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So here is a list of some Dark Patterns I’ve encountered across my capstone travels. Feel free to critique and comment, and see if you can find the Persuasive Pattern I’ve snuck in amongst the lot (they’re the good guys, at least from my research so far!).

 

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2014/02/10/how-google-used-motorola-to-smack-down-samsung-twice/

This is a very interesting read on how Google is maintaining its dominance in the mobile market by stopping Samsung from developing its own OS. Samsung has been building on top of Android and hiding a lot of essential apps in favor of its own while putting their UI, TouchWiz, at the front of the experience.

Samsung’s goal has been to use Android as a platform to build its own services and UI while slowly dropping Android in favor or its own OS called Tizen.

“Samsung…began building its own Android rival – Tizen – which, thanks to its TouchWiz interface, looks identical to the casual observer. The long term strategy was clear: switch over to Tizen and take the majority of the handset market with it. Google had to act.”

Should we consider coping a part of an OS’s functionality or aesthetic as counterfeit?

Counterfeit: “made in imitation of something else with intent to deceive”

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/counterfeit

Imagine the time when we had black and white CRT display. The first of it’s kind was only capable of displaying a dot on a phosphorus screen. Today we can we what transformation the display technologies have gone through. There were color CRTs then came LCDs, then came LEDs, we got full HD Resolution, Now we are talking about  4K television which is 4 times the resolution of the full HD TV. Displays have transformed considerably in form. They are now much Thinner, consume less energy and space, but through all this transformation one thing was very common, use of glass.

Samsung made a breakthrough by replacing this glass with plastic which made a phenomenal change to what display of the future will be like. They introduced Samsung Youm, which is a plastic based flexible OLED display which can be BENT. No isn’t that awesome? Let’s see how awesome it is in the video below.

So Samsung Youm is a flexible OLED display. It has a flexible form because it is NOT made with glass. Yes, not with glass. all the LED are printed on a sheet of plastic. The display is OLED which is Organic Light Emitting Diode display. LED’s have their own light source so they don’t require a backlight which is the case with LCD displays. Although, it is foldable, you wont want to fold and press it like a paper as it will damage the screen by giving it creases. It is absolutely thin. It has very little power consumption as the LEDs have their own power source.

Samsung came out with that display with lots of applications in mind. For example, it will replace the traditional gorilla glass in the smartphones which will make the phone screen unbreakable(you just got rid of the glass part of the display). The display going into traditional smartphones will loose its flexibility. The demo phone shown in the video demonstrates a display which is extended over the edge to show notification, but this is not the exact application of a flexible display.  You are taking away its flexibility. The Concept devices in the video makes some sense with the use of flexible screen, but they don’t seem to be realistically implementable for the next few years. Even if phones with rolling displays are made, how durable will they be?? Well the applications need to be thought out.

Are these displays useful and usable? The display looks very suitable for the application of wearable computing. Imagine having those displays on your clothes. Having a coat which will do your body analysis and display the result on the display, which goes very well with the coat. The question arises, Will that be washable? These displays can be a very good option where fragility is a concern.  There seems a conditions where it is a war between usefulness and usability? One more question arises is that is it really needed? Even if it is needed, should it replace all the displays or it should be augmented with the current display technology? Will this innovation have any meaning if the devices on which it goes is not flexible??? These are the concerns to worry about.

Users of this device are pretty much not concerned with the display itself. They are concerned with the content shown. As far as the content is shown, any display showing the right thing at the right time is perfect. Imagine having a flexible display like a wrist band serving as a clock and health monitor is a good option, but having it on your shirt showing your facebook feed can cause severe privacy issues which the user don’t want. Imagine if you are wearing such a shirt in a public place and if it shows some obscene content will make it loose all it purpose. Although, it might seem cool to have a shirt like that, but wrong place and time along with the wrong content make it lose all its importance.

In Conclusion, the Samsung Youm display is a very nice innovation. For it being a useful innovation, it should be applied to the right device serving the display of data at the right time and place in the right form. It can definitely prove a great leap towards wearable computing and that is where the need of flexible displays is needed more.

Since the last decade, we have seen a lot of changes in how we use computers. Every year something new gets introduced to the market attracting people all over the world. It keeps on affecting how we use computers everyday. Based on what we have today, we imagine the future and the way we will interact with computers. A lot of that is from science fiction movies.

Leap Motion is one of the devices which claims that it will change the way we use computers, but what is Leap Motion???

Watch the video below.

I am an enthusiast Natural User Interface (NUI) Developer. I love doing a lot of projects developing different NUIs. I recently received the device (for free) from leap motion to get my hands dirty developing applications for it and I made some cool and simple applications with it. I want to share my experience with it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve been using Windows 8 since the last month, so I thought of reviewing it. As this is my first critique, I want you to correct me if I go wrong somewhere, like being too subjective, speaking only good or only bad.

I am going to write from the four perspectives, the creator’s perspective, the artifact’s perspective, the user’s perspective, and the socio-cultural perspective.

