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I have to create ANOTHER blog for DECO !!!! Hate it.

TANGIBLE TO EMBODIED INTERACTION

This week, the lecture is about tangible interaction. Because touch is not equal to tangible, we should consider the look and feel of the product when we build it. A good tangible interaction design can allow users to manipulate directly. For example, it can raise the importance of perception, and it will allow users to view cursor on screen as extension of hand.

We know that Google is working on this aspect. It is designing a special pair of glasses which can replace the smart phones. And moreover, it will add human’s actions into account. If you want to know what’s the time at the moment, maybe you just say “tell me the time” , and then, a floating clock will come in front of you.

 

Remote Mouse is such an app which has the potential to be developed into tangible interaction product. Users can turn their iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless touchpad and keyboard when using this app then they can take control of their presentations from anywhere in the room. Also, why I like this app is: my computer is next to my bed and I use it as a remote to control it as I watch movies!  Lazy mode engaged!

However, to make Remote Mouse to a real tangible design, we should add more elements in it. For example, we can use sound. I hope we can use our iPhone as a smart inter phone, and when way say “shut down my mac”, the computer will follow the rule and shut down itself. Also, we can use actions. When we swing the smart phones, some signals will be sent to the computers and the computers can do whatever we want automatically.

I don’t think this idea is far away from us. Who had thought that people could use portable telephones called smart mobile phones in 1970’s? The technologies nowadays are growing dramatically fast without our awareness . It is said that the Google Glass will be published in the beginning of 2013, therefore, I am sure the future is for the tangible interaction products.

Ubiquitous Computing

This week, our topic is about ubiquitous computing. The concept of ubiquitous computing was proposed by Mark Weiser in the late 80s of the last century. Mark Weiser thought that future computers would gradually disappear from people’s lives, and they would be a part of the enviornment. He also defined three types of ubiquitous computing devices: Tab – centimeter-level device, which could be very convenient to carry and move, and had a network connection and positioning functions; Pad – decimeter-level device, the size of an A4 the paper quite, which could be moved, but did not facilitate the long-term carry; Board – meter-scale devices, were generally placed in a fixed position, which could support the use of shared.

Until today, 20 years later, if looking around, we can still find that the electronic equipments around us are classified as the three devices, which refers to mobile phones, tablets and computers.

GeoLife is a good example. This application connects users’ smart phones to Geolife tracking system, and get information about current locations of their phones. Here is a graph that shows how Geolife works.

 

By uploading your GPS data and associated multimedia content like photos to the website of GeoLife, you can interact with your trajectory like playing a video. First, you can enjoy and memorize your past experiences on a map. Second, you can share it with your friends. Thus, your friends can know where you have been, see what you saw and understand the whole journey within a few seconds. It is more intuitive and convenient than writing and reading a blog.

 

Mobile phone’s main usage is changing to taking photos , sending and receiving emails, browsing web, gaming and social networking from simple calling and sending messages. Its ability has been closed to a traditional computer. In the future, by the use of  ubiquitous computing technology, mobile phones will be even more useful than the computers.

Ozsale, an emotional design application

This week, the focus is emotional design that the aim is to make clients happy during the process. To be attractive, the app need to have three levels of processing: visceral, behavioural and reflective. From my personal experience, I believe Ozsale is such a mobile device.

Ozsale is an online shopping application which offers users big discounts on some goods. It will post several brands’ products every morning at 6:30am, and the prices are really attractive! I think it does good at the visceral design aspect because it is fun and simple. However, we need to decide quickly whether to buy or not, or everything will be gone because others will rush to buy it. So that’s why I have to get up early and open the Ozsale to do the panic buying everyday! Haha. Also, the app use bright colours in the cover picture to encourage users to click and have a look.

The behavioural design aspect of Ozsale performs well. It is usable and understandable.  The looking, buying and checking out  steps are easy and safe. It will take me no more than three minutes to finish the whole procedure. Then, my money is missing from my credit card.

This app also has reflective design elements. After checking out, I will get email confirmation and parcel ID which make me feel good and satisfied. And if there are some problems when sending my products, the company will contact me through telephone in time. Therefore, all the services make me to trust the app.

