Tell it to the lights

Here’s something. We love our Lifx lights, but we thought, “wouldn’t it be great if we could talk to them? So..

Introducing “Tell it to the lights”. Simply email thelights@theroyals.com.au and our kitchen lights will flash and blink and colour themselves based on the mood of your message. Because they listen. And they care.

Having a bad day? Let the lights knows. Pumped about getting your work finished? Tell it to the lights. Feel like sending an email, but deep down, you know it really shouldn’t be read by a human? The lights will hear you.

Try it out.

How it works: We set up a service that monitors the email address and then passes all content through a sentiment analysis API called “Tweet Sentiment API” (made for Twitter, obviously, but you can push anything through it). Then we made Maker Recipes on IFTTT to trigger our Lifx lights based on the mood expressed in the email message.

Heaps of fun :)

Paul and Dave

 

 

Open Field Issue Three: Download today!

Download Open Field Issue Three from the iTunes App Store.

Why? Because for a small price you can enjoy a wonderful publication (to read on iPhone or iPad) that showcases writing and art from across the globe, knowing your money goes to support the charity CARE.

The Royals have a particular passion for understanding the opportunities for change and disruption that the internet offers. That’s why we publish Open FieldOpen Field uses digital publishing and distribution to drive awareness of CARE’s valuable work, help them raise funds, and share the work of the incredible women featured in each issue. It’s rewarding to work on a project that offers the reader value as well as, in small way, helping to combat global poverty.

Issue Three features:

Artists Wangechi Mutu and Jongmee
Stella Prize winner Clare Wright
Poet and performer Kate Tempest
Yemen Times Editor Nadia Al-Sakkaf
Vogue and New York Times Magazine writer Elizabeth Weil
Rabbi Susan Silverman
and more…

For more info, head to openfield.com.au or just head straight into the App Store to grab your copy.

Less And More

I was just reading more of the recent iOS 7 commentary (I’ve nearly had my fill..) and thinking about Sir Jon Ive’s oft-noted admiration for the designer Dieter Rams. in the more than 40 years that he spent working at Braun, dieter rams established himself  as one of the most influential designers of the twentieth century. His elegantly clear visual language not only defined product design for decades, but also our fundamental understanding of what design is and what it can and should do. His design philosophy is summarised by the phrase “Less and More” (see the book). I suppose one of the ket tenets underpinning that is that simplicity, attractiveness and functionality are not mutually exclusive; that you can indeed have less and more. The way this is elaborated on most clearly is via Rams’ ten design principles:

good design is innovative.
good design makes a product useful.
good design is aesthetic.
good design helps to understand a product.
good design is unobtrusive.
good design is honest.
good design is durable.
good design is consequent to the last detail.
good design is concerned with environment.
good design is as little design as possible.

In thinking about how we go about creating digital products and experiences today, I think these principles are more relevant and important than ever. In fact, when you look closely, many of these come from the same intentions as our old fave, Eric Ries’ “Minimum Viable Product” (also, see adjusted versions “Minimun Desirable and Delightful Product”). When make websites, feeds, apps and other ideas it’s often tempting to be novel rather than innovative, faddish in our design or create communication products that interrupt rather than add value in other ways. The design principles above should apply more than ever to products that have interactivity embedded in them. We need to strive to have a person understand the intention of the design (without knowingly being a part of that process) and to have a clearly articulated view of the usefulness and role of the things that we’re making. If we try and follow those principles, stuff we make can have significance. For a product, being significant in some way, is the ultimate ambition.

Just thinking out loud :)

Dave.
@daveking

(The last time we referenced Rams’ and “Less and More” was when Georgie, The Royal, wrote and designed this piece called iPad: WTF?. It set out to explore what role tablet computing products might come to play in people’s lives. Since publishing that in 2009, the iPad has clearly found a place in many people’s daily habits.)

 

 

Audi Product and Innovation Visit with RMIT

Yesterday evening, as the clouds rumbled and rain poured upon Melbourne, a small group of Royals were lucky enough to partake in an international meeting of minds and sharing of ideas with some inspiring German geeks from the Audi Product and Innovation Department and a couple of big (and likeable) brains from RMIT. The discussion rocketed through issues close to all groups’ hearts such as computer interface design, passive and contextual notification, and the eternal balance between form and function. It became clear that technology, regardless of whether its context is marketing or motoring needs to be aware of a sort of ‘positive compromise’. It’s only through compromise and balance that it can achieve its true function and optimum potential most effectively.

