At Mozilla Festival 2011, Dundee’s Product Design’s Masters (MSc) students exhibited their Physical App Store.
Michelle Thorne of Mozilla visited Dundee 4 weeks before Mozfest to introduce a brief; to design and build a navigation system for the festival. The solution was designed and built to navigate through the mass of media being generated at the festival.
The Physical App Store is a structure housing four objects powered by software (apps) previously limited to purely screen based applications. The products are powered by SoundCloud, BBC, Skype and Twitter with particular attention paid to their application functions and their brand values.
The Making Of…
Given the 4 week deadline, one week was spent on idea generation and the other three on build. It was decided to build everything in house in University of Dundee’s workshop and outsource the painting to ensure a good finish;
The Physical Apps
The SoundCloud mobile App allows users to easily record sound, tag it, and post it to their chosen Social Media outlet.
Mozfest Radio automatically plays audio that has been uploaded to SoundCloud and tagged “Mozfest”. Users can tune through audio tracks using the knob, and locate tracks through the window on the vertical tuning rod. The User can then mark or comment on the chosen audio using a sticky label for future reference.
This brings the digital aspects of the app, to a physical radio.
BBC News offer a range of RSS feeds to allow users to be kept constantly up to date with the latest news. However, the BBC are one of the few UK News organisations that don’t have a newspaper
Print Mozfest automatically prints an a5, one page news paper every 5 minutes. The print contains a variety of News; the main feature being from the BBC Worldwide RSS feed, the secondary article being local BBC news and the remainder of the sheet being allocated to “hyper-local news” such as tweets and Mozfest bloggers.
Twitter is undoubtedly one of the most used apps and Mozfest, however it is unlikely that everyone at Mozfest was following everyone else at Mozfest.
Mozfest Images searches and displays tweets that contain #mozfest and an image. This acts as a public display, regardless of whether you are actually checking Twitter.
Skype is a one to one video call app. However, how the ability to stream video could be facilitated in a festival environment.
Mozfest live is a public Skype display. The students walked around the festival seeking people to live stream back to the TV, allowing the users to influence the conversations happening elsewhere in the festival.
The Physical App Store received a positive and enthusiastic reaction both by Mozilla and the festival’s visitors. It was great to see people engaging with the prototypes and brainstorming about making apps physical.