27 February 2012

And the Oscar goes to: Interaction

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[Guest post by Jan-Christoph Zoels, senior-partner of Experientia®]

Avoiding one of the shortcomings of Oscar ceremonies, the international jury of the first Interaction design awards, selected a diverse range of winners from all over the world – from Ford’s smart speed gauge to a Dutch shopping application Ice Mobile to a Brazilian museums installation Interaction cubes.

The inaugural award drew over 300 entries from 33 countries showcasing mobile and web-based applications, social media campaigns, product interfaces, installations, games and toys. 26 winners were selected among six categories highlighting the different facets of meaningful relationships between people, products and services.

The choice of categories – disrupting, connecting, empowering, engaging, expressing, optimizing – showcases the focal shift from product categories to categories of experiential impact. Imagine a time at the Oscars when we could truly see a disruptive movie…

The wide range of winning entries stimulate a discussion on the role and value of design and provide tangible examples of design excellence for years to come. Evaluation criteria were based on context, impact, craft and overall presentation.

Thanks goes to Jennifer Bove and Raphael Grignani for organizing and chairing the Interaction Awards, and an international jury of interaction design heavy hitters including Massimo Banzi (Milan, Italy), Janna DeVylder (Sydney, Australia), Matt Jones (London, UK), Younghee Jung (Bangalore, India), Jonas Löwgren (Malmo, Sweden), Helen Walters (New York, USA), and Jury Chair Robert Fabricant (New York, USA).

The awards were celebrated during IxDA’s Interaction|12 Conference in Dublin, Ireland on February 3rd, 2012.

And the Oscar goes to:

LoopLoop, the recipient of Best in Show – an interactive music toy created by Stimulant for Sifteo. The playful cubes use engaging visuals and sounds to let anyone create music. Responsive to touch and cognizant of other cubes, playful sounds emerge.

Interaction Cubes by Fundação Oswaldo Cruz/Museu da Vida, from Rio de Janiero was awarded the People’s Choice Award as well as Best in Category Engaging. The cubes enable playful learning of the periodic table in a science museum using videos and interactive explorations to showcase everyday connections to each element.


Facilitating communication between people and communities.

Best in Category

Pepsi Refresh Project designed by HUGE in New York, USA, won Best in Category Connecting.
A truly refreshing project – from fleeting seconds in Super Bowl advertising to local community impact released over time.

In 2010 Huge created for Pepsi a community catalyst revolving around issues and ideas that people personally cared about. The Pepsi Refresh Project was designed to give millions of dollars in grants in the U.S. to fund good ideas, big and small that move communities forward. In times of economic crisis, actions like that give hope to some regenerative ideas in the world of advertising. A best practice to copy …

Other winners:

  • FoodHub: a digital community where local food people. ISITE Design, Portland, USA
  • Plug-In-Play: an interactive installation exploring the future of the connected city. Rockwell Group, New York, USA
  • Steps: an online resource and community for educators. Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, USA
  • Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango): Putting People First. Second, Metro – a new design language. Third, Fierce Reduction – a design approach enabling simple experiences. Microsoft, Seattle, USA


Re-imagining completely an existing product or service by creating new behaviors, usages or markets.

Best in Category

Ford SmartGauge by Smart Design in San Francisco, USA, won Best in Category Disrupting. The SmartGauge is an intuitive and beautiful LCD instrument panel to help Ford Fusion drivers to save fuel in adapting their driving styles.

In building an emotional connection and creating awareness of driving choices the SmartGauge affects behavioral change over time. “Efficiency Leaves” give feedback over time and suggest driver actions.

According to Dan Formosa, president of Smart Design, the SmartGauge also reduces the cognitive load in reducing glance time for drivers through increased contrasts and enhanced peripheral vision.

Smart Designs team of six designers took it from interface concepts to interactive prototypes and usability tests of readability, helpfulness, and glance time. Resulting in an automotive gauge “designed to be read without being looked at.”

Other winners

  • Spotify Box: tangible interactions with a service. Umea Institute of Design, Umea, Sweden
  • SWYP: See What You Print: see and manipulate, in 1:1 scale, what the finished result will look like before you print. Artefact, Seattle, USA
  • Peel: a smart remote suggesting programs you’ll love to watch on TV. Peel, Mountain View, USA
  • The Waste Land: an iPad app to explore every facet of a poem – from its inception to its interpretation. Touch Press LLP, London, England


Enabling self expression and/or creativity.

  • LoopLoop, Stimulant/Sifteo, San Francisco, USA (Best in Category, Expressing; Best in Show)
  • The Film Room: learning basketball from the very best. R/GA, New York, USA


Capturing attention, creating delight and delivering meaning.


Helping people to do things they otherwise couldn’t do.

Best in Category

ReadyForZero, ReadyForZero, San Francisco, USA
ReadyForZero is a free, online financial program that helps people get out of debt. It automatically pulls in all their financial data, helps them make a plan, and tracks their progress as they change their financial behavior for the better.

With the recent financial crash and consistent unemployment, the time could not be better for a service like ReadyForZero to help people take control of their financial lives.

Just imagine a budget balancing tool for debt-ridden nations of this world from Greece to Italy to the USA. What could we cut first of our unsustainable expenditures – defense budgets, tax subsidies for the superrich, the most polluting companies and tax avoiding multinationals? Which Open data app will surprise us at next years Interaction Awards?

Other winners


Making daily activities more efficient.

Best in Category

The Best in Category Optimizing was awarded to Appie, a simple and thoughtful mobile shopping application designed by IceMobile in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Created for the Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn it simplifies shoppers groceries lists. Previous purchases, recipes, current offerings and discounts, as well as a detailed walking route of a store of choice, makes this mobile shopping list easier as its pen & paper brethren.

Let’s just hope Albert Heijn licenses its best practice application to other enlightened retailers.

Other winners

  • B-Cycle: a next-generation bike-sharing program. Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, Boulder, USA
  • Out of Box Experience – Accu-Chek Aviva: testing diabetes made simple. Frontend.com, Dublin, Ireland
  • Xero: beautifully designed accounting software for small businesses. Xero, Wellington, New Zealand


Best Concept

Best in Category

Out of the Box by Vitamins, London, UK, is a simple yet effective solution for the increasing number of cell-phone users who have difficulties with learning to use a new smartphone.

For older people, this experience can be particularly frustrating as they apply analogue modes of learning to digital experiences – looking in the box for help that simply is not there.

Vitamins created a set of books which would act as the packaging and provide an entire learning experience for any device.

The books actually contain the phone, and use each page turn to reveal the elements of the phone in the right order, helping the user to set up the SIM card, battery and even slide the case onto the phone. The phone then slots into the book, which acts as the main manual. Arrows point to the exact locations the user should press, avoiding confusion and eliminating the feeling of being lost in a menu.

A beautiful solutions which reminds me of Dynamic Diagram’s (Krzysztof Lenk, Paul Kahn, and Ronnie Peters) unfolding poster to assemble an IBM Thinkpad notebook dating from 1996. Association like this make the newly founded Interaction Design award an inspiration, an archive and a celebration of smart practices.


Best Student

Pas a Pas by CIID student Ishac Bertran is an interactive educational tool that enables children to learn and experiment through animation.

An excellent example of self-directed learning in animating abstract concepts of time and movement through playful and creative discovery.

The prototype builds on Montessori concepts of tangible explorations and is intended for kindergarten and primary school kids. CIID rocks!


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