Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Emil Rottmayer, Apple Keyboards & Life360

Weekly Update 2016-14: Getting the club started using Arduino RGB LEDs, the experience of changing the batteries in an Apple Keyboard, and the whimsical yet secure-feeling design of an app that constantly knows your location and every move.

Music: Emil Rottmayer
If you're not up on the new New Wave that's hitting 2016 like a ton of bricks straight out of the 80s, you're not living. HOME, otherwise known as Randy Goffe, whom I mentioned in a previous post, has teamed up with Emil Rottmayer to create a excellent spacey electronic track that I can't get enough of. Check it out below:

This weekend I turned my home into a nightclub with some lights and music courtesy of our friend the Arduino.

A video posted by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

I must admit that I cheated a little: the light is programmed to change on a timer that I synchronized to the music by hand. But I am going to try to program the code to import the music itself. Baby steps!

I also posted my question to Designer News as I said I would, and even figured out how to phrase the post as an "Ask DN" version. Though I must say, finding out how to do that was kind of difficult. Not only is it not explained on the "Create New Post" page, it's not even linked or referenced! That seems a bit clumsy. Anyway, you can view the post here.

And I did indeed go for my first run in a while...five months now! And oh boy I am sore.

This week I will be attempting to make more Arduino stuff happen so that I can get my journal up and posted to my website. I also want to go for maybe...two runs? Depending on how fast I can recover from the soreness.

I'd also really like to spend Saturday afternoon ideating about what a good data usage app might look like. I don't want to bloat it out with too many useless features, I just want it to do one thing really well. Simplicity is key, and I definitely don't want to cause any ambiguity issues for the user when it comes down to dollars and cents.

Random Thought:
I was changing the batteries in my Apple keyboard the other day, and as always happens, I was struggling with the screw cap on the side that encloses the batteries. The obvious solution to my problem is that I am missing a coin, which is the required tool to fit inside the slot and open the compartment. Isn't it weird that some items are designed to rely on coins to open/close/operate? I suppose coins are something everyone usually has on hand, and the process of locating a coin is just arduous enough to not accidentally operate the function on the device, while common enough to be found in a pinch.

That said, the placement of the screw cap on the Apple keyboard is so out of the way that I really couldn't see anyone accidentally opening it by mistake if it were operable with human fingers alone (the easiest tool to locate – they're on the ends of your arms!). So I suppose I find this entire process well-meaning, but useless and a bit cumbersome.

Inspiration: Life360
I spoke a little about this app during my experience using an Android phone, but I wanted to share some screenshots and points about the app that I think are really great.

This was a gif!! Yep, the guy was dancing across the screen.

In this highly digital age, people are definitely more forthcoming and less private about their personal information than they were, say, ten years ago. That said, it can still be a bit daunting to grant someone access to view your location all the time. This is the perfect scenario in which a bit of good design will really help an app to gain stickiness and make people feel safe in providing the bits of information that it needs in order to function. 

Life360 does a great job of this. The first thing I really liked was the choice of avatars. Look, I'm a wizard! In case you don't want to add a picture, this was a great feature. You may also notice that each person's battery life is displayed. I have never seen this before in any app of this kind. Really nice touch. In case you're tracking someone and their phone is about to die, you'll know why they're offline.

Life360 also offers email notifications when your loved ones arrive at home. My sister mentioned that she really likes this feature, so that she doesn't have to wait up staring at an app, making sure that I'm home. Sisterly love!

Imagine the confetti floating to the bottom :) It was really pleasant.

Good design inspires trust and the feeling of accountability which, in a service such as this, is important and allows people to feel that their personal information is being used responsibly. Well done, you weird app that's basically for stalking people!

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