Design LatestSay Goodbye to the Blob. Google's New Emoji Have ArrivedYouTube's Redesign Makes It Easier to Watch All the VideosThis Artist Turns Aerial Photography Into Prints That'll Last ForeverFigma Wants Designers to Collaborate Google-Docs StyleHumanscale, the Classic Design Tool, Gets a Second Life

https://www.wired.com/category/design/latest https://www.wired.com/story/google-emoji-redesign https://www.wired.com/story/google-emoji-redesign <p data-reactid=”239″><span class=”lede” data-reactid=”240″>The blobs first </span>appeared in the spring of 2013. They were roundly amorphous, like cookie dough plopped onto a baking sheet. Their faces, a rainbow of emotions, had mouths that turned up and down in imprecise dashes.</p> <p data-reactid=”243″>For years, the blobs sat on the keyboards of Android phones and Google Hangouts as the goofy counterparts to Apple’s more lifelike <a href=”https://www.wired.com/tag/emoji” data-reactid=”245″>emoji</a>. And in that time, they amassed both <a href=”http://mashable.com/2017/05/25/android-o-new-emoji-bad-google/#Cxa4MMBjLmqg” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”248″>haters</a> and <a href=”https://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/6d91ad/googles_blob_emoji_are_great_and_no_one_will/di0suih/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”251″>loyal acolytes</a>. Now, though, that debate is over. As part of its <a href=”https://www.wired.com/story/android-oreo-release-date-features/” data-reactid=”254″>Android Oreo</a> update, Google replaced the blob with symmetrical circles and more human-like figures.</p> <p data-reactid=”257″>The update marks the biggest change Google’s made to its emoji in years. But it didn’t happen overnight. Emoji—like so many of the objects they’re designed to represent—evolve. Transforming the blob’s shape, color, and meaning, was a lengthy process that started, arguably, the moment Google’s blob emoji was born.</p> <h3 data-reactid=”259″>Emoji Evolution</h3> <p data-reactid=”261″>When Google designed the blobs nearly half a decade ago, the emoji landscape had already begun to coalesce around the perfectly round circles seen on iOS. Android emoji, by comparison, were delightfully kooky.</p> <p data-reactid=”265″>“I had a Japanese code name for them: <em data-reactid=”267″>ponyon</em>,” says Satoe Haile, a designer at Google who, along with the contracted Japanese design firm IC4, helped conceptualize the blob. <em data-reactid=”270″>Ponyon</em> roughly translates to the “sound of something bouncing,” which aptly described the emoji’s jubilant, non-human form. The designers intentionally illustrated the blobs so they would be lighthearted and expressive, even when their faces were grumpy or sad. “We wanted to create something cute,” Haile says.</p> <p data-reactid=”273″>At the time, this winking attitude made sense. It was 2013, and emoji weren’t the loaded graphics they are today. It would be another year before emoji would show up in an official White House economic <a href=”https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/why-the-white-house-is-using-emojis/381307/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”275″>report</a>; two years before 😂 would become the Oxford dictionary’s <a href=”http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/11/word-of-the-year-2015-emoji/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”278″>word of the year</a>.</p> <p data-reactid=”281″>Soon after the blobs first appeared, though, the way people used emoji started to change. “We noticed that emoji were no longer these cutesy, highly-branded things that everybody could go out and design in crazy ways,” says Gus Fonts, a product manager for Android. “But rather, they’d become this really essential tool for communication.”</p> <p><cite class=”caption-component__credit” data-reactid=”289″>Google</cite></p> <p data-reactid=”290″>That made the blob’s unique design a problem for communicating across platforms. There was no guarantee that the emoji you sent to your friend from your <a href=”https://www.wired.com/2013/08/google-nexus-7/” data-reactid=”292″>Nexus 7</a> would be the same emoji they’d see on their iPhone, and vice versa. For a while, the 💛 on iOS turned into a <a href=”https://www.engadget.com/2014/04/30/you-may-be-accidentally-sending-friends-a-hairy-heart-emoji/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”295″>pink, hairy heart on Android</a>. Something had to change.