Luminous design for a bright Smart TV experience! An interview with Dale Herigstad

What is the future of Smart TV? How to create a luminous design that will enlighten TV experience across devices, and make it really consistently Smart?

Who could tell us the way better than Dale Herigstad. Dale is Chief Interaction Officer at Possible, and  an internationally recognized designer thought leader on the future of interactive and “many-screen” rich media interfaces.

Especially involved in TV Design and branding, Dale has pioneered a unique spatial context approach to designing advanced navigation systems for Interactive TV and connected screens.

Dale was also part of the research team that developed the visionary gestural interfaces that first appeared in the film”Minority Report“.

I had the chance to closely collaborate with him during the Smart TV project I headed. He kindly accepted to discuss a few questions I raised about innovation and design in digital world.

What are the next challenges when conducting an  innovation project in your area (digital devices such as Smart TV, mobile device, web interfaces)?

I envision 4 main challenges:

1. Adapting to new input methods

It’s clear that the iPhone advanced interaction with touch gesture; now we have the next step with remote gesture (i.e Kinect). The audience seems to have adapted easily to touch gesture, but not yet to distance gesture.

And with the numerous platforms, screen sizes, input methods, screen experiences can become fragmented. A key challenge in design is to make the experiences more consistent (branded) and the process of designing more efficient. This leads us to consider a new kind of designer, an “uber designer”.

Until now, we’ve built separate teams to focus on Websites, or mobile, or Television.  I see a future where “super design teams” design behaviors rather than specific layouts, so that a single concept unfolds automatically to various platforms appropriately.  Designs automatically scale, adapt, adjust to the many contexts.  This includes adapting to various input methods (gesture, touch, remote control).

2. Making complex activities simple

Innovation can make things more complex. I see new viewpoints to the contrary, where the goal is simplicity: can the design get simpler and simpler and the interface go away?  Any intelligent human can create more complexity, but it takes a kind of courage to move the other direction and simplify.

3. Integrating mobile into the TV experience

Layering mobile screens with the TV screen creates new opportunities for control of the TV (the new “remote”), but also create new viewing experiences that combine TV and Web content.

Our smartphones ARE us:  they are already prepared for commerce, identity and connection.

4. Utilising the space in FRONT of the screen (between  the viewer and the screen)

With new emerging technologies like stereo 3D and Augmented Reality, it is possible to utilize the space in front of the screen (between the viewer and the screen).  I call this the new Interaction Space: when Orange introduced stereo 3D on its Smart TV it actually allows for information and content to extend into the space in front of the TV.

For example, interface elements can project toward the viewers, allowing them to virtually “touch” and move the interface elements.

Using Kinect to ’grab’ screenshots from a TV
Grab Magic!
 by Aral Balkan

 

What specific approach do you develop in your interactive design work  (content bubbling up…)?

My interaction design approach unfolds the following steps:

1. Understanding the screen space

Most interface design looks quite flat: but, when we start to layer and use animated transitions, it creates the illusion of moving in space. An example is the Pull Back for “Search” feature (searching for a content in the video offering), where you pull back from current context and introduce the Search functions. It’s really about trying to capture the meaning of zooming, perspectives, going in-depth, like with a camera.

2. Utilising Z space

This refers to the space between the viewer and the screen I have mentioned previously, and to the multiple devices involved in the TV experience.

3. Use of careful, informative animation (rich media  approach)

4. Directions, in light of screen real estate (areas on the screen) and directional navigation  (giving meaning to left, right, up, down)

5. App thinking (everything is an app: modularity)

Live TV is just one of the different apps a viewer can launch: it’s really about modularity and customization. With browsing TV, for example, some viewers like the common grid. Others prefer mosaique to discover TV channels:  let’s make all these différent apps available. Many smartphones have no “Menu”, for example, but present apps used.

6. SIMPLE / POWERFUL / ENGAGING

These 3 notions must be present to create a successful interaction design.

7. Multiplicity (helping customers tie together and manage experiences on multiple devices: SEAMLESS is  the goal).  It’s all about the transitions. More and more viewers are multi-tasking as a part of their TV experience.

Scaling experiences is a key notion:  the TV program remains present, but scales as the viewer moves to more depth of experience with additional content .

What role design can play in an  innovation project?

Design strengthens clarity of branding, gives products a perceived value, and visualizes concepts.

Clarity of branding is key in a world where several brand layers are at play on a limited TV screen: CE operating system, channels, websites, advertisers, content producers. It’s complex issue to differentiate what the service provider brings from what the TV channel brings, and to differentiate whose brand it is.

Quality of design adds value to the product: we sometimes say “the interface is the brand”, and use Apple as an example of good design paying off.

Visualising, mocking up ideas to discuss and test (formal or informal), rapid prototyping are part of the design approach.

Good design in interface innovation brings out the qualities of a brand, and expresses these qualities in a tangible way.

 

Design in the pure sense highlights the meaning of the innovation: the values and beliefs enclosed are brought closer to the user experience ideas.

What is your  opinion about latest design methodologies like “design thinking”, and other framework or researches?

Regarding Design Thinking, I’m happy that firms are  considering design as an important aspect to product development; but, it is  becoming a “buzz word”, it’s a bit odd as I believe we have ALWAYS been saying what Design Thinking implies.

What is interesting is that Design Thinking is moving into areas of tech firms and business that would previously never have considered it. An important thing to me is to have companies that visualize the future to direct the present plans.

Gamification is another trending topic: one might compare gamification to buzz word Design Thinking. I  try to build a more “subtle” view, behind the obvious stuff:  the world is intringuing to me, it’s about engagement. Great games are very immersive, you get emotionally involved, it’s well done. It doen’t mean you necessarily have a score. When we build a 3D space interface, joined with great animation, and intriguing dimension, it’s also fully part of the Gamification.

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