Pillar ATM ISDA Finalist

November 12, 2010

ISDA Finalist

Yearbook of Design Excellence

The Pillar ATM reached the finals of the 2010 ISDA design awards.

NCR Design Competition 2010

NCR Design Competition 2010

I am please to announce that NCR will be sponsoring the Student Design competition for the 6th year. Unfortunately