Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Innovative Ad

I was passing through MSP and happened to notice a very clever Ad by Travelers (the fact that I remember who the Ad was for, shows how effective it was).

What made it interesting was the fact that it was interactive. You walk by an image that is projected on the wall. As soon as you cut across the projected light, a sensor picks up your movement, and distorts the image. It is fun to play with, and catches your attention.

As you can see in the first pic, a kid is playing with the image. The image is that of Traveler's umbrella made up of numerous tiny umbrellas. Once your shadow hits it, the umbrellas scatter (pic #3), and then regroup (pic #2) in a few seconds. It almost feels like the umbrella is made up of butterflies that fly back.

What is interesing is the use of technology in creating interactive Ads. This technology can be taken and applied in numerous ways especially now since projectors and scanners can fit into a phone. This could evolve into a phone that allows you to browse on a wall rather than on its tiny screen. That will shatter the form factor debate instantaneously. It only remains to be seen where else this technology can be taken.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Design Innovation...

In this blog article I talked about design innovation in elevator technology. I have been to the Marquis several times in the past year, and am yet to see any marked improvement in the travel times. I think this technology is useful in office buildings with heavy traffic at peak times. Since Marquis is a hotel, I never found peak traffic necessitating the new logic. I always had to wait through at least two cars before my 'designated' car arrived. It is a pleasant departure from the usual elevator technology, but needs to be wetted out in other usecases before implementing it.

Another design innovation I recently stumbled upon is in the field of timepieces. We are all familiar with the mechanical (with the escapement and all) as well as the quartz watch movements, and of course, the digital watches with their digital number readouts. Apart from going crazy with LEDs and Barcodes (which Tokyo Flash does), how would you innovate on the display of a timepiece?

Urwerk takes the cake in creating a watch that combines both the traditional analog display (hour/min hands) with numbers, and coming up with an extremely complicated watch. The main goal in creating a timepiece is to minimize the number of moving elements, while increasing the accuracy of the instrument. Urwerk has succeeded in increasing the number of moving elements, and adding to the complexity of the design which trying to create a piece that watch aficionados drool over.

UR-202 is an automatic self-winding watch that uses the classic ratchet mechanism to wind itself. Where it is different is the way it uses pneumatics to control the swing of the rotor (see animation video to learn how). The other area where it is different is in its unconventional display. Even though, at first glance, it looks alien, the display is quite simple albeit the complex mechanism (with cams and all) to make it happen. The biggest disadvantage of this display is that you need to be able to read the number to tell time. In conventional watches, the location of the hour/min hand itself is sufficient to tell time. In the UR-202, the hand position alone doesn't tell time since there are three hour hands (with four faces each)! Go figure... Of course, this means the UR-202 can never be a timepiece for the blind.

All in all, the watch is a genius mechanical marvel (an expensive one, at over $100k) worthy of sitting in a museum. This is a classic example of design innovation for the sake of design innovation. This watch does not address or solve any of the problems faced by the classic timepiece, nor does it make it simpler.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Role based communication

Imagine this scenario:
You are working for a company in a particular role. You leave the company after a certain period of time. Two things happen. You obviously lose your email account, and all the emails associated with it (unless, of course, you keep a copy of everything). And, the company loses all the email (information) that was in your possession. Technically, the company doesn't lose your email communications, but it no longer uses it. Unless, to answer a court subpoena.

What organizations need to realize is that there is a lot of information in these communications. They need to mine the emails and get the most out of them.

Individuals need to realize that all email communications over the company email network should strictly be work related. There are plenty of places where you can conduct your personal conversations. It irks me when I see people complaining that they lost all their emails when they left their employer.

There is a solution to all this.

Every employee working for a corporation is playing a role. Every employee has certain roles and responsibilities in the organization. When one employee moves to another role/organization, most often, another employee takes that role.

Email accounts should be based on roles and people playing those roles. Once someone playing a particular role moves on, the next person taking the role will inherit all email communications pertaining to the role. Any and all email communication done over a corporate network belongs to the company. So, stop whining that the company is passing 'Your' emails to another person. Those emails pertain to the role, and you were playing that role. Role based emails keep the data alive, and useful to corporations.

What this means is that all employees need to keep their personal emails completely separate, which is what most of us are doing anyway. And, corporations need to set up proxies to mimic the way email works today: make it seem personal.