Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Difference between IPL and Cricket

Is it not the same? No it isnt. Here are the differences...
  1. DLF Maximum, Citi Moment of Success.... - Ridiculous Artificiality. Why cant they call a six a six, a wicket a wicket? Whats with this artificial brand endorsement? Where will this all end? With players' names tagged with brands as well? Lets imagine where this may lead to - "Thats a fabulous Airtel Four from Pepsi Sachin"; "A HDFC moment of great stop from Sprite Dhoni"; "A splendid moment of ICICI strategy"; "Asian Paints LBW"; "Oh, Its a Titan sprint from the batsmen"..Huh? Where will this all end? There are breaks at the end of each over, till the first ball of the next over is bowled... when a player is injured, when the player has paused the game for a few seconds just to adjust his pads, when there are discussions on the field... there are innumerable no. of breaks already with enough of brand endorsements, eating into one's living room and head... Why the need to corrupt the commentary? Because its artificial and reduces the respect we had for the cricketers that spoke in there till now.. we feel its orchestrated...And it takes a second or more to register whats the DLF Maximum and whats the "Success" one is talking about? 
    And there was this funny case of a commentator getting his script wrong. He blurted out "Citi Moment of Disaster" to relate an incident... Isnt this the outcome of such ridiculous scripting of even such live utterances such as Commentary? 
  2. Butter Fingers - One and All - I just cannot recollect or even imagine another tournament with so many catches dropped, mis-fields, lack of concentration on the field... Just cannot think of any other cricket tournament... Just about every person, even who were decent enough in the field until now have managed to misfield atleast a couple. Catches dropped are innumerable in number, in some cases even more than their individual scores in the entire tournament... Is it because its not considered serious cricket? Or is it too serious? I can bet that the boys in Bangalore playing 20 over cricket have an overall better record in fielding than several of these "big boys".
  3. Running (walking, ambling, jogging??) between the wickets - It was a bane of a select few. Such as Inzamam, Ganguly. Now everybody seems to have succumbed to this disease. Not running the first one hard enough. Not sliding the bat in the crease. Not calling well and clear. But some old boys  do still run good - Dravid, Symonds, Hayden, Sachin. Old habits die hard.
  4. Sudden outbursts of emotions - Players seem to forget that this is a tournament lasting just about 40 days or so and they have to get back to their national sides and play with a lot of those players that are in their opposition. Emotional outbursts, are at best, childish and at worst, can dampen the great experience of cricket that is on show. Ishant Sharma, I am sure has damanged many a ball, just by throwing it hard on the ground when he is frustrated (which he is most of the time, given the state of KKRs). Munaf Patel does not know the difference between an international cricket field, watched by billions and millions of children as well, and his family drawing room, where he is allowed to behave as immaturely as he chooses to. Yuvraj Singh has been at his arrogant best with his co-Indian Players, just forgetting he is the product of the Indian Team. These and so many more, are honestly, irritating to watch. There was one Sreesanth. In IPL 2, there seem to be many more. Does it mean we need more Harbhajans? :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

User Experience in 2050

A story I posted for our company Newsletter

When I stumbled upon a circular object while walking on a street one day, I had no idea it would have such an impact on me. It was the FutureDial, a dial that lets one select any year in the future and live in it as long as one wishes. Of course, I had no idea this was the case until I positioned the dial at 2050. I was instantly transported to a whole new place, time and environment. An experience that's etched in me for posterity.

It was a pleasant morning in Bangalore, the IT capital of the world. It was green everywhere and the air was clean. The "Go Green" campaign started for environment protection in the later part of the 20th Century had borne fruit. There was now clean water for everyone, clean air to breathe. Nature had returned to its Majestic best.

I was amazed, puzzled, intrigued. I decided to make the most of this. First thing I needed was a camera, to capture these sights, but didnot know how or where to find a store. I leaned on a tree lost in thought about what to do next when a laser screen projected in front of me instructing me to select what I was looking for. I couldnot make out what was happening. When I turned around, I realized that the tree was called a "Help Tree". During my stay, I noticed several of these "Help Trees" that were actually a guide to visitors about what they can find where.

I found a store. As soon as I selected the store, the path to it was illuminated, helping me reach there with no difficulty. I bought a camera the size of my palm.  The camera was quite something in itself. It allowed for scaling the LCD Screen. And on further using the camera, I noted that it prompted me when there were interesting sights around.

All this stunned me and left me gaping with wonder. It was unbelievable. I decided its best to go with the flow and enjoy it rather than stay stunned at the experience and probably miss out on any of these lovely surprises.

Now I needed a hotel to stay in, so I used the Help Tree to locate one. On reaching it, I requested for a room. A paper form was given to me. On filling my name, it auto filled my entire details on the LCD Screen located on the desk. In the signing area, I had to provide my finger print. Finger Print? This day and age? I was surprised but nevertheless, did give it and asked for the keys. The pleasant doorman informed me that the door to my room would open up when I am in front of it. I wouldnot need keys. And yes, it did. But how? The finger print actually didnot record my finger print but my DNA. The DNA sensor at the door matched both and opened the door when I was in front of it. Fantastic.

