dropping over 900 points in matter of just minutes. What happened? There’s lot’s of speculation, and some know more then they are willing to say. But what’s clear is that there was just the right confluence of world events, human and computer errors, and system-wide communication breakdown that triggered a mass sell-off of stocks at fantastic prices. In other words, there was a catastrophic failure during product interaction. I’m not an investment analyst and have limited knowledge in this subject area, but I am interested in product failure. So Thursday’s stock market episode was very interesting. Here’s a little background on the events of that day broken down into steps leading to the failure. Step 1: When the New York stock market opened on Thursday, bad news was streaming in from Europe—there were fears that Greece would ultimately default on its loans; its people were staging massive demonstrations in Athens; Euro was going down. Step 2: In our very interconnected world, this kind of news makes investors skittish and the stock market was dropping value all morning. Step 3: At around 2:45…

Before you cast that vote on the ballot this November…

Article: McGrath, M (2008). “Political views ‘all in the mind’.” BBC World Service. Visited on 18 September 2008 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7623256.stm Conceptual Design —  to investigate the level of connection between a person’s political views and her/his physiological makeup, e.g. that person’s sensitivity to fear or threat. Interaction Design — small study targeting potential voters, exposing them to various sights & sounds that may provoke fear, and checking their responses against their political views on multiple issues.  Subjects were first asked a series of questions regarding their political views on multiple issues (like gun control, capital punishment, abortion, etc.).  Then, using electrical conductance to measure subjects’ skin & blink responses, they were exposed to a series of intentionally frightful images & sounds.  This is used to determine their levels of sensitivity to fears & threats Interface Design — creepy images like a scared man with a tarantula on his face, and an open wound with maggots in it, and loud, unexpectedly intrusive noises Summary — while this study is geographically limited (conducted only in Nebraska) and statistically insignificant (n=46), it does offer an interesting hypothesis that people who are highly sensitive to threats & fears tend to support a right-wing agenda. From…

Reinventing the wheel to help disabled.

Article: Elliot, J. (2008). “Reinventing the wheel to help disabled.” BBC NEWS. Visited on 5 September 2008 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7475609.stm Summary: Wheelchair wheels are not optimally designed for wheelchair users who must travel. While the wheels may be removed from a folding wheelchair, they do not themselves pack well and must often be checked in on flights or stowed separately from the folded chair in other travel scenarios. Former Royal College of Arts (RCA) student Duncan Fitzsimons designed a folding wheel for bicycles and is modifying the design to work for wheelchair users. His design, which folds the full-sized wheel flat while allowing use of a regular tire and inner tube, gives the wheelchair user the ability to quickly stow their chair when using other modes of transportation. Conceptual design: Wheelchair wheels must be removed from wheelchairs, even folding models, to be stowed  when traveling. Design a wheel which does not require removal from the chair and significantly reduces the amount of space needed to stow the chair. Interaction design: The wheel must be large, as this is the key to a wheelchair user’s independence. It should be designed to fit different budgets and performance needs. It must fold flat so it may be…