18 May

Adobe Kuler app – essential!

I am going to start by saying this app is absolutely fantastic.

Also as a website, which most designers will be familiar with, this free app is an essential for experimenting with and choosing colour schemes. It selects colours from a photo you can either take or upload, and allows you to save these themes and share them (after signing in with your Adobe ID).

photo201photo202photo203

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really find this a useful tool when designing, or simply to play around with for fun! It is interesting to see the colours translating directly from a photograph. I also like how you can search for photographs from Google or Flickr inside the app.

Have a go… only on iOS currently. Unfortunately Android users will have to wait. Or try something like the SwatchMatic app, and let me know how you find it.

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14 May

Infographic CVs

There are some very interesting ways to attract attention to yourself online. An infographic CV is one of those more classy methods. Here are a selection of ones I like (and mine, which you can judge for yourself…)

 

Eric Bar

There is an unfortunate typo, but the design is great, it’s very clear. Negative space is actually a positive thing!

Eric Bar - http://www.sheket.net

© Eric Bar – http://www.sheket.net

 

Mohit Lakhmani

This one is very creative. I immediately followed him on Behance. Check out the brilliance of this paper infographic CV…

3D Embossed Paper Crafted Infographic Resume by Mohit Lakhmani

3D Embossed Paper Crafted Infographic Resume by Mohit Lakhmani

 

Sylwia Presley

This one was designed by Damage Von Rock, and posted on planetdamage.com

View the 'how to' on planetdamage.com

View the ‘how to’ on planetdamage.com

 

Ashley Nye

And lastly… my infographic, designed to blend in with my portfolio siteInfographic CV

Note: if you would like your infographic CV critiqued and displayed here, please email me.

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12 May

Creative Design Lab: Wearable technology week 2

The first thing I did this week was to consider the senses, as it is wearable technology this is a very important factor, and could be a major advantage. I created the following mind maps about possible inputs and outputs of my wearable technology.

senses

I also found this interesting project, when researching wearable tech, that involves a 3d printed cast that emits ultrasound pulses to aid healing. There are all sorts of advantages to wearing technology, and incorporating senses into the design, making the computer part of the human body.

photo credit: A' Design Awards.

photo credit: A’ Design Awards.

SIX HATS

all hatsI then went over my idea using Edward de Bono’s idea of six thinking hats.

The six hats method is to wear (or imagine wearing) a coloured hat. There are six different colours in total, and each colour represents a different way of thinking. While wearing each hat, the colour of the hat defines the way in which the wearer should think.

It is a really useful to practice the technique of separating ways of thinking, to see your project from other perspectives and see things you wouldn’t otherwise.

The six hats are:

The green hat

The hat of creativity, focusing on new solutions to problems and different ideas.

Green hat text

The black hat

The hat of pessimism, looking for all the negative points, being cautious and defensive.

Black hat text

The white hat

The hat of logic, only dealing with facts and data.

White hat text

The yellow hat

The hat of positivity, seeing the benefits and value.

Yellow hat text

The red hat

The hat of emotion, instinct and gut-feeling.

Red hat text

The blue hat

The hat that controls the session, the chairman of the meeting.

Blue hat text

All these hats, used individually, can be a very useful tool. It can really help to look at an idea or problem from a different standpoint.

I then moved on to use the 9×9 method, where I sketched out three ideas to solve the problem of a child waking during the night. I then passed it to Sam who filled in the the next three boxes with ideas that expanded on mine. I then filled in the next three boxes, adding to the last sketches. The outcome is below.

9x9

From there, I made more lists about how to solve the particular problems of heating and cooling the child.

waysofheatingcooling

COOLING

I quickly discovered that more research was needed into the latest technology, to find out what is/will be possible with fabrics, especially with regards to temperature control. There is something called Coolcore that uses a blend of yarns to draw sweat away from the body and dry it quicker. There are a lot of other ‘unique blends’ of fabric that offer this kind of ‘technology’, including Sportingtex and Komfortas. There is also a company, Mountain Hardwear that markets a product, Cool.Q ZERO, where the fabric is said to contain an ‘active cooling agent next to your skin that reacts with your sweat to lower the temperature of the fabric’.

This sort of technology could be included in my wearable technology design. The problem with the first set of cooling fabrics is that there is no way of turning them off and on. The last uses sweat to activate the cooling process, so would be suitable on a child if sweating during the night occurs.

I also found Columbia’s Omni-Freeze Zero claims to do the same thing. There is a lot of new technology in this field, specifically created as sportswear for use by athletes while exercising. This could easily be transferred to my project.

