I would like to continue on a theme from my previous entry and develop further concepts that can be defined as "ambient" interfaces. Specifically, I've been thinking about ambient interfaces and the implications they have on product development processes. So, the method is this: Think about your critical informational needs and develop and "invisible" interface to convey them.
Step 1: Determine your information need
So there's the easy ones, like weather, traffic, and of course, the time. after that, you have personal quantifiable informational needs, such as savings account totals, calories consumed, calories consumed, energy consumed, time worked across projects, or a million other like these. however, I'm going to push off all of these important informational needs to stick with a favorite of mine: baseball scores
I'm a devoted Red Sox fan and love tracking the team throughout the course of a season. However, watching every pitch of all 162 games of a season is just not practical when I'm busy or there's other things going on. I would love the ability to simply track the Sox score on a given day via a glanceable interface. If it looks interesting, say a 2-2 game in the 7th, that will prompt me to turn it on. So, here are the info needs: inning (with top or bottom), runs/hits/errors for home and away teams, and a attempt to show runners on base.
Step 2: Develop an "invisible" ambient display of Step 1 results
The challenge here to create a product that presents information into an environment in a subtle and non-intrusive manner. In the words of legendary designer Hiroshi Ishii, these ambient interfaces should be "calm" and "seamless with the environment". it should be glanceable from a distance, and almost invisible if you did not know what it was.
In regards to our baseball concept, I would like the form of the product to be inspired by baseball, but not explicity use any cues from the game. For instance, it would be too easy to have a scoreboard, a diamond, or a ballpark. It should look like a normal piece of art hung on a wall that changes in subtle ways as the game progresses. I would like to use some of the materials, textures, or colors from the game, but that's a real challenge because I want to avoid it looking like something that belongs in a cheesy sports bar.
Concept sketches to come soon...