Design Visualization

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Design Visualization was one of the courses that I attended at Umeå Institute of Design, one of the worlds best design schools. The course goal was to get the feel of how to convey characteristics and emotions from ones design. It consisted of one individual project with three assignment that helped the project along. The project was to take an already existing product and through the design process, re-design it and give it three new attributes.

Our first assignment was to give a certain attribute to a given object. We then had to do several perspective sketches of our designs and hand them in. By this point, we still hadn’t been given our project missions, and so this assignment was just to show us that different designs give off different impressions of the object. The object I received for this assignment was a stapler, and the attribute was “heavy” and the result is shown below.

The sketch process when coming up with the designs.

After our first assignment we finally got the focus of our projects and with it, the second assignment. Our second assignment was to analyze out given product and hold a presentation on all aspects of its design. Focal points were questions like “What type of product does it seem to be?”, “What does the form/material/color tell us?”, “How does it seem to be used?” and “What form do the competitors use?”.

My given product in its casing.

A close-up of the front.

For those who gave up on guessing what it was, it’s a soldering iron. Our third assignment was to create a persona to work with within a given target audience. We then had to extract three attributes that the persona might look for in our project product. My given target audience was middle-aged women and through that I created my persona, Eva Lundin, a 48-year-old craftswoman and artist that supports herself by selling hand-made jewelery and sculptures. In order to help with the assignment, I also created a image-board on my persona that eventually led me to choose the attributes creative, flexible and precise.

The image-board on the persona and her craft.

After the third assignment everything was set up to begin work on the project mission. The project demanded several sketches of the new design, a 3-D rendered model, and a 1:1 foam model. I began by gathering inspirational material on products that I considered possessed one or more of the attributes I was aiming for. From that I started to sketch until I felt I was satisfied and could make a choice on the design. I then ranked the design on what attribute it emitted the most, creative (K), flexible (S) or precise (P).

After careful consideration I chose the following design as the design to follow-up on. The design borrowed elements from weapons and more advanced tools to give the impression of a technical and precise tool.

After locking in on the design, all I had to do was to decide on the exact measures in order to create the foam and 3-D model.

I chose the colors black and red since those are common colors for this type of tool.

The model is made up of two parts, a needle and the base.

I made several needles for the foam model, this is the longer version.

A friend posing with the foam model.

A light on the tip of the base indicates when the iron is ready to use.

The iron is run on batteries and therefore cordless making it more flexible. There's a compartment that holds the solder.

The iron then melts the solder and runs it through the needle and out of the tip.

The idea for the iron to melt the solder inside came from observation that the process of soldering could at times require more hand on the work than humans possess. To try to illustrate the problem I drew a scenario where the user uses a regular soldering iron and on where the user uses my design.

A common sight with a regular soldering iron.

With my design one can increase the precision and quality of the soldering since the second-hand is freed up to stabilize the model.

The course was really fun and we got to focus on just the design and let loose a little of the responsibility of the technical aspects. The running joke when attending courses from the Institute of Design was that each student got “future”-cards that they could play whenever a technical question arose, as in “In the future that problem will be addressed.” As engineers, we had a hard time adapting to a more free way of thinking that looked past the current technology and let the crazier ideas loose. While it’s fun to let loose once in a while, I’m more comfortable when my designs are backed up by actual solutions and current technology.


Categories: Portfolio

Innovative Mobile Services and Systems

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Innovative Mobile Services and Systems was a course focused on the designing and development of mobile applications. The course contained three assignments and one group project. The assignment all involved developing for a mobile platform of our choosing, I chose to develop for Android.

On the group project we were given quite few restrictions on what we could do, and it was up to us to decide where we wanted our level of ambition to lie. Our group felt that we wanted to make something that we felt was missing and that could help people in their daily life. On of the problems that we all had encountered during our time in the university was their awful help with finding classrooms and lecture halls. Every house has their own way of naming rooms and it’s not unusual that two different rooms in two different houses share the same name. Sometimes rooms never go by their official name, but instead by a name given by the students or the teachers which only adds to the problem of finding the right room. On top of all this, there’s almost no help whatsoever on the university site, leaving the responsibility of finding or informing about the room to the students and teachers.

To help combat this problem my group decided on creating a mobile application that allowed users to search for rooms and also give the users the opportunity to add a given name to the rooms. Each room would then also be given an unique ID that teachers could refer to in order to avoid the confusion of rooms sharing the same name. There would also be a web version of the application on the university site that also would have links to each room that online schedules could refer to making the map quick and easy to access.

When a room is selected the house it's in gets marked.

Clicking on a house allows the user to view the construction plan for each floor.

Sketches of the web version.


A mock up on the web version of the application.

The course left me and others with a craving for more application development. It may have had a heavier workload, but that was mainly because we set the bar quite high for ourselves seeing how we thought it was both fun and educational. We all felt how new ideas started to pop up every now and then both during and after attending this course and the prerequisite course, Prototype Development for Mobile Applications.