The makers of Windows 8 were inclined to create something new, which was intended to be a completely new design of windows. In this approach, they miscalculated the usefulness of the system. They were inclined to give the PC and the Tablet experience in a single device. It is their attempt to make a windows ecosystem of devices such as the tablets, PC and the smartphones. They wanted to keep the old windows functionality as it is is used by a lot of people and only thing that was new was the “Live Tile” interface. They assumed that the loyal users of Windows will not hesitate to learn the new system. They wanted to introduce the world of the light weight apps on the PC along with the exiting third party software application. Focus on entertainment was greatly on the minds of the makers while they designed Windows 8.

Read the rest of this entry »

Over recent years there has been a trend within the design of game user interfaces towards representing information required by the player in a more diegetic way, in other words incorporating the user interface into the game-world. In this paper I will examine the means by which L.A. Noire (Team Bondi, Rockstar Games, 2011) achieved this with the “detective’s notebook” menu system.

L.A. Noire

L.A.Noire, the product of 7 years of work (McMillen, 2011) on the part of developers Team Bondi was received to critical acclaim in receiving a Metacritic (CBS Interactive) score of 89, ranking it 12th and 15th as game of 2011 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 respectively (Dietz, 2011).

L.A. Noire (Team Bondi, Rockstar Games, 2011) is an adventure game as defined by Bateman & Boon’s (Bateman & Boon, 2006) theory of definition by genre nucleation which states that a genre term arises when a significant amount of games of a similar type appear to warrant an umbrella term, usually ascribed by the gaming press.

The narrative of L.A. Noire as the title may suggest, is set within the 1940’s in the titular Los Angeles, Carolyn Petit’s review for Gamespot describing it as “drenched in so much authentic late-’40s style that you’ll practically be able to smell the acrid mix of glamour and corruption in the air.” (Petit, 2011).

The game shares a lot of stylistic similarities with the more modern, neo noir take on the film noir genre leaning heavily on films such as Chinatown (Polanski, 1974) and L.A. Confidential (Hanson, 1997) as detailed in Zero Punctuation’s review of the title: “Cole’s character is best equated to Guy Peirce’s character from the film L.A. Confidential and while you’re equating you might as well equate a few other things from that film too, like the setting, time period, large chunks of the plot, a police department containing more assholes than a donkey in an iron maiden, and both of them start with the letters L.A. which I don’t think can be a coincidence” (Croshaw, 2011)

What is a user interface?

At a fundamental level, the user interface (UI) is any and all way in which the player is able to gain information and interact with the game. Llanos & Jørgenson explicate UI as “any and all features that provide information or assist the player in interacting with the game. In this sense, it includes both hardware features such as controllers and screen, and software features such as the audiovisual features of the game.” (LLanos & Jørgenson, 2011)

Game designers and authors Braithwaite and Schreiber define the user interface (UI) as “how the players communicate their chosen actions to the game (the “input”, usually referred to as the controls), and how the game displays the results of those actions to the player (the “output”, such as the screen display and controller vibration).” (Braithwaite & Schreiber, 2009, p. 215)

Jesse Schell builds on this with his own theory, taking the physical input/output model as described by Braithwaite and Schreiber and adds additional layer, “a conceptual layer that exists between the physical input/output and the game world. This layer is usually called the virtual interface, and has both input elements (such as a virtual menu where the player makes a selection) and output elements (such as a score display” (Schell, 2010).

It is this virtual interface which I will examine in this paper, in particular the detective’s notepad menu system used to incorporate the user interface into the diegesis of the game world of L.A. Noire, in particular the Virtual Interface to World (read game world) and World to Virtual Interface as defined by Schell.

Establishing a critical approach

For the purposes of this paper and to clarify the games as culture, I will be using Aarseth’s subdivision of games as outlined in “Playing Research: Methodological approaches to game analysis” (Aarseth, 2003), where he states “games, unlike traditional games or sports, consist of non-ephemeral, artistic content (stored words, sounds and images), which places the games much closer to the ideal object of the Humanities, the work of art. Thus, they become visible and textualizable for the aesthetic observer, in a way the previous phenomena were not.”

Konzack also supports this view of games as culture; “it is important to understand the basic nature of game, play and culture. According to Johan Huizinga’s theory, play and game are the origins of culture. Playing and games are culture in themselves, and culture will expand and prosper by freely exploring them.” (Konzack, 2002)

Within this paper I want to focus specifically the area that Aarseth defines as Game-world, covering elements such as “fictional content, topology/level design, textures etc” under such perspectives as “Art, aesthetics, history, cultural/media studies”  with respect to the user interface of L.A. Noire.

I will be undertaking this study using Aarseth’s second and third methods, reading reports and reviews and playing the game myself as “what takes place on the screen is only partly representative of what the player experiences” (Aarseth, 2003). While this can be argued as a result to be a subjective interpretation of the user interface, “phenomena such as aesthetic experience, emotion, expressiveness, and sociability – in many ways have no straightforward factual, material, or external existence; if they can be said to exist at all, they do so within subjectivity” (Bardzell, 2011)

Scott Summit: Beautiful artificial limbs

I love this Scott Summit guy please check this 11min talk out. I would love to hear your thoughts–if mine are too long skip my thoughts, listen, and share!!! But I haven’t been on here in a minute and I have much to say!

