I’m writing these notes on a train to Malmö for a change. I was there this wednesday and am back again to have a chat at Illusion Labs. I was put in touch with them by Hampus of The Astonishing Tribe, whom I visited on wednesday. TAT’s an interesting group, specialized in the design of innovative mobile UIs. Their Recognizr concept video made quite a splash in AR circles earlier this year. I once gave a lecture on playful UIs at their office and even though nothing concrete is in the works it would be interesting to collaborate some more on that topic some time.
On wednesday I also met up with my friends at InUse, whom I did some work with when I was last in Copenhagen. That project dealt with applications of multitouch in a real-estate project. Over a Lebanese buffet lunch Mijo and I mostly mused on what’s changed in UX consulting land the past few years and how that might develop into the future. We talked about ‘peak complexity’, the internet of things and strategies for designing deeply networked things. Good stuff.
To wrap up that day, I had a surprise meet-up with Karin of Ozma, (again thanks to the awesome connecting powers of Hampus). Ozma is a game design studio working very much in the same spirit as Hubbub, with a focus on “gaming beyond the screen”. It was very encouraging to discover a company that’s been successfully working in this space for the past four years. (And they’re not the only one, in Sweden alone there’s also Fabel, The Story Lab and Grul…) One of the things we talked about is a cool platform they’re developing for urban games that is not GPS-based, but runs entirely on SMS and is therefore very useful for working with target audiences who do not have access to high-end phones (i.e. teens and tweens).
That wednesday I headed back to Copenhagen, my mind suitably blown, as you can probably imagine.
Other than that I have been enjoying Socialsquare’s hospitality on the Vesterbrogade. Martin, Magnus and I spent some time hashing out the details of the workshop we’ll be doing and we managed to narrow down the questions we’d like to answer to a manageable set. I’m keen on having part of this project’s output be shareable with the world; in what shape or form we have yet to determine.
My active involvement with Layar has gone on hold for the time being, but at the same time the first bits of my work for Layar are finding its way into the world. They’ve launched a new version of their app, which now supports paid content. (Android is out, iPhone should follow soon.) This was one of the first things I worked on for them, before moving on to stuff that’ll hopefully see the light of day somewhere over summer. Designing the paid content stuff involved dealing with a ton of dependencies on processes behind the scenes. It was an interesting challenge to make it as frictionless as possible. Plus, the mobile payment ecosystem is itself an interesting beast to deal with for a while. I also found myself designing for several mobile platforms at the same time, which can really mess with your head; both Android and iPhone have their own ‘grammar’ of interaction (or more precisely, one of them has something resembling a proper grammar, the other’s is more accurately described as a pidgin). So designing in parallel for both is a bit like speaking two languages at the same time. Confusing, even to a Dutchman.
All this, plus some more Skype calls with my HKU students (remind me to share some details on their work next time), another Skype session with the U‑Turm group and the very final preparations for This happened – Utrecht #6 took up week 149.