The Best of the Week

A collection of follow-ups and links to stories and developments that I found interesting or important in the past week, that I think you’ll find worth reading about too.

Another Slice of Pi

Consider this follow-up from the post I did last week: I find myself dreaming up more and more uses for the Raspberry Pi Development Kit. Apparently I’m not alone, as this has proven to be quite a popular post. It appears that there’s good progress being made toward the anticipated December release date for the Raspberry Pi, the design of the PCB has now been finalized. This visualization image is pretty cool, and gives a bit of an idea of the complexity of the project.

If you’re interested in more technical info or speculation on applications, this Reddit thread has lots of info. You could also check out the Raspberry Pi forums here.

Haptic Surfaces

This seems like a big development to me – a touchscreen that actually provides touch feedback.

A new haptic touch system that can dynamically change the physical feel of a control surface beneath the fingertip has been developed, potentially revolutionizing touchscreens and portable devices. Swiss EPFL researchers discovered that a piezoelectric surface that flexes at the micron level can create a textured panel a user’s finger can perceive.

While still a research project, this points the way to many interesting applications, including touch interfaces that work for the visually impaired. You can read more here, and see a video of a prototype in action.

Interestingly, information visualization guru Edward Tufte weighed in on the need for haptic surfaces in touch devices only a couple of weeks ago, proving his prescience on all matters related to information design once again.

Via: @winfieldco

Cognitive Wayfinding Strategies

This blog post about a study published in Cognition disproves the notion that people plan their routes from one place to another in detail in advance. The findings of the study suggest that there is a lot more serendipity and on-the-fly optimization that happens than we might imagine. The design implications of this phenomenon are not immediately obvious to me, but the applicability of these strategies to many other spheres of our lives certainly is. Having a plan is always a great thing, but having the ability to alter the plan as conditions change or opportunities present themselves is even more important.

Via: @darrenmjones

3D Type

This is something I’ve thought about off and on for a while — what would truly 3D typefaces look like? I don’t mean just the usual extruded letter forms we’re used to seeing, but a different sort of conception of letters altogether. I think I finally have my answer in this project from Brian Banton.

Via: @redtype

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