Saturday, December 26, 2009

Design vs. Technology

There is a good article over on BusinessWeek about the nature of technology vs. design thinking in the innovation process. Folks like Don Norman and PARC director Mark Bernstein commented. My commentary submitted as below:

Norman's conclusion comes from the view that technology tends to precede design thinking. That is, a new technique or technology is invented first, before design thinking takes over and refines it. Refinement requires the understanding of user needs, which is the focus of the design research. So the mobile phone and mobile communication is invented first, and took Apple to refine it into the iPhone experience. The invention of the mobile communication is the disruption, and the iPhone impact, while great, is a good refinement of the original invention.

But, the real world is messy, you'd say---sometimes the need precedes the invention, and other times it follows. I'd say "Yet other times, they co-evolve." The invention of laser printing is a good example of the need and the technology co-evolving. The need to mass produce paper documents had been around for a long time. But later as people started using computers, the need to translate graphics on the screen into marks on paper evolved at the same time. I suppose one could argue that Xerography was the invention, and laser printing was merely a refinement. We can go round and round on that debate and not get anywhere.

Ultimately, the measuring stick that we ought to use is the amount of impact each (tech vs. design) brings to the innovation process. The question is "How much impact does either design or technology eventually deliver?" I think Norman is mostly right. It is much easier to think of major disruptions coming from the technology side. Not many people (at least not the general public) thought about wanting a personal computer back in the 70s when it was being invented at PARC. To wit, that's why it we call it a "disruption"! It disrupts current ways of doing things. There is an element of surprise in the "disruption", suggesting that the need might not have been there yet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mac vs. PC people

"Mac vs PC People: Personality Traits & Aesthetic/Media Choices" -- includes links to full report, which drew on aggregated data from 76,000 PC and Mac users that asked about aesthetic preferences, media choices, and personality traits

Their executive summary:

* Mac People are more likely to see the existing world in a light of “sameness” and thus express a need to be perceived as different and unique. PC People are more likely to see the world as “different enough already” and appreciate “being in tune with those around them.”

* Media choices and preferences vary greatly between the two groups, with Mac People trending toward more independent films, specialized comedians and design-centric magazines, and PC People trending toward more mainstream alternatives as well as sports.

* From a personality perspective, Mac People are more likely to describe themselves as “verbal”, “conceptual”, and “risk takers”, with PC People countering that they are “numbers oriented”, “factual” and “steady, hard workers”.

Fast Company points out that most of these differences can be attributed to the different computer manufacturers' marketing strategies.

And of course the whole report should be taken with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

newspapers (Tehrān)

newspapers (Tehrān)
Originally uploaded by birdfarm
I'm trying to really understand censorship if what this comment on this picture is saying is really true.

"Our Iranian-American guide told us that even though each newspaper is essentially the mouthpiece of a political party, and despite some government censorship, there is still a far broader range of opinions to be found in Iranian newspapers than there is in the mainstream newspapers in the US (because there are far more viable parties than in our two-party system).

Interesting, n'est-ce pas? "

Thursday, June 18, 2009

iPhone in Japan

In May, I was just in Fukuoka Japan and was paying attention to what was going on in the mobile phone area in the last year or so since I last visited. What was interesting to me was that many Japanese mobile users that were using iPhones seems to have two phones. It then dawn on me that iPhone does have a chance in Japan, even if it doesn't support two-handed input. The reason is that people often own two phones in Asia. One is personal, and the other is given by the company.

For many people, the company phone is mostly just a digital leash. The other phone that they buy for themselves, not only represent their taste, it is also an entertainment device for all of the off-clock activities, as well as a fashion device. Turns out that iPhone actually fits this description well. I saw a decent amount of people using iphones to listen to music, play games.

The users on the trains that I saw still could not operate the iphone with one hand, but when they do get a chance to set down, they seem to really enjoy their iphone experience.

Maybe I was wrong after all...

Moreover, maybe Apple will make the enterprise use as smooth as possible.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Review of Salomon Dialogue Snowboard Boots


Salomon Dialogue snowboard boots speak to your feet, providing an excellent balance of comfort and support for freestyle-oriented riders.

nice comfortable and solid boot

Ed Chi palo alto, ca 4/29/2009


4 5

Gift: No

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Good Traction, Quality Construction, Warm, Comfortable, Easy Lacing System

Best Uses: All Mountain

Describe Yourself: Advanced

I board about 10-15 days a year, and have finally wore out my Salomon Malamute (4 years old). Had another brand before the Salomon, and didn't like it, so stuck with Salomon this time. This boot compares very favorably to the Malamute, which was an amazing boot. Both boots are very comfortable, and have a great lacing system.

