The Aurora project has always intrigued me, a successor to the famed SR-71 Blackbird (though I thought it was designated SR-75 and not SR-91). In a vain of building a next generation experience, the team at Adaptive Path and Mozilla Labs have partnered to build the Aurora Concept, “a video presenting one possible future user experience for the web”. It’s the second time in recent history where I have been thoroughly impressed with the design process used by the Adaptive Path folks, check out my commentary on the book, Subject to Change, and the Charmr project. The work on the Aurora Concept is a fantastic way to design, prototype and explore future design directions for Firefox and Mozilla and how the web should be built for the next generation of uses.
Part 1 – Exploring shared experiences
Part 2 – Exploring mobility
Part 3 – Interacting with the physical world
Video as a prototyping is not new. Video has been explored by the HCI and design researchers for a long time. In 1992 at Sun, Bruce Tognazzni created the Starfire design prototype. The team at Apple created the Knowledge Navigator in 1987 and Future Shock in 1988. Video is a compelling storytelling medium allowing designers to explore concepts and ideas without having to create functional environments. They are engaging spots that are designed to present a dream to a community in a digestible format.
My favourite part of the Concept Series is the call for participation. It is an open call to designers, developers and others from industry and higher education to get involved and design a vision for the future. The goal is to “bring even more people to the table and provoke thought, facilitate discussion, and inspire future design directions for Firefox, the Mozilla project, and the Web as a whole”.
Concepts may take the form of Ideas, Mockups or Prototypes.
It all begins with an idea. A sentence, paragraph, or even bullet-points kick-start the process. Ideas can be simple and non-technical. It should be easy for anyone and everyone to help shape the future of the Web. So throw your notions, inspirations, dreams and visions out to the community.
Turn your idea (or someone else’s) into an image, sketch or video. Words are great, but you know what they say about pictures. Mockups offer up a visual and communicate ideas in terms that are just a bit more polished and real. They draw the next person in, tempting them to pick up the concept and run with it.
A prototype is interactive. Feel, touch and play with developing concepts. Prototypes get ideas across by showing off the moving parts. They aren’t always fully functional or pretty, but they’re more than a static image or two. They’re a dress rehearsal of sorts, with minimal programming. Make a prototype in HTML, Flash, or whatever puts things into action.
If I was a student designer looking for a design project to consider for my final year project I would think seriously about participating in the Concept Series or the Imagine Cup.