Archive for the ‘Product Design’ Category

Phonebloks is a really nice idea… but it won’t work :’-(

Phonebloks is a concept mobile phone that has taken social networks by storm in the past few days. Conceived by Dutch designer Dave Hakkens, it is meant as a solution to the e-waste problem generated by a smartphone industry which has shipped more than 225 million units in the last few months alone.

It sounds like an excellent, exciting new idea and it certainly has generated a lot of buzz on the interwebs (every single designer friend I have has posted something related on facebook), but unfortunately the bottom line is: it WOULDN’T WORK :’-(

Google’s Project Glass: Interesting concept with a LOOOT of work ahead of it

Google just released a video for Project Glass, one of their Google[x] projects dealing with augmented reality deployed through a set of glasses (or a similarly placed gear).

Some have been quick to pinpoint some of the technical problems faced by the project, but of course, we should take the video with a pinch of salt, as it is but a concept design to illustrate what their vision is with the whole thing.

What I really find interesting about it, is that Google is thinking of a true Augmented Reality application. Forget about the bullshit, gimmicky AR applications in which you must point something to a camera and see a 3D model being put in it’s place while you watch yourself on a screen, what we are talking about here is more akin to Layar, but then without the awkward interaction of having to see things through a small “window” (your mobile device), instead you get to see everything in your own field of view.

360 UI & Interaction Trend Report… this baby is finally done!

Finally! After a good couple of months of research and analysis, our UI+Interaction Trend Report ’10-’11 is finally finished and ready for our clients to take advantage of it.

The borders between purely physical products and the digital world are becoming increasingly blurred. Over the last 40 years, with the price and size of components steadily dropping and microprocessor capabilities constantly increasing, products have the potential of becoming more and more intelligent. This translates into new, exciting features for the users, but it also poses challenges for designers on how to manage the added complexity through an easy to use and efficient interface that allows smart products to fulfill their promise of making life a little easier and more pleasurable.

We at VanBerlo, believe that a proper understanding of the present and  future of people’s interaction with products will create great new possibilities in the world of design and therefore, as part of my work at one of Europe’s leading design studios, I had the responsibility to develop our very first trend report focusing on the world of interaction and user interface design.

These award winning trend reports are part of VanBerlo’s  360 creative services offer and they focus on providing up to date, global and detailed insights into the relevant trends in product development.

As a special treat, here’s a sneak preview of some of the content you’ll find in our full, 160 pages long report (including high resolution photos and HD videos) .

RepRap: Be fruitful and multiply!

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and  multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over  the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living  thing that moveth upon the earth”

Genesis 1:28

I’m not a religious person at all, but this quote from Genesis illustrates very nicely the awesome powers that were bestowed by “the dude upstairs” upon that couple of naked people living in his garden: Usefulness and Self reproduction!

This gave way to the opportunity to get more of these  naked people to walk around, do some cool things which could help themselves and others and eventually create some more naked people of their own to keep the ball rolling.

Well this amazing power is exactly what the guys behind the RepRap project gave to their open source rapid prototyping machine. That’s right, it’s a SELF REPLICATING RAPID PROTOTYPING MACHINE! it creates useful things for us and has the ability to create a copy of itself so that others can take advantage of it too. How awesome is that??

Sustainable packaging? Bring out the popcorn!

Another way of 'recycling' packing peanuts?

For my first post of the year I received the inspiration from a Christmas present my sister received while I was visiting her.

I’ve always had the habit of keeping the little styrofoam packing peanuts of any package I receive so that I can reuse them whenever I have to send something out myself. It saves me money and I ensure that the material is used at least once more. Sadly though, I’m sure that this is not something that everybody does and undoubtedly most of these peanuts end up in the trash after a single use, contributing to our waste problems.

But what’s the alternative? Well, as I mentioned, my sister received this gift during the holidays which I thought was brilliantly simple and a very nicely thought alternative. It was a little box with shower and bath soaps which used POPCORN (!!!) instead of styrofoam.

Novility HELP: A hospitality training system based on motion tracking


Relevant keywords

Motion tracking, Hospitality training, Gamification, Ergonomics, Agile development, Start up, New product development

Design goal

Create a Kinect based training system for the hotel industry that teaches housekeepers the correct procedures, ergonomic movements and required English language skills to perform their job efficiently, effectively and free of injuries.

Specific role & contribution

  • Product owner in charge of defining all mayor features from the very beginning
  • Part of the project planning and management team under an Agile development, including set up of bi-weekly sprints and monitoring of progress
  • Head of the design team, leading analysis, conceptualization and styling of product features
  • Lead for design research activities, such as observational research, interviews and user testing
  • Direct communication with developers
  • Art director for all graphical communication material

Sapiens: Solutions for deep brain stimulation


Relevant keywords

Brain surgery, Medical software, UI design, Process analysis, Workshops

Design goal

Analyse the product offering of Sapiens, to identify the design challenges faced by their new brain stimulation products. A special emphasis is laid on the design and styling of their medical software for brain surgery planning.

Specific role & contribution

  • Organization and execution of workshops with medical experts 
  • Analysis of collected insights
  • Mapping out the brain surgery procedure in order to identifying challenges and opportunities
  • Assist in the analysis of current product
  • Assist in the conceptualization and wire-framing of the planning software
  • Assist in the implementation of the styling to different screens

Atag Magna: User experience design of an electrical oven

Atag - Combi Steam Oven


Relevant keywords

User interface design, Kitchen appliances, Observational research, Focus group, Prototyping, Workshops, Red Dot Award

Design goal

Development of a touch interface for a new line of high-end ovens for Atag. A user centred design approach was used to ensure that the features available would be in line with what people actually want to use in their kitchens. The product should be able to support the experienced cook while at the same time guiding the novice.

