MEX 2013: Will We Be Hearing More from Mobile Audio Interfaces?

digital-intern.jpgCould games like Papa Sangre pave the way for other mobile audio experiences?

The tech lovers at last week’s MEX Mobile User Experience conference in London were treated to all manner of fantastical visions of our further mobile empowered futures; big data, connected cars, smart homes, Internet of Things, gestural interfaces, personal mini-drones—the lot.

Few presentation this year will be complete without at least passing reference to the game changing nature or dystopian social implications of soon-to-be-unleashed Google Glass. Surprisingly, however, a couple of jaw-dropping demonstrations were enough to leave many of those attending wondering whether we might be missing a slightly quieter revolution taking hold. Could immersive audio be about to come of age in mobile user experience?

Having played second fiddle to the visual interface for decades, being so often the reserve of experimental art installations or niche concepts for the blind, audio has yet to find mass interaction application outside of alarms, alerts, ringtones and the occasional novelty bottle opener. All of this, however, could be set to change, if the two fields of binaural sound and dynamic music can find their way into the repertoire of interaction designers.

Binaural Audio Spatializes Interaction

Hardly a new phenomenon (though not always well known), Papa Sangre is regarded as the ‘best video game with no video ever made.’ Since it’s release back in 2011, the audio app game for iOS has been a hit with both the visually impaired and fully sighted. The game plunges players into a dark, monster-infested fantasy with only their ears to navigate the three dimensional underworld and rescue the damsel in distress. The incredible 3D sound effects are achieved with headphones and binaural audio—an effect that replicates the experience of hearing a sound-wave originating from a certain direction, hitting one ear before the other. Use of the screen is disconcertingly limited to only a rudimentary compass-like dial (determining the player’s virtual direction of movement) and two feet buttons, pressed to take steps into the darkness. Never has a computer game monster been so terrifying than when you can’t actually see it.

papasangre_screen2.pngIn the dark: screenshot of immersive audio game PapaSangre

The creators, London-based SomethinElse, developed the game by first mapping out the experiences of sound from hundreds of directions using a binaural microphone—a stereo mic the exact shape and density of a human head with pick-ups for ear drums. The algorithmic engine this produced could then be put to work transforming any ordinary mono audio into a spacialised, stereo output for listeners wearing headphones (with a fair dose of clever coding, of course).

MEX_binaural_mic.pngBinaural microphone with exact dimension and density as human head

(more…)

A Google Reader Starred Item

Shepard Fairey designs badge for International Space Station


News: Shepard Fairey, the American graphic designer who created the iconic HOPE image for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, has designed a badge for astronauts on the International Space Station (+ movie). (more…)

A Google Reader Starred Item

What Do Instagram Filters Say About The Users? [Infographic]

Instagram Filter Infographic 650x1885 What Do Instagram Filters Say About The Users? [Infographic]

Instagram and its filters may turn forgettable pictures into hipsters’ gold, or incredible pictures into another cliché, and it’s all on the user to learn how to use them to their advantage.

Check more infos here.

Free Magic Giveaway – Win Your Very Own Foldable Cardboard Buddy.

VectorStock Giveaway – Download 100′s of Amazing Vector Images, Illustrations, Icons, Logos and Clip Art.

A Great Combination of Free Online Tools for Web Designers.

Via Design You Trust – Design Blog and Community http://designyoutrust.com/2013/04/what-do-instagram-filters-…

A Google Reader Starred Item

International Bicycle Design Competition 2013 Winners, Part 2

iFDesignTalentsxIBDC-logo.jpgIBDC-Comp2.jpg

Yesterday, we saw the first dozen honorees for iF Design TalentsInternational Bicycle Design Competition. The top ten selections were handsomely awarded for making the cut; here are the five ‘second place’ winners, who received 20,000 TWD (~$670) each for their efforts.

We also have some comments from the judges this time around—the submissions were reviewed by Henry Chang (Gearlab Co. Ltd., Taipei, Taiwan), Edward Chiang (Giant Bicycle, Taichung, Taiwan), Martin Kessler (Process Group, Zurich, Switzerland), Ishigaki Tetsuya (Toyo frame, Tokyo, Japan), Georg Todtenbier (Cre8 Design, Taipei, Taiwan) and Michael Tseng (Merida Bikes, Taichung, Taiwan).