Categories: Portfolio

Prototype Development for Mobile Applications

February 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Since I’ve been dragging my feet on building my portfolio site, I’ve decided on uploading school work here on the blog. First up is the work from the course Prototype Development for Mobile Applications. The goal of the course was to learn about the capabilities of mobile devices and use the current technology to create prototypes of applications.

The course started with some basic knowledge about databases and SQL commands which then  was followed by development of Web Services. One of the assignments was to create a web application, connected to a Web Service, where one could add, delete and edit entries for specific users.

Depending on which user was selected, different recordings appear.

The next step was to create a mobile phone application that used the techniques we were taught. The application allowed users to create an avatar on the screen which one could move around, the next time the user opened the application and choose their avatar, it would have to show up on the same location that it was left the previous session. Since it was based on a Web Service it meant that several users could have the application and see and move each others avatars.

The prototype GUI for the application.

The flowchart depicting the relations between all elements.

The assignment that followed had a similar structure as the previous, in the sense that it was layered into user-application-WebService-database. The mission was to create an orienteering application for Windows Mobile. The application allowed users to login using their username and password. After logging in they got the choice to either choose a map and start orienteering or view past results.

The UI flowchart of the application.

The log in start screen.

The home/manager screen.

Before being able to start the timer, the user has to locate the first starting flag.

Once the starting flag has been reached, the timer can be started.

The user then walks from flag to flag and marks them down on his phone.

When finished, the user can review his results and choose whether to upload the or not.

Saved results can be accessed anytime on the device.

Users can also view specific flag times in order to better their results the next time.

The last part of the course was a several weeks long project where we got to develop and create a prototype of an application of our choosing. My group chose to do a location-based game and after discussions we agreed on basing it off the bluetooth inside the mobile phones. The reason for this was because we wanted  the game to work well inside buildings as well as outside in the open. GPS has its limitations such as a higher battery drain and a weak-to-no signal when placed inside buildings or other places where the signal has a problem to reach the phone. The project resulted in the mobile game TagWar, a game similar to Tag. When logged in, the user is put into either the red or blue team, the outcome decides who the user can tag and vice versa. When the user gets tagged the opponents team receives a point and the user gets a time-out, meaning he can’t tag anyone or be tagged for a certain amount of time. The game senses other players through their bluetooth, if their bluetooth ID is stored in the server database, then that means they are a player.

The mock-up design of TagWar.

The log in screen for the game.

The game searches for enemies while displaying the current score.

When tagged, a timer is displayed counting down the time before rejoining the game.

When the game finds enemies, it displays a list of them all.

The course was a first taste of the capabilities of mobile devices and the possibilities of mobile applications. While the course contained some programming for mobile platforms, it wasn’t until the following course, Innovative Mobile Services and Systems, that I got to really dive into the development of mobile applications. The works from that course will be posted later.


Categories: Portfolio

RSS Cleaning #1

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

I have the bad habit of collecting more than I have use for, the same goes for RSS subscriptions unfortunately. This has resulted in me bookmarking hundreds of articles that I would like to share but never have gotten around to do. All this is a major pain since I also have the habit of organizing when procrastinating, resulting in too much time spent on sifting through bookmarks when I could do something more productive. There are times when I don’t even bookmark the article I find interesting and just keep it open until I find a category of bookmarks that it fits into.

To prevent myself from getting major headaches over this I’m going to start with something I’ve dubbed “RSS Cleaning” in which I will dump a boatload of articles into a post and write a short description of them so that you can sift through them. I’m hoping to do this once each week, in order to get used to posting regularly, but I can’t promise that yet. We’ll see how it’ll go. Since this is the first cleaning, the some articles may be “old”, but the idea is that with all the old articles out-of-the-way, newer and newer material will come up.

So let us start!

TWiST #46 with David Heinemeier Hansson
This Youtube video is almost 2 hours long and about 5 months old but it’s still an awesome episode, and if you don’t have the time then you can skip the first 47 minutes to the “real” interview. The show features David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails and partner of 37signals, talking about start-up strategies and “old-school” capitalism.

DICE 2010: “Design Outside the Box” Presentation
Another old video from February about the boom of social games and the possible future it’s heading towards. A very interesting presentation that is both thought provocative and somewhat scary.

Tab The Power Strip
I seldom find any good concepts from product designers since they tend to get caught up in the aesthetics of the product and fail to see the function and usability that needs to be there. The Multi-Tab Power Strip is different, designer Soon Mo Kang manages to successfully combine all three aspects and really make you hope that some day, it will become more than a concept.

Is it One Chair, or is it More?
As a student, one can often run out of space and furniture to sit on when having too many friends over. Shair is a concept by Jie-Jyun Lyu that could solve that issue by simply adapting to the situation and environment.

