Multiple Vibes: Vibration Studies?


The way in which devices interact all are bound by the 5 senses we humans have to interact with our world. Screens display things visually for our eyes, speakers emit audio alerts as do phones for our ears, and keyboards and force feedback joysticks for our sense of touch. Our sense of smell and taste, somewhat intertwined, are not utilized much.

I think in the main 3, we’ve gotten pretty good and knowing how to best utilize the senses via our various technological devices. The screen shows text so we can clearly see it, we can adjust the brightness to compensate for lighting levels, and image compression technologies take advantage of the fact that there are thousands (millions?) of colors we cannot see, therefore, they are removed from the image to save in file size.


Audio is the same way; speakers have volume controls, sub-woofers not only help enhance realism, but also have evolved to help the deaf. I even saw a Flash site once that with audio told you where to click to navigate… the whole site was just a blank, black Flash movie. Certain sounds have become a part of our lifestyle, and from them, we know what they are, what they mean, all by their distinct sounds. Some forms of pitch and intonation are used to evoke emotions and or illicit a response. Just like a crescendo in a song builds, so to can a simple, 2 syllable sound song invoke a feeling that the computer is asking a question, or has completed a task.


Touch is getting there. I think there are a lot of neat boundaries we are pushing. The whole virtual games are getting cooler and cooler. From the adult world, those “sensation suits” will hopefully be adopted to the gaming world, so like force feedback joysticks, when you get hit in game, you’ll “feel the punch”, or “experience the rush of the explosion”… things like that.

The whole point of this post

I feel a vibration at my hip. I grab my Cingular Text Pager. No new message. It’s my phone instead telling me I have a voicemail. They are in the same vicinity, and thus, it is very easy for me to get confused on which one it is vibrating.

Couple that with the proximity to my actual skin; loose pockets, or a thicket leather jacket I wear in winter, it makes it difficult for me to actually “feel” the phone ringing; to feel someone is calling me.

Given some of the studies done on touch I learned about in college, some people’s sensitivity to touch is based on their experiences with it growing up. This was psychology, so they were mostly talking about Freud’s theories, and how much people were comfortable with touch. If you didn’t experience a lot of affection as a child, then later in life, you were more likely to feel uncomfortable with people touching you vs. if you had a lot of affection. This is cultural, too, because some families are just not affectionate, while others are. Some touches have associations built that are positive, whilst others negative. It’s pretty complex, but to me, you can easily find the sources/causes.

Therefore, I’m not really sure you could quantify a stereotype/generality about what vibrations imply what. Therefore, I just look to music. For instance, something fast and quick implies urgency. Something constant, and then building up intensity implies someone/something wants your attention. I guess I’m not sure, if I were an engineer, how would I differentiate the vibrations between devices as well as ensure the experience is correct… enough so to be marketable and/or have a real business use. For example, ring tones do make money, thus, there is a reason to invest time in their effect on users.


…all I know is, via vibration, I’d like to know which device is telling me it has a message; my phone or my text pager. Vibrations are quiet, but get my attention more than anything since they are so personal.

Worlds Collide Panel

Was invited to speak with a panel selected for the next TIMA/Tag event yesterday evening. The concept, when worlds collide, was about taking members from the business, design, and developer worlds and putting them on a panel to ask questions to, and ask questions of. By keeping my mouth shut more than usual ( a feat, I know ) I learned some ways and attitudes that certain business leaders run their businesses with their different processes, their attitudes toward certain ideas and technologies, and how although dot com is so over-talked about, it’s still great to reflect upon to learn from.

The questions ranged from “How did you survive the post dot com, 9/11 economy”, “How do you see technology now used in your business vs. before”, and “how integral is your business process”. The inter-panel questoins were shortened because of time, but my favorite was, “why does the developer community like Flash? Why are they so excited?”. The audience, too, posed some great questions. We all got hung up on defining terms, which is a road block any mediator needs to move beyond tactfully. For example, 3 times we revisted what creativity means to us, and how it fits into our business. However, it wasn’t really needed in the overall discussion as design means on thing in the ad agency world, and another in the programming one. Still, good points from the audience asking about “diversity”, “creativity’s importance in your workplace”, “where is usability’s representation on the panel” which I responded that someone on the email list before hand had suggested we ad a content writer and usability people to the panel, and a few more about change in client demo-graphics, competitors now customers, and my favorite: big company vs. the contractor. I’m a contractor working for a big company; what does that say?