From my point of view, all the online shopping apps should put emotional design into the design pattern. Because only happy clients will buy more products and spend more money.

A probe app — Find My iPhone

In this week’s lecture, we talked a lot about the cultural, domestic and technology probes. From my point of view, probes are everywhere in our daily lives.  There have been a great many of products of probes, for example, pinhole camera, photogram paper, and even dream recorder.  Actually, we can say we cannot avoid using a probe, not to say whether they are participatory. It reminds me with a very popular probe app  called Find My iPhone. It is a probe using technology to help you to find the iPhones if you know the account number and its password.

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Although, it is designed to  let you use another iOS device to find your missing iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac and protect your data, people seldom use it for such reason. For me, I always track my boyfriend’s location by using this app. Therefore, it is useful and encouragingly playful. Also, there are some elements of risk because it is not good to see other’s privacy even though he is your boyfriend. Moreover, it may return nothing except the location; in other words, it may be useless because you just know something but couldn’t do anything about it.

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Here is a joke about the technology probe that I’d like to share with you.

On the phone:

Girl: ” Dear, where are you?”(^_^)☆

Boy: “ Well, I am studying at home!” (*_*) Actually he is dating with another lady.

Girl: “Good boy, please Check In with your Facebook and say love me!”o(^_^)o

Boy: “⋯⋯⋯⋯⋯⋯”

Look, how well can probes work!

How to lower the technical and knowledge threshold for users

This week, there is no lecture. But the contact paper that Dan provided is very interesting. It is about how to lower the technical and knowledge threshold for users to to access the benefits of deployed mobile Information and Communication Technology solutions.

Actually, from my point of view, nearly all the apps are easy to understand and use. I needn’t to read the whole descriptions of them before installing. Just by reading the names and seeing the dashboards, I will be 90% sure of what the apps are. However, when it comes to my mom, she will have no idea of how to use some of them. Smart phone’s history is too young and it will be updated very fast that even I could  not understand some apps in the future. So, how to make it easy to access for next generation is very essential.  I believe, the simple, the better.

FastMall allows its users to find near malls, favorite stores and parking places with no such requirements of Wifi or GPS. (That is really good! How knows what the next generation of smart phone will be!) It also shows all the elevator routes as well as the stairs ones. Their users need to type in what they want to go or just click the store name from the drop down button, and then they will see the highlighted paths that lead to their destinations. Moreover, people can save stores in this app, so the next time, it will be easier and for them to come again.

I am not sure what the new interaction forms and applications will be, but I hope it can be possible to create and deploy newapplications and services for a large target group that were not previously possible orfeasible and thus help bringing sustainable ICT solutions to people and communitiesin developing regions.

Research on Online Hearing Test iPhone Apps

This week, we  come back to learn the  Mobile Interaction Design parts of the apps on mobile, I am so happy because I like design but don’t like technology. There are 10 rules of the heuristic guide for mobile design.  As I am doing a research on online hearing test these days with my supervisor, I pay more attention on these parts. For example, the UI, the demo and the feelings. So this week, I will talk about the hearing test apps and my understanding of this week’s lecture.

According to the App Store, there are 44 apps about hearing test. 12 out of them are free and the highest cost of the paid ones is $2.99. Also, there are three apps that not write in English (Germen, French and Arabic).

Similarities:

1, Pure-tone test is one of the must way contained in every hearing test app.

2, Nearly all of the apps are using ‘ages’ to describe the sensibilities of the users’ ears.
3, After the tests, all the apps will give users the results of how good their ears are and what to do if they want to get better (ex: tips, local clinics, buy hearing aids). Also, you can choose to save the results.

4, Most apps will show the audiograms (to make sure the reliability) to the users and the graphs of color levels (Green means good and red refers to dangerous.)

5, All the tests require the users to experience with earphones or headphones, and stay at a quiet place.

6, Most of the apps use one main color and background to express the tests and the results in different pages, and only a few apps use different colors to tell different information (see uHear below). Also, blue and red are the most welcomed colors for these apps, especially for the logos.

7, This kind of apps is not complicated in the construction of pages. There won’t be more then five pages of each app.

Differences:

1, Some of the apps provide the tests for both of the two ears separately but some are just together.

