Design: Lost in Translation

lost in translation

Design is a lot

“What is design and how is it perceived by today’s technology makers?” can be considered the main focus of this talk.
If we look up the word “design” in the dictionary, we find some of the following results:

 a plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is built or made

the art or action of conceiving and producing such a plan or drawing

an arrangement of lines or shapes created to form a pattern or decoration

So, in English, Design can be characterized as being a plan, a drawing, an art or a decoration. If we search in different languages it is even more difficult to pinpoint a single definition to design. There is no word for Design in Portuguese being the used word “drawing” while, in Deustch, we find two words for it. The first is Vormgeving which means making things look nice and the second is Ontwerpen which means Engineering. This brings another word to the multitude of meanings we already found for the word Design. But what is Engineering?

Engineering is the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.

The action of working artfully to bring something about

As we can observe, in the definition of Engineering we have words like “design”, “build” and “working artfully” which are present in the definition of the word Design as well.
So it becomes evident that design is a really loaded word, and while everyone thinks it means how it looks, it actually means how it works.

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Banking – Current and future payment forms

The goals of the seminar included to show future software engineers how non-computer scientists want software to be designed and what kind of expectations a software should live up to. There are already metrics on how software can be classified (good or bad), such as lines of code or comments in code. However, these classifications are mostly no use to the people who are using the software in the end. The apply characteristics such as reliability, availability, usability and security. Software engineers who are aware of these factors will surely develop more sustainable software. These qualifications are essential in a field, where software is nowadays mandatory for the everyday work and has to be of the most high quality. This field is the financial sector, where software errors affect a large group of people.

To understand current and future needs in the financial world, the seminar introduced with the history and development of currency and the exchange of goods. Beginning from barter till NFC (Near Field Communication) and even digital currency such as Bitcoin (see pdf).

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Funding ideas in a globally connected world – a social approach

Ideas are one of the underlying engines of our society and have been so for centuries. Different names have been given to the idea-design-build process throughout the years, innovation apparently being the one nowadays. Every major turn point of our societies has started with this simple process every time: an idea by someone is propelled along as it gathers followers and consensus, eventually turning into a full-blown project.

There are three separate, key parts to this process: the idea itself, the design and the build phase. We see this in different shapes and forms across industries, and these past few years have brought us the power of internet to be leveraged. Let’s dive in and see how we can action these tools to get an idea off the ground faster than ever.

In this talk, we focus on how to fund ideas in a social world. Not all ideas are born the same, and not all of them are worth funding. Business ventures, indie projects and social initiatives share the common need for resources to develop themselves. How can we filter which ones are worth it? What kind of criteria can be established?

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Public Transports in the Data Age

In today’s world, technology plays an important role in every area of society. In the presence of a continuous and increasingly steeper growth of cities and urbanizations, a need for informatization regarding citizen mobility and transportation – a major concern for governments – is crucial. Public transports are, in that context, an attractive solution for providing mobility in an environmental-safe way. Professor Teresa Galvão, MIT Portugal transportation systems researcher and co-founder of OPT gave on the 7th of December a presentation to the FEUP community regarding the current state of software in public transportation.

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Serious Games – Work Hard, Play Harder

Games are a natural product of the human need of playing. They have existed for thousands of years, with physical proof dating from 3500 BC. With the rise modern computers, games have been extended to the digital domain, ranging from casual games like tetris to realistic simulations. Interactivity has been enhanced, and games react to player actions in ways that have never been possible before.

Serious Games are a subset of games that focus on goals other than entertainment. From education to simulations, serious games allow users to achieve results faster, safer, cheaper, and many times in a more appealing way than what was possible before their arrival. The serious games market was valued at $20 million by the Serious Games Initiative co-founder Ben Sawyer in 2006 (van Eck, R. (2006) Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSEreview, march/april, 16-30.) and expected to rise in the next decades.

This talk focuses on different approaches to serious games, including definition, examples and applications. As an example of work in progress in the area, a prototype for the PhD thesis in Digital Media entitled “Collaborative Environment Integrating Augmented Reality and Augmented Virtuality” is presented. This study centers on the application of Real Time Strategy game principles to real life situations, by means of digital recreations of the real world and mobile devices.

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Software in critical practice

What better way to describe the impact of software in health than to closely follow a small day of adventure, in the daily life of a general practitioner. To tell us about his daily life, Dr. Carlos Martins was invited, Family Doctor and Assistant Guest of Preventive Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, University of oPorto. It is also the author of the portal, which appeared in 2007 in order to serve three different audiences: health professionals, medical students and the general public.

