Bugbase User Interface for Bug Labs
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Rethinking how gadget makers interact with a modular, open-source development platform
The Linux-based BUG platform was received enthusiastically by early adopters, who formed a user community to share ideas. So when Bug Labs and IDEO, which had previously worked together on the platform’s modular base station, decided to rethink the user interface, the multidisciplinary team of engineers and designers looked to tap users’ expertise as well as their own. IDEO set up a public blog for everyone from garage-based tinkerers to seasoned pros, in the hopes that BUG fanatics would weigh in on the process.
The team’s goal was to explore the options for integrating new display and input technologies into future versions of the BUGbase. The project started with a collaborative “deep dive” workshop that immersed the IDEO team in the BUG ecosystem. They examined the base unit’s capabilities and limitations, studied various user experiences, and considered comments from potential customers about the product’s functionality. They posted their work - observations, renderings, and more - on the public blog and solicited feedback over the course of a week.
Ultimately, the team emerged with five design concepts that will inform the development of the next BUGbase. Potential new features include an electronic ink display mounted on an array of tactile buttons, a color LCD touch screen, and customizable illuminated buttons with a side status panel. Bug Labs CEO Peter Semmelhack says extending the open-source philosophy to the design process is likely to produce smarter, better products. “We’re not going to do it alone,” he told I.D. Magazine. “Open-source and community-based innovation is the way a lot of thorny issues are going to get solved.”
Project date: 2008