In the last few years, more and more people have started talking about “Virtual Reality”. The possibility of completely immersing in a virtual world via new technologies like e.g. the Oculus Rift fascinates gamers, developers and UX-Designers alike. Looking around a virtual environment by just turning your head, or moving virtual objects with your own hands, offers a completely new and extremely direct way of interacting. In consequence, many users of VR applications really feel like being inside of the virtual environment. It is exactly this feeling, called “immersion”, which makes users expect to be able to really interact with the virtual objects, just as naturally as they would with real ones. But unfortunately, this is not possible with the contemporary setups. VR-glasses just offer visual access to the virtual world. Hence, a user touching a virtual object will not feel any haptic feedback.
To discover how the integration of the tactile sense into a virtual reality application affects the immersion of their users, we at Centigrade developed the prototype “DeepGrip” – an application combining visual and haptic feedback in a virtual reality.
Bored during the train ride? Rolling Stones. Angry in a traffic jam? Slayer. Party with friends? Daft Punk. Sitting in a wing chair with a brandy in your hand? Chopin. Gang warfare? 2Pac. In the age of streaming services like Spotify, music is probably more ubiquitous than ever. Equipped with a smartphone everybody has the possibility to use an enormous database of songs. Our favorite interprets accompany us to almost every place in almost every situation. But what about the working environment? When is it acceptable to listen to music and can it help you do your job? Or is it more of an unnecessary distraction? read more…
Recently I gave a talk at the dotnet Cologne and also at the DWX Developer Week titled “4K and other challenges – Next Generation Desktop UIs for Windows 10″. The session discussed the term Universal App Platform in Windows 10 and showed what a developer can make out of it in order to create future oriented user interfaces. This blog article is not only supposed to target those who attended my session, but also those who were not present to hear it. Moreover the article will provide further information to the topic. As in the session there will be a coding part at the end where some new Universal App features are shown. read more…
Part of my Master’s thesis, which I wrote here at Centigrade as a student trainee was to design a mobile application for more sustainability in daily life. Due to the focus on personal energy consumption, the main goal of the application was to create more transparency and generate awareness of the background story of energy transition. The intended effect was to hopefully initiate a possible behavioural change of the potential users, inspired by works of serious games (for change). Essential for this project obviously was – next to a proper usability and an appealing look – to create a motivational design, which tries to engage the user on the long-term. Due to those goals, it was an easy decision to take a look at gamification and its specific possibilities regarding user motivation. But my main challenge in the generation of a concept could be summed up in the question: How to design for an unknown user?
In interface design, the term consistency is part of the professional jargon. It is used for everyday feedback and in long term concepts. It is also common ground with developers and clients. Consistency is an important evaluation criterium. Enough reasons to get a good handle on the term. read more…
I am sitting in front of my new computer – a marvel of modern technology. It is stuffed full with every imaginable designers’ software, and I ask myself: Why should I ever use pen and paper again? Is it not a lot easier to create everything digitally?
Have you had similar thoughts in the past? Or do you start creating things straight at the computer without considering anything else? read more…
The term UX design is used very often nowadays. In most cases it’s either used as synonym for interaction design, usability professional or a similar denotation or as conglomerate of all of these disciplines. It is recalled that UX design is not only a phase, but that it should be applied throughout all phases of a project. For me, the boundaries of the term are still set too narrowly. Everybody involved in the development of a product has significant impact on the resulting UX. Usability engineers, interaction designers, visual designers, design engineers, project owners and developers.
Black text on a white background is trustworthy. Even more so: black on white is a fact. It is printed and displayed on screen. The truth is said to be “black on white”. Except when it is not. In programming, the truth oftentimes is white on black. And the truth was white on a blackboard back in school. There are reasons for these exceptions and there are reasons for the rule. I’ve collected some of the reasons that might be interesting for interface designers.
On Friday, 17 October, it was that time of the year again. I had skipped the event for the last two years, this year I wanted to spend three exciting and inspiring days in Leipzig at the Developer Open Space 2014. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend Friday’s workshops. After nearly six hours travelling by car combined with a busy workday before, I fell into my hotel bed pretty much immediately and pretty much exhausted. But the following Saturday, I was up early as a bird and ready to attend the session planning.
Torsten Weber, co-organizer of the Open Space, pointed out in advance that there would be many newcomers this year. I was hoping this might bring new ideas and a breeze of fresh air. Others feared that old topics might come up again. Although that did not seem to be an issue, the session planning was a bit chewy this year.
Altogether, mainly subjects from the field of development were presented. Creative techniques, Docker as well as rights and obligations of freelancers where some of the topics. Technical issues such as wearables and smarthome, sensors for autonomous robots and kinect 2.0 were also represented. Development itself was a subject in the introduction of Angular JS, Haskell or the Rails Disco. I myself held a session presenting XamlBoard – Centigrade’s tool for managing Xaml resources. A complete overview of all topics can be found here.
