User Interface Innovation often originates from the movie industry

Lot’s of today’s innovations in technology have been envisioned in Sci-Fi stories and designed first for Sci-Fi movies. Think exoskeletons, talking computers, artifical intelligence, … Even today’s user interfaces on gadgets such as tablets get some of their inspirations from movies.

In UI techdom, we see « Minority Report » as one of the few defining UI innovation movies, with several breakthroughs such as translucent glass screens and of course Tom Cruise’s « maestro like » gesture interactions with the system.

[SOLVED]??Strange iPhone/iPad glitch : how to « see » again a « lost » WiFi network

Shortly after iOS4.3 update, I noticed that my iPhone 4 did not « see » my Home Network anymore. The situation was quite unusual as

  • all other devices home, including other iDevices and laptops could still « see » this network
  • my iPhone 4 could see other networks and connect to them
  • restarting the TimeCapsule and Airport stations did not change anything, neither did an iPhone shutdown followed by a start
  • resetting the network parameters did not change anything beyond wiping all my memorized networks

I could not find any trace of this on the web, not even on Quora and before calling Orange customer service, I did a last try on facebook and got a very interesting answer from Bruno Innecco : it turns out that this problem could be solved by resetting the iPhone instead of restarting it. You tend to think that the iPhone reset (reboot) procedure is relevant only in the case of a frozen machine, yet in the present case I could get my (home) WiFi network back.

Super Moon


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Shot from our bedroom at 01:30 AM with my Canon 60D body + 70-200 f/4 L stabilized lens @ 1/400s and ISO100

Jambox™ by Jawbone : an epiphany

In my former VP Home devices life I have been exposed to lots of hardware products and never had an unpacking experience matching or even reaching the one of Apple products.

Until today when I received a JamBox by Jawbone (thanks to Rafik Jallad). Unpacking and finding stylish dual USB cords (12″ and 60″), a compact lightweight charger, a smart magnetic carrying case, an a flat 3.5mm stereo cord was a pure bliss. Everything was neatly labeled and carefully arranged under the main device. Quality and attention to detail were shining everywhere.


The JamBox itself is very well crafted, the product feels solid and soft with an incredibly firm/smooth standing on any surface, turning such surface into an extension for the loudspeakers. User experience is obvious, with the JamBox « speaking » its status, battery level, and various settings when needed.

Yet the main surprise came at setup (pairing with an iDevice is a no brainer), when I actually started to listen. This box is packed with decibels, in an extraordinarily wide frequency range for such a small, battery powered thing. I’ll test it further especially as an audio conferencing tool as it also sports a microphone.

I must add that the online registration process + firmware update are equally dumb simple and very well executed from a UI standpoint. Beyond simple registration, the incentive of customizing the device in a very minimalistic yet fun way (you can choose the voice that will « speak » to you about your Jambox whereabouts) creates a (significantly) higher customer engagement and allows Jawbone to operate as a « platform », holding the two ends of a value chain. One may object that in their case the « big » end is the device and that the server side is minimalistic, yet this is a chain and allows direct customer relationship.

Delighting Views on the iPad

The original post was released on with URL:, and it has been very slightly edited to fit this blog format. Updates and revisions are commented out accordingly.

So the party is over, and everybody is waking up with the usually mixed feelings, debating whether the wait was after all better than the catch.
In the particular case of Apple, we have seen the usual comments ranging from the self-congratulation « I predicted it »’s to the disappointed over-expectations made on feature lists.

And after all, while the party is over, another wait just begins, with a new array of thoughts about how long the AppleStore queues will be in 60 days. Of the most interesting comments I could read (I switched off really quickly from « real time » video coverage that was both empty and self-flattering), a few key points shall imho cut through the obfuscatory “missing feature” bashing or the “I want it” enthusiasms.

It’s the user experience, stupid

It’s definitely not about features. Apple has by now made us used to products that are designed by engineers for the mass market, while most of the rest of the industry still sells products designed by mass marketers but at the end of the day suited for engineers.

I myself would have loved to see a camera in the device (even read intelligent comments like « after all, it’s just $1 additional to the BOM » – but they miss the point), then started to wonder about the practicality of the form factor for such a camera…

Apple’s omissions in the feature list may be disappointing, they are conscious by necessity, and have been certainly given lots of thoughts. Like Mashable’s Stan Shroeder, we might miss a big point if we think we would have done this better. Remember great design is about choice, and about deliberate omissions. Who recalls by now that the iPhone lacked copy/paste, MMS support, or GPS for a while ?