On sizing: The Malamute feels like it's sized a bit bigger (I think I have the 27, which is sized 9 US), while the F24 I also own is smaller (27, sized 9, but feels like 8.5). So this time, I bought a 9.5 US sized, and it fits almost perfectly. A bit thicker in the lining, and took one day on it so far, and the sizing have already improved.

Overall, this is a good boot, and I see they have improved the inner lace, which now have plastic hooks instead of the nylon loops that eventually wore out in my Malamute. The cable stays are also a welcome addition, keeping the boot lacing system more stable (this was also available on the F24 I own).


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

smiles in yearbooks predict marriage success later?

This is an interesting story, even though we don't know whether correlation here means causation:

"If you want to know whether your marriage will survive, look at your spouse's yearbook photos.
Psychologists have found that how much people smile in old photographs can predict their later success in marriage."

Just got back from Boston....

I hadn't spend some long-periods of time in Boston for a long time. While I went to MIT to give a talk in Janurary, it was snowing and beautiful, this time the weather was somewhat classic New England, some beautiful days that turned into rain and wind in short amounts of time.

I enjoyed some time walking around Boston Commons, Freedom Trail, and some time in Beacon Hill, Newberry St, and North End. Absolutely beautiful neighborhoods, and I could see how people would come to love living in Boston. Some places feel quite like visiting a European city, and other places are distinctly American. The food was good, and I think several Lobsters died because of my greed to incorporate them onto my plate.

My group, Augmented Social Cognition, ended up presenting 8 papers at CHI2009, the conference that brought me to Boston. The group ended up celebrating our accomplishments by some beers near the convention center. It's such a pleasure to work with a dedicated group of folks, though I'm consistently thinking about ways we can improve our research. For now, however, I feel like I need some breaks and vacation before I burn out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Review of Yakima Big Powderhound Ski Mount - 6 pair

Originally submitted at REI

Carry up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards on your Yakima® roof rack with this nicely designed, easy-to-use Big Powderhound mount.

Whistles at the top of my Xterra

By Ed Chi from Palo Alto, CA on 1/17/2009


3out of 5

Gift: No

Pros: Stable

Cons: Whistles, Hard to Install or Use

So we've had this rack for a few months, including a ride for about 9 hours. It, unfortunately, whistles at the top of our Xterra at highway speeds.

Our Thule, which was on top of our Honda CRV, didn't whistle at all, but unfortunately can't be mounted on top of the Xterra. We're thinking about giving the FatCat 6 a try, but it's quite a bit more expensive.

It's not bad if you don't mind the noise at high speeds.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Technology in Sports

I was recently asked by a reporter from the Discovery Channel about technology in sports. Specifically, she wanted to know the top ten ways in which computer technology is changing sports. Here was my response:

Generally speaking, technology in sports can be divided into three
subareas. One is in entertainment or more audience based
augmentations. One other is for refereeing. The final one is for the

For entertainment, most of the technology has to do with analytics
augmented sport broadcasting. Additional analysis of the the play
action in real time by analysts using technology has now become a lot
more common place. Line calling in Tennis, freeze frame analyses in
Football. The tricky part of this is that the technology isn't always
well-accepted. The most common example of this is the augmented
hockey puck that was rejected by audiences. The style of presentation
of the trails was quite universally hated.

For refereeing, much of the analytics that are being applied for
audiences are also being used. This is by far the most controversial,
because the traditional sense of "during course of play", the
immediacy of judgments of the referee during the action are essential
parts of many sports games. The augmentation of call reviews in football
took many years to settle down. In soccer, one company in Europe is
augmenting the ball and players to have better triangulation of the
position of each object during play (for better line calls, scoring of
points, etc.)

For athletes, it's probably the most interesting. Much of the
development here has been around body sensors. One interesting idea
(done by both Philips as well as others now) is the use of heart rate
monitors for runners. By monitoring the beat, the music player can
change the music speed to match the desired stride. This was detailed
in a special issue I edited in IEEE Pervasive Computing.

Other interesting sensor work that I've heard recently include:
(1) sensors for helmets (PARC is involved in impact sensors for
soldiers, but it should have sport applications too). My own work on
using impact sensors for judging in Taekwondo is an example of this
kind of technology applied.

(2) sensors for pressure in ski boots. The idea is to be able to
detect weight distribution on the ski boot to see if the techniques
are correct.

(3) sensors that help feedback into the equipment for better
performance. There were some skis and snowboards with active
vibration reduction.

(4) sensors for fatigue (in deciding when to 'sub' someone in soccer).