HEATING

Heating is a lot easier, as things like the electric blanket have been around for a considerable amount of time. The electric blanket itself was invented in 1912. Since then, there have been lots of inventions around the same theme. One project I found was heated slippers. The technology is definitely there, to allow for fibres to be woven into the garment and switched on if the wearer’s temperature has been read as too low.

MOISTURE

I also came up with the idea in the 9×9 grid of having a vest that had sensors built into the poppers that could alert the parents if the child is wet. Urine is an irritant, and could cause rashes and broken skin if left too long. The alarm system will help to prevent this.

VITAL SIGNS

To find out what else parent’s want in a gadget for children, I looked at what is currently on the market. I already own a baby monitor that connects to a sensor pad, which sets off an alarm if no movement is detected after 20 seconds. The pad is sensitive enough to detect breathing when placed under the mattress.

I found this really interesting article on Gizmag that outlines some new projects and advances in wearable technology – particularly new fabrics. The BioMan Fabric from AiQ is described in the post as ‘made from a conductive fabric sewn together from stainless steel yarns. It monitors vital signs, such as heart rate, respiration rate and skin temperature, and with integrated Bluetooth connectivity, sends that information to a smartphone for analysis’. This would be perfect for monitoring the vital signs of an infant during the night.

I am going to use all this research and the creative techniques to design nightwear for an infant/child.

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09 May

Little Lessons: OSI Layer 7 – The Application Layer

The application layer is the 7th in the OSI model. It provides services for an app, including preparing human communication for transmission over the data network, as well as ensuring that effective communication is feasible.

This of the OSI model as a bit like an assembly line. Each layer prepares the data for the next one. The 7th layer interacts with the application whenever the user performs any network activities like transferring files or reading emails.

Application layer protocols provide the rules for communication between applications. The protocols define the processes on either end of the communication, the types and syntax of any messages, how they are sent, the expected response and the interaction with the next layer in the OSI model.

The most well-known application layer protocols are the ones that provide for the exchange of user information. These are necessary for many of the common internet communication functions. They include protocols for email such as Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and for the web like HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) among many others used in the application layer.

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05 May

Creative Design Lab: Wearable technology week 1

This wearable technology project starts with some research into two existing projects referred to in the Microsoft Research report:

1. Ambient Wood, a project that combines a physical environment with augmented reality, for the purpose of creating a fun and interactive learning experience for children.

2. Whereabouts Clock which uses SMS messaging to alert a device when a family member moves location. The location is displayed on the clock device.

I begun by looking at different sorts of ‘wearables’ that technology could be integrated into. I used the A-Z method, to quickly come up with a range of different things and start thinking creatively.

atoz

The two groups of people I’m going to be looking at designing for specifically in this project are children and the elderly. The first thing I did was create a series of mind maps, focusing on the problems and desires of these particular groups.

childrenelderlymindmaps

From this, I decided to concentrate on the topic of children having trouble sleeping. The task that needs to take place is to adjust sleeping conditions to help the child back to sleep. I created a task analysis flow diagram to consider the actions needed for this.

flowchart

Other functions that could be added include sensing if the child is wet, dehydrated or a sensor that sends information to a separate device to monitor the child’s sleeping pattern.

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28 Apr

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 5

Today, I presented my project and received feedback on my location-based game.

Overall, the response was positive, but there was some confusion as to where the starting point was.

I had assumed that when the user goes to the park, as there is only one entrance, the tasks have to be completed in order. Although, I have overlooked that the user could become confused, miss sections out or just get lost. I adjusted my game according to this feedback. I added a quest (the only quest that comes up in the beginning) that directs the user to the meeting place. After the meeting place plaque is viewed, the next quest to collect ten pieces of treasure appears.

 

quest beginning

It was simple things like this that really made the presentation and testing worthwhile.

I also added a logo and splash page photo to my game, to help make it stand out from others in the list. I decided to use the coin image I’ve used throughout the game for consistency and to highlight the fact that it is a treasure hunt game.

AbbottsWoodGame

In terms of the characters and storyline, the feedback was encouraging and I think that children would enjoy playing the game as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

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10 Apr

Making a portfolio website

I have been working on a new portfolio site to show my work and some of the skills I have learnt over the last six months.

With a good working knowledge of HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery, as well as an eye for design, amazing things can be made. Here is a collection of helpful blog posts, tutorials and code that can help make your website a little bit fantastic.

