physical UI

Hearthstone’s Success Could be Attributed to its Physical UI

In our previous article titled “Capturing Gamers’ Attention through User Interface” we’ve briefly mentioned a Blizzard game called Hearthstone. I’ve chosen to write about this game not only because of its success but because how the game developers managed to drive the hammer home when it comes to UI.

Also, this isn’t a sponsored post. Blizzard isn’t paying us to write about them. Although we’d settle for a couple of Hearthstone packs. (Blizzard please?) Read More

ux vs ui design

The Argument Between UX and UI Design

If you’ve been going around the web reading articles regarding the importance of UI designer and the roles that it encompasses, you might have stumbled on a couple of pieces which compares UI and UX design.

But what exactly are the two? Why are there are a lot of people arguing over these roles? Read More

games and user interface

Capturing Gamers’ Attention Through User Interface

When we talk about user interface, those that have an idea of it will instantly think of a clutter-free website. Drop-down menus, pop-ups, hover options, and all the other elements necessary to reduce the effort of viewers are what comes to mind.

However, let’s take it a bit further and talk about games and user-interface. Read More

wireless energy transfer

Envisioning Wireless Energy Transfer

When Nikola Tesla showed that energy could be transferred wirelessly in the late 1800s, he gave birth to an idea that would only be realized in recent years.

Wireless energy transfer first began to attract mainstream media attention early in 2001 when online science news site touched on the subject of wireless power transfer in space in an article about new power sources to meet increasing demand. Now, only a decade later, wireless energy transfer is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

How Wireless Energy Transfer Works

Wireless energy transfer does exactly what it says on the tin – it enables the powering of devices and appliances without the need for wires and cables. It works by making use of the principle of resonant coupling – devices and appliances use copper coils which, when tuned to the correct frequency, resonate with one another.

One coil is plugged into the wall while another is attached to an electronic device. The wall coil creates an electromagnetic field which resonates with the latter coil, which generates some energy in the process which will power the particular electronic device.
Any obstacles sitting between the device and the wall coil are inconsequential to the power transfer, and human beings are unaffected because the human body does not respond to magnetic fields.

Limitations of Wireless Energy

A number of companies and academic institutions (including Intel and MIT) are involved in a race to be the first to release marketable wireless energy packages, however, there are a number of limitations to the full implementation of wireless energy transfer:

1. Size: the copper rings which create resonance and energy are simply too big for them to be part of any wireless energy package.

2. Range: the range of wireless energy transfer is just a few meters, which is a major hurdle.

3. Efficiency: wireless energy transfer ensures between 45% and 80% of the energy put in is transferred, which is much less efficient than regular wired connections.

4. Cost: the cost of developing and implementing wireless energy networks means that it would be too expensive for the end-user to afford at this point.

These limitations, however, do not mean that marketable wireless energy cannot be achieved – already companies like Powermat have released a wireless charging ‘mat’ for everyday mobile devices, with the promise of much more to come.

The Future of Wireless Technology

When Wi-Fi and wireless internet as we know it was first developed in the early 1990s, it was revolutionary. Now, no more than twenty years later it is commonplace and mundane. Almost every bar one walks into boasts either free or paid-for wireless services enabling customers to check emails and surf the net. It would make perfect sense to say that wireless energy transfer is going to go the same way.

In line with this vision it would be safe to assume that one day a person would be able to walk into a bar of coffee shop and would not only be able to have instant access to the internet but would also enjoy any devices they have on them being powered or charging automatically.

It does not seem that this would be very far from the truth, especially with companies like Witricity promising marketable wireless power by the middle of 2011. Apart from the commercial gain and its convenience, however, wireless power does offer to fight a more noble cause as well.

Renewable Energy Sources

The grandfather of wireless energy transfer, Nikola Tesla, in the 1890s pointed out that one day all electronic devices would be able to harvest the electromagnetic energy which was naturally present in space. To consider this presents one with a mind-blowing array of possibilities. If one were able to create electronic devices which would harness the energy in space, then one would have essentially created a renewable power source, and the implications of that would be immense.

user interface

User Interface: Impact on Developing Loyal Visitors

When someone asks you what makes you a loyal customer to a certain store, what do you tend to answer? Quality of service, the food they serve, the place’s ambiance, and so on, right? You wouldn’t want to hang out in a shabby place whose service doesn’t equal the amount of money you pay them?

This is similar to when we visit a website. The quality of service is how easy it is to navigate your site. Your cuisine is your content. The place’s ambiance is your site’s overall design and user-interface. Let’s focus on the last one.

First, what exactly is a user-interface?

To sum it up briefly, user-interface, or UI, can be define as the visitor’s whole experience in the site, including, but not limited to: graphic design, page layout, site’s content, site’s loading time, and many others.
UI is one of the major foundations that can help a site gain loyal customers. It’s the key to making a visitor stay and return to your website.

So how do you exactly achieve this?

