Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

Laptop Music, Kinected Hacking, and Supply Chain Design

by Jon on November 9th, 2011 - Comments (0)

Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

If You Make Sure You’re Kinected, the Xbox is on the Wall
Last week, Microsoft’s Kinect turned one year old, and the Redmond giant celebrated the “Kinect Effect” with a video highlighting future applications of the technology from healthcare to music to education.

Released in November 2010, and originally intended for use primarily in gaming and entertainment as part of the Xbox platform competition with Nintendo’s groundbreaking Wii, the Kinect’s advanced gesture, facial, and voice recognition features were soon hacked for a variety of purposes ranging from creating art to assisting the disabled.

Microsoft knows it has a good thing going and has accepted and even embraced the alternate uses of the Kinect. The Microsoft Kinect Effect Web site is chronicling new and inventive ways the technology is being implemented.

Playing Laptop Music
Audio production moved from analog tape systems to the convenience of digital long ago with the advent of ProTools software and other audio editing suites. For creating live music in a spontaneous and active way, however, the bits and bytes have always lagged a little. This isn’t to say that performers haven’t incorporated computer generated sounds and tracks into their live performances … far from it. But the computerized track has always lacked the instant, live, and personal feedback and flexibility that more traditional instruments are capable of.

Stutter Edit, an innovative piece of software designed by pioneering DJ and producer BT and built by Boston-based iZotope, aims to change all that. Stutter Edit takes live sample manipulation to another level, allowing performers to play effects like an instrument and remix in real time.

DJs and electronic musicians have pushed the envelope when it comes to defining musical instruments, the most obvious example being the turntable, which has evolved from a machine for audio playback to an expressive tool used with technique and artistry. Laptops and touch screen devices are the new frontier for digital music. Expect to see more software innovation on the way, if the BT and iZotope collaboration is any indication of what’s possible when musicians and tech get together.

Come Together, Right Now: Design is Integration
The concept of total system design is gaining traction in the business world. The idea that design can be an integrative method, bringing together engineering, business, and users, while a familiar meme to the UX and software communities is still a relatively fresh way to look at problem sets in the larger world of corporate thinking.

Design blog Thought You Should See This, provides a great summation of GE CMO Beth Comstock’s talk at the Design at Scale conference.

In the presentation, Comstock describes the company’s overall process and how design fits in. “At an engineering-focused company like GE, the tech teams and engineers rule. ‘They push the limits of science every day,’ she said. What they need, however, is the ability to pull all the various pieces and insights together and this, she averred, is a role for design.”

Designing the Supply Chain
One of the unheralded but critical business innovations at Apple over the past decade, is the company’s design, creation, and management of a highly optimized supply chain.

A revealing Bloomberg Businessweek article explains how Apple has effectively hamstrung competitors like HP and HTC year after year by locking down everything from air freight delivery to critical parts like touchscreens, months in advance. Gartner has rated Apple’s supply chain as the world’s best for four years in a row.

Apple’s business excellence and design focus apparently doesn’t just extend to its products, but to all of the systems that make up the company. Design thinking may be much maligned as a buzz word lacking substance, but here we can see where the active, creative problem solving for business systems has reaped substantial rewards.

Get Up and Get Fit
The evolution of body and skin top fitness devices took another step this month as mobile products company Jawbone released the Up wristband which works with an iPhone app to track everything from your sleep cycles to your physical activity.

Competing with the Fitbit clip on sensor and the BodyMedia FIT, the Jawbone Up seems to have at least one major advantage, it’s water resistant. So, you can wear it while you’re in the shower. Personally, I’d love to have one of these devices that I could wear while swimming. Maybe that will come in Jawbone Up version 2.

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Cloud Co-opetition, Hurricane Irene Infovis, and Nokia’s New Design Emphasis

by Jon on September 3rd, 2011 - Comments (0)

Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

Visualizing Irene
For those of us on the Eastern seaboard of the United States, last week was quite a ride, starting with Hurricane Irene wrecking havoc all the way from North Carolina to Massachusetts, and continuing with an arduous clean up effort to remove the debris, start repairing the damage, and get back our lives into some sense of normalcy.

If you’re interested in storm data, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Visualization Laboratory released this fantastic satellite imagery of the storm as Hurricane Irene approached the Outer Banks. And in related data viz, the Web site of New York’s flagship public radio station, WNYC published this infographic of the New York City Evacuation Zones. This interactive map graphic allowed residents to zoom in to specific addresses to see if their area was effected.

Cloud Co-opetition
Who said Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft couldn’t play nicely together? These high tech rivals may be competing for the same users in some markets, but in the cloud, apparently the only enemy is downtime. This is the reason Apple’s iCloud runs on Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s elastic cloud. Who would’ve thought?

From the Ashes Rose Apple
To truly appreciate Apple’s dominance today as the tech product company of the decade, and its recent stint as the world’s most valuable company by market capitalization, it’s worth looking back at the firm’s amazing journey over the past 15 years. The Boston Globe’s Innovation Economy blog takes a trip down memory lane, to 1997, when Apple’s prospects were bleak to say the least: “When Michael Dell, founder of rival computer maker Dell Inc., was asked what he would do if he ran Apple, he said that he would ‘shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.’” That year, Steve Jobs, recently returned to the Apple fold, gave the keynote address at Boston MacWorld and started the company on the return path to greatness, one of the most incredible turnaround stories in American corporate history.

Designing Windows 8
The Windows 8 team posted an interesting and detailed breakdown of their work designing the UI for the refresh of the Windows Explorer file management system, which includes an historic review of the user experience starting with MS-DOS. While the new Windows Explorer design still leaves much to be desired, the task analysis methodology the team uses in creating it is a fascinating read.

Nokia Puts Design First
It’s no surprise that design is at the forefront of the smartphone wars. This article examines Nokia’s renewed interest in hardware design. But is it too late for the Finnish company, who is losing market share? It’s one thing to espouse a design centric philosophy; it’s something else entirely to pull it off.

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Talent Wars, Typography, and Standing Up

by Jon on June 30th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our third links round up.

The Hiring Wars
The tech talent crunch, especially in Silicon Valley, is leading to all sorts of crazy stunts on the part of employers to recruit and hire the best dev and UX people, including acquiring their companies […]

Someday soon, your OS and browser will be the same thing

by Dirk on November 10th, 2010
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This week’s much-ballyhoed launch of RockMelt is again getting the tech intelligentsia in a lather about a potential new browser. What they seem to be ignoring is that the battle has already been won and lost: the best case scenario for RockMelt is, romantically, they become a plucky cult favourite like Flock before running out of steam and sinking […]

A new era of IT consolidation?

by Dirk on September 13th, 2010
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I don’t use the moniker “IT” very often, typically only to talk about the internal stuff at my company that has to do with computing technology in the vaguest way. Under “IT” falls our hardware and software that runs the gamut of business technology: computers, phones, Internet connection, printers, other peripherals…everything. However, with the recent wave of unexpected and in […]

The Rise of Google, Part III: A decade of leadership awaits

by Dirk on March 3rd, 2010
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At the dawn of this new decade, Google sits comfortably atop the computing industry. Dominant in search – still the killer app of the Internet, with all due respect to social networking – Google has a variety of other essential and emerging products that put them at the very pinnacle of software.

The Rise of Google, Part I: A history lesson

by Dirk on January 12th, 2010
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This is part one of a three-part series that will detail Google’s rise to becoming the dominant company in the computing industry. Part one will review the history of IBM and Microsoft, Google’s predecessors in this position; part two will take a close look at the last decade in computing and particularly at Google’s; and part three will look into […]