Specific role & contribution

  • Project planning and management, including preparation of quotes and direct communication with client
  • Organize and facilitate the research activities. Analyse and draw results from research
  • Responsible for 90% of conceptualization
  • Art direction, including the creation of detailed styling mock-ups
  • Planning and execution of a qualitative testing protocol for usability testing

Bosch – Nefit Easy: User experience design of a smart thermostat


Relevant keywords

Home appliances, smart home, touch thermostat, User interface design, GIO Award 2013

Design goal

As part of the latest trends of smart home appliances, Nefit commissioned VanBerlo with the design of their newest smart thermostat, the Nefit Easy. The project included the design of the user interface in terms of logic and styling.

Specific role & contribution

  • Direct communication with the client
  • Created the styling proposal for the UI in association with the industrial designer in charge of the hardware
  • Early prototypes of initial ideas
  • Conceptualization and final screen mock-ups

JFTOT: User experience design for a family of industrial lab equipment


Relevant keywords

Laboratory instruments, User interface harmonization, GIO Award 2013, American Good Design Award 2013

Design goal

PAC commissioned VanBerlo with the task of performing a portfolio-wide harmonization of their user interfaces, based on the design and styling developed during a previous project. This harmonization was to be started with the design of JFTOT, the newest addition to their growing family of industrial lab equipment.

Specific role & contribution

  • Project planning and management, including preparation of quotes and direct communication with client
  • On-site visits and direct communication with developers
  • Initial analysis of the benefits of a UI harmonization
  • Conceptualization and wire-framing for JFTOT’s UI

ROSE: Analysis of user insights for a social care robot


Relevant keywords

Remotely operated robot, Elderly, Nurses, Research, Cultural Probes, Creative focus groups

Design goal

Project TSR (Teleoperated Service Robot) was subsidized by the Dutch ministry of Economic affairs and the province of Noord-Brabant, and carried out by a consortium of research institutes and private companies. The goal of the project was to develop ROSE, a tele-operated robot for home care applications.

VanBerlo, as one of the consortium’s partners, was tasked with the analysis of user needs for the robot’s use in the care of elderly and disabled people.

Specific role & contribution

  • Direct communication with the research partners
  • Design, production and deployment of cultural probes
  • Organisation and facilitation of creative focus groups
  • Analysis of research and definition of early use cases

VIDA Density Meter: UX design for industrial lab equipment


Relevant keywords

Laboratory instruments, user interface design

Design goal

A more user friendly interface was required as part of the latest version of the VIDA density meter, in order to support the less experienced users that PAC is targeting with the new design of the equipment.

Specific role & contribution

  • Project planning and management, including preparation of quotes and direct communication with client
  • On-site visits and direct communication with developers
  • Conceptualization and wire-framing
  • Overseeing of styling activities

TomTom: Internal structure and UI design for in-car navigation system


Relevant keywords

In-car navigation, Touch screen, Android, User interface, Flowcharts, Agile

Design goal

TomTom commissioned VanBerlo to assist in the design of their new android based in-car navigation system. The main focus was laid on defining the internal structure of the system and designing the destination selection and settings screens.

Specific role & contribution

  • Working on-site with TomTom software engineers as part of their Agile team
  • Definition of system structure and internal navigation
  • Conceptualization and wire-framing
  • Creation and styling of mock-up screens

Symposium Advanced Automotive Design at the TU Delft

Last Friday (Sept. 25th), I attended the Symposium Advanced Automotive Design organized at the TU Delft as part of the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Industrial Design Faculty. It was a very nice event in which top designers from the automotive industry (all of them TU Delft alumni) shared a bit of their work and experience as designers for these well known firms as well as giving us their view of the future of automotive design.

The keynote speakers were Fedde Talsma (Exterior Chief Designer at Volvo), Adrian van Hooydonk (Design Director at BMW) and Lowie Vermeersch (Design Director at Pininfarina) who were asked to choose a fragment of a movie as introduction to their talk. We also enjoyed shorter presentations by other TU Delft designers working for Ducati, Alfa-Romeo, DAF, Mercedes and Audi.

Developing a tool to assess emotions elicited by services – MSc. graduation presentation (Video & Pics)

So… it’s been a little over a week since I did the presentation for my Design for Interaction MSc. graduation project (Developing a tool to assess emotions elicited by services), and since I went off on a short one week vacation right after that, I didn’t have the time to post the video and some photos of the presentation during that time.

But as I promised some people, today I finally got back and had some spare time to upload everything. So above,you can take a look at the video of the presentation (takes about 45 minutes including the questions round). The file is quite big (around 500 Mb) because I couldn’t

The delivery of the future: From A to Green


I’ve been quite busy the last few weeks working on my MSc. graduation project, and so I haven’t had much time to do any new updates here, but since a while ago I found out that one of the projects I worked on had been published on the website of the European Commission for Transport, I figured that was worth a mention.

As I’ve showed in previous posts, I worked together with a group of colleagues in a project developing a new concept for delivery trucks of the future. My posts were focusing mainly on the application of the Vision in Product Design approach (ViP), which was just but a part of the project.

Later in the process, this vision and future product which we had designed was translated into a product that could be introduced to the market in the near future and it had a strong relation to the Civitas initiative sponsored by the European Union