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Conference insights from Vancouver and Boston to Paris and Beijing.

Attention Retailers: The Future is Now

 
The digitally connected, social media-savvy shopper of today wants to make a purchase. She browses online, texts friends and checks aggregation sites that filter the best products at the right price, just for her. In the store she Instagrams pictures of merchandise and product displays, clips e-coupons and pays with a smartphone while tweeting to celebrate her finds.
 
For retailers of the future, imagine this scenario on steroids. It’s shopping as a seamless, stress-free journey that merges the functional and the emotional and adds memorable emotional moments along the way. The retailer of the future will choreograph every step of this journey, based on reams of deep quantitative and qualitative data that reveal the wants, needs and behaviors of shoppers.

Design and the Coming Iceberg

I am a product designer. I have been part of frog for nearly 20 years. In that time I have seen our industry change quite a bit—yet it is nothing like the changes I see coming. Our industry will have a choice to make: either change radically, or be relegated to decorating the surfaces of the world.

TEDxKC

Kansas City is Cool.  While this is not their official slogan the number of times the phrase comes up reminds me very much of the Austin is Weird.  In deed there is a lot going on in the city and it has a great density of culture and food to people along with the most miles per-capita of freeway for U.S. cities.  I was secreted in by Mike Lundgren one of the principal organizer of TEDxKC to help open eyes to the possibility of Mass Transit without wheels on the ground and present a refreshed and updated version of The Wire.  As I was wandering the streets in search of BBQ and a Town Topic burger I found out this notion of Mass Transit in Kansas City is actually quite a controversial thing right now.  I was hopeful for a small and understanding TED crowd.

Instead TEDxKC turns out to be one of, if not the largest TEDx event out there.  Well over 2,000 attendees.  This gigapan shows the view I had from stage. This was a pretty incredible site but there was also a second theatre full of people next door watching a live simulcast. 

The Powerbroker

The Powerbroker, a documentary by frog senior film designer Taylor Hamilton, screens at the White House 

Interview by Ernest Beck

The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington will be commemorated today, Tuesday, Aug. 27, at The White House, with an event that includes a screening of the documentary film, The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights. Directed by frog senior film designer Taylor Hamilton, the documentary is an intimate portrait of “the inside man” of the Civil Rights Movement. The drama escalates throughout the film as Young, who aligned with business and government leaders to create greater opportunities for Black people, comes under fire from all sides, especially the Black Power movement of the late 1960s. We spoke with the 29-year old Hamilton about the film, his connection to Young (who was his great uncle), and how video is critical to telling frog’s story about design.

frog's SXSW 2014 Panel Picker

The SXSW 2014 panel picker is now live! Several frogs are in the running this year, offering their perspective on everything from the emerging consumers of Myanmar to the enterprise software revolution. 

Take a look at our submissions and show some love by giving a thumbs up on the panel picker page.

Project Ansible: Anywhere Workers of the World, Connect

Today, Siemens Enterprise Communications introduced Project Ansible, a new visionary communications platform bringing together voice, video, social media and search into a smart, seamless, intuitive experience. (For additional details: www.siemens-enterprise.com/projectansible and www.frogdesign.com/work/project-ansible.html)

Project Ansible is the result of a research and development partnership between frog and Siemens Enterprise Communications. We spoke with Justin Maguire, executive creative director in frog’s Munich studio, about Project Ansible’s potential impact on businesses and communications, collaboration and productivity in the age of the flexible, mobile Anywhere Worker.

Towards an Urban Design Toolkit: thoughts on the 2013 New Cities Foundation Summit, São Paulo

Sao Paulo lies deep and vast over the horizon. Where one continuous line of buildings stands—extending further (by far) than the view from, say, Greenpoint towards midtown Manhattan—such skylines persist in every direction. The effect swallows all individual orientation but rewards with nothing so much as a sense of being…cradled. This apparent sense of drama continues even into Sao Paulo's open spaces, such as the one in which we now stood, Parque Ibirapuera, a quietly contrasting gap in the endless march and roll of buildings and roads.

Today’s Phones and Tablets Will Die Out Like the PC

The personal computer is dying. Its place in our lives as the primary means of computing will soon end. Mobile computing—the cell phone in your pocket or the tablet in your purse—has been a great bridging technology, connecting the familiar past to a formative future. But mobile is not the destination. In many ways mobile devices belong more to the dying PC model than to the real future of computing.

A Model for Innovation in Emerging Markets

In the outskirts of Musanze, in northern Rwanda, mattresses have become a tool for female empowerment, family security, and social change. Hilarie, a softspoken farmer, mother, and wife, is the mastermind behind this association and has become a figurehead of change in her village and over 30 others in the region because of it. How Hilarie became a purveyor of mattresses for social change offers some fascinating insights about human behavior, community dynamics and… financial services.

Yes, financial services. Specifically, the challenge of financial inclusion—bringing financial services to the poor for the purpose of improving their lives. This is one challenge that resists easy scaling across markets. If a solution devised by a bank, mobile operator, or other financial services player achieves some level of success in one market, it's highly doubtful that the same idea will work in other markets. The always-cited example of this is Safaricom's highly successful M-Pesa mobile money platform in Kenya; no other mobile money service in the world has had even close to the same level of success.

Visualizing Service Design

Roberta Tassi is a senior design researcher and interaction designer at frog Milan, with a deep background in information visualization and communication design.
 
While working on her graduation thesis—exploring the interconnections between Communication and Service Design—Tassi developed Service Design Tools, a website that gathers visualizations used to support design processes. The collection was created with the idea of sharing her research within the design community, and so far it has caught the attention of both academic and industry insiders. Yet, Tassi warns these tools are meant to inspire, not act as one-size-fits-all solution.  
 
Tell us a little bit about Service Design Tools.
I put together this web platform called Service Design Tools in 2009, and I still manage it today. After published, it has immediately become a sort of reference point within the service design community, it's an organized catalogue of tools and examples that professionals can use to support their design activities day-by-day. It can be browsed in different ways, according to specific communication purposes, and it's conceived as an open platform: I still receive a lot of examples of new tools, keeping the collection growing in time.
 
Why are visualizations specifically crucial in service design?
When we speak about a service or a system, an ecosystem or concept, they are a lot of times abstract things. Visual representation is a way to make them more tangible, and so, sharable.
 
The same is when we deal with research outcomes, usually there is the need to translate them into meaningful insights and frameworks to inform the design process, establishing a foundation for all the following activities. And visualization again can be really helpful, to turn information and data into usable materials.