[The intro informs us that Antenna Design is a boutique firm–five people–that’s been around for many years and has won a large number of awards. Note: this session was more of a slideshow of Sigi’s firm’s accomplishments and doesn’t really come across well as a blog entry. I only had my iPhone camera and it didn’t work well in the lights.]

Interaction and Intervention

We have been working on a number of very different projects, a number of them in the public world. I want to talk about our work from the perspective of interaction design, which isa ctually a very broad definition. I want to show you some of our work across both public and private sectors.

I want to talk about the notion of intervention and interaction.

Design is a form of intervention. Whenever a new device is introduced in our lives, design has to intervene between existing context, people and the new devices.

In consumer spaces, you can refuse a new product by refusing to buy it, but in the pbulic space you often have no choice. For us, the essence of design is interaction.

Interaction design is about guiding people’s behavior twoard what the “program” calls for. Many times, the product can be very pragmatic, and other times it can be more open-ended, such as the case with our exploratory products which I’ll show you.

So how do interaction and intervention relate? Design is an intervention that creates and new interaction.

I want to show you the ticket vending machines in the New York subways. We didn’t design the cards themselves, but we designed the machine interfaces:
– appropriate conceptual mdoel
– hardware-softwarte coordination
– familiarity
– fast transaction
– vandal resistance
– universal access

After the machines were manufactured, they did studies that showed that people had a real problem with them. The machines were already built, so we couldn’t change that, but we could start from scratch with the software.

We had to choose between the “soda machine” model where you add your money and then pick your product, or the “store model”, where you pick your product and then give your money. We choose the store model based on user preference–people are skeptical by nature.

We simulated a dialog: the machine asks one question per screen and everything is very clear. One of our challenges was that people wanted us to put more information on the screens so that people could complete a transaction with fewer screens. But given the broad audience, having more screens with fewer information on the screens made it easier for people to use the system.

To overcome the challenges of having to deal with existing machines with a somewhat random layout, we came up with a primary color scheme: the colors of the machines relate to the colors of the interface. The machine has been in use for eight years now and has been doing very well.

We learned that 50% of our users don’t have a bank account; they are purely in the cash economy. That means that the concept of the touch screen was very alien to them. We did some studies that showed that a lot of people didn’t understand the concept of touching the screen. So we introduced a smaller start button as a target. (You can actually touch anywhere on the screen to get started.)

You can never make assumptions about things that are so obvious that you don’t need to deal with them.

We also did a series of Subway Cars.
– change people’s attitude through design (make people behave more civilized by giving them a better environment)
– physical design affects psychological comfort
– physical “instruction”
[didn’t catch the rest oft he bullets]

[Showed some subtle touches in the design of the cars. They made a full-scale mock-up of the trains.]

We are always in the situation of creating things for situations that we don’t know, so you need to do research, build prototypes, and study how people react to them.

[Showed a dynamic map of where the train is as a way of reassuring people.]

We did the Help Point intercom, which has two buttons: Information and Emergency. The Help Point intercom looks more like a light fixture; it’s very visible, sends out a soothing blue color.

Designing the Taxi/Taxi 07
– taxi as iterface
– easy to spot available cab
– getting in quickly
– customer in control – back seat driver
– exit safely

Some people were proposing an entirely new infrastructure for taxis; we believe in incremental improvements that might actually be implementable. We addressed all the different touch points and tried to address them.

We designed an improvement to the availability signs with ultra-bright signs that make it clear when the taxi is available. We designed a way to get into the cab that is easy to press because you sometimes have your hands full. We also designed a control environment for passengers to control climate, power, light, pay, see a map, and other info all from inside the cab. We also added a warning light to the back of the cab to tell other people when passengers are exiting the cab.

We built a prototype of the availability display on a real cab, and proposed the idea of a rideshare sign that lets other people know they can share a ride.

JetBlue Self-service Check-in Kiosk [wow, I love those kiosks; great to meet the designer]

Most companies buy a kiosk off the shelf; JetBlue made theirs from scratch. We designed it to look friendly but to have a privacy design so its hard for people to look in. [The UI design is beautiful.]

Civic Exchange for the Van Alen Institute
– a public information exchange for downtown NYC

NYC Streetlife–some explorations of ideas:

[Showed a concept where the Dont Walk sign on streets shows exercises you can do while you wait; a way to use the time without wasting it and prevent jaywalking as well as a way to encourage people to strike up a conversation.]

[Showed a concept for built-in signs that people can sit underneath and write their own messages, to encourage better behavior for people who want to get their message out.]

[Showed an elevated platform on the street, accessible by stairs, for people to smoke above the level of normal people.]

[Showed bars for people to get a hug in parks.]

[Showed a plastic man near subway platforms for people to stick their gum on.]

[Showed a sort of bench that looks like a psychologists couch configuration, so people can lay down and talk, and another person can sit and listen.]

Bloomberg Displays

– Tried to create a soothly, “reductive” version of the device to try and calm down the frenzied atmosphere of the trading floor

– We created a second version with a flexible arm and adjustable display orientations to reflect Bloombergs expanding market penetration into other industries

– A slick-looking fingerprint device that attempts to be desirable and precious to help people overcome their desire to not give their fingerprint

The Door — Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

– To try and make websites appealing in the context of a mueseum with a bunch of other physical, real objects, we made this beautiful transparent door that you push. Every 15 degrees, a new website shows up on the display


– made an engaging display on the storefront of Bloomingdales all controlled by motion sensors. When you walk closely to the window, you turn on one flower after another, and you play a melody.

Whenever people see behavior in result to their actions, they attribute more intelligence than there really is. We made sure the sensors were very narrowly triggered to show people they had control over the flowers.

[She showed some kind of tower of cherry blossoms in the Carnegie mansion that also responds to movement]

Nosy Parker

– [chairs that people sit on that take pictures of the person sitting and then the pitures interact with other pictures from other chairs, trying to encourage interactions between people]

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