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WK Interact room at Hotel Fox

WK Interact room at Hotel Fox

During the past week we have been running an experience prototype at Hotel Fox in Copenhagen. That’s that “lifestyle” hotel where each room was designed by a different international artist. Many thanks to the staff there for helping us with our project because Hotel Fox is a perfect place to test our service.

Some of the props we brought to the hotel

Some of the props we brought to the hotel

We prepared brochures, order forms and mini catalogs for the receptionist to distribute to guests when they check in to the hotel. We also brought 20 of our own books that the guests could borrow. The books were a mix of novels, guide books and design related photo books. Almost all of them had something to do with Denmark. We also included DVDs and a few other items in the catalog even though we did not bring them to the hotel.

Hotel Fox lobby

Hotel Fox lobby

If a guest would like to borrow a book, they just need to fill out a small order form and give it to the receptionist. We also included questionnaires so that the guests could give us feedback about the service. Inside each book is a bookmark with recommendations based on that particular book. These include sights, other library materials and places to visit (i.e. The Danish Design Museum). For the sake of this prototype, the role of the library is not important. However we still included the library’s branding on all books and print material.

Welcome packets and loaner books at the Hotel Fox desk

Welcome packets and loaner books at the Hotel Fox desk

We spend a few hours each day hanging out in the lobby and observing guests as they receive the brochure when they check in. The idea is to see if hotel guests, who generally only stay 2-3 nights, are interested in looking at new books and bringing them back to their rooms. We would also like to know what types of books are most popular and how the receptionists are able to manager the service. Last time we checked in, the hotel had lent out one book and received one feedback form.

As mentioned before, the topic of the past two weeks has been Social Computing & Sustainability. Jay from Intel gave a brief talk on the idea of social computing and how it relates to some of the system-on-a-chip technologies that Intel may be working with. But one item from that presentation which really stuck out was this Carrotmob video. The video and concept have nothing to do with social computing per se, but I think it can be assumed it wouldn’t be possible to achieve what Carrotmob did without social computing. Showing what websites, mobile phone apps and whatever else were used would not really add anything to this video.

From this point of view and from a sustainability point of view, this video is well worth watching. And from a design point of view, it’s a great example of concept testing, experience prototyping, etc… The concept is designed for large corporations, but they were able to test it in a local market and prove its feasibility.

It makes me think of the project I am currently working on, a video scenario about a government initiative that helps reduce energy consumption. Our video focuses a lot on the touchpoints involved (websites & mobile phone apps). But can it not be assumed that any new, forward thinking service will be utilizing these? I think the Carrotmob video showed us this. So for our video, which as an Interaction Design project requires some of these touchpoints, we really have to think of some creative ways to make them new and fresh.

Tobias showing us energy efficiency projects which he found interesting

Tobias showing us energy efficiency projects which he found interesting

We have begun our first “Industry Project” for which we have the privilege of collaborating with Jay Melican, a Design Researcher at Intel’s Digital Home Group. The topic of this two week project is Social Computing for Sustainability and we will be exploring “the roles of the individual and the collective in achieving sustainable behaviors change and effective residential energy/resource management.” I should mention that only half our class is working on the Intel project while the other half is working with DSB - the Danish train company. Not coincidentally, their brief is also about sustainability (read Eilidh’s blog for details about that project).

What I did find coincidental though was that the project I just finished (Meet the Food You Eat) also had to do with sustainability. However I have come across some blog articles tonight that are making me realize what a perfect challenge sustainability is for Interaction Designers.

To paraphrase a blog article that paraphrased Robert Fabricant’s keynote speech at the Interaction Design Association’s recent conference in Vancouver:

Our medium = behavior
Sustainability = a problem of behavior
Sustainability = our problem

It’s an interesting equation and something to think about. A great example of this comes from the design consulting firm Cooper. They have done a service concept called Economizer which is very close to the sort of projects we are talking about right now. But besides being about sustainability, the following videos are also excellent examples of communication, prototyping and interaction design.

Read more about Economizer by Cooper

From Fast Company’s article Ten Jobs You Didn’t Know You Wanted comes a nice description of the Interaction Designer — one of the 10 jobs you didn’t know you wanted!

Interaction designers work at all stages of product development to design innovative and user-friendly products. In addition to wearing the traditional hat of a designer, they work with executives to define goals for products and systems in development. They also investigate how people actually engage with new products and systems by creating “personas,” hypothetical users with constructed life stories, to predict their reactions.

Although many interaction designers have advanced degrees in design, such a background isn’t a prerequisite, says David Fore, head of consulting services at Cooper, a pioneering interaction design firm. Fore previously worked as a reporter for industry publications — valuable experience, given that interaction designers’ research requires “the skills of a reporter and an anthropologist,” according to him.

Because interaction designers bring such a comprehensive approach to design, their relatively new field, only ten to fifteen years old, is growing in demand. As a result, entry-level designers with two years of background can expect $75,000 to $80,000 a year, with ample opportunity for an increase in salary. Beginning interaction designers usually gain experience through an apprenticeship.

In addition to the competitive salary, interaction designers enjoy the opportunity “to learn about every walk of life and industry imaginable,” says Fore. “There’s working with stock brokers, working with a golf course superintendent, an advertising creative director, working with a nurse to build infusion pumps. Everyone needs product design.”

“The methodology that melds an end-user focus with multidisciplinary collaboration and iterative improvement to produce products, services or experiences.” - San Jose Business Journal

“A discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” - Harvard Business Review

“…involves a period of field research — usually close observation of people — to generate inspiration and a better understanding of what is needed, followed by open, nonjudgmental generation of ideas. After a brief analysis, a number of the more promising ideas are combined and expanded to go into ‘rapid prototyping,’ which can vary from a simple drawing or text description to a three-dimensional mock-up. Feedback on the prototypes helps hone the ideas so that a select few can be used.” - New York Times

“…a process for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result. Unlike analytical thinking, design thinking is a creative process based around the ‘building up’ of ideas. There are no judgments in design thinking. This eliminates the fear of failure and encourages maximum input and participation.” - Wikipedia

Physical Computing Exhibition

Ashwin taking photography by Tobias Toft

For my friends at CIID, here are some ideas for creating quick websites to document your work. What’s important is that they are cheap or free, easy to update with no code needed and that they look professional while emphasizing the work displayed.

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glass workshopglass workshop

ceramics workshopmetal workshop

speedy mimilegs eleven

This week was a crash course in four of the main materials studios at DKDS - glass, ceramics, metal and wood. Although blowing glass might not be so practical for our projects this year, it was fun getting our hands dirty before jumping into our coursework next week. The week ended with our first Fredagsbar (Friday bar) and a game of roundball using bats made in that day’s wood workshop.

On Monday we begin our two week Computational Design workshop which will be led by Patrick Kochlik and Dennis Paul from Berlin, Germany.