touch screens for the blind

The latest in touch screen technology for the visually impaired has emerged from Finland.

Finnish computer scientists have created a touch screen phone prototype that can simulate Braille characters. The Nokia 770 mobile internet tablet was used for the prototype as it already has haptic feedback built into the display. The scientists claim the 770 prototype was “relatively easy to develop and test.”


Instead of recreating the 2 x 3 matrix of raised spots that represents a Braille character, the new system just vibrates the screen using the transducers. As a reading finger is touched to the screen, its position is logged relative to the conventional text character beneath: The Braille is then emulated as a Morse code-like chain of intense and weak vibrations of the screen. A strong one relates to a Braille dot, and a weak one represents a Braille space. It is ridiculously simple!

nokia-770Most importantly, volunteers involved in the research have been able to make the transition between conventional Braille and this new technique without too much difficulty, reading single characters in around 1.25 seconds.



This is the Modbook, a revolutionary slate-style tablet that enables users to draw, sketch and write directly on the screen of their MacBook or MacBook Pro.


Designed by Axiotron, to create a ModBook you need to simply send your existing MacBook to them. Axiotron have integrated its own hardware and software technologies with state-of-the-art Wacom Penabled digitizer and an Apple MacBook computers.


The downsides to this “mod” (except the price) is the fact that it is not touch sensitive to the finger; a digital pen has to be used. Also, having held the product, it does feel quite heavy, but as expected. Perhaps Axiotron will shed a few ounces on future versions, or indeed as the MacBook continues to get thinner and lighter, they may not have to.

Imagine a 17″ MacBook tablet that weighs the same as an iPhone.

This wonderful video makes the whole modification process look easy!


If I had a spare MacBook and £600 lying around, I would love to have one of these!

unawareness to evolution

Introductions to new things, such as enhancements in technology, by chance, often deliver a more lasting memory or experience. 
I get, what I can only call “realization” moments when I haphazardly stumble upon something new.
When I saw this image, I had one of those moments.

Wired have revealed a wonderful visual timeline showing the evolution of Apple products. 
Although I am aware of Apple’s history and their legacy of products and services, this visualization made me realize not only how they have progressed over the past 25 years, but also how quickly.
This needn’t apply solely to Apple. This image is testament to a changing world.
Context and cohesion: How can timelines be used as a communication visualization? What can they show? Can a storyboard be defined as a form of storyboard? 

ny times visualizations

Visualizations that represent the people and organizations most mentioned in New York Times articles from 1984-2009 have been created by Jer Thorp. The visualizations show connections between the people and therefore relationships between them all.

how romantech!

An example of personal technology? 

User interface designer Bryan Haggerty, programmer at LinkeIn, proposed to his girlfriend Jeannie Choe, former writer at Core77, with an iPhone application which he deigned himself.
It was last week that he popped the big question, but only after having his girlfriend guided through a route in San Francisco by the iPhone app. 
The app, which Haggerty calls “Romantech”, displays a map containing location points throughout San Francisco. Each of the points in the map were tagged with a short video clip of Haggerty giving little clues of where Choe should travel to next. 

After a while, both met in a Park where all the points on the map connected to form the shape of a <3>

(The ❤ is a heart symbol for those of you who don’t know the lingo

interactive comics and biological consideration

Dead On Arrival is an interactive comic loosely based on the story of the old 1940s film noir. 

Although I found this story rather dull, indolent and unexciting, the story was delivered clearly and the Flash interaction was well executed. This makes me think about communicating ideas to people through storyboards and story telling. 
I discussed with my study advisor, Dr Shaleph O’Neil about how people may react to certain storyboards. There will be 3 different types of storyboard: 1. Hand drawn 2. Graphically illustrated  and 3. Interactive.
The interactive storyboard will obviously be digital, however as Dead On Arrival shows, Flash animations can contain very “un-digital” and natural interactions. For example the turning of pages; this is done by clicking the top or bottom corners of a page and dragging them over, almost as you would do a book.
Computer interactions can be very natural. This reminds of the beauty of the interaction design of an iPhone or iPod Touch when zooming in and out of photos or web pages. Pinching your fore-finger and thumb together, a natural human gesture for describing the reduction in size of an object, is how to zoom out (i.e. to make smaller), and vice-versa.
How natural can I design interactions?
I don’t mean to compare an iPhone with a digital comic, however the principle of their interactions are comparable in terms of natural gesture. There is biological consideration into their design. 
Click here to see the Dead on Arrival comic. An HTML version of the comic is also available, which I think is rather pointless. The whole beauty of the story is the interaction itself.



In reference to the concept of hypertext fiction, where narrative is non-linear and non-hierarchical, hypercomics are a variation of comics that has truly embraced its digital medium, allowing multiple changeable paths within a fractured rhizomatic (wiki) environment. 
A great example of hypercomics is a piece by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey entitled PoCom-UK-001. It was originally a massive collaborative hypercomic, however this web adaptation marked the debut of Daniel’s “Tarquin Engine”, a flash-based interactive canvas, which allows other authors to easily explore the concept of hypercomics.

Having spoken to my study advisor, Dr Shaleph O’Neil, about using Flash to animate storyboards, I instantly and naturally created an image in my head of how this animation/interaction would look. Having seen this, however, I now realize the true potential for variation interactive visualizations can possess. 


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