Posts tagged 'Image'

Mutable Maps for Many Apps

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Rivers of Southeast Asia

Rivers of Southeast Asia

Maps present us limitless layers of different data–physical, cultural or ecological. In addition to aiding us with the everyday tasks such as getting ourselves from one place to another, maps help us understand our relationship to the physical earth as well as other humans, and our connection to a dizzying array of physical, cultural, political systems and networks. So it comes as no surprise that at some point in every designer’s career, one project or another relies heavily on maps.

Maps are so ubiquitous that we sometimes ignore the craft involved in clearly presenting this enormous quantity of information. To succeed, maps must clearly describe the data they are presenting, fit it into a surrounding design language, and be readable at a variety of different scales, sizes and presentation modes.

How is a designer to tackle these challenges? What follows is a rundown of a few tools that can make the task of designing, deploying or just visualizing a map a little bit easier.
Continue reading “Mutable Maps for Many Apps

Pictionaire – A Visual Worksurface

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

A collaboration between researchers at UC Berkeley and Microsoft Research, Pictionaire is a tabletop interactive collaboration system that “enables multiple designers to fluidly move imagery from the physical to the digital realm; work with found, drawn and captured imagery; organize items into functional collections; and record meeting histories.” It accomplishes this through us of a rear-projected display surface, gestural touch interactions with the novel addition of a digital camera mounted above the tabletop surface. With it, users can easily move images from printed media or even physical objects back and forth from the tabletop to a stored database of images.

(video, links and observations after the jump.)

Research that aims to explore methods of facilitating group collaborative processes form an entire subset of HCI research, but after watching Pictionaire’s project video, a few features jumped out at me right away. The basic image capture is much like an electronic whiteboard, where users can save and retrieve the contents of a reading surface. However, it’s interesting to see what opportunities open up when the collaboration surface is laid flat and is able to be combined with scanned images or objects.
Continue reading “Pictionaire – A Visual Worksurface

Scribbles Ignores the Conventional Wisdom

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Check BoxI just recently downloaded Tweetie, a desktop twitter client, and noticed that the company who makes it also makes a product called Scribbles. Noticing that its homepage proclaims Scribbles is ‘Incredibly easy to use’ and has a ‘Revolutionary User Interface’ I decided to give it a spin.

Scribbles is an ideal addition to any visual designer’s toolkit – it is simple without being simplistic, has features designed to enable creative flow and speed, and generally does a good job at what it claims to do. While I found its control over color a bit frustrating, the layer control and ‘trace’ tool were both features that I can actually see myself using. For a small piece of software like this that relies on demo versions to spur purchases, a handful of features that stick in a user’s mind can mean the difference between an application that is used once out of curiosity and one that is purchased and becomes a valued tool.
Continue reading “Scribbles Ignores the Conventional Wisdom

Sketchpad – A Look Back.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

In 1963 Ivan Sutherland developed Sketchpad. In developing what was to be part of his phd thesis, Sutherland pioneered what would come to be known as the graphical user interface, parametric constraints and the very concept of object-oriented programming, which he developed in order to better manage memory on the limited capabilities of the machines he was working on.

Much has been written about Sketchpad, Sutherland and all of the developments in HCI, computer science and engineering that continue to flow from his work. In the context of this site however, it’s important to note that Sutherland’s innovative engineering solutions were all driven by the desire provide people the ability to express themselves more intuitively with technology. The application precedes the solution.

“A display connected to a digital computer gives us a chance to gain familiarity with concepts not realizable in the physical world. It is a looking glass into a mathematical wonderland.” –Ivan Sutherland.

Make an entire wall into a whiteboard with IdeaPaint.

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Cafe wall covered with whiteboard.

Like any tool, a whiteboard is only as good as the person who uses it. On the other hand, easy access to space to let ideas fly can be valuable, and there is a lot to be said for ‘breaking the frame’.

IdeaPaint lets you paint a whiteboard anywhere you want it.

via FastCompany

Scratch

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Scratch InstructionsThe Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab has released Scratch, a new graphical programming environment designed to teach fundamental aspects of computer programming in a fun and easy-to-understand way. Kids can create games or stories while learning basic concepts of logic and programming.

The community aspect of Scratch is cool as well – because the environment is java-based, kids can upload their creations to the scratch website and comment on each other’s creations. I’m interested in seeing if the sharing aspect of scratch can elevate to the next level, where kids can complete a series of tutorials in order to learn more advanced capabilities of the system. If the satisfaction of completing a programming challenge was as satisfying as completing a level in a video game, kids’ investment in Scratch might continue beyond the academic user-testing-group and community-outreach testing environment that it no doubt was born in.

Scratch can also be controlled by a custom hardware controller, allowing kids to create projects that are controlled by a slider, button, light sensor or microphone.

Scratch Website
SEE ALSO : Lego Mindstorms NXT

Sketchup 6 is out!

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Since being purchased by Google, Sketchup has been split into two products: Sketchup Pro and ‘Google Sketchup’, the free version, and many of the features available in Sketchup 6 are available to users of both versions. Google offers an explanation of the difference between the products, which essentially boils down to: Google Sketchup is for use only with Google Maps, while Sketchup Pro is a full-featured 3D visualization tool for professionals.

Now Sketchup 6 is available, with a raft of new features. Users can now superimpose their creations into photos and match perspective using the Photo Match tool. I have been using Sketchup to pre-visualize media installations, and this tool is an invaluable time-saver. All you need is a few photos of a site and you can superimpose your creation into it.
Sketchy Lines in Sketchup 6 will suck up all your time.

The other feature that will take up much of your precious noodling-time is the ‘sketchy lines’ capability. In addition to giving users more control over the way lines look in general, you can now alter the stroke of a line and make your model look like a calligraphic painting, a whiteboard sketch or a ball-point pen drawing. Notably missing is the ability to scale the strokes, or create your own. See these instructions if you want to make your own style (it isn’t a trivial task.) Regardless, combined with the ability to set background color and watermark, it’s clear that the Sketchup team has worked hard to make sure that the world doesn’t get inundated with Sketchup renderings that look exactly the same. Long live style!

See Also:
Google Buys At Last Software

Stoking the story-maker machinery

Monday, March 20th, 2006

ComicLife Creation

ComicLife enables users to create comic strips by simply dragging and dropping their own images onto comic templates, to which they can add captions, titles, speech and thought bubbles. The result is a crisp-looking comic-book layout.

ComicLife’s popularity has exploded, thanks to its ease-of use, integration with iPhoto and other usability features. The software is incredibly easy to use out-of-the-box, but has powerful features which allow a user to customize their creations endlessly. This software isn’t limited to creating family photo albums, it could easily be used to help in the creation of professional storyboards, user scenarios or quick one-off portfolio pages. ComicLife empowers you to quickly assemble a story on paper.

Check out this photostream, where a flickr user used ComicLife to create a media studies textbook/polemic reminiscent of the tract style of Scott McCloud or Quentin Fiore‘s design for the work of Marshall McLuhan, or this page, where a World of Warcraft player narrates his mmorpg adventures.