IBDC-Frame22.jpg

Frame 22 | Urban Bike with Bamboo Frame
Yu-Yuan Lai – Shih Chien University, Taipei, Taiwan

Frame 22 is an urban bike with bamboo elastic structure, completed with a bamboo-craft master. The shock absorber and handle bar stems are made of flexible bamboo, which reduces the vibration and maintains the flexibility of the bicycle. In order to enhance the power of back triangles, the bamboo structure extends from seat stay to chain stay. Bicycles are always cruising around in cities and the road bike is the best choice among all the alternatives for riding on concrete roads. Sometimes roads are cratered, and it is risky for bikers to dodge the holes; therefore, Frame 22 was created as an urban bike with light shock absorber, which offers a more comfortable riding experience to bikers.

What the judges had to say: “This is a fantastic combination of wood and steel. One of the judges would actually like to ride it.”

– I share the judge’s curiosity about how this actually rides. Interestingly, the cantilevered seatpost / extra-long seatstay design is actually quite similar to Yojiro Oshima’s recently-seen wooden bicycle.

* * *

IBDC-TheEssence.jpg

The Essence | One Bike – Two Riding Styles
Ming-Kang Chang – Shih Chien University, Taipei, Taiwan

This bike offers two different riding styles, fixed-gear [or] single-speed. To achieve this concept, the bike’s top tube and seat stays are replaced by thinner steel bars. There is a special rear hub that can turn in two modes: single-speed freewheel or single cog. The seat is also designed to be removed or assembled quickly to adapt easily to the way in which the rider wants to use it.

What the judges had to say: “The only difference in this special design lies in the carbon fiber frame using steel bars. It’s a good design that can actually work and reduce the total weight by 100-200 grams.”

– I was a bit baffled by this one, as I thought the skinny tubes were supposed to be tension cables. Frankly, I don’t understand how the fin-like ‘saddle’ works or if it has a shaft drivetrain… or, for that matter, how it converts between fixed and freewheel.

* * *

IBDC-ChildrensBikeSeat.jpg

Children’s Bike Seat
Martina Staub & Lisa Nissen – Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Aarau, Switzerland

The design of this children’s bike seat focuses primarily on the aspects of safety and lightweight. The seat consists of two parts: the protective frame is made of fiberglass reinforced polypropylene. The cushion is a 3D mesh and is soft and protective at the same time. In the event of a sudden stop, the child is secured by the 5-point safety belt. The design of the frame provides optimum protection for the child’s head. The system includes a sleeping position and the footrests can be easily adjusted to virtually any position. If the seat is not in use, it can be used as a carrier. The taillights can be attached to the frame as desired.

What the judges had to say: “The design is very simple. People in Japan or other Asian countries would like to use this product. Regarding the design of the frame, the judges reckoned it can actually be made.”

– Seeing as I’m not a parent myself, I can’t speak to the functionality of this design, but I agree that it strikes me as among the more realistic, production-ready entries.

* * *

(more…)

A Google Reader Starred Item

Colored-Pencil Table by Nendo

Colored-Pencil Table by Nendo

Japanese design studio Nendo created an installation for the 2013 Saint-Étienne Design Biennial featuring a series of pastel rainbow-colored, wooden tables. The project, entitled Colored-Pencil Table, explores the manipulation of surface texture in furniture design and a possible look at the future of it.

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

The table surfaces are developed with a technique called udukuri, where the top, soft layer of the cypress wood is carved away to expose the wood grain underneath. The wood then gets covered with paper and the wood grain is traced by shading over it with colored pencils. The grainy textures appear in color, as well as a raised relief from the tracing.

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Nendo says:

This created a tantalizing juxtaposition between the familiar proportions of wooden and the finish of the paper, and an inviting fusion of the subtle shades and blur of the colored pencils with the raised wood grain.

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Colored Pencil Table by Nendo in home furnishings Category

Study

Photos by Hiroshi Iwasaki.

A Google Reader Starred Item