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04 OCTOBER 2015

Connbox: prototyping a physical product for video presence with Google Creative Lab, 2011

"At the beginning of 2011 we started a wide-ranging conversation with Google Creative Lab, discussing near-future experiences of Google and its products. They had already in mind another brief before approaching us, to create a physical product encapsulating Google voice/video chat services. This brief became known as 'Connection Box' or 'Connbox' for short…

There were interaction & product design challenges in making a simpler, self-contained video chat appliance, amplified by the problem of taking the things we take for granted on the desktop or touchscreen: things like the standard UI, windowing, inputs and outputs, that all had to be re-imagined as physical controls.

This is not a simple translation between a software and hardware behaviour, it’s more than just turning software controls into physical switches or levers.

It involves choosing what to discard, what to keep and what to emphasise.

Should the product allow ‘ringing’ or ‘knocking’ to kickstart a conversation, or should it rely on other audio or visual cues? How do we encourage always-on, ambient, background presence with the possibility of spontaneous conversations and ad-hoc, playful exchanges? Existing ‘video calling’ UI is not set up to encourage this, so what is the new model of the interaction?

To do this we explored in abstract some of the product behaviours around communicating through video and audio. "

(Matt Jones, 26 February 2013, Berg Ltd)






2011 • Apple FaceTime • Berg Ltd • communications interaction interface • computer-mediated interaction • connbox • design prototypedesigning for interaction • development log • Durrell Bishop • experiential proof • form and functionfuture interfacesGolan Levin • Google Creative Lab • Google Hangouts • Google Plus • hardware prototyping • interaction designinteraction styleslive video • Luckybite • material exploration • near-future scenariosOpenFrameworks • physical product • portalproduct design • prototyping brief • research and developmentSkypesoftware prototypingtechnology affordances • teleconference • video calling • video chat • video conferencing • video phone • video presence • video-based communication • videoconferencing


Simon Perkins
27 JANUARY 2012

Urban Informatics Research Lab: transdisciplinary research cluster

"The increasing ubiquity of digital technology, internet services and location–aware applications in our everyday lives allows for a seamless transitioning between the visible and the invisible infrastructure of cities: road systems, building complexes, information and communication technology and people networks create a buzzing environment that is alive and exciting.

Driven by curiosity, initiative and interdisciplinary exchange, the Urban Informatics Research Lab at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is a transdisciplinary cluster of people working on research and development at the intersection of people, place and technology with a focus on cities, locative media and mobile technology."

(Marcus Foth)

Fig.1 QUT Urban Informatics researchers Markus Rittenbruch and Mark Bilandzik talk about the role of data in their work with street computing and the Creative Industries Urban Informatics research lab.



applied researchAustralia • building complexes • built environmentcities • city infrastructure • crowdsourcingdigital technologyeverydayinformaticsinformation and communication technologyinterdisciplinary • internet services • invisible infrastructure • locationlocation-aware applicationslocation-basedlocation-specificlocative mediamobile technologynetworksopen datapeople and technology • places and technology • QUTresearch and developmentresearch centre • road systems • situated data • street computing • transdisciplinary • transdisciplinary cluster • ubiquitous computingurbanurban dataurban environmenturban informatics • Urban Informatics Research La


Simon Perkins
13 JANUARY 2012

The Interactive Institute: Swedish experimental design research centre

"The Interactive Institute is a Swedish experimental IT & design research institute that conducts world–class applied research and innovation. With pioneering spirit and courage, we challenge prevailing norms in technology and design. Our process is based on people's future needs and potential with a vision to improve everyday life for a creative and sustainable society. The results are developed in close collaboration with industry and society.

We develop new research areas, concepts, products and services, and provide strategic advice to corporations and public organizations. Our results are communicated and exhibited worldwide and brought out to society through commissioned work, license agreements and spin–off companies.

Over the course of a decade, the Interactive Institute has established itself at the forefront of research and development in design, data visualization, sustainability and entertainment, positioning Sweden as a leading force in the lifestyle technology research sector. The Interactive Institute has worked systematically to identify new research fields and to create pioneering projects within these with great potential for innovation. The projects have given rise to larger research programs and funding initiatives that not only have created renewal within Swedish research, but also played an important part for Swedish industry, regional development and the image of Sweden as an innovative nation.

Since the start in 1998, our work has been characterized not only in the way we conduct traditional academic research but also in our exploration of the borders between art, design and technology in industrial and academic settings as well as public and private sectors. With our expertise, we bring an innovative edge into policy work, we connect stakeholders for extraordinary synergies, we bring renewal to traditional industry and we add context and involvement to the processes we are involved in. In bringing together our knowledge of business and creative values with world–class research results, we offer a unique set of skills to the Swedish research and innovation sector in the international arena.

The Interactive Institute has 50 employees per December 2010, and is organized around studios localized in Piteå, Umeå, Stockholm, Eskilstuna, Norrköping and Gothenburg. The headquarters is situated in Stockholm/Kista. The Interactive Institute is a non profit distributing organization."

(The Interactive Institute)



1998applied research • art design and technology • collaboration with industry • data visualisationdesign • distributing organisation • everyday lifeexperimentalfuture needsHCIinnovation • IT and design • lifestyle technology research • new research areas • new research fields • non profit • pioneering projects • private sectorproducts and servicespublic sectorregional developmentresearch and developmentresearch centreresearch institutespin-off companies • strategic advice • sustainabilitysustainable societySwedentechnology and design • The Interactive Institute


Simon Perkins
02 NOVEMBER 2011

You can have a garden: Edible Island Planters

"Eliza Donald couldn't find a large enough planter that suited her purposes, so decided to make her own. 'It took two years, working with plant specialists, and industrial designers, also asking a lot of people questions. It's important that a design functions well but it's equally important to ask why a person would want to use it in the first place,' she says. Eliza is now director of Edible Islands – handy aesthetically lovely planters the size of a small bathtub. You can plant out your veggies and a small tree, or once all your herbs die (if you have my touch) you can pop a lid on and just sit under your tree. Ingenious.

As Eliza points out, the potential benefits are plentiful, 'Sometimes people don't have an easy access to fresh veg. The planters help with Transition Towns – educating people on how to grow their own food and prevention of depression as people swap seeds, plants and recipes, and grow plants with their grandchildren. They increase flight pathways across cities for birds, bees and butterflies as more Edible Island Planters are put on roof tops, back yards, and schools.' The planters are all made in Pakenham, Australia."

(Lou Pardi, (small)LUST, 02 August 2011)



Australia • backyard • bathtubbetter-functioning productsbusiness women • domestic furniture • ecodesign • Edible Island Planters • Edible Islands • Eliza Donald • entrepreneurshipenvironmentally conscious design • fresh food • gardeninggreen design • grow your own food • herbs • industrial designkiwi ingenuity • Little Veggie Patch Company • Pakenham • planter • plantsproduct designproduct designerprotoductionresearch and developmentrooftopseedself-sufficientsustainable agriculture • sustainable cities • sustainable landscape and garden design • swappingtransition towns • veggies • women designers


Simon Perkins
11 NOVEMBER 2009

Fibreculture: forum for critical and speculative interventions

"fibreculture is about critical and speculative interventions in the debate and discussions concerning information technology, the policy that concerns it, the new media for(u)ms it supports and its sustainable deployment towards a more equitable Australia. fibreculture is a forum for the exchange of articles, ideas and arguments on Australian IT policy in a broad, cultural context. it concerns the philosophy and politics of: new media arts, information and creative industries, national strategies for innovation, research and development, education, and, media and culture"

(Fibreculture, Australia)



Simon Perkins

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