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Student Outreach - Collaboration Topics 2011

  1. Mobile - Intersections between potential user needs and evolving technologies.
  2. Tablet - Multi-touch interaction, gestural interface design for controlling web activities.
  3. Web Apps - Apps for mobile is a well-known way to interact with the Web; anything bigger than that?
  4. Home Dash - Are people buried among all tabs, pages, histories and notifications? How a browser can help people manage that?
  5. Do It For Me - Make your favorite web activity easy to do, across all websites!
  6. Physical Apps - bring the web to the physical world

Topic 1 Mobile: the future of the web - today!

In collaboration with: Mozilla Mobile - Contact: Thomas Arend, Principal Product Manager

Here are some guiding thoughts (read more here). Let's identify current needs, go wild with our future vision and ideas, and then use this as inspiration for the best user-centered designs:

  • Users First! - When, where and how do people use mobile devices today? Or rather: how do we live our online lives and manage social interactions - anywhere we go? Which different user types (personas) can we identify? What are use cases that represent their pain-points, unmet needs, wish lists and alternative/substitute choices?
  • The Future - Today - How would people like to use mobile in the future? What future scenarios can we envision? How are paradigms and user scenarios going to shift? Considering the user context (bus stop, cinemas, family reunion, etc) and nature for mobile, it is portable, people can just plug it into any devices, displays, etc. What future mobile scenarios we can thinking of that is valuable and meaningful to users? Which new mobile scenarios can we discover?
  • New Technologies - New Use Cases? - Considering the evolving technologies, 3D, sensors, cloud, storage, etc. What future mobile scenarios we can thinking of that is valuable and meaningful to users? Think: mobile wallet and payment options, new level of social interactions, how to be offline gracefully
  • Back from the Future - How can these innovative ideas and use cases be translated into actual product features and user-centered designs? (personas, use cases, ideas, concepts, storyboards, floor-plans, wire frames, prototypes, no limitation, no technical boundaries)
  • Scaling user-centered ideas - How can those ideas scale, more into a platform or cloud service, maybe hardware-independent (think: embedded systems)?

Topic 2: Tablet

<In collaboration with: Rainbow - Mozilla Labs>

  • With the multi-touch screen, or a embedded camera, what the future would look like when people interact with the web?
  • For two purposes: web page manipulation(e.g. navigation, activation, history, bookmark...etc.) and online media control, what would be a fun and meaningful way to interact without a keyboard and a mouse?
  • If we use gestural interfaces via camera, what would be meaningful controls?
  • If we use multi-touch screen, what would be the meaningful interactions?
  • What value would these interactions add to users?
  • Transfer these ideas to prototypes or concepts

Topic 3: Web Apps

<In collaboration with: Appetizer- Mozilla Labs>

Apps are quickly becoming a significant way for users to interact with the Web on mobiles and tablets. How might we bring apps to the browser and the Open Web?

  • Why people use apps on Mobile and tablets, please identify user value or pain-points through use cases.
  • What's great about apps to the browser and what's great about the Web to apps? What would be new features and interactions that can convey the value you identified?
  • If we see both mobile/tablets and desktop/laptop together as a whole for people to build their daily online activities, how does that ecosystem would look like?
  • What would be the value points we can add to end users, in what formats?
  • Transfer these ideas to prototypes or concepts

Topic 4: Home Dash - Organize My Browsing Activity

<In collaboration with: Prospector - Mozilla Labs>

  • How do people get back to their history, tabs, bookmarks, any pain points currently? How people use tabs as currently?
  • What other use cases on organizing browsing activity?
  • What values that extensions would add to users when organizing their web activities (as alternative of a browser function)?
  • Try out Mozilla Labs' Home Dash, is it useful or meaningful to people in use cases you identified?
  • Translate your ideas, findings to a design ideas, prototypes

Topic 5: Do It For Me

<In collaboration with: Browser-mediated services - Mozilla Labs>

With the browser being the central broker of our online interactions we have the unique opportunity to simplify the users' life by automating interactions. Under the umbrella of "Do it for Me" we explore interactions which delight the user and find the balance between automation and direct user control.

  • What web activity people do that they would like to make it more easier for them? What use cases we can identify that address their needs or pain points?
  • Some areas that might be worthy to look into, they across all website, as inspirations, but not limited to: Web Single Sign-On, Link Sharing, Contact List Management, Profile Access and Management, Application Notification, Payment Processing, Photo Collection Management, Media Preference Management, etc.
  • Translate these identified needs or pain points into ideas, concepts and prototypes.

Topic 6: Physical Apps

While sensors and network technologies are being increasingly deployed to monitor and support daily activities, our current experience of the internet is still restricted to on-screen software. In physical terms, it is still highly restricted to mouse, keyboard, headphones and, in some extreme cases, to game controllers. As technology develops, however, new opportunities are created to interact with online information. Spaces and objects can be augmented with information and provide more natural ways to input data and interact with others.

The proposal of Physical Apps is to develop Internet applications that go beyond software. They are objects that connect to the Internet to do dedicated tasks. Could it be a way for grandparents to connect to their grandchildren? Could it provide more natural interfaces for social networking? Could it be a medical diagnosis, a navigation device? Could it be a new way to shop?

Here a some guiding values that we would like you to consider when working on Physical Apps.

Single function – what single thing would improve your life or that of your friends, family, colleagues, team-mates, fans, heroes, customers, providers, hard-to-reach communities, who ever and where ever – we want you to explore new ways to experience a single function of the web.
Super normal – can you define the object by its use. Can the artefact, object or product be radically simple yet world changing? What is the ‘paper-clip’ of the Internet?
Hyper local – there is no such a thing as designing for everyone. What details of the person or people you are designing for leap out at you? What are the idiosyncratic things in their lives that make you want to design something just for them?
Demonstrate the future – we want you to ‘kick the tyres on the DeLorean’! In other words, to test the future of what a physical Internet could be. Make sure you evaluate your ideas, prototypes and designs with people – the people you are designing with and for.
Get in bed with electronics – most of the ideas might stay as ideas, but try to make some of them come to life through experience prototypes. This might mean that you get into prototyping with microcontrollers (PicAxe, PIC, Arduino, Basic Stamp, Propellors) – or it might mean that you use video as a means of sketching behaviours.

The challenge is yours. Make it centred on people. Make it relevant for the future. It could focus on open-ended research (you come back with questions rather than answers) or it could be about problem solving. Ultimately, we want you to explore this question:

How can we bring the web to the physical world?