1. MEDIA QUERIES – CSS TRICKS

Responsive is key. We all need to be doing it. I spend a massive amount of my web browsing time on a smartphone. One train journey makes it apparent that phones and tablets are a huge portion of web traffic. Even on this blog, my analytics show that 27.76% of site views have been on a mobile or tablet.

analytics mobile usage

Basically, too much to ignore. So my portfolio site uses media queries to set up a specific mobile site (and less drastic changes for tablet) found here at CSS-Tricks.

Ashley Nye responsive design

2. JQUERY PLUGINS – UNHEAP

Everybody could use a bit of JQuery, not to rely on, but to enhance. It’s a very quick, easy way to make your website do cool stuff. And grab a load of cool at Unheap.

3. PRINCIPLES TO CODE BY – SMASHING MAGAZINE

This is a great little article on keeping it clean by Chris Coyier. Ok, so there is no rulebook (as much as I wish there was) but there are certain things you can do to make your code cleaner, more beautiful and crucially easier to read and edit. This is a must, in a world where time is money.

This can also help satisfy the perfectionist in you. Everybody wins.

4. BROWSER SUPPORT TABLES – CAN I USE

Can I use…? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if the answer was always yes. Sadly, though, that is not the case. Worst case scenario is (and rather foolishly, but we’ve all done it…) after painstakingly perfecting your site on one browser, you nervously open it in another to find it looks like someone with a grudge against you hacked your server.

Save time and energy checking browser compatibility before you code.

5. VALIDATE, VALIDATE, VALIDATE – W3C VALIDATION

For HTML and for CSS, it is extremely important to make sure there are no errors in your code, and periodic checks will save lots of time later on. Mistakes are made by everyone, so whether you are a beginner or expert, validating code is crucial.

6. WHAT IS POSSIBLE WITH JAVASCRIPT

This isn’t really helping you to make a portfolio site, but it is inspiring. If you want a little motivation, take a look at this blog post on develop-a-website.com that showcases some amazing JavaScript experiments. So you’re not about to install a sheet of tearable cloth on your portfolio, but it’s still worth taking a look.

I’m impressed enough to say, I’m going to learn to be a better coder.

Tearable cloth

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07 Apr

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 4

I have spent this week putting together the narrative game.

The plot goes as follows:

1. User goes to the meeting point, which opens the first quest, along with a quest to collect ten pieces of treasure.

2. User must walk along the path to find the tall trees.

3. When the user has found the trees, a character pops up.

4. The character is a pine cone called Betty, who asks for help. She wants to find her friend Peter. She says she will give you a reward as a thank you for helping.

5. The user then can talk to Peter, then again to Betty who gives you a piece of treasure as a reward.

6. Further along the trail, there are some flowers. There is some treasure amongst them.

The game continues along this theme of helping creatures/collecting treasure. The aim is to get the user to feel compelled to complete the game, and in doing so walk along the trail, as well as looking and interacting with nature.

Editing the ARIS game online.

Editing the ARIS game online.

I found using the online editor very easy to use. It’s possible to get a game up and running in a very short amount of time.

I edited the notes I made on the map to make sure my game followed the correct path, and linked to the location of objects (using the GPS on my smartphone – see week 2).InventoryScreenshot

The treasure collected goes into the users inventory.

It was really important to test the game as I was creating it. Testing the prototype highlighted issues with the gameplay and various loopholes. One important one was I realised that after finding Peter, the user could talk to Betty and collect the treasure from her an infinite number of times, thus completing the game. I went back into the editor, and created a requirement that meant the treasure could only be collected from her once. Each piece of treasure had to have this requirement, allowing each player to collect the treasure only once, but allowing an infinite number of players.

There are a lot of elements that I added to the game as I discovered what was possible with ARIS. For example, I added a piece of treasure that only popped up when the user followed the instructions to find and take a picture of an insect and upload it to the the map. I added this piece of treasure to the map with a requirement that the user has to have ‘created a note with an image near’ the location. The only downside with this is the image could be of anything… it would be good if there could be some sort of recognition for specific items. At the moment, there is quite a lot of responsibility placed on the user to play the game correctly.

PeterScreenshot

I tested the game using the ‘quick travel’ feature, which allows the user to cheat the location aspect.

The game could be expanded to have different levels, longer paths and different areas of the park. As this is the first game I’ve created using ARIS, most of this project has been about ideas generation and learning the boundaries of the technology.

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31 Mar

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 3

This week I started with character design and storyboarding for my narrative game.

My character is based on the image of a pine cone I took last week on location.

Character design

I really like the idea of having good and bad characters. The one I’ve made is quite cheeky, playful and childlike. After creating the character’s personality and other details, I begun playing around with Morfo. It is a downloadable app that allows for quick creation of animations based on a photograph.

This is the first video I made playing around with this idea on Morfo.

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