Can a new aspiring website make it big in the internet by creating a great UI? Yes, it can. How, you ask? Well, let’s list some of those things below:

• Do not waste time – nobody likes it and it creates an instant distrust. Instead make your website as user-friendly as possible. Design it so that in a few clicks your visitors will find what they’re looking for. Remember: fewer clicks mean lesser time and effort.
• Color – make sure the color of your site is captivating and soothing at the same time. Think of Facebook and Twitter. You only see two colors when visiting those sites: blue and white. That’s it. It’s easy on the eyes and doesn’t impose a lot of shade to their users.
• More visual, less texts – people tend to get intimidated when they see blocks of text. So stay away from them. If you can make your site more visual, like using icons to represent certain things, then do it. Drop-down menus, hover options, and pop-up boxes are also a great way to increase positive viewer experience.

Content versus interface

The interface should go hand in hand with the site’s content. The interface should subtly direct your visitors to your content where you will lure them further in. See it like a tunnel, the deeper they dive in your website, the longer they’ll spend in it, and the longer they spend time in there means that your interface is working.
Also, the path towards your content shouldn’t yell. It should be inviting, teasing, playing on the natural curiosity of people.

But do not be too limiting. Make sure your site is as user-friendly to PC users as much as to the mobile users and other devices that can access your site.

Catering to all devices is crucial in developing trust to your viewers, turning them from new visitors to avid, loyal customers that will return time and again because of your simple user interface and the quality of service that it provides.


The Dilemma of Going Wireless

Silent, invisible signals have become the primary medium where communication signals are sent. Computer networks, television, and telephones have all lost their cables.

Cancelling television services to save money in favor of cheaper rental services such as Redbox has become a growing trend in the United States. Some people have adopted endless free video through the thousands of available websites. Those who have wanted a cheaper alternative to traditional television are switching to satellite services. Those satellites lead me to another wireless device. The cellular phone.

Why Cellular?

The original reasoning for this transition was one of practicality. Why should a person need a landline telephone restricted to one location when the cellular phone can be used to contact anyone anywhere? Why should I pay for a telephone line that I rarely use? These two questions hold sound logic, but the exclusive use of a cellular device has risks.

Falling into the Cellular Pit

Unreliability is one of the most annoying features of current cellular phones. Dropped calls are frustrating, counterproductive, and all too common. Carriers can cite statistics to make their networks sound better than those of the competition, phone manufacturers can cite better technology, but probability does not discriminate.

I have experienced dropped calls with my cellular phone regardless of the carrier or model. I was on my cellular phone discussing a technical issue with Hewlett Packard; I was about to receive the answer to my question when the call was dropped. Not only did I have to redial the number and go through the tedious touch tone menu again, but I had to explain my situation with another agent (my previous agent had taken another call). If you want a conversation with a much lower chance of signal loss, stick to a land line.

The numerous feature offers of modern devices are sales gimmicks I call “feature traps.” The modernized cellular phones, often called “smartphones,” do much more than exchange telephone conversations. Your phone can now multitask as a texting device, Internet access hub, gaming console, and much more. These extra services often cost money, of course, the same money you tried to save by ending your television service. The land line telephones offer only basic services: send and receive calls, caller ID, and a message machine. As an added bonus, current land line telephone sets are a much cheaper purchase than their wireless alternatives.

The previously mentioned feature traps are also a headache in both the public and private environments. Every movie theater I have gone to includes someone who forgot to shut off their cellular phone, leaving the annoying ringtones a frequent distraction. The same thing happens within stores. Someone delays their leave of the checkout line in order to reply to a text message. Not only does this disruption irritate customers, but it costs the store money, since time is being taken away from processing merchandise purchases. This is especially dangerous on roads. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that texting and talking on the phone caused eighteen percent of all distracted-driving fatalities in 2009.

A Breach in the Cell

The greatest difference between land line and cellular phones is security. While the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is allowed to tap into telephone conversations via the USA Patriot Act, smartphones have made the issue even more menacing. The integration of information sharing technologies such as Bluetooth and software applications has become a new method of attack for cyber stalkers and cyber bullies In addition, GPS data taken from a cellular phone can be used to track your every move.

One advantage of cellular phones emerges from the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call List which forbids telemarketers to contact your cellular phone unless you allow it. Therefore, any unknown salesperson/machine calling you on your cellular phone can be easily identified as a scammer.

The greatest difference between the cellular and land-line phones is the ease of use. On the cellular phone, people can contact you whenever they want to using numerous methods, since the phone is always on your person. With a land line phone, the only time you have to answer phone calls is when you are at home; when you are away, you do not have to worry about turning off a land line phone. In addition, having a land line phone is considerate of others. Many people (especially those of the pre-1950 generation) were unable to bridge the gap between analog and digital communication, thus left at a disadvantage in the world of wireless; keeping a land line is a convenience to both them and you.