2, Some apps insert real photos (like doctor portraits, amplifiers) in the pages to indicate their reliable and professional technics. (At least I think so) And the others apps use simple buttons or even cartoon figures to show the using ways of their hearing tests.

3, Some apps provide the “Share” service after the results released. You can even compete with yourselves and friends. (Maybe we can regard it as ‘games’.)

4, Some apps link to knowledge of ears and hearings, but some are pure tests.

Here are some apps that I thought valuable to explore:

1,uHear (free, 3.5 stars out of 5, 1374 ratings)

This app use different colors to show different parts of tests. The main page clearly shows what the app will provide to the users. (sensitivity, speech in noise and questionnaire). It also tells the users how much time they will spend on each step.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/uhear/id309811822?mt=8

2, Siemens Hearing Test (Free, 2.5 stars out of 5, 12 ratings)

This app emphasize on the products of itself, and finding local clinics around users.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/siemens-hearing-test/id394674665?mt=8

3, Hearing Test with Audiogram (Free)

This app puts more attention on users’ differences between left and right ears. Also, the raw audiograms are provided as the results.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/hearing-test-with-audiogram/id512571089?mt=8

4, Hearing Age Test ($0.99, 2stars out of 5, 5 ratings)

This app uses 3D cartoon figures to show the ear ages and the sensibilities. The rating is not high, maybe because the UI is too mass.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/hearing-age-test/id301116011?mt=8

5, Earmeter ($0.99)

This app’s UI is very bad. The color makes its cheap and not reliable, as well as the black figures that they don’t fit the font and background. People couldn’t read the earmeter in the middle. Is it good if the red bar high or not? Also, the audiogram is too raw for users to understand. However, there is one thing we can learn from it is , the app’s name is fun.

Others

The other apps in App Store are just the same as above. Seldom of them can get the high rankings (Actually, only uHear can).

What we could learn from the prior arts are:

1, Do not put so many colors in one app. Because it is only a “small screen”. Some users are elderly people. They will feel unease when seeing so many bright colors in one time.

2, Do not use low-quality cartoon figures. They will ruin the reputation of the apps.

3, We can use audiogram, but we need to do some changes before providing to the users. Or it will be too hard for common users to understand.

4, Use no more than five pages in one app. (Many interactions must be intuitive & rapid )

5, If we can add pure-tone and noisy sounds together in on app will be better.

6, To attract users, we can do “save” and “share” for our users and keep them to use this app regularly. (Multiple interactions within a day/week )

Scoopon, the app of saving or spending money?

This week, we learnt a lot of things about social+mobile. Where do we interact with social software, what do we do with it and How does mobile technology change this are really the key factors that we interaction design students need to be aware of. Also, Location-based  apps are rapidly increasing, nearly all the apps require the GPS location to support their parts. Because of the high technologies, the social networks can easily affect  people’s social lives. Before, the apps emphasise on individual games, but I think the future trends will be more interactive and social. So the most important thing for building a good app is: who is in control, where the interaction happens, and who can join in.

Here is an example.

I have an app on my phone called Scoopon. It is about buying multiple coupons for local activities, travels or  buying goods on websites. People are always be attracted by big discounts, especially the really ‘big’ discount. For example, I will always find a dinner package costs from $39, which ‘should’ be $107. It is good money right? But! Be aware of the ‘from’! Maybe the ‘from’ one only gives you a one-course dinner, not the romantic one. If you just spend $39, you won’t get the treatment as what It looks like through the image.

So you think you are cheated? Yep, maybe, but it won’t be too bad if you know how to use the coupon. For me, I bought a coupon of learning white card online course. Actually, I just wanted the certificate, not the real course, so I didn’t mind whether I really gained any knowledge from the course. Therefore, this coupon really suited me. They couldn’t provide me enough learning resources, but that was fine, I didn’t care. I could learn it from other free sources, and then use the coupon to get the certificate (which was included in the coupon package).

Also, another thing I have to talk about Scoopon is, its email links. For 2 weeks now I’ve been attempting to unsubscribe from scoopon. I receive 3-5 emails daily, ridiculous. The unsubscribe link does not work. I’m unable to unsubscribe via my account as it claims my password doesn’t work however when they issue new passwords they don’t work either. Their online form is useless. After many attempts at trying to email their poor website, I eventually received an email claiming they have removed me from their list. 10 days later they’re still harassing me. You can’t reply to their emails either, the address is invalid. Their Brisbane phone number rings out.