So I expect this all will be balanced or offset by the experiences in browsing, reading, emailing, as happened with the iPhone thanks to a superior design in each feature and a superb integration across them. Paradoxically, that last part reminds me of what Apple was trying to achieve already in 1994 on the Newton: I was lucky enough to work on the platform at the time and remember very well that despite mid-90’s hardware limitations (and probably a form factor error – apparently proven by the Palm Pilot later success), the NewtonOS was already bringing coherence and even cohesion across applications in order to strengthen the sum of the parts…

It’s the industrial approach, stupid

As I previously wrote, Apple products are designed by engineers. The real stunning part of this week’s announcement is how Apple is apparently pushing hardware/software integration to the next level. Very few people noted at the time that the iPhone was the first hardware platform deliberately dimensioned to host 3 consecutive major releases of an operating system. That the unique form factor choice (as opposed to the usual bet hedging, try-it-all spread from other phone vendors) allowed not only economies of scale, but also predictability for application vendors (anybody who developed S60 apps is probably smiling at these lines).

The same industrial approach prevails in the use of aluminum, where Apple now has gained great design skills through its line of MacBooks, as well as probably in the casing and shaping which gives the iPad an immediate proximity with the rest of the Apple family.

In the iPad case, Apple is again playing the one (new) size fits all game and we shall expect such form factor to be maintained across the following revisions (there will be revisions for sure, the whens and the whats will be secrets as always, but we can expect some of the missing items in our shopping lists to be ticked once Apple has adapted the user interface : a camera – probably front end for video calls -, mat charging – or transparent solar panels – …

Meanwhile, the form factor itself will open a vast array of possibilities when (re)designing applications for the iPad, as evidenced in the effort that Apple undertook themselves for existing applications as well as for the new iWork suite. (Incidentally, iWork on iPad will provide an interesting answer to some naysayers who have been claiming for the past decade that a good smartphone was a smartphone where you could edit Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoints on the go)

A few people noted the appearance of Apple’s own processor design to power the iPad while avoiding a drain in power. The chip must be very optimized in order to keep the device up for 10 hours, yet very powerful to keep the graphics flowing across such a large screen, and more difficult to compare with anything else by the still kicking megahertz myth.

It’s touted a game changing platform, but which game ?

Once again, focus was on the new iBook store as Apple will try to leverage iTunes presence as a distribution channel as they did for Apps. After all, songs, apps, and books have very similar characteristics as digital objects, in terms of size (and therefore speed of download / install) and distribution logistics. Monthly or yearly subscriptions might be another story, but again we can be sure Apple has thought about it.

More interesting to me is what we don’t see clearly yet. First, Apple seems to maintain its choice not to embrace native Flash capabilities. They may still claim their choice is based on performance issues, but to me it is more a question of control, already validated by the fact that YouTube for instance is bringing video to iPhones and soon iPads by Apple’s rules and format. At this point, remembering that .mp4 is a standard might help a bit, as well as to remember that most video capabilities in DSC’s were provided through a Quicktime output.
Therefore, yesterday’s keynote might be a sign that Apple is trying to reduce Adobe’s influence by narrowing Flash relevance, and Apple’s support of HTML 5 direct video embedding capabilities is another visible sign of control being regained.

Beyond game changing ambitions in the electronic book space and in the video streaming format war, another one got almost unnoticed but sounds very important to me, and it has to do with 3G.
I do not know yet about the extent of iPad’s 3G offering, and whether it will include voice or not. At least in the US, it seems that it will be a data plan only, with unlimited data definitely capped at $29.99 a month, and no real customer relationship with the carrier.
As such, Apple seems to be perfecting with the iPad the disintermediation game that started with the iPhone, when carriers lost control of distribution and customer relationship as well as of content and applications upsell, being relegated in the dumb pipe zone (and please make the pipe work as we are ready to saturate it both ways). When international telco deals are announced, we will know whether Vodafone and Orange have had enough muscle to retain some value, or if all their carrier app store ad content offerings will have been definitely ruined by prepaid, unlimited data plans, with not even voice to save anything.

As iPads are apparently unlocked, there is no reason why voice over IP would not follow — edit : this has just been confirmed —, with only disgusting data roaming charges left as a mean to extract some value (and achieve pissing off smartphone users)

Continuer la lecture de « Delighting Views on the iPad »

imPhoto for iPhone demo movie

In late October 2009, we have achieved the port of imsense’s eyeFidelity™ technology to iOS and released the first version of our imPhoto app.

Now it is showtime so that people will realise how they can expand their iPhone camera capabilities. This movie was shot in Cambridge to illustrate imsense’s eye-fidelity™ dynamic range processing technology.

Cambridge, Nov 26th, 2009 — Soundtrack courtesy from Frederick Rousseau

Bad Day mpeg video broke out in early 1999

So old and still arechetypal of the fake/true office cubicle fun…

This video actually spread by email across the internet 6 years before YouTube started (and therefore it is impossible to count how many times it was viewed), and at a time when file size mattered more than screen size as email was the main delivery vehicle.