Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our 360 Flex Presentation is online!

Here you go!  

Thanks to Ted Patrick for getting this up and posting it on his blog.  I've been watching the 360 Flex RSS feed on Adobe Media Player for weeks now and never saw it, but Ted has it posted.  Enjoy, and please give us your feedback!

I've posted the slides on SlideShare here.  Email me at rj {dot} owen at if you want the originals to use for yourself.  Please feel free to use these at user groups, conferences, or to impress attractive members of the opposite sex.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Microsoft Surface in the house

I'm happy to announce today that our embargo on surface blogging has been dropped, and I can announce that we upgraded our standard coffee table to a Microsoft Surface about two months ago and have started developing some basic applications for it.

The surface comes loaded with some pretty basic applications to start - a small keyboard, some applications to demo its ability to display, resize, and manipulate photos, four-way pong, a few basic test apps showing the types of information it can process, and a water simulation that ripples when touched.

My reactions thus far have been pretty mixed.  On the one hand, nothing about the surface feels sleek, elegant, or in any way portable - it's huge and heavy - but it's alpha technology at this point and meant to be a table, so all of that should be forgiven.  It uses a camera to detect multi-touch (as opposed to pressure or heat in other devices), which has some real benefits: it's able to detect and react to many objects other than the human hand.  While the test applications aren't anything very impressive, they're fun and so intuitive that the technology is invisible, and that's what good user experience is all about.

Another thing that's worth mentioning is how helpful Microsoft has been in learning to program for the Surface.  We identified a few employees really interested in doing R&D work on the surface, and Microsoft did a lot to bring them up to speed, including conducting a special training session for them in Redmond.  Say what you will about office or Windows - Microsoft knows how to treat developers.

I'm pretty excited to see what our team comes up with for the surface.  Interfaces like this are going to be everywhere in the not-too-distant future, and it's exciting to be working with some of that technology now.

If you're in Denver and interested, stop by our office sometime and check it out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Apple did what?

For a company who's touted as having nailed user experience through simplicity, Apple's new set of iPod features are very confusing.  Here's a list of things we never wanted in our iPod, and the exclusion of which made the iPod so successful during it's early days:

- voice recording on the Nano
- 10 different colors to choose from
- "Shake to Shuffle"
- lots and lots of different price points

The voice recording is specifically weird.  Apple's been praised by numerous analysts specifically for NOT including that feature.  

The most recent place I read about this was in Subject to Change - Adaptive Path's book / video on building user experience design into your company's process and culture.  The iPod and iPhone are case studies in simplicity - in being late to market, and beating your competition by offering fewer features in better integrated systems.

I guess Apple's moved out of the "user experience" stage into the "repeat buyer" stage - they've come to dominate the market, and now they need a new gimmick to get all of their existing iPod customers to buy another.  I'm sorry, Steve - the new colors are cool and all, but at the end of the day the features I really care about haven't changed.  I don't need another one.