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New Opportunities for App Development and Art Design

by Zoraida Cabrera

Leap Motion

You can probably imagine being able to create an architectural 3D digital model, make a digital drawing, or edit a digital photograph without the use of the mouse. The process can be arguably easier or more difficult. Still, touch screen technology allows for wonders. But had you ever imagined doing these things without the touch of a surface, by just moving your hands?

Leap Motion has developed a  motion sensor technology that will allow for wonders in art, music, video, robotics, medicine, science and gaming. Leap detects movements in front of a screen and translates them into commands for your computer. This new program is being sold to app developers for $70.  According to an article by in CNET: “At launch, the company said it will build an Apple-style app store…to sell their work through such a store.”


Context, currently a desktop application for Mac computers, is the brain child of designer Joshua Distler. This app facilitates the work of designers by allowing them to view their designs in realistic settings without having to go through photographing settings to Photoshop. They can also edit the designs as they view them in these settings. It makes the job easier and quicker by not only allowing easy handling of images, but also allowing early testing of the design in context.

To quote an article  by Shonquis Moreno in Co. Design:

“Flat is history,” as the Context website declares: These may be “surfaces,” but they’re deep surfaces. The structure of each contains a 3-D surface and multiple layers that control lighting, masking, shadows, and reflections. One specification dedicated to surface “softness” controls how deep a foil stamp will be imprinted.

Check out how easy the program allows for a design to be viewed on a building:

Think apps are becoming too complicated to use? Or that some are too easy to use? What if they adapted to your skills?

User experience can affect the success of any tool or app. If an app is too easy or to difficult to use, chances are you will not like it. Philip Battin makes an interesting suggestion in his article in Co.Design, “The Next Big UI Idea: Gadgets That Adapt To Your Skill“: since user experience is subjective, why not make apps that adapt to the skills of the users?

His suggestion is based on a the theory of “flow,” developed in 1995 by Hungarian psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. “Flow” is defined as what humans feel while they are completely involved. The theory has proven positive to create a good learning experience: it has shown that a balance between skill and challenge can help us feel more involved and interested. He also explains how video games have used the theory by creating different experience levels for players.

Imagine applying this idea to a museum digital guide. You could rent out an iPad or a portable device provided by the musuem and choose your level of experience based on the knowledge you have in both Art and in technology. As you move through the personalized digital tour and learn more about the museum and the app, the app would get more challenging, but at your pace, creating an engaging learning experience.

Getting any great ideas after reading this?

If you are interested in app design, you might want to read what Luke Wroblewski, the designer of the photography app Polar, has to say on what makes apps engaging. Check out John Pavlus’s  article  “4 Surprising App-Design Principles, From The Instagram Of Quick Quizzes” in Co.Design.

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