Sketching 09 notes and report

2009 July 22

Sketching’09 | London
July 17-19 2009, London, UK

This year’s Sketching event is happening in Europe for the first time. It was really nice to meet again with this excellent group of people (including UID alumi Fabricio Dore). The workshop/conference is always super interesting and the people attending always something interesting to say or show. I like it a lot and huge thanks to Mike Kuniavsky and everyone who made this event possible.

Elizabeth Goodman took and published extensive notes of the presentations and activities. It is all available on her blog (search for ‘Sketching in Hardware’). Many presenters posted their presentation file here

Here are some notes and highlights for me:

Jan Borchers and René Bohne with their system, arduino-like nodes that are networkable. Simple instructions provide interesting/powerful emergent behavior in the network. The flashing/programming of the nodes is accomplished via a virus node at power up.

Dave Vondle from IDEO. He came up with with mini shields that nicely fit the Arduino Pro Mini. Looks handy

Nicholas Villar from Microsoft Resarch (Cambridge). He’s working on a new quite powerful toolkit which supports many screens/lcds, graphic APIs and such. Something that today’s toolkits fall short. He talked about technology skinning, where an nice old object is repurposed and fitted with new guts/brain. It can prolong the effective life of the item and it represents a nice challenge (it is different from prototyping, CAD representation and standard connectors help a lot).

Shigeru Kobayashi. He is always presenting something really, clever and impressive. This year he showed physical x wonderfl. I wrote a little blog post about here. He links an online Flash IDE with hardware connected to the computer. If the hardware is not present, a flash widget show how it would behave (hardware values). Clever and well realized.

Jun Usui from Yamaha presented the design process of the Tenori-On. It took many years (5-6 if I remember right) and many iterations. Some sensors (accelerometers) were dropped along the way. A ‘wow moment’ was when they figure out the ‘random mode’ 3 or more points to bounce sequences over non-regular intervals. It was very nice to try/fiddle with one unit he brought to the event.

Chris Hand. The process of sourcing, acquiring and putting together a monome-like unit is tremendously demanding and prone to mistake. So many things are not explained, information is all over the place, not easy to track. How to many this journey more accessible and enjoyable.

North Pitney. Education challenge in art & design, cinematography students. Build something out of junk, spare parts. Common problem for students: how to communicate the work. So many exhitbit have post-it note with ‘touch here’.

Kipp Bradford. New building blocks: encapsulate complexity (can dive-in if interested), true plug-n-play like Labview, share everything, use standards for simplicity.

André Knörig from Fritzing. A load of new opportunities for Fritzing: edit/share/publish own objects, pcb service tied with the application, simulator, beyond Arduino. I should check his thesis as it related to craftsmanship and new tools for designers.

Nathan Seidle from Sparkfun. In 4 years, 100$ will get you much farther. You can so a lot now. Great long jump picture analogy, lower barrier to entry.

Fabricio Dore from IDEO Munich. Prototypes experiences, not stuff! Dream toolkits: biometric, mobile, game versions. Get the prototypes out to the users, not only for designers.

Tom Taylor. papercomp/ubipaper. API to access big printing/newspaper press.

Bill Verplank. Sketching Metaphors. Haptic rope interface for synthesis/sound generation (physical interaction design for music), realized at Interval Research in the 90’s. Continuous control vs buttons. Hack an old Hard-Disk for force feedback. I should really try to have a talk with him for my PhD.

Karmen Franinovic. Enactive interfaces. Worked on Haptic Tile in Montreal.

Tom Igoe. There are no uber-protocol. You have to learn how to mitigage and mix many protocols, interfaces and all. Open Hardware for companies. Open APIs for control (i.e. ipod remote control). New warranty models for companies: restore to default state (at a small cost, maybe).

Philip Van Allen. New version of NetLab Toolkit. Simple and clever (scaling + mappings of parameters, similar to what I’ve seen at eNTERFACE’08), but doesn’t expose how things work behind the scene. Tools to support designers, but simplistic views of their activities (I feel). Nice graphs of designers’ activities in the presentation.

David Zicarelli from Cycling’74. Kenny, graphical programming language for little computer. Done in Max and generate code directly for the Arduino. Good debugging, can run in standalone while editing in Max. Very nice, and could be very powerful.

Anders Sandell. Sketching without the hardware (difficult to get and/or expensive in India). Using what is at hand. Design for play and flow using cardboard, storytelling and experience prototyping. Great work.

Ed Baafi from MIT. Scratch for Arduino. Almost done!

Ben Hammersley from Wired UK. How the sketching community is shaping its future? Incentives, how to grow, do we have a problem to solve?, we should create history so we don’t repeat ourself, what is the win condition. Check his slides for all the good stuff.

Dan Overholt from Aalborg University. CUI: CREATE USB Interface, website. PIC chip and full USB HID support. Could be used with Arduino for keyboard, mouse emulation and more.

Jo Kazuhiro. Super interesting. Using sound to sketch/drive components. Sound is easy to generate, record, playback, has natural qualities, is fast, has history, etc. Basic hardware to process, can multiplex sensors. Remote control using Skype and audio channel as wireless data-stream. Very clever. Record data as sound instead of logging.

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino from Documentation is difficult. A constant struggle for Tinker. How to democratize and open it up, but it cost money to document properly. Why few startup in physical computing/IxD after academia?

Jeff Hoefs from Smart Design. Sketching Product Experiences, a nice presentation with what is very close to how we view interaction design at UID. Sketching is not prototyping, both have their place in the development of new object/system.

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