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Can technology create a more interactive access to culture?

Museums are institutions providing a public access to collections of artifacts, to cultural or artistic exhibits, and to scientific or historical discoveries. They are part of our everyday life, and our own legacy and identity as a civilization.

For a long time, museums were seen as places of culture and wisdom where, if someone wanted to access the available information, he had to visit it on purpose. Museums were seen as static “collections of collections” with an ancient feeling and accessible only to a few.

Nowadays, the continuing acceleration in the digitization of information is causing the traditional model of museums to expand to include a more digitalized approach. Either is by including interactive tools for the common visitor, either is by presenting virtual exhibits and high-resolution images of their collections for usage, study, and exploration from any place with Internet connectivity.

Technology is changing the world and museums are not an exception.

On this talk we had the presence of two speakers presenting a different point of view on how technology is affecting and changing nowadays museums. Maria Van Zeller, from Sistemas do Futuro, and Dr. Ricardo Nicolau, from Fundação Serralves.

Maria Van Zeller
Software and information technologies proved already that they can be of big aid for a Museum. Several main areas of action can be seen where software can be of great help in the Museum environment:

1) Informatic systems can greatly improve the management of the artifacts and the collections of the museums. The usage of a specific software for patrimonium management is currently an essential tool for any kind of museum. It keeps all information and important data about everypiece of the museum easily organized and classified.

2) Interactivity in the museums is something that can be vastly improved using digital systems too. Using multimedia tools and games it’s more easier to captivate and motivate visitors for the experience provided by visiting a museum.

3) As previously said, another advantage of the digital technologies is that now it is possible for visitors to “enter” the museum without leaving their houses. It is becoming more and more commong for museums to provide virtual tours online with information, pictures and even 3D views of the different collections on exhibit.

Dr. Ricardo Nicolau
We live in a digital era which, on artists’ point of view, may not be just entirely good news. With all these new technologies emerging and changing the world we live in, artists tend to revisit the analogical “long gone” world. At Serralves Foundation’s Museum, artists expose, many of the times, their works on old fashion resources, such as analogical photography and videotape filming. This reality comes to demonstrate the artists’ resilience on new technologies, stating that there also must be a good balance on using these in the managing of collections and museums’ expositions.

Adapting new technologies to bring advantages to culture disclosure must take on account that the works of art have its own way of communicating with the audience, and, for instance, a web museum must not come as a replacement to the physical contact with art. Staying home and watching a collection of art on a computer screen does not bring any advantage. Getting in contact with a sculpture or a canvas, in a museum, star it and see it in its real dimensions and shapes is what cataloging and expositions are all about. So, artists’ point of view is that recent programmes and initiatives of software to access and interact with arts’ environment must only be used as an enhancing addition and not a replacement of the physical contact that shall emerge from visiting a museum.

Speakers: Maria Van Zeller & Ricardo Nicolau
Promoted by: Pedro Graça, Fábio Costa, Luís Simões and Filipe Pereira


Undo/Redo & Copy/Paste – Impact of Software on Music

Budda playing in a concert

Last 23rd of November, starting at 13h30, Gonçalo Guedes has open this round of SESI seminar cycles called “Software and Culture” with a talk called “Undo/Redo; Copy/Paste”. In this talk he has spoken about the impact of software on the music business, supported by his personal experience and know-how obtained throughout many years on the ground.

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Disfluency: Technologies to support therapeutic intervention

One of the tested hypotheses for stuttering admits neurological disorders that affect the good cooperation between oratory planning processes, articulatory action and acoustic feedback. This feedback is mainly determined by the distance between mouth and ears and the speed of sound in air. The artificial change of these factors can help to reduce a person’s disfluency (breaks that occur in the flow of speech). This brief post refers to functional principles and how technology can pay assistance in order to reduce the disfluency, and its impacts.

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Software in Music Production

A music production home studio

A professional recording studio invests in an incredible amount of equipment, both in terms of hardware and software. What stands out, however, is the hardware: big mixing consoles, a large quantity of hardware compressors, equalizers or other effects, microphones, sound monitors and large displays. All of those are expensive material, only afforded by major recording studios. We can almost deduce the quality and the seriousness of a recording studio just by taking a look at how impressive is their equipment.

The technological developments on computers and software in the last decades made possible the software virtualization of almost every kind of musical technology that only existed in hardware. This led to the possibility for the amateur musician to have his own musical studio at home. It also revolutionized the professional recording studio, by facilitating some tasks and even allowing new practices, getting rid of some hardware limitations.