Doing the bump…

26 09 2009

I don’t know about the rest of you but I seem to find organization in a messy desk.  As a professional, my desks were always cluttered with papers, reports, lists, notes, etc.  I always felt more comfortable with the mess and for some reason I always knew where to find everything.

Don’t ask me about the psychology behind it because I don’t get it.

However, while watching videos on TED.com I came across someone who might.

Anand Argalawala, a Canadian interface designer and software developer has designed and developed a new desktop interface he calls, BumpTop.

BumpTop is an interactive and aesthetically pleasing interface giving users a more emotionally pleasing experience.

Much like a cluttered desk in the real world, BumpTop is designed to look nothing like your typical computer desktop arrangement.  There are no hierarchical folders and files.  No menus to go through in order to give a command.   This interface is meant to be fun, intuitive, and reduce the amount of keystrokes needed to perform and action

This BumpTop desktop is a 3D representation of a real desk with cubicle walls and all.  There are even multiple themes, all created by users that users can choose from to help personalize their desktop.

Files can be organized in piles just as you might find on a real desk, or they can be stacked, or laid out as they would on a traditional desktop.  A user can click and “TOSS” (not drag), files wherever they so choose.  With life-like actions files fly across the desk and “bumping” into other files and scattering them about.

If you want to you can then stack files on top of one another, and then fan them out to easily access and rearrange the files in that stack.

As files get fuller, they get heavier within the interface, so you can throw smaller files at it and it won’t budge.  Or you can throw the larger, heavier files scattering the smaller files all over the place.  All of this happens with incredible lifelike motion.

This interface is designed to incorporate multitouch control with the use of a hand or a pen.  So if you have a touch screen or a pen tablet you can interact with the interface without using a mouse.  The tossing motion is more natural this way, resulting in an ease of use.  This realism gives users a more personal and life-like experience, which is entertaining and engaging.

In addition of folders and files, there are even post-it notes that you can write on and then virtually pin them up on the cubicle walls.

Organizing photos is like the good old days of pulling out your shoebox on the floor or desk and going through them one-by-one..  You can do that on BumpTop.  Toss the pictures onto the desktop and fan them out, rearrange, and save them.

Another way of selecting and manipulating files with one fluid stroke is with the use of the LassoMenu option.  It acts similarly to the lasso tool in many Adobe software applications.  Also, there is a Pie Menu that can be brought up in order to give commands such as “Create pile”, “Pile by type”, and “Shrink”

On top of all this, BumpTop can be utilized to keep a user connected with friends and family with the use of email or social networking site widgets.  Photos can be tossed to the Facebook icon, which sends the photos directly to someone else’s profile.  Or a user can send Twitter updates directly from BumpTop.

This ability to socialize, the life-like movements, and pleasing aesthetics of BumpTop, all contribute to the user’s enjoyment.  The psychological and emotional effects of an interface such as this contribute to its success.  Psychology plays a large roll in the design of human-computer interfaces such as this.   Human behaviors affect the design yet at the same time the design also affects our behaviors.

I may not know exactly why I feel a messy desk helps to stay more organized, but I know it works and I know I want that in my computer world as well.

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