PaperPulse: adding interactivity to paper

Designed by researchers at Hasselt University iMinds (Belgium), PaperPulse is a visual design tool to create interactive paper artifacts augmented with electronics. According to the project page:

PaperPulse is a design and fabrication approach that enables designers without a technical background to produce standalone interactive paper artifacts by augmenting them with electronics. With PaperPulse, designers overlay pre-designed visual elements with electronic components available in our design tool. PaperPulse provides designers with three families of widgets designed for smooth integration with paper, for an overall of 20 different interactive components. We also contribute a logic demonstration and recording approach, Pulsation, that allows for specifying functional relationships between widgets. Using the final design and the recorded Pulsation logic, PaperPulse generates layered electronic circuit designs, and code that can be deployed on a microcontroller. By following automatically generated assembly instructions, designers can seamlessly integrate the microcontroller and widgets in the final paper artifact.

Find out more on PaperPulse page.

SmileSuggest: a free Chrome plugin to save bookmark with a smile

Martin McAllister has created an easy and smart way to bookmark what’s on the Internet. His SmileSuggest is a free Chrome plugin that uses a facial recognition algorithm to save a page by simply smiling at it. The app can also “measure” your smile, so to let you decide the threshold of  “joy” beyond which a page is bookmarked.

Find out more.

Seen on FastCoDesign.

Robot Factory: an app to build your robot

Robot Factory – the new app of Brooklyn-based developer Tinybop – Robot Factory is more than a simple interactive iOS game to build robots. It’s a digital toybox conceived to allow kids to practice imaginative play by following the path and the spirit of the original Lego blocks.

You can discover more on FastCoDesing.

Download the app (iPad).

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Moon Phases by Yingjie Bei and Yifan Hu: Arduino powered moon phase turntable

Moon Phases is an interactive device – created by Yingjie Bei and  Yifan Hu – that shows the moon phase for a given date as per user input. The device relies on Processing and Arduino to calculate the moon phase and then moving servo motors to posit the light accordingly. From the official project page:

The idea started from my very first processing sketch which is a 2D drawing for moon phases. From there, I started to expand and approach it from different perspective. The moon phases machine is the ultimate work through out the whole journey. It allows the audience to experience the moon phases’ changing in a tangible and poetic way. At the same time, it is also an educational piecing to learn about not only the moon phases from the past but also for the future.

On Yingjie Bei personal blog you can find more details on the project – including the original sketches and researches.

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Trickey: a building block style keyboard to create your custom input device

Trickey is a brand new Japanese Kickstarter project that promises to let you build your custom size keyboard. “In Trickey, key unit itself has a specific character inside. So, key ‘a’ works as ‘a’ at any location of a keyboard. Of course, keys are completely programmable with writer software on your PC. You can also program keyboard shortcuts like ‘Ctrl+S’ to a single key. Each board unit has 2×3 slots for inserting key units. If you want larger keyboard, you can assemble a larger board by combining units like jigsaw puzzle. Trickey inspires you to create your own key input environment”.

Find out more on Kickstarter.


MOTI: a small device to form habits that last

MOTI is a new tech gadget with a challenging goal: to help users form new habits starting from an emotional connection rather than pure data and stats. These are the pillars the project is built upon:

  • Motivation more than numbers
  • Habit loop theory
  • Celebrating and tracking small wins
  • Variable rewards
  • Physical and anthropomorphized entities

You can read more about the science behind the project on the official page.

CityScope Riyadh: a urban redevelopment proposal through interactive technology

As part of their research activities, the Changing Place Group (MIT Media Lab) led a workshop in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) to test a new version of our CityScope platform. According to the article:

The goal was to achieve the highest scores for three variables:  walkability, building energy performance, and access to daylight.  As participants placed optically tagged Lego bricks on our augmented reality table, the design performance was revealed in real-time by changing color-codes projected onto the pieces, and data displayed on the dashboard.  Fundamentally, the challenge was to achieve an optimal density and mix for commercial and residential buildings.

What did we learn from the workshop?

First of all, I was pleased to see the level of engagement, as is revealed in my 30 second video (above). This team was so engrossed in the process that they seemed oblivious to the intrusion of my camera.  Afterwards, the participants reported that the instant feedback, with changing color-codes and data, was extremely valuable.  Each team could immediately understand impact of their decisions on walkability, energy, and daylight as they placed elements on the table.  It encouraged an iterative, collaborative decision-making process. In the discussion that followed, there seemed to be a general frustration with the lack of metrics for evaluating an urban design proposal with traditional media, such as plans and renderings.  There seemed to be an appreciation for the power of such a new tool, even if we just hinted at possibilities.  Not insignificantly, they all appeared to have fun in the process.

Read the full article on the official site.

A playable interface designed to teach you how to play

Creative designer  Yowan Langlais (co-founder at juicybeast) presents the work behind  the design of a “teaching” interface for his game Toto Temple Deluxe (Ouya). As reported:

Making a fully playable UI was definitely a good experiment for us. Even if it wasn’t completely necessary, it helped convey the complexity of the controls to new players. We could have relied on traditional, text-based tutorials, but most player would have just ignored them to then have a hard time playing the game like it’s supposed to be played. Making a playable UI system is great if your game needs it, obviously, but it also comes with its share of difficulties […] Games with really simple mechanics or barely no menus may not really benefit from this kind of system. On the other hand, a playable UI could help preserve immersion and overall unity even if you don’t need it as a teaching tool.

Read the full study on

Where today tablets came from

Where today tablets came from

Web and mobile usability expert Jakob Nielsen writes about his past research on the usability of  PenPoint from GO Corp – an old 1992 tablet computer that was ahead of its time.

It is a 30 years old story. Nonetheless, Nielsen  finds some fruitful connection with today devices – and the opportunities they still miss in terms of user experience . Some excerpt:


it was definitely a clunkier device than current tablets, weighing 4.5 pounds (5 times as much as a current iPad). My research with the GO didn’t discover most of our current tablet-design guidelines — mainly because this early device had virtually no applications. Instead, we studied the implications of handwritten data entry and stylus-controlled graphical user interfaces (GUI).


it’s sad to note the abysmal lack of progress in personal-information retrieval and personal-information management since Bellcore’s research in the early 1990s. Virtually all efforts and all the ensuing progress have been directed toward searching huge information spaces such as the entire web. Our own personal information has been left behind, and the productivity of knowledge workers has suffered accordingly.


reflecting back on my experience with GO in 1992 does show some areas where current tablet UX could be improved:
a pen or stylus (as included with a few Android devices) allows for many richer interactions than are supported by current touchscreens due to the fat-finger emphasis on personal productivity instead of consumption of  entertainment and social media would lead to more useful UX designs.

Read the full article.