</p> <p data-reactid=”298″>Google designers began tweaking the blob emoji in subtle ways. First, Google made the features in their expressions clearer and more pronounced. Then, in 2015, it unified the blob into a single gumdrop silhouette and reoriented every emoji so they faced directly forward. “We tried to make the expressions more orthographic so there was no confusion or conflation with direction,” says Rachel Been, a creative director at Google. Because emoji are purely graphical, any visual decision can be misinterpreted; a blob leaning to the left could mean something entirely different than one standing upright.</p> <p data-reactid=”304″>At the same time, Unicode started to push for more realism and representation in emoji. Debates around <a href=”https://www.wired.com/2015/11/emoji-diversity-politics-culture/” data-reactid=”306″>emoji gender and skin tone</a> proved complicated for Google, whose yellow blobs were intentionally neutral. “If you want to do skin tones, it would look pretty weird to do them on blobs,” says Jeremy Burge, founder of <a href=”https://emojipedia.org/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”309″>Emojipedia</a> and a member of Unicode’s emoji subcommittee.</p> <p data-reactid=”314″>In a 2016 update, Google introduced human figures and optional skin tones—an important first step. But these more realistic emoji still lived alongside the blobby expressions. To many people within Google, there was a clear discordance between the two, and so the company started to reconsider the blob’s place in its set of emoji.</p> <p data-reactid=”316″>“At no point in time did someone storm into a room and say the blobs must go,” Fonts recalls. Like most big corporations, Google moves slowly. Transitioning away from the blob took nearly two years of meetings, design sprints, and endless iterations, until the squishy circle landed on your phone today.</p> <h3 data-reactid=”318″>Enter the Squishy Circle</h3> <p data-reactid=”320″>From the start, Been and her team of designers knew they wanted to build every emoji on a simple grid. This allowed them to swap reusable parts—like eyes and mouth styles—consistently and quickly between different emoji.</p> <p><cite class=”caption-component__credit” data-reactid=”328″>Google</cite></p> <p data-reactid=”329″>As for the shape itself, Been wanted to create something that was symmetrical but not austere. “We wanted to give it a simple shape that was symmetrical so you don’t have to think about the shape, so you’re purely looking at the facial characteristics,” she says. “They have little homages to the blob. They’re not perfectly circle—they’re a little squishy.”</p> <p data-reactid=”333″>Emoji have very little space to convey a large message. A simple shape makes it easier for users to scroll through a set of more than 2,000 emoji to find the one they want. It also makes it easier for designers to accessorize emoji, a growing trend pushed by Unicode. “Think of the ‘mind blown’ emoji,” Been says. “That was very difficult to do well with a gumdrop shape.”</p> <p data-reactid=”335″>Unlike Apple, whose emoji have progressively gotten more realistic and dimensional with every update, Google opted to retain the flatness of the blobs. They created a base color palette that’s loosely connected to Material Design, the company-wide design language, and added a slight outline around each emoji to ensure they stood out against different colored backgrounds.</p> <p data-reactid=”337″>This visual minutia might seem inconsequential, but Google developed its system from the ground up to ensure future designers will be able to easily update the emoji as they change. “Thirty years down the line when we still have emoji, we’re not going to have the same designers making the set,” Been says. And the emoji designs will change. Phone screens will improve, and illustrations will eventually look outdated. Meanwhile, emoji’s meaning, like words, will evolve with culture, just as it’s always done.</p> <p data-reactid=”339″>Four years ago, the blob felt right. Today, it’s the squishy circle. In the future, who knows? But chances are good that someday down the line, emoji will once again look completely different.</p> Fri, 01 Sep 2017 13:00:00 +0000 Elizabeth Stinson article Say Goodbye to the Blob. Google’s New Emoji Have Arrived Wired: circular emoji. Tired: the ol’ gumdrop. https://media.wired.com/photos/59a5a64c7849721a8d0c3920/191:100/pass/Android-Emoji-HP.jpg https://www.wired.com/story/google-emoji-redesign/ en text/html https://www.wired.com/story/google-emoji-redesign Gear Design https://www.wired.com/story/youtubes-redesign-watch-all-the-videos https://www.wired.com/story/youtubes-redesign-watch-all-the-videos <p data-reactid=”247″><span class=”lede” data-reactid=”248″>Once upon a </span>time, <a href=”https://www.wired.com/tag/youtube” data-reactid=”251″>YouTube</a> was simply the place you went to watch a <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J%E2%80%94aiyznGQ” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”254″>cat play the keyboard</a>, or upload the video of your child, stoned out of his head after the dentist, having <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txqiwrbYGrs” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”257″>an existential crisis in your backseat</a>. In the 12 years since YouTube was created, it’s become a place for everything—a hub for gamers, livestreamers, music videos, vloggers, The Rock, breaking news, <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJQP7kiw5Fk” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”260″>”Despacito,”</a> feature films, and whatever you call that thing Logan Paul made last year.</p> <p data-reactid=”263″>While the service has grown up, the app and website have not. Both can feel cluttered and unhelpful, showing too much navigation and not enough stuff to watch. YouTube knows that, and today, it’s showing off a totally redesigned platform. Now, whether you watch videos on the website or the app on your phone, you’ll find a YouTube that looks a lot cleaner, a lot simpler, and a lot more focused. In both cases, YouTube seems to have taken stock of how video works now and built a service around it.</p> <p data-reactid=”273″>Take the mobile app. The new version trades all those red borders for clean white lines, making thumbnails and videos the only things you’ll notice in the app. You can speed up or slow down a video—previously a desktop-only feature—and double-tap on the screen to rewind or fast forward. If you watch a vertical video, which is totally allowed because vertical video is fine and you shouldn’t listen to anyone who says otherwise, YouTube will finally show it properly. No letterboxes, no bars, just a phone-filling vertical video. Even if you don’t watch in full screen, the player shifts to fit whatever size video you’re watching, instead of locking you into that 16:9 space. The new design recognizes that people make and watch lots of videos lots of different ways, and gives YouTube users as much control as possible.</p> <p data-reactid=”275″>The new app brings with it a new icon. Since the early days, YouTube always rocked the black You, followed by the white Tube in a rounded red rectangle. Now, the logo features a red play button—the company’s most iconic signifier—next to the word YouTube.</p> <p data-reactid=”277″>On desktop, the new design updates the look more than it changes the experience. Instead of the white boxes on gray backgrounds, you choose between a clean white display or a new dark, cinematic theme, each with new, simplified typography. The whole page breathes a little better than before, and the new look hues to <a href=”https://www.wired.com/2014/11/googles-quest-write-rulebook-interactive-design/” data-reactid=”279″>Google’s Material Design guidelines</a>.</p> <p data-reactid=”282″>The whole point of the redesign is to take YouTube out of your experience on YouTube. You should be focused only on the video you’re watching, not the UI around it or the recommendation engine behind it. (Definitely not the server load you’re causing with a 40th view of <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tmd-ClpJxA” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”284″>”Look What You Made Me Do.”</a>) These changes feel like a real step in that direction. It gets the cruft out of the way, makes more kinds of videos feel native, and even helps you find new stuff to watch. Throw on Dark Theme, and undead T-Swift feels even more dramatic.</p> <p data-reactid=”287″>YouTube says the new products are built on a new framework that enables the team to build new stuff even faster. Given that everything about video changes constantly, they’ll need to. People are recording, streaming, watching, commenting, and searching in new ways. YouTube can only be the biggest thing in online video as long as it can keep up.</p> Tue, 29 Aug 2017 15:00:00 +0000 David Pierce article YouTube’s Redesign Makes It Easier to Watch All the Videos Even vertical video! https://media.wired.com/photos/59a480947ae6b6160f678724/191:100/pass/YoutubeReDesignHP.jpg https://www.wired.com/story/youtubes-redesign-watch-all-the-videos/ en text/html https://www.wired.com/story/youtubes-redesign-watch-all-the-videos Gear Design https://www.wired.com/story/this-artist-turns-aerial-photography-into-prints-thatll-last-forever https://www.wired.com/story/this-artist-turns-aerial-photography-into-prints-thatll-last-forever <p data-reactid=”239″><span class=”lede” data-reactid=”240″>From a certain </span>vantage point, you can’t quite tell what hangs on the back wall of Justin Brice Guariglia’s Brooklyn studio. At a distance, the 16-foot print looks like a textured painting with jagged edges you can reach out and touch. Upon closer inspection, you realize the image is flat, like a photo. In reality, the trompe l’oeil lies somewhere between the two. “They’re paintings derived from photographs,” says Guariglia.