Tuesday, 27 January 2009

New Directions

This calculator is designed for the MUJI competition. And I found in a way it illustrates my interest and the whole Crisis project direction quite well. The main concept of this project is based on the observation of how most people use calculator. It's quite common we need to calculator something like :

17 x 3 + 29 x 4 = ?

We do the first 17 x 3 and get the answer 51; the next step is to calculator 29 x 4. The standard way is use the function key "M+" which put your previous result into the memory. Yet only few people realize how to use M+. What most people will do is find a paper and note down the number 51, then do the 29 x 4. The reason we do not use M+ is because the number we put into the memory section is not visible. You do not trust something you can't see and it's difficult to learn a function without a feedback.

Based on all these observation, I visualize the memory section on the calculator. Or you can say I transform the behavior - people noting down numbers near a calculator - into a function on the calculator.

The reason makes this project link to the Crisis Project is the same consideration about the relationship between human and machines - or more precisely, digital machines. The relationship between human and digital objects is always not as stable as other objects. One reason is the technical issue of a digital objects often draws too much attention from the designer/engineer. And during the internet era the way people use digital products becomes even more unpredictable. And that's the reason why people always complain about having difficulty communicating with their machines or even be afraid of them.

In short, the modified direction of Crisis Project in this term becomes "the Perceptions of Digital Products" where I'll take a deeper look at the relationship between objects, human and digital technology. One of the issue is that when we apply a new technology which indicates a new way of living, we have to give up something from the past. There's always a conflict in this process. Which should stay? Which should go? And there is no CORRECT answer for the questions. That why we designers should handle this issue more carefully.

The next step I'll try to map out different types of digital products and choose four types from them to start the research. This includes a deeper look about the behavior occurs within the whole relationship of human and machine. What's it's predecessor? How's the human behavior evolves? Is there any classic products in this category? And then evaluate what's the new or ignored relationship need to be further emphasized and then develop a design from that point.

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