Since my last visit the .NET Open Space war renamed Developer Open Space to take into account the variety of topics besides .NET. The aim of a technology-independent “Unconference” was definitely achieved this year: A little shy and aware of the crowd, a guy came forward and revealed himself as a Java developer. He was accepted into the family – unlike Frank, who asked for help with WCF performance problems and raised a big laugh. Nevertheless, Frank’s problem was discussed in an own session. The following sections show my impressions of the sessions I visited.
What is aesthetics and how can we determine it? Can usability tests be performed remotely to save time and money? And what happens to a Facebook profile when its user dies? These and many more interesting topics about human-computer interaction, user experience and usability where subject of this year’s conference Mensch und Computer 2014 (Human and Computer 2014) which took place in the premises of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. read more…
Times have changed. Back in the time, during my school days, before smartphones flooded the market, I felt naked without my watch. This most important accessory was also some kind of status symbol and could never be missing. I looked at it probably a hundred times a day, consciously or unconsciously. Every morning when I left the house and had forget the watch at home for some reason, I walked around all day with the feeling, that something important is missing.
Several years later, I got my first smartphone. read more…
Videogames are a great enrichment to our cultural environment. With advancing technology, video games become more realistic and engaging. Unfortunately, texts, sculptures, pictures, music and movies do not have the same potential letting the recipient immerse into another world (at least not without drugs). For this reason, game development has become an absolute dream job for many people. However, the conditions and requirements for that job are not as great as media suggest – at least in Germany.
In this article I will compare game- and software development showing that developing “serious” software applications can be as fulfilling as game development.
Icon design is my day-to-day business, ranging from universally applicable Home icons to very special icons for the wiring of electric relays in substations. Recently I learned that interpreters also use symbols to be able to “sketch” the meaning of spoken words quickly and recall them later. I used this occasion to take a step back and look at other helpful uses for symbols. read more…
This article is intended for developers that are creating and/or maintaining applications with a Java Swing based GUI. Though JavaFX is being pushed as the “new Swing” nowadays, Swing is still around.
Look & Feels are inextricably linked with every Swing application. Even if none is used explicitly, every time, a Swing based GUI is created, a Look & Feel cares about the look and (you may guess it) the feel of what you see and interact with on the screen.
A Look & Feel – so its official title says – is pluggable. This means you can plug a new or different one to your application (strongly simplified, as this actually goes down to the level of a single JComponent). You may now ask: “But why should I care, if I do not change the Look & Feel now?” In an ideal world, you would not need to care. But, as often when using something, there are contracts.
This is what this article is about. I want to point out why you should care and develop or even maintain your Java Swing GUI or custom component with the pluggable Look & Feel technology in mind.
Observing competitors is a common activity in user interface design. It may, e.g., take the form of the designer collecting insights regarding design approaches of relevant competitors when a project is started. Later in a project, the user interface may be benchmarked against competitors’ solutions. While including insights about competing solutions may enrich a user interface design project, such observations are also associated with some pitfalls. A user interface designer should be aware of those in order to not endanger the success of a project. This article describes some aspects to keep in mind when engaging in competitor observation. read more…
In December Centigrade carried out an evaluation of the racing game “Need for Speed: Rivals” for Electronic Arts – one of the biggest publishers and developers of computer- and videogames. Focus of the evaluation was the recording and analysis of the game experience under consideration of different situations in the game.
Based on their vast experience regarding the evaluation of computer and videogames, the pilot study was conducted by the Centigrade team of the North-Western branch under direction of Joerg Niesenhaus in close collaboration with the Deutsche Sporthochschule in Cologne. The Deutsche Sporthochschule runs a state-of-the-art interaction lab and contributed expertise in the evaluation of interactive entertainment via Dr. Carsten Moeller. read more…
Some new e-mail clients have been introduced recently. Unibox, Airmail, Mail Pilot and others feature convincing visual design, increased joy of use and intriguing interaction concepts. In my opinion, the person-centered approach of Unibox is very promising. Instead of being organized in a folder hierarchy, e-mails are sorted based on contacts (friends, colleagues, etc.), which results in speedier e-mail retrieval. In addition, one almost forgets that one is dealing with e-mails – it feels more like a conversation between two people. I wonder why nobody has thought of this approach earlier.
The redesigns have inspired me to have closer look at e-mail clients and propose some additional concepts.
In our current blog article we dive into the widely debated industry 4.0 theme and focus on the application area of industrial production and the role gamification methods could play within this area, and also which specific requirements have to be fulfilled to enable the implementation of playful elements.