</p> <p data-reactid=”243″>This painting, in particular, comes from Guariglia’s recent flight with NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission. It’s a shot of the Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland’s largest and fastest melting hunk of ice, part of a series of landscape prints Guariglia made for his <em data-reactid=”245″>Earth Works: Mapping The Anthropocene</em>, his show opening at the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, Florida, on September 5.</p> <div class=”inset-left-component inset-left-component–image” data-reactid=”248″> <p><cite class=”caption-component__credit” data-reactid=”255″>Justin Brice Guariglia</cite></p> </div> <p data-reactid=”256″>Guariglia, who got his start as a freelance magazine photographer in Asia, made the switch to fine art a decade ago. Photos printed in a magazine are inevitably thrown away; he wanted to create art that lasts forever. For this show, Guariglia figured out how to print his aerial photographs onto aluminum and polystyrene canvases. “The physical object in the photo is already gone,” he says. “But the actual image will last forever—as long as we don’t recycle it.”</p> <p data-reactid=”258″>The images, taken at altitudes of 1,500 to 40,000 feet, turn Asian countryside and arctic landmasses into abstract forms. Guariglia transforms farmland into gilded geometries and glaciers into ambiguous vistas of white. Many of the photos in the show came from the IceBridge mission, which flies low-elevation planes over Greenland to gather data on the country’s rapidly deteriorating glaciers. During the flights, Guariglia would lay prone at the feet of the pilots, snapping photos of the ever-changing landscape from the plane’s drop windows.</p> <p data-reactid=”260″>Guariglia doesn’t do much tinkering back in the studio. “I mostly just trying to reduce the image to its most basic essential form,” he says. He uses an industrial grade printer to map the images onto polystyrene and gold-leafed aluminum. The printer, handmade in Switzerland and roughly the cost of a “very nice” Brooklyn apartment, serves as the artist’s paintbrush. It dispenses a fine layer of acrylic ink onto the surface before ultraviolet lights bind it to the material.</p> <p data-reactid=”262″>The printer, he says, typically is used for imaging high-end signage. “I make it do things it’s not supposed to do,” he says, like printing on polystyrene or laying down 150 layers of ink at 900 percent saturation. “I’ve logged about 1,500 hours testing material and printing processes.” The end result is a photographic print that effectively lasts forever, despite the ephemerality of the subject matter.</p> <p data-reactid=”264″>Guariglia’s process, subject matter, and material choice are all meant to represent the anthropocene, the current geological age defined by humanity’s impact on the environment. The goal, as he explains it, is to implicate not just himself as an artist using the material (which will become part of the fossil record in the anthropocene age) but anyone who looks at it. The prints remind viewers that the issues humans face, due mostly to our own actions, are enormous. But captured, cropped, and printed onto rectangular panels, they’re at least easier to see.</p> Fri, 25 Aug 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Elizabeth Stinson article This Artist Turns Aerial Photography Into Prints That’ll Last Forever Want to make your art last forever? Print it on styrofoam. https://media.wired.com/photos/599f022f7226c85ce7051ce7/191:100/pass/Justin-Brice-Guariglia.jpg https://www.wired.com/story/this-artist-turns-aerial-photography-into-prints-thatll-last-forever/ en text/html https://www.wired.com/story/this-artist-turns-aerial-photography-into-prints-thatll-last-forever Gear Design https://www.wired.com/story/figma-updates https://www.wired.com/story/figma-updates <p data-reactid=”247″><span class=”lede” data-reactid=”248″>Screens were different </span>a decade ago; thicker, wider, tethered to walls. There were screens in our pockets back then as well, though they weren’t yet as hungry for eyes.</p> <p data-reactid=”251″>Today’s screens are far more advanced than the ones from 2007, but many of the tools graphic designers use to fill them with digital interfaces haven’t changed much. In fact, a lot of designers still use Photoshop—the industry standard since before the iPhone days—to design the look of your Slack notifications and the layout of your Instagram feed.