The people behind CODEORGAN have found a way to make the web a more musical place by analysing the body of a site and making sweet music from it.

A new and fun way to combine the productivity of task-lists with the escapism  of RPG’s. The iPhone app allows users to advance in quests, gain loot and develop skills by completing your tasks in the real world.

Internet Explorer 9: A Fresh Start, With HTML5
It’s been five months and we still haven’t heard anything new on IE9, but for those that still don’t know what IE9 will have to offer, check out the article which sums it up quite nicely.

Shooting Robert King
A documentary spanning over 15 years and through 3 wars. The movie follows war photographer Robert King from the start of his career in Sarajevo until “present” day. Throughout the movie one can see the transformation from a young naive photographer on a mission to a cynic battle-torn father doing his job that is filled with death and destruction. For those with guts strong enough to handle the more graphic pictures of war, one can see the film online on the link above.

Porn broadcast inside Indonesian parliament
The government of Indonesia ordered the country’s ISP’s to block all pornographic material from the web by the 11th of August, a move that didn’t sit well with a hacker that retaliated by broadcasting porn on the parliaments internal TV channel. The official story is that the connection is still unclear but for everybody else it seems quite crystal clear.

Graphic Design Career Tips : How Much Money Do Graphic Designers Make?
Creative director William Fridrich talks about how much a designer earns and what makes a great designer.

That concludes the first segment of RSS Cleaning! We’ll see when the next one comes up. Bye!


Trying to fix the corporate world

July 29, 2010 Leave a comment

I saw “The Yes Men Fix The World” the other day. It’s a documentary about the activist group called the Yes Men. The Yes Men pose as employees of big corporations and go to conferences, hold press meetings or have interviews. At these events they then take the opportunity to expose or ridicule the corporate mentality through parody and humour.

It’s a fun movie and it really shows that some corporations are so overtaken by greed that they applaud at ways of earning more money through the misfortune of others. The movie has been released free of charge to the public via their website, and they encourage the spreading of the movie. So why not go over there and download it for a rainy day.

But just as the movie points out as well, big corporations can do a lot of good in the world, even though most don’t. Google has come to be one of the bigger corporations in the world but always try to remain grounded. After reading The New York Times article about Google paying its employees tax for benefits received from same-sex partnerships, one can see that they really are trying hard to live up to their informal motto, “Don’t be evil”. Apparently US residents with domestic partners pay a tax, which averages around 1069 USD per year, for their employer-provided health benefits. This tax is exclusive to homosexual employees since heterosexual married couples are excluded since they aren’t counted as domestic partners. Head over to the source article to get the full story as well as read about other benefits that all Google employees receive.

That’s all for now, until next time!


Why not goeco?

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The creative team behind goeco have been running a contest where competitors have the chance to win 1000 SEK, which is about 137 USD or 105 EUR. The rules are quite simple, all you have to do is become a fan of their Facebook page and come up with an innovative, efficient and simple tip to consume less energy in your home which you then post on their page. After the contest ends on the 12 of August, the team will go through each contribution and decide on a winning tip.

For those that aren’t familiar with goeco, it’s a mobile phone application that tracks you transportation behaviour and gives you feedback as well as gives you tip on how to change your behaviour to be more environmentally friendly. The application doesn’t stop there, it goes on to give you a measurement of how many calories you’ve burned and how much money you’ve spent on transportation. With this data the application can not only lighten your carbon footstep but also save you money and help you keep fit.

But if you feel that you still need to travel by car everywhere then at least make sure it’s eco-friendly. And with that I leave you with this video and say goodbye.


Chile, the country of net neutrality

July 18, 2010 Leave a comment

The 13th of July marks the day that Chile became the sole country in the world to pass a law to ensure net neutrality. Chile’s Board of Chamber Deputies voted one abstention against 100 in favor for the motion that can be summarized in five points of obligations and prohibitions.

1. The prohibition for ISPs to interfere, discriminate or in any way obstruct content, services or applications served through the internet, unless it is to ensure the privacy of the user, protect the network or to hinder virus spreading.

2. The obligation of the ISP to provide a parental control service to the user.

3. The obligation to provide clients, with a series of written evidence, to correctly identify the contracted service.

4. The obligation to ensure user privacy, virus protection and network security.

5. The obligation to ensure access to all types of content, services or applications available on the network and offer a service that does not distinguish content, applications or services, based on the source of it or their property. This also includes the prohibition of activities that restrict users freedom to use the content or services unless a specific request has been made from the user.

Latin America has always come off as being very conservative but it’s always fun to see how much Chile has changed every time I visit relatives there. This along with Argentina passing a law to allow gay marriages shows that the continent is speeding to be a part of the modern world.

We’ll see what impact this law has on the world in the years to come. For now, “Viva Chile!”.//Saligia