Pixel popping on the phone

by Andy Polaine on July 2, 2007

Twelve Pixels

I just had an update from Karl Willis about a project called Twelve Pixels that he has been working on with Dr. Ivan Poupyrev at Sony’s CSL Interaction Lab.

Basically it is an interface for drawing pixelart with your phone, either to send as an emoticon or as an image. Seemingly simple, it looks like they’ve used the basic interface of the phone to good effect and I can imagine that it could be the perfect application to while away the minutes waiting for the bus or sitting on the underground.

No news on it’s release as an app to download yet, but you can have a look at the videos on Karl’s site.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 yacco July 2, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Quite amazing this – I never had thought ‘pixelpushing’ would become a public ‘pass-time’ thing.

2 Andy Polaine July 2, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Ha ha, no, lots of people love it. Have you ever seen Glyphiti? (Karl also put me onto this). It’s great – a giant pixel canvas and you can also see the changes as animations over time.

3 Karl DD July 3, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Andy, I think you have made a very astute observation regarding ‘whiling away the minutes’. The intention was definately to create an interface which had a degree of challenge (or should I say tedium) to it.

I think we could talk at length about this whole area between ‘boredom’ and ‘challenge’ and but the reason I mention this is because it’s something which conventional HCI people find hard to swallow. HCI and their ‘user studies’ are almost always aiming for greater interface efficiency.

On the other hand, engagement brought about by works such as Line Rider, Glyphiti or Pickledonion is not about efficiency at all – it is about ‘whiling away the minutes’ playing.

4 Andy Polaine July 3, 2007 at 4:06 pm

That’s always been our complaint from the days of Antirom (did you know that Pickledonion is Andy Allenson from Antirom?). It’s one of the reasons I wrote the post about the ‘death of the application’. Computers grew out of being used as tools and that tends to push HCI and Computer Science folk towards efficiency. Whereas an approach defined by playfulness is very different and not so tool-centric, but can still be very engaging and useful.

5 tim July 5, 2007 at 3:23 am

Thanks for the inspiration, initially I was reminded of ASCII art (nerdy undertones). The function of sending your work is in my opinion the ingredient that makes engaging with 12pixels “worthwhile”. Sending emotions, receiving gratification and status…

6 Andy Polaine July 5, 2007 at 10:36 am

Until I’ve had a go (hint, hint, Karl) it’s hard to say, but I think the gratification would come from doing not from sending so much.

Like many simple interactives, it looks like it would be inherently satisfying in its own right and doesn’t necessarily need to be a functional tool for some other purpose. I think this has been an area that has really been a struggle for interaction designers in the face of all the (very good) usability material. Sometimes things are just nice to use for no other reason than that. Think of a smooth stone in your pocket picked up from a pebbly beach, for example.

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