</p> <p data-reactid=”253″>In the past few years, a crop of nimble newcomers has emerged to woo graphic designers away from Adobe’s brawny graphics editor. The most popular is a tool called <a href=”https://www.sketchapp.com/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”255″>Sketch</a>, which offers many of Photoshop’s features but is easier to use and specifically made for interface designers. Competition has become so fierce that Adobe last year released a beta version of its own purpose-built interface-design tool, the straightforwardly named Adobe Experience Design CC (aka <a href=”http://www.adobe.com/products/experience-design.html” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”258″>Adobe XD</a>).</p> <p data-reactid=”261″>This is all a little inside-baseball and maybe a little boring, I’ll admit. But consider that these tools are actually locked in a battle for the loyalties of designers at today’s most powerful companies—designers who will use the winning app to develop digital products for years to come.</p> <p data-reactid=”263″>Today, that melee gets more interesting as an interface design tool called <a href=”https://www.figma.com/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”265″>Figma</a> takes a significant step toward the center of the ring. The browser-based tool helps designers make digital products as a group, letting multiple people collaborate in real time as they draw, drag, and edit elements on the screen. Figma technically launched last September, and since then, has made paying clients out of big fish like Microsoft, Uber, and Slack. But today, the startup unveiled two key features that should give Sketch and Adobe pause—and will likely earn it a few more companies for its trophy wall.</p> <p data-reactid=”268″>The first enhancement, “code mode,” gives developers access to the code that underlies a project’s look and feel. The second, “prototype mode,” lets designers build, present, and modify working prototypes of digital products. Both modes work from directly inside Figma, a choice meant to ease tensions that can emerge between designers and the code-minded non-designers they collaborate with.</p> <p>Code mode allows engineers to inspect Figma projects in view-only mode, comment on design decisions, and copy the code they need to build the product.</p> <p><cite class=”caption-component__credit” data-reactid=”278″>Figma</cite></p> <p data-reactid=”279″>When it launched last year, Figma captured designers’ attentions with two features: Live collaboration and version control. The same way you can work in Google Docs with multiple people simultaneously, lots of folks can join forces on a project in Figma. Tweaks and edits save immediately to the cloud, preserving a detailed record of each project’s history and keeping collaborators from overwriting each others’ work.</p> <p data-reactid=”281″>This real-time, all-in-one environment is a boon for design professionals, who have long relied on cobbled-together workflows involving multiple programs, plug-ins, and cloud services. You might design a screen in Photoshop, save it to the cloud using Dropbox, then share a link to that Dropbox folder with your collaborators—who then have to go through the same steps to share their revisions with you.</p> <p>Figma’s new prototyping mode allows multiple designers to develop, modify, and demonstrate working prototypes without leaving Figma’s browser-based application. Here, a designer connects different frames of an app with flow lines that will later allow them to demonstrate its functionality.</p> <p><cite class=”caption-component__credit” data-reactid=”289″>Figma</cite></p> <p data-reactid=”290″>”The first time I used Figma was in a design review,” says <a href=”https://trello.com/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”292″>Trello</a> product designer Adam Simms, who uses the tool to create extensions for his company’s popular project management app. “I sent ten developers a preview link to my project, and they all jumped into a live demonstration of the design. When they realized they were looking at the source files, and they could follow me around on screen, the experience completely changed. It turned into this interactive feedback loop, where they were able to comment on things as I was going through them.”</p> <p data-reactid=”295″>Collaboration isn’t Figma’s only strong suit. A browser-based app, it works whether your collaborators are using Macs, Windows PCs, or Linux laptops. (Adobe XD only runs on Windows and Mac, and Sketch is Mac-only.) On the other hand, Sketch and Adobe are better at working offline. The former benefits from a rich network of third party plug-ins, the latter from integration with Adobe’s suite of products—not to mention the company’s design heritage.