Take interface design for instance – there is an almost limitless volume of information that a manufacturer like Audi could display; current and forecasted weather, personalised news updates, incoming calls, proximity to networked friends or a multitude of contextually aware social notifications. The modern car buyer thinks they want, to quote British-metal-band-with-an-umlaut Motörhead, “everything louder than everything else”. They’re prepared to pay a premium to be enveloped in modern technology, flashing lights, bells & whistles. However, this hyper-functionality will often come at a sacrifice to aesthetics, ease of use, a purist driving sensation, and ultimately vehicle safety. As such a compromise leading to a more elegant solution must be made.

Audi, RMIT and The Royals are all enamoured with the possibilities of “humble”, or “glanceable” notification systems – methods of communicating information in an unobtrusive, peripheral manner. This could take the form of subtle audio or lighting signals or through haptic feedback. However, getting a driver to understand this text-free information without a steep learning curve involving a new semiotic language is understandably incredibly challenging. This delicate dance between usability, impact and restraint is hugely important when it comes to keeping your focus on the road as you take a fast corner in your R8, a part of your mind free to take in other useful information.

Another issue we riffed on – a concept I personally hadn’t spent much time considering – was the importance of providing an exemplary driving experience to everyone in the vehicle, particularly the passengers. At the top end of the luxury segment, the owners of the car often aren’t the ones driving it. Tapping into another one of our collective passion-points we discussed the burgeoning potential of second screen experiences. In car passenger entertainment systems aren’t new – and neither are iPhones or iPads, however currently these largely operate entirely independently of each other. This is a huge area of opportunity to involve the passenger actively and safely in the luxury driving experience through the device they already carry with them.

In true style, the evening carried on to additional beers and burgers at our favourite local haunt the Richmond Hotel, the hereto measured conversation spiralling gently towards the more theoretical and progressive realms of technology, psychology and philosophy… another post entirely..

Thanks to RMIT’s Dr. Steffen Walz for organising the meetup!

Tom.

Lode Goes New School

Last year, for our friends at Lode,  we ran series of campaigns called “The School of Maverick Thinking” where partner companies asked strategic questions to the Lode database via a Facebook app. The best response winning a 4-week paid internship at KPMG, Flight Centre and other participating companies.

Building on the popularity and success of those campaigns, in 2012 we decided to dial it up a notch. By allowing participants to contribute using any combination of words, photos, sketches or inspirational imagery, we hoped to really help people extend their imaginations even further. The first company to give it a whirl was PwC. The consulting behemoth received more than over 750 incredible responses! Suffice to say, PwC were blown away with the numbers and standard of contributions. The people at Lode are really clever, have a cracking business model and super to work with (although occasionally distraught when we beat them at ping pong). We’re looking forward to doing a bunch more Maverick Thinking campaigns over the coming months.

Teach For Australia

Bigger, Brighter, Bolder.

Teach For Australia is an organisation that we’re particularly proud to be involved with, as its all about reducing educational inequity in Australia. Though TFA’s message, mission and impact were grand, their online web presence was letting them down due to poor usability and visual impact. The Royals collaborative approach appealed to Teach For Australia and we soon got down to the business of workshops, business requirements gathering, fun with personas…you get the idea. With the above outcomes in mind, we proceeded to the design and development of the new and improved website.

Launched in late Feb, the site has already been greeted with much praise by partners, associates and stakeholders. A big congrats to the team who worked on this fantastic project. Top job.

 
Teach For Australia

Sand Hill Road meets The Royals

You may have heard of The Bridge Hotel and you may have recently eaten at The Richmond Club Hotel, but did you know that both are owned by The Sand Hill Road Group? Actually, they own a bunch of pubs, all very close to us which really can’t be a coincidence. The boys from Sand Hill Road were struggling to work out the best way to present their pubs online.

Enter The Royals.

The thought of combining internet expertise with pub experiences was too much to pass up. Check out the sites, go to one of the below, or all. Go nuts.

And Andy, our lovely client had this to say:

We’ve spent the past 11 years struggling with drawing together the various web presence demands of our five core businesses. Working with The Royals happily spells an end to that struggle. Pure and simple, they were awesome. From initial consultations, through conceptual mock-ups, to proofing, testing and launching our new series of websites, they were fast, creative and able to deliver results way beyond expectation. Thanks to the entire team – we’re looking forward to the many more projects that lie ahead. Andy Mullins – Director.

(Big ups to Ken, Pan and the team. Top stuff.)

A Golden Event

Comm Bank needed some help to leverage their sponsorship of the Moonlight Cinema. Inspired a little by Charlie and the chocolate factory, we came up with the Golden Cone promotion. Every patron was given a free choc top ice-cream on arrival, and alerted to the fact that there were 8 lucky “golden honeycomb” hidden amongst the standard vanilla versions. If you were lucky enough to find a “Golden Cone”, you won an immediate upgrade to the VIP section, with a deluxe bean bag and fancy picnic hamper full of goodies..As you can see there is no doubt we surprised and delighted a bunch of people on behalf of CBA.