Language Design for Objects
Client IxDA Conference 2014 - San Francisco, CA
Role Workshop Designer, Coordinator + Moderator
Students 40 / Mixed disciplines / All levels
Teaching Assistants Daniel Nacamuli, Tim Meador, Chris MacDonald, Flavio Carvalho, Garrett Grosko, Joanne Ong.
On February 10th, Method hosted a workshop for the IxDA15 Conference at our San Francisco studio. As part of the core team who designed and developed HENRI, a tool for prototyping non-verbal languages for objects, I led the effort on designing a workshop for the tools use for the IxDA15 Conference. Our goal was to create a workshop that breaks the boundaries of traditional conference and to test the tool's ability to expand the attendees thinking beyond typical workplace processes when designing for non-screen based products.
The workshop goal was to provide students with a framework for rethinking how we design communication for non-screen based, yet interactive objects. Six teams of six students each were assigned an everyday object and given 3 (often humorous) scenarios in which the object found itself. The team's objective was to first create a personality (or brand) for the object, then use that as a grounding basis in which to design the type of response and expression it would display in each scenario. Using HENRI as their tool, team members prototyped expressions using light, color, pulsation patterns, brightness/dimness and sound. As they created each expression, teams could play them back using the desktop interface (which is connected to the HENRI box) to asses whether they communicated the intended message and emotion. Each team was responsible for presenting their concepts in the form of an infomercial highlighting how the object communicated with its user.
The workshop successfully saw teams work together in a very short amount of time; most participants had never thought of infusing personas into an object. They began to think from a unique perspective where the product needs to communicate more information to a person than just on, off or idle. What if it was angry, sad, or excited? Henri allows those concepts to be tested real-time, and enhance the overall capabilities of both the designer and the product. It helped people literally think outside of the box, and be productive while playing.
About the tool (HENRI)
HENRI was a speculative project initiated by the Method design team to create a tool that would allow for real-time prototyping of languages for objects. We approached the design with an understanding that the focus should fall on the results rather than on the form factor. Henri needed to be a well designed, non-distracting form that would encourage collaboration, play and rapid experimentation. It is a device that, in concept and practice, allows you to visually express an idea so that designers and design teams can experience it together. Designers no longer have to rely on ideas in abstract terms. Henri shortens the loop between having the idea, experiencing the idea, sharing and reflecting on the idea. This quicker feedback loop allows for much more iteration.