What is more, it is said that Scoopon takes no responsibility for bad deal providers. But for my experiences, it is not bad because I only buy trusted dealers’ couple. However, although I have the app on my phone, I seldom use it, only when I want to kill time.

Is it very hard to market such apps? Scooupon gets the highest ranking among all the coupon apps! I cannot believe it!

Jiepang, is it popular in Australia as well?

Yesterday, my friend Peter asked me :”Qibai, do you know Dajie?”

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I was so surprised that I think dajie was a Chinese app that only Chinese people knew it. However, Peter told me that he got the information from one course he token, and it sounded fun and good marketing future. So, this time, I will talk more about the Dajie App.

Dajie in Chinese means” main street”. I know this app very well but I never used it before. It is very popular in China and Taiwan. I think it is a little like the Facebook ‘Check In’ usage. What’s more, you can gain vouchers or promote codes if you vote for a place. (for example: ‘The Cafe Club is fantastic!’ then you will get 5% discount.) This app is always linked with QQ, weibo, renren such social networkings.( They are chinese Facebook, twitter and MSN >_<. ) But I don’t use this app because its user interface is too complicated. Also, some people don’t do the really votes and rankings that they just want to get more discounts.

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Also, this app has its own webpage, but it is not popular at all. Maybe people think the phone app is enough, because they won’t stay at home, using PCs to show their locations.

I think what we can learn from it is: Its direct links with Facebook and Twitter or Google+, and its good marketing way. If people can get profits from using this app. I am sure the corporation can keep their clients.

However, what I think we need to improve is: How to make its user interface clean and easy, and how to make people follow the rules. What if people always cheat to vote? That’s hard to control but it might be a way to solve.

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Is Viber still useful now?

 
The first social networking app I installed on my iphone is Viber. Because I am an international student, the call fees is unbelievable high if I call to my families though Voafone or any other phone corporations. There is no doubt that Viber lets everyone in the world connect freely for free although the quanlity is not so good. But anyway, if I were talking about this last year, I would suggest everyone in my situation to use this app.
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However, imessage changed my passion of using Viber. Thanks for Apple! I can text to my mum for free. What’s more, I could seriously realise that I seldom use Viber nowadays, cause imessage can replace its position definitely
. So I begin to think,will Viber be replaced in the future? As far as I am concerned, Viber‘s only use is to make call for free now, but with bad call quality. If they couldn’t improve the technical problems, I am sure they will lose more users.
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From my point of view, maybe Viber can do some extra services. For example, besides of making calls and messaging, they can link Facebook, Twitter or other social net works as well. What is more, they can set up its own social network just like Facebook. Because it is based on telephone numbers, this ‘Viber Network’ could be more realistic and trustful.
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Anyway, I will keep seeing what will happen to Viber in the future. Hope the group can find a way out to achieve more audiences.

Eventbrite, an app that does help my project

Our group decide to create an App about finding different events around you and creating new events for special purposes. And we just call it “Event Junkie”. In the last week, what I had done was: did research things and read prior arts. Also, I found an interesting Iphone App called “Eventbrite” , which was really helped and interesting.

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Eventbrite is an online service that people everywhere use to create, share, and join any event imaginable. Whether it’s a photography class with a local artist, or a sold-out concert in a city stadium, Eventbrite makes it happen. We enable event creation, promotion and ticket sales. We help people discover events that match their passions. And we let everyone share the events they’re creating or joining, bringing more people together around the world.

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What aspect of the App that attracts me most is: it is indeed easy to use. We can publish events, promote events  and sell tickets by Eventbrite, and it won’t take us more than three minutes. What is more. when I do not have time to attend any events, I still prefer to check it once a week to know what happens around me.

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But there is one thing that I don’t like, the colour. The main colour are white and orange, with no other colours included. It is hard to tell the different catalogues of events. As the only one majoring in interaction design, my job is to do UI and graphic design. I may overcome this drawback and make a good use of colours and even shapes in our project in the following weeks.