Oliver Bayley, Interval Research Corporation

Trained as an industrial model maker, in 1989 Oliver Bayley was snapped up by IDM (the model-making arm of Moggeridge Associates) during his placement there. Having got the computer bug via an interest in typography, Bayley taught himself some design applications just as the then Ideo was launching into interaction design. He made the leap by offering to “soft prototype” on screen, instead of with models. “It was a major learning curve,” he remembers, “for me and Ideo, but after five years as an interactive designer I wanted to get back to prototyping by building objects that would work like the finished device.”

Through contacts made via Ideo’s west coast office Bayley headed to Interval Research, an organisation that employs multiskilled teams on a vast range of blue-sky projects. Founded by Paul Allen, an original partner in Microsoft, Interval aims to discover new market opportunities at the intersection of “seedling technologies” and consumer and popular culture. When they spot a potential success, they set up a subsidiary, and let it fly.

Bayley has recently been involved in initiatives in his areas of interest, namely “tangible user interfaces” or “physical computing”, which use real-world artefacts as tools for digital multimedia artefacts, and, “homeable computers” which are task-specific computers made to fit the fabric of a home.

“I’m co-running a project in advanced development,” explains Bayley, “and I’m responsible for ensuring that the end-users’ needs are met and we don’t just turn out a great technical or commercial object.”

Being at the cutting edge of product development is a dream job for Bayley. He says that his only frustration is in the turnaround time. “Unlike a design consultancy, which is closer to the commercial end than Interval Research, nothing I’ve worked on has yet come to market.”

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