</p> <p data-reactid=”297″>In any case, the most salient news is that competition has spurred all of these companies to address workflow issues that have bedeviled designers for years. But the battle for the hearts and minds of Silicon Valley’s designers is in its early days. The features they’ll prize most, and who will provide them first, is still being figured out.</p> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 16:07:01 +0000 Robbie Gonzalez article Figma Wants Designers to Collaborate Google-Docs Style The startup unveiled two key features that should give its competitors pause. https://media.wired.com/photos/5976993deafe3a7821f7b053/191:100/pass/PrototypingHP.jpg https://www.wired.com/story/figma-updates/ en text/html https://www.wired.com/story/figma-updates Gear Design https://www.wired.com/story/humanscale-the-classic-design-tool-gets-a-second-life https://www.wired.com/story/humanscale-the-classic-design-tool-gets-a-second-life <p data-reactid=”229″><span class=”lede” data-reactid=”230″>Apple messed with </span>a cardinal rule of industrial design when it made the iPhone 6. The glassy screen, 5.5 inches on the diagonal, was too large for people with small hands to reach the top. To compensate, the company introduced Reachability—a quick double tap of the home button that shifts the screen’s apps downward two inches, into the range of tiny hands.</p> <p data-reactid=”233″>The feature wasn’t so much a salve for ergonomic oversight as it was an acknowledgement of an unfortunate truth: When building something for millions of people, one size can’t fit all. “The double tap is the most obvious human factors workaround,” says Luke Westra, a designer at Chicago design studio <a href=”http://iacollaborative.com/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”235″>IA Collaborative</a>.</p> <p data-reactid=”238″>When Westra talks about human factors, he’s referring to a field of design concerned primarily with how people’s bodies interact with their physical environments, also known as ergonomics. All good designers think about human factors when developing a product. Those that don’t end up with stools too short for the table or office chairs that give employees back aches.</p> <p><cite class=”caption-component__credit” data-reactid=”246″>IA Collaborative</cite></p> <p data-reactid=”247″>Steve Jobs and Jony Ive used computers and CAD software to shape the final form of the iPhone, but decades before the smartphone hit the market, designers relied on an analog tool to help them better understand the human body. This tool, called <a href=”https://humanscalemanual.com/” target=”_blank” data-reactid=”249″>Humanscale</a>, was a set of nine rotating disks filled with more than 60,000 data points. Spin the selector in any direction and a series of numbers align in the windows to show you the correct measurement values for the subject you happened to be designing for.</p> <p data-reactid=”252″>During the ‘70s and ‘80s, industrial designers used the reference tool as a cheat sheet to get quick data points. But after MIT Press stopped printing them in the mid 1980s, they became something of a collectors item, selling for upwards of $2,000 on eBay. Now Humanscale is back thanks to Westra and a team at IA Collaborative’s Venture arm, who are <a href=”https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iacollaborative/reissue-of-humanscale?ref=preview&amp;token=48d40c56″ target=”_blank” data-reactid=”254″>creating reprints</a> of the classic design tool for $79 per print or $199 for the complete set.</p> <div class=”inset-left-component inset-left-component–article” data-reactid=”257″> <ul class=”inset-left-component–article__list” data-reactid=”258″><li> <h4 name=”inset-left” class=”inset-left-component__el” data-reactid=”259″>More Design</h4> </li> <li class=”article-list-item-embed-component__post” data-reactid=”261″ readability=”23″> <div class=”article-list-item-embed-component__description” data-reactid=”267″ readability=”32″> <p><span data-reactid=”269″>Margaret Rhodes</span></p> <p class=”article-list-item-embed-component__title” data-reactid=”270″>How the Home Telephone Sparked the User-Centered Design Revolution</p> </div> </li> <li class=”article-list-item-embed-component__post” data-reactid=”271″ readability=”23.5″> <div class=”article-list-item-embed-component__description” data-reactid=”277″ readability=”33″> <p><span data-reactid=”279″>Tom Lakovic</span></p> <p class=”article-list-item-embed-component__title” data-reactid=”280″>To Make Tech Design Human Again, Look to the