Making of Einstein Hands app

Teaching children how to use sign language as young as 6 months to communicate? What an amazing thought.

Every parents dream!
Well, it was mine for sure.

Remember seeing programmes on chimps being taught to sign? And it worked?!

I came across signing for kids, for the first time whilst living in London. My little guy was 3 months old, and I enrolled him for weekly classes at Tiny Talk, ‘to see if it works’.

At 9 months Tyler was signing when he wanted to sleep and when he was hungry. Imagine?! I was beside myself to finally have figured out what he needed! And apart from nailing basic communication in early stages, there are a lot of other benefits. Children that sign, can communicate with one another, speak earlier, and learn additional languages faster too.

We moved back to SA, and I was desperate to keep it up.

A serendipitous meeting took place about 3 months ago, where the crèche my little guy goes to was trying out signing, lead by the inspirational Nadia Botes.

I approached her, and expressed my interest in maybe doing an app for kids and mum.

And here, the journey begins..

Having a child opens up a box of ideas that you’d never think you had.
UCD takes on a whole new dimension if the user is your child.

I’ll be posting research, sketches, prototypes and more..


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Taking over the world, and getting paid for it.

Realise your social capital

Money out of thin air, for leveraging your social authority

I joined a talk recently, by Suraj Sodha, the founder of Internet Marketing Highway. And he discussed how being influential online, could help you earn a second income, …all automated of course.  It was based on setting up an affiliate marketing system.  And if you have a large following (via Blog, twitter, facebook), it could be a nice little earner…  *without trying to sound like I’m selling you something*

Suraj is making a good living off doing this, and I was interested to find out how.

The trick to making this work, is to having a large following, so this wont happen over night, unless you’re a real life star.
It’s also really important to have a home base, i.e. your blog, where all traffic from your twitter or Facebook accounts are directed to.

Then, to join an affiliate portal like review your klout and if you’re seen to have access to many, they grant you tools to placing adds on your blog.  The alternative is to place an ad on Facebook, which seems far easier way to target who you’re after, and you have access to the masses.

But it begs the question(s): How influential are you online? Could you earn a second income from your followers?
To get an indication of your authority, audience and activity online, have a look at PeerIndex or Klout. Understanding your social capital, is a good starting point.

Then you need to get going with setting up blogs, twitter accounts, and certainly give facebook’s new timeline platform a go!
AKA Social OS or the EGO system, can make building an online profile easier.  And of course, marketing your business (if you have one) lets not forget they’d have targeted access to more than 800 million active users.

And then to track it all, plug in Google Analytics

Stunning projection mapping skills – Amon Tobin

Trailer for Amon Tobin’s all new, highly ambitious, breathtaking ‘ISAM’ live show. Tobin will be stepping away from previous DJ centric performances, and instead will be providing a large scale live audio/visual experience to select cities around the world. Designed in conjunction with Blasthaus, VSquared Labs, Vita Motus Design, Leviathan and others.

Experience Human Flight

There is something super hypnotic about this, just beautiful…

Is your user humming or smiling when using your designs?

‘Shiny’ only goes so far, finding the sweet spot, is finding the flow…
Read more

Circular navigation

I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with circular navigation solutions (or pie menus).  Tell me, who isn’t bored of tabbed or cascade navigation?

Although, it’s not just because it’s aesthetically pleasing ways; and that it almost always has the desired effect when clients look at it… it makes alot of interaction design sense too, especially on touch devices, when hand jitter, pen skipping, mouse slipping, or vehicular motion (not to mention tectonic activity) could be a factor when interacting.

Here are some advantages:

  1. More reliable than linear menus, as it requires very little cursor motion.
  2. More memorable, it makes use of the body’s ability to remember muscle motion and direction, even when the mind has forgotten the corresponding symbolic labels.

The main disadvantage:

  1. Because of the circular layout, this naturally doesn’t make it as efficient in use of space.
  2. The trick is to crack the labeling – preventing overlapping menus and clearly associate labels with their direction.
    Avoid using rotated labels
Here are a few examples circular navigation solutions:
Sketchbook X - iPhone app - Touch screen

Sketchbook X - iPhone app - Touch screen

Circular navigation with sub nav

Circular navigation with sub navigation

Mobile half-circle nav

Mobile half-circle nav

Usability – Jack Callahan’s study
Jack Callahan’s study compares the seek time and error rates in pies versus linear menus. There is a hypothesis known as Fitts’ law, which states that the “seek time” required to point the cursor at the target depends on the target’s area and distance. The wedge-shaped slices of a pie menu are all large and close to the cursor, so Fitts’ law predicts good times for pie menus. In comparison, the rectangular target areas of a traditional linear menu are small, and each is placed at a different distance from the starting location.

Callahan’s controlled experiment supports the result predicted by Fitt’s law. Three types of eight-item menu task groupings were used: Pie tasks (North, NE, East, and so on), linear tasks (First, Second, Third, and so on), and unclassified tasks (Center, Bold, Italic, and so on). Subjects with little or no mouse experience were presented menus in both linear and pie formats, and told to make a certain selection from each. Those subjects uising pie menus were able to make selection significantly faster and with fewer errors for all three task groupings.

The fewer the items, the faster and more reliable pie menus are, because of their bigger slices. But other factors contribute to their efficiency. Pies with an even number of items are symmetric, so the directional angles are convenient to remember and articulate. Certain numbers of items work well with various metaphors, such as a clock, an on/off switch, or a compass. Eight-item pies are optimal for many tasks: They’re symmetric, evenly divisible along vertical, horizontal, and diagonal axes, and have distinct, well-known directions.

Source: 1991 by Don Hopkins.
Originally published in Dr. Dobb’s Journal, Dec. 1991, lead cover story, user interface issue.

Read more here