The one thing I wished I could of spoke more about was clarifying Flash before some of the more business looking members of the audience retired early, the correlation between a need for usability, and creation of jobs that fit those criteria and how that releates to the future of search engine placement. For the latter, content creation was usually done via developers/designers, or whoever was in charge of building the website/application. When journalists got involved, and other talented writers realized with a change in demographics, audience targeting, and modification of headline writing, they were a perfect fit for website and application copy creation. Thus, a new job position was borne. Same held true for the usability front. You now have people whose specific job is to create wireframes and/or do use/test cases on users (perceived or not). One woman had expressed concern about telling clients that come to her for search engine placement for their websites, and she has the dutiful task of telling them that their current site needs to be grossly modified to even have a chance of being listed with a decent rating on some keywords, even before you spend any money on Google keywords, or other search engine paid listing criteria. That last part I interjected. I responded that if history is any indication, as soon as people recognize the importance of those type of talent in up front planning, execution, and later re-factoring, job positions will open immediately. It’s like the usability stuff. First people recognized that a talented team flawlessely executing an application meant jack and lost money if the user couldn’t use it, thus they see the value of a usability person. Same will hold true of search engine placement as I can definately see it as a full time job. Hell, it’s a full time job just adding blog spam comments to MT-Blacklist.

Anyway, it’s neat to hear other people’s perceptions on the dot com thing, regardless of how many times its rehashed, how they’ve remained profitable, how their process and attitudes have changed, how they are mutually exclusive and not in relation to those changes, and my favorite, talking to other contractors about what they are working on.

BTW, working in Development at Bellsouth’s Internet Group, not R&D. This is where I specifically requested I wanted to work, so was mis-spoke to via the recruiter. It’s pretty phat so far. I’ve got my first wireframe here on my desk; I’ve never had a wireframe to develop a Flash app before; pretty neat! …specially ’cause I didn’t have to do it, hehe.

Waiting For Her Ship

Long ago, family members would wait for their kin at ship docks, upon the warf anxiously awaiting to see loved ones again. During those times, it was filled with great anticipatation, impatatience, and worry.

In years past, people would meet at train stations. The host would sit patiently and wait for a period of time while waiting for their guest’s train to arrive at the station.

In years past till now, people still do this with all forms of transportation. Waiting for a car ride, waiting at the bus stop or subway station, all the while, those who wait pass the time in various ways. Some make allowances for such time, knowing that it is out of their control, so they make the most of it… others just get impatient.

This evening, while I drove in a car, I called her majesty via my cell phone to have her fetch a number from my computer I had forgotten to write down. Knowing there are certain times she is indisposed because of one form of entertainment or another, I took preemptive action to plan ahead for this, and thus called early. …not early enough.

I was forced to wait, just like generations before me, for her ride. Yet, her ride consisted of an interplanetary starship, landing at an Endor starport, on the Tarquinas server. The ship doesn’t physically exist, and she’s already physically arrived, even though her trip didn’t take her anywhere. I was the one moving, waiting silently on the phone… while she dilligently gave the C-3P0 model droid her ticket so she could catch the ship to Correllia, and then promptly gave me her attention as her computer then dumped all physical memory as it always does attempting to run that infernal, RAM hogging game.

Have we truly transcended to a new age where we no longer wait for someone remote to physically arrive, but rather wait for someone who’s physically remote, to arrive at their non-physical destination? Seems like displaced courtesy and patience to me…

…still, had my parents waited to start dinner until my Starcraft game was over, I would of had less arguments in college when I lived at home part of the time. There are certain digital engagements and meetings one must be present for, even if you physically haven’t moved. It is important to note, however, that your attention is still grounded in one world or the other.

…maybe that’s the next age; when your attention can be in two places at once, regardless if that place is physical, or digital. I’ve seen some co-workers and a manager or two do it. Who knows.

Anyway, my point with the above is I’m not just taking into account people’s physical availability nowadays, but also their digital ones. Some just digital. Really, it comes down to how much time they can give me attention, but what I find fascinating, is I’m taking premptive action towards travel time that doesn’t really take you anywhere, knowing that her majesty will be busy during that time… even if I’m standing right next to her.

Or maybe this metaphor is shot out of game context. Fuggit, I’m going to bed.

iMac’s are at Schlotzsky’s Deli

Just got back from lunch break from class. Dude, behind the drink stand at Schlotzsky’s, there are 3 iMac’s, the ones with the half-ball and the pivot flat screen! There were a ton of small games on it, mainly for kids I’m guessing, and I guess there was an internet connection as well… didn’t want to gank them from the two kids and women on the 3 of them to find out.

Anyway, neat concept to have comp’s at a Deli.