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From Pixels to Plastic

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I’m not from a firm of lawyers. I’m from a design consultancy in London, in the UK.

Schulze & Webb is a London design consultancy. We work in near-term product R&D and user experience. There are two of us. You might be able to guess that the other guy is called Schulze.

These are the kind of projects we work on.

The top left is a little plastic puppet that plugs into your computer via USB and represents one of your friends on instant messaging. When your IM buddy goes offline, it falls over. When they come online again, this chap stands up. We’ll talk about it more later.

This [on the right] is a metal mobile phone, part of a project investigating customisation and short-run manufacture with Nokia. The metal has what’s called a eutectic melting point which means it goes from solid to liquid with no intervening bending state, like ice goes to water. This happens, very precisely, at 47 centigrade.

That means we can re-model your mobile phone for you, directly in-front of you, in a machine, in a few minutes. It’s a design probe, to provoke what you might do once the form of the phone is malleable. What business models that promotes. What forms it invites.

It also means that if you leave the phone on your dash in your car on a hot day, you’ll come back to a puddle of molten metal. And you also wouldn’t want to use the phone because it has cadmium in it, which is bad for your brain.

Oh well!

At the bottom left here is one of Jack’s previous investigations into lab-grown meat, which is flat, wet, and can come in any shape you want. Here’s a fellow eating a Pink Panther. He doesn’t look very sure about it.

You could say these fall into the general area of user experience.

And we also do the information architecture and screen design for Blackberry apps, and for new Web applications… but those are more boring to look at, and besides I signed bits of paper that say I’m not allowed to show them at talks. That’s a lucky escape for you, I think.

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March 25, 2007

This presentation is on Generation C and why to work with physical products, and is called From Pixels to Plastic. It was originally delivered in March 2007 at ETech 2007.