Past</p> </div> </li> <li class=”article-list-item-embed-component__post” data-reactid=”281″ readability=”23″> <div class=”article-list-item-embed-component__description” data-reactid=”287″ readability=”32″> <p><span data-reactid=”289″>Margaret Rhodes</span></p> <p class=”article-list-item-embed-component__title” data-reactid=”290″>The Clever Lindlund Ruler Measures the Digital <em>and</em> Physical Worlds</p> </div> </li> <li class=”article-list-item-embed-component__post” data-reactid=”291″ readability=”23.5″> <div class=”article-list-item-embed-component__description” data-reactid=”297″ readability=”33″> <p><span data-reactid=”299″>Joseph Bien-Kahn</span></p> <p class=”article-list-item-embed-component__title” data-reactid=”300″>If an AI Doesn’t Take Your Job, It Will Design Your Office</p> </div> </li> </ul></div> <p data-reactid=”301″>Humanscale was the product of Henry Dreyfuss &amp; Associates (HDA), the design firm behind iconic objects like the Honeywell thermostat and Bell’s tabletop telephone. Its founder, Henry Dreyfuss, was an early champion of ergonomic design, and his studio approached its practice like a science. Form followed function, and function followed data. Lots and lots of data.</p> <p data-reactid=”305″>No product was made without first consulting a laundry list of bodily statistics—things like average height, arm span, sitting hip width, and viewing angle from a desk. “The big problem back then was that data wasn’t necessary in a nice, easily usable form,” says Bill Crookes, who worked at HDA from the early ‘70s until its closing in the early 2000.</p> <p data-reactid=”307″>Data existed, but in piecemeal. If you wanted to know the dimensions of the average North American man’s leg, you could reference military records. If you wanted to know the maximum decibel comfortable to the human ear, you could look up statistics from the EPA. One of the firm’s partners, Niels Diffrient, was determined to consolidate this ergonomic data into a single, easy-to-use tool that designers could bring with them into the field.</p> <p data-reactid=”309″>Diffrient and his team, including Crookes, spent years tediously gathering human engineering data. They learned, for example, that the average height of a fedora was 2 inches—important when taking door measurements into consideration. They combed official sources for information on the height of wheelchair-bound men and women. They measured the differences in gripping posture when holding a cylinder, ball, or pencil, and then organized all of this data onto Humanscale’s themed disks. “They laid out every little bit of info on these tools by hand with a square triangle and a compass on a drafting table,” says Nathan Ritter, a design researcher at IA Collaborative.</p> <p data-reactid=”311″>Illustrations on the front and back of the disks showed humans and their body parts in various positions, with arrows annotating dozens of measurement points. Rotating the disks filtered the data sets so you could see information specific to women, men, and children at their various percentiles.</p> <p data-reactid=”313″>Humanscale was a masterpiece of information design, and arguably one of the first interactive data visualizations. It’s a relic, but it’s also regarded among industrial designers as the gold standard of human engineering statistics. Today, the disks have been replaced by more technologically advanced tools, like proprietary digital ergonomics databases that design firms can license for thousands of dollars.</p> <p data-reactid=”315″>For IA Collaborative, letting the Humanscale disks fade into obscurity would have been a missed opportunity. “They’re still just as relevant today as when they were just launched,” Ritter says. The designers are starting with reissuing the original disks and books, but eventually they plan to digitize the information and create an interactive interface for the data. They figure most designers could use an easy tool for making their designs be more about the people they’re designing for. “You can design anything in the vacuum,” Westra says. “But if you’re not considering the people who are going to use it, they’re not going to have a great experience.”</p> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 13:00:00 +0000 Elizabeth Stinson article Humanscale, the Classic Design Tool, Gets a Second Life The set of nine rotating disks shows how to design objects for people, using more than 60,000 data points. https://media.wired.com/photos/59724abb58f558732a26fdef/191:100/pass/HumanscaleHP.jpg https://www.wired.com/story/humanscale-the-classic-design-tool-gets-a-second-life/ en text/html https://www.wired.com/story/humanscale-the-classic-design-tool-gets-a-second-life Gear Design