Interaction

Calum Pringle, Freelance interaction designer
A strong sense of social responsibility appears to guide freelance interaction designer Calum Pringle, who has just finished a six-week stint at Orange, where he worked on new concepts for mobile applications.

’It’s every designer’s dream to make a difference, and I want to be designing for specific users with a specific purpose, really involving them to come up with a solution to their problem,’ says Pringle.

He is particularly interested in the use of mobile devices ’because they are becoming so incorporated in our lives, and they have the potential to really benefit people who don’t usually rely on technology’.

His final-year university project, Subtle Subtitles, exhibits his passion for the potential of mobile devices to help people with vocal disabilities to communicate.

’User-centred design process is so important, but a lot of supposed user engagement is made up, I’ve found,’ he says.

Pringle’s stint at Orange came off the back of a three-month internship there. He won it on the strength of a university project in which people could arrange dolls’ heads – representing characteristics such as lust, greed and fertility – in order. This generated a read-out that defined your characteristics.

’The idea was to turn the status update on its head, so that instead of telling, you get told what you are like. It is passive rather than active, and Orange liked it,’ says Pringle.

He is amused by the irony that since leaving university to work in the digital sector he has had ’to draw in freehand so much more than I used to, in order to communicate what I am thinking’, and he carries a sketchbook and a camera with him at all times.

CV highlights
2010 University of Dundee BSc Interactive Media Design
2010 New Designers Final year project Subtle Subtitles shortlisted for the Cyber Duck Associate Prize
2010 Orange Freelance

Graham Pullin, Course director, Digital Interaction Design, University of Dundee
’Calum Pringle’s Subtle Subtitles is a breathtakingly rounded piece of interaction design/ user-centred, beautifully crafted and technically innovative. Profound reflection on the nature of conversation is manifested in the smallest of details. Design and computing, including typography, coding and machine knitting, are sensitively combined to connect people with each other. We predict a bright future for him in which deep design thinking and detailed design judgment will be inseparable.’

Gareth Foote, Lead developer, Ultraviolet Design
Free software is a passion for Gareth Foote, the creator of Wabbitware. A piece of self-replicating software, Wabbitware forces the downloader to own its source code – usually heavily protected.

’It spits out the source code and allows you to study it, modify it and pass the programme on so that it expands like a tree,’ says Foote.

It is the bugs and the glitches in software that intrigue Foote.

’One way to make software into a work of art is to expose its underlying algorithms and insert glitches that disrupt the user’s experience,’ he says. ’Usually, you are protected by a graphical interface, but you can create difference and beauty and a new experience by interrupting that.’

Foote has just completed an MA in interactive media at Goldsmiths, focusing on ’free, libre and open-source software’, otherwise known as Floss.

’Open-source has been commandeered by business, but free software still has an ethical angle. Software is something we can use as creative expression, a bit like writing,’ says Foote.

He is currently designing an electronic button that reacts to how forcefully or softly it is being pressed. It will be displayed at Brick Box at Brixton Market this month. ’Usually, a button – say, to drop a bomb – is a binary “yes or no” thing. This button is intended to make a more direct and subtle relationship between human cause and effect,’ says Foote.

Foote has been a creative developer at Ultraviolet Design since 2006. One of his goals is to ’become more technically capable and then to lead workshops around the use of technology in art. It is my ambition to be part of a group which could run workshops for people in difficult social circumstances.’

CV highlights
2006 Ultraviolet Design Joins as creative developer
2007 Bournemouth University BA Interactive Media Production
2010 Goldsmiths, University of London MA Interactive Media

Jonny Burch, Founder and director, Shellsuit Zombie
’Gareth Foote, alongside working at a digital group in Old Street, has a technical and analytical brain that has allowed him to delve deep into the world of interactivity. His projects for his masters degree in interactive media include a piece of open-source software called Wabbitware whose goal is its own process, forcing users to interact with its code and change its functionality as they see fit. Definitely one to watch.’

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