It was like he took the words right out of my mouth…

I have tried and tried to challenge myself to think outside the proverbial box (i.e. what I have already worked on) when considering my final writing. And I went online today looking eagerly for some interactive technology that resonated with me. The search was seemingly futile until I happened upon this Ted Talk (hopefully I can embed it properly). And then I fell in love with an interaction that went beyond the interaction to the objectively subjective.

In class yesterday we discussed the difference between the subjective and the objective and how both are important. I agreed with Vince’s definition of both of the above terms. To articulate here what I thought there, I would define subjective as that interpersonal felt experience where what one is experiencing, in the experience  based on another’s expression, is allowing for the experiencer to draw upon their past experiences–their life world. It’s definitely personal as well as impressed upon/affected by the world around it. This does leave me to question what are the similarities and differences between ‘an experience’ based on Turner, Victor. Dewey, Dilthey, and Drama: An Essay in the Anthropology of Experience and G. definition of life worlds?

Formative experiences are highly personal (pg35)

“Meaning arises when we try to put what culture and language have crystallized from the past together with what we feel, wish, and thinking about our present point in life.” (pg33)                                                          

“Experience urges toward expression” (pg37)

Maybe it’s that lifeworld is more static like a noun where as An Experience is more a verb (based on quote 37). Would love your thoughts on this as well.

As you all know I am big on experience particularly subjective experience and meaning making. I loved this Ted Talk because he has accomplished my ultimate particular. He and his team have created an opportunity to do meaning making via design—with and for the ‘receiver’ so to speak.

Objectivity in my expert opinion 🙂 is the ability to articulate not just the quality of the text based on how one felt but draw parallels, contrast, and make inferences on interpretation that can be supported by credible sources. This is definitely a much more outward reaching agenda to validate and persuade. Whereas the other is to reflectively express. I’d take any criticism on this topic.  

In closing, when we were concluding our discussion on both these terms we talked about how you can’t really have objective without subjective—moreover, everything is subjective. We concluded that it is not just one or the other but how we merge and appropriate both together. It is in the quality of the harmony that we pinpoint rigor. What I love about the prosthetic interaction in the Ted Talk is that they are bringing that personal into the general. And I completely concur that this is capturing the spirit of the designer as well as the designed for. This is me to the utmost!

Bret Victor is a brilliant designer who was working at Apple for a while (he was instrumental in designing the iPad interface) who has done a crazy amount of awesome writing, designing, and analysis on his site. I don’t want to go into an analysis of these articles, since I think they’re already in-depth enough that they stand on their own. But, I think this particular article on graphics and communicating ideas through graphical interfaces ties together aspects of all the things we’ve discussed so far in this class (creator/user/artifact/critique/writing style). It’s not a short read by an stretch of the imagination, but all his articles are worth reading.

http://worrydream.com/#!/MagicInk

In a similar boat to Shannon I’m still trying to nail down what I’m doing (if I’m putting words in your mouth Shannon I’m sorry!).

I know this is something I have touched upon before and other people have commented on my blog (which I have yet to get back to, sorry again) but I keep thinking about the addressee/receiver relationship within games between the designer and the user and the concept I mentioned about the player shaped hole.

Another thing I’m considering is the semiotics/affordances of a particular gaming trope such as the chest high wall, the crate or the exploding red barrel.

Or  I’m thinking about is looking specifically at the HUD of a game and analysing what it communicates to the player and how.

So as I think you can probably guess my mind is a bit all over the place at the moment, though a feeling I’m getting progressively more used to through the course of the semester

iPhone home screen

The iPhone home screen offers some interesting insights into the ideas we’ve been studying in the past week.

In this example, we are looking at the idea of the home screen itself, not necessarily its individual components. Here the sign is at first the home screen area itself. Yet this screen is also comprised of a number of other connected signs that are integral to the understanding of the home screen itself. These discrete signs include the home button, to access the screen, the navigational cues near the bottom of the home screen, the icons present within the home screen, the dock located at the bottom of the screen, and even to some extent the gestural interaction needed to access Notification Center. Each contributes collectively to the concept of the home screen.

The signifier can be said to be the home screen after navigation to it, but also the idea of the home screen contained within the phone itself. The signified in this case is the idea presented by the home screen that it is a launching point for any and all interactions the phone provides, as dictated by installed apps and software functionality. Even the term, “home,” infers a number of ideas about the screen itself. The idea presupposes a familiar place in which we collect all the useful things we use in our daily lives. This concept, along with the dock as a launching point for the most common applications in use, begin to look at the ideas of the indexical signification offered within the home screen.

Included in the indexical understanding would be the the idea that, after holding your finger down on an icon, the icons on the screen begin to shake and buttons appear at the top-left corner of each icon, suggesting an action is needed. As your finger swipes across the screen, the screen responds with “tension” when you attempt to swipe out of the boundaries of the home screen. The screen suggests an iconic representation of a drawer sliding open, a Lazy Susan, or a conveyor belt, serving up your apps.

We’ll explore a bit more of the concepts suggested by the phone in the comments.