Project Natal

Obviously Microsoft feels the need to claim back some market share the Nintendo Wii took away with a new controller type. Project Natal is utilizing a range of biometric sensors for body motion, face and voice recognition.

The video is more a vision than an actual feature presentation. But it is clear what the goals are.

Here is another Video from the demonstration that shows what is possible right now:

Copenhagen UI concept

Via blogblog: Here is a user experience concept study that is a mockup of a new Windows UI – and it is not designed by Microsoft but by a guy named Cullen Dudas.

Looks good. Would love to see more. I hope Microsoft comes up with some UI innovations in Windows 7 that really serve the user.

Director 11 – there’s life in the old dog yet

This is a surprise: Adobe announced Director 11 – the follow-up release to Director MX 2004. After years of speculation Adobe seems to be committed to develop Director further.

There is a rough comparison chart on the Adobe site which compares Director to Flash. I am not quite convinced the advantages of Director over Flash will set it apart and (re-)create its own market (or re-create its former market). The ubiquity of the Flash plug-in, YouTube & Co, ActionScript 3 and Flex have brought a lot of seriousness to the Flash platform in the past 3-4 years.

Alahup CMS

Alahup CMS

The CMS Alahup! seems to endorse a lot of the interaction design techniques of Web 2.0 applications (blind ups & downs, yellow flashes, spinning activity icons, etc) even though it appears to be a desktop application. The website states that the interface is based on Flash. So this application may well be an example what can happen when you pair Flash with the standard GUI and AJAX approaches.

Screenshot of the Alahup application

Besides of that it also seems to be a very easy to use CMS for smaller and middle sized sites (although I suspect the UI is not very accessible). The documentation for developers seems to be very good as well. On the site there are demo movies, a list of user features and developer features – and a blog. If you like PHP and Smarty then Alahup is worth a look.

Pavel

Pavel

This is very interesting: a multi-user note-taking web-application. Click on this screenshot to get to the 5 minute screencast:

Pavel Screencast

I’d describe Pavel as some kind of “JotSpot Live with tinderbox-ish Notes” (see JotSpot Live and Tinderbox). The secret of the synchron updates of web pages between users is some code called LivePage. It is part of Nevow and that is part of Twisted (which is implemented with Python). Here is an article about Nevow. and some more detailed documentation as well. Twisted has become a grown up in the area of web application framworks. It is extremely powerful as it offers string modules & classes for almost anything you can do with a network attached to a computer. It offers ready made tools for activities many Ruby and PHP developers don’t even remotely heard about! Pavel is just an example.

Google Maps via Flash

Paul Neave shows how to integrate Google Maps with Flash. Amazing! This example shows the power of Web APIs combined with a cutting edge interactive tool like Flash (you even can rotate the maps via the compass wheel). Now he just needs to find a way to allow people to seamlessly replace the DHTML application provided by Google with his Flash client.

Paul has also some other very nice experiments in his Flash lab.

Audioscrobbler turned Last.fm – redesigned

I wrote about Audioscroblbler before. Now I found they’ve merged it with their Last.fm service and also reworked their design – and it seems they improved usability a lot.

Interestingly they offer blogs and tagging (they seem to have learned the lessons). The personal radio now can be used with a separate client (which is not yet available on OS X, so I can’t test it). Anyway Last.fm is a very useful way to get introduced to new music I probably like: I just have to browse the playlists of my neighbours.

I remember a similar feature back in the Napster days in 1999/2000: you could browse the music libraries of remote users that seem to share your music taste and learn about artists you never heard before. Last.fm and iTunes Music Store would make a good team. The “users that bought this also bought that”-pattern is too simple to be a real value.

Update: Last.fm just released an OS X Player.

Location based services (update)

A follow-up to yesterdays post:

Tim Bruysten adds some context and links to an interesting project: Loopcity by Dietmar Offenhuber. Markus Neckar pointed me to the MacOS X menubar extra for Plazes by Martin Pittenauer. This makes it very easy to have the system announcing itself to the Plazes service (btw this is one of the developers of Plazes.com).

And Martin Röll said: nice but useless, yet. Maybe. Maybe not. Plazes does not really take much advantage from it’s data. I can’t see the contacts of my contacts for example. Uploading single photos via web form is not very nice. I envisage some kind of droplet (like the Flickr uploader) that will attach files to the current plaze or offer a comment browser/entry form when clicked. Also a screensaver displaying the latest comments and users of the current place and the palces nearby…

Location based services

Until now the topic of »location based services« has been more a theoretical discussion about geological references to online data. Now there are obvioulsy a number of developments (and some rumors) that try to create datasets with longitude/latitude metadata.

First of all hardware: The problem if tagging information with geological locations could be solved by hardware very soon. Cheap GPS hardware could be integrated in mobile phones, digital cameras and laptops. In fact there is a rumor that Apple is going to integrate GPS hardware into the next generation of PowerBooks.

Secondly the applications: The geo-tagging of data creates a connection of the docuverse with the real world. Here are two examples: www.plazes.com and www.geobloggers.com. Once the hardware is capable of recording geological positions and automatically querying the net with locations applications like these will automatically emerge. It is creating a new dimension for data as such.

George Olsen offers a toolkit for creating personas

GUUUI.com points me to a helpful document (PDF):

George Olsen has developed a persona toolkit, which can help you build detailed profiles of users, their relations to a product (e.g. a website), and the context in which they use a product. The toolkit is pretty extensive, but intended to be based on a pick-and-choose approach.
George Olsen also gives advice on how to collect information. Ideally, personas should be based on interviewing and direct observation, but you can also get useful information from alternative sources, such as domain experts, research, and artefacts that reveal information about the users’ context.