Now I had a place to stay, I decided explore this wonder world further. I walked into a "Transport Store" as it was called but it was nothing but a Shoe Store. When I enquired, I was told politely that the Shoes fuelled by Solar energy worked as individual vehicles, with the needed controls in them. It gained speed as you walked and with a bit of training, you could go up to speeds you desire. Incredible, yet true!

Here people spoke in a strange voice. I learnt that it was a digitized version of human speech - so encoded that the ones intended to hear it would be the only ones to hear it and understand it - no matter how far they are. And when one wanted to send a large parcel to a distant land, it was put in what looked like a Shredder. The screen above allowed the sender to put in the address. Once done, it shredded the large parcel into minute particles, only to be re -assembled at the destination automatically.

Further, I saw a child talking to its grandfather who was in a different city, both connected through the internet. What was so amazing about this? The child held his grandfather's hand while they spoke.

All this was incomprehensible, like I was in a magic land. With fairies and their wands working their magic all through.

And then I saw the unbelievable, the greatest magic of them all. I happened to switch on the Television and there I saw Tulsi in Kyunki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. With not a single strand of white hair on her head. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What can cricket learn from Formula 1?

Well, essentially, the way its telecast. 

We all know the 2 major sports - one, a billion people and more worship as religion and another, triggers an adrenaline rush thats unparallelled - the glitz and the thrill never short of breathtaking.

Cricket is essentially a sport of Strategy, Skill, Patience. You play for long, battle the hardships of the opponents and the myriad uncontrolled forces (rain, storm) and emerge a winner. The 3 skills - batting, bowling and fielding are sports in themselves. And often, the uncertainty of the result does add to the thrill and the edge of the seat experience for cricket fans.

Formula 1, on the other hand, is more 1 dimensional, atleast on the surface. People use the latest cars, constructors battle through their machines and overall, look at winning the race on the day. It has its clumsiness - the pit stops and the hundreds of rules that govern this, the safety car, so on and so forth. If you actually look at it, its rather a dull game in some sense - the person in the lead usually goes on to win and there are usually a handful potential winners for an entire season.

But on the face of it, by looking at the telecast, the Formula 1, in its presentation of the game to its viewers beats cricket hands down. The energy and the richness is quite something. The exact status of the game, its drivers etc are available all the time. One look at the screen enriches a user's viewing experience and drags one into the game - whether you want it or not.  The  the graphical representation when a brake is applied or when a throttle is used, all this add quite a bit into the experience. And the Team Radio is just so amazing...to listen first hand what goes on in these high intense battles.

Cricket, on the other hand, looks rather dull on the TV screen, though who know the game know very well that each intricacy of the game has a lot to offer. Its a long game but the attempts at making it interesting are amateur. What else one can expect when the administrators, broadcasters, players - one and all - are hell bent on grabbing as much of the gold the goose offers? 

What can cricket accommodate in its telecast to make the viewing a much better experience?For starters,  the current batsmen and bowlers names and stats should always be displayed on the screen. Also the bat speed while it came in contact with the ball would be worth watching. A Line and Length metric can be devised and displayed for analysis of any particular ball bowled. 

There is scope for so much analysis and to create wonder among its viewers. Say, for example, if the reaction time to field or catch a ball by exceptional fielders such as Rhodes/Gibbs are tracked and presented graphically in comparison to other normal fielders, its going to tell us a story. Or the power exerted by Gilchrist when he hits a ball for a six.

And of course, strategy, such as snippets of what goes on in team meetings, the dressing room discussions, the coach's advice to his team. And graphical explanation of how the fielding team "Sets Up a Batsman". There are opportunities galore and one has to just look for it. Alongwith making this a great viewing experience, its going to offer novices and people with less knowledge to understand the nuances and increase their loyalty to the game. 

Sunday, December 07, 2008

UnRandom Non-Ramblings | Relativity, Everyday - I

A few of lines of thought I have been thinking for a while now. They are now refined enough and shareable.

Realization: What is realization? Now we have all heard of this.  And getting the meaning of this word is "so near, yet so far".  We relate realization to an "absoluteness", to absolute value, that, when one is realized, becomes a Buddha or is immediately elevated to a higher mental status than most of the population.

Lets look at this slightly differently. We hear a concept, a nice new phrase which expands our normal line of thinking. An example would be "Universal Language of the World". A beautiful phrase. An abstract concept such as this is quite open ended. It needs us to "understand" the concept, and of course all of us make an attempt and most of us do understand it. Thats the first level of realization of that concept. 

There are some people who can apply many more meanings to the same concept, in addition to the most popular ones. The same concept appears in several more flavors. They manage to apply them in more contexts. So they "realize" the same concept in more dimensions. This brings us to the hypothesis "realization is not absolute but relative". The same person can be in a higher state of realization in a subject of his interest and may be in the basic level in a totally new subject. For e.g. a simple statement such as "users are not designers" is a phrase that everyone understands in its primary meaning. But to a user experience professional, the same phrase yields more meanings than its direct  literary meaning.

The more dimensions, perspectives and contexts a person can apply to a context,  he would be more "realized" in that subject. And as one sees many perspectives in multiple topics/interests, he would progressively become more"realized" overall. So realization happens everyday to each one of us and never stops. When one becomes conscious of this fact, the realization becomes meaningful.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Airtel Voice SMS - Evaluation

The Airtel Voice SMS ads are booming almost every other minute on TV. It looked to me a cool new feature and a welcome addition to the mobile services. Oh boy! Was I wrong..

It does allow you to send a voice sms - just press *, the recipient no. and you get an option to set a language!! I never understood why this was required in the first place!! I have interacted with the airtel voice responses a thousand times before; why would they not derive it from there? And more importantly, why would somebody need to set a language preference for as quick task as to send an SMS, though its voice? It did not give me the price details but gave me a rather lame, language selection option.. Strange!

Now for the best part. I sent the SMS from my wife's mobile to my own to test it. Once I completed my recording, I had no option how to close and send. I had to hang up. Thats was it! It did not tell me if this would go thru or due to hanging up, if the sms is lost..

Immediately after this, I get a ring on my own mobile (where I had sent the voice sms to).. I get a ring.. Not an SMS tone!! Now it looks like Airtel folks do not know the difference between the concepts of an SMS vs Ring. If I wanted the recipient to immediately respond to my message, I would have called up anyway.. why would one go thru all the trouble of sending a voice sms...

I take the call and it requires me to select a language again. Whew!! I select it and I get to hear the sms, at last!!.. Now what I dont understand is, an SMS is sent so that viewer can view the message at a later time, if not possible immediately. This option does not let me hear the SMS later. What happens if I miss the ring? And the ring just says calling, the recipient has no idea its an SMS... 

A case of blatant non concern for usability from one of the biggest brands of India!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Attended the NYC IxDA Event !!

The NYC IxDA Event, where David Lipkin presented his take on User Experience in Interactive TV, was great stuff!! It was heartening to know that User Experience is reaching out to almost every aspect of life and the value that businesses see in it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

IxDA F2F in Bangalore held on Sat, 3pm, 11 Aug 2007

Hi all,
The IxDA F2F in Bangalore was held on the 11th of Aug 2007 at Koshy's, St Marks Road. It was an introductory session and was an informal event.

It was an enriching experience for all those attended and we carried with us more inspiring thoughts and ideas, a promise of holding this again and of course, more contact numbers.

People who attended were (in alphabetical order) :
Navneet Nair - Interaction Designer, Google
Sarit Arora – Group Lead – Human Factors
Sudhindra V – Centre of Excellence – Lead, Human Factors
Suman Paul – Interaction Designer, TCS
Suresh JV - Interaction Designer, eTrade
Vikram Rao – Sr. Interaction Designer, RSA
The topics of discussion ranged from the very definition of professionals in our field to the social causes that we can contribute as professionals and India specific usability issues.

The important topics that were discussed were :

1. Future Events
We agreed that all future F2Fs should be :
- periodic
- informal like a barcamp/unconference
- explore new restaurants as venues for the event
- focus on participants to present

2. To work towards getting usability/interaction design due recognition from NASSCOM
To increase awareness with the Government and people as a whole regarding the importance of usability and its relevance in day to day life, we all agreed to take up the matter with Nasscom, the IT governing body of the Government. Any ideas/help in this regard is welcome. We can also look at how usability and the field of human factors is viewed by other governments.

3. Interaction Design as a social contributor
We discussed ways to help the society we live in through our profession. For eg, increasing accessibility in public/private buildings, reduce traffic hazards and easing of the traffic flow.

These were some of the main topics we discussed. Additionally, everyone contributed their concerns in their working environments and the ways of improving them, the importance of training etc.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Interaction and user interface issues

Panasonic handy-cam

As every other handy cam in town, it has two main operational modes - Record and playback. But the most annoying, "mode based" flaw it has is that the T and W zoom toggle button doubles itself as a volume increase/decrease during playback. Even though it doesnot affect in recording sound during recording, it is quite unintuitive to learn that it actually is a volume increase/decrease button during playback.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

My experiences in Interaction design

Just the other day, while taking a bath, I found that the place where the soap is kept in my bathroom lacks sense of interaction. It is a small projection from the side of the tub but what makes it horrible is that it is very flat. Since the soap is wet during bath, it keeps slipping down when I try to keep the soap back after using it. If the projection had been a bit curved at the bottom instead of being flat, it would have helped me to slip in the soap and also would have helped me to hold and remove the soap keeping my eyes closed.

The second usability culprit was my dustbin (as are many of them). They usually decrease in width (like an inverted cone) from the top to the bottom. This way, the plastic cover that holds the garbage cannot hold more at the bottom and the bin gets filled very quickly. But providing a bin with a lesser width at the top and increasing downwards doesnot look good.

A solution to this would be to provide the regular width at the top, curve it in the center and more width at the bottom than the top. This way, it looks good and is user friendly.

Welcome to Elegance.Experience

Hi All...
Welcome to Elegance.Experience interaction design blog. Lets discuss usability, interaction design, applied knowledge in user interaction, everyday experiences reg usability, user experience et al...