Archive for July, 2009

How to Make the Road Speak. With Design.

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Run your finger across the top of your keyboard, starting at the “q” and finishing at the “\”. Run your finger the other way. Listen to the sound it makes. Run your finger over the tops of the keys faster and the pitch goes up. Run your finger more slowly and the pitch goes down.

You are witnessing an amazing process of synthesis in your brain. There is no pitch out in the real world, just a series of short and sequential air-molecule vibrations. Your brain takes these little clicks and, depending on how fast their coming in, translates them into a melodious sound. Your brain wants to hear pitch.


The conondrum of releasing Ubiquity 0.5

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Ubiquity 0.5 has a number of awesome features, all made possible by a large group of dedicated people like Mitcho, Cers, Satyr, Brandon, Jono, just to name a few. We’ve revamped the natural language parser to be much more robust: gone are the days of ugly hyphenated commands, as well as awkward commands like “add-to-calendar 3pm lunch with Mitcho”. Instead, you can say “add 3pm lunch with Mitcho to calendar”. We’ve also added the ability to use Ubiquity in many languages other than English. Like Japanese, Catalan, Portuguese, and Danish. We’re excited to see more soon.

And all these changes break compatibility with 3rd party Ubiquity 0.1.x commands. By pushing an upgrade to Ubiquity 0.5, we’ll break a lot of currently working functionality: people will just wake up and things that worked yesterday won’t work today.


Syllabuzz: Tactile Design Made Real

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Last week, I wrote about an idea that let you know who was calling without having to look at your phone. It centered around having the phone “speak” the callers name through vibrations. The idea provoked a lot of interesting discussion: everything from how it might work in monosyllabic languages to guiding visually impaired people through urban environments.


Know Who’s Calling: Tactile Design

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I keep my phone in my pocket. This has the (un)fortunate side effect of putting the entire internet in my pants. When I get a call, I have to do a little dance to slip the phone out of my pocket and in to my hand.

I’m one of those people who thinks its rude to answer the phone in the middle of a conversation. It’s worse when it’s during dinner. It’s even border-line rude to just check the phone to see whose calling before slipping it away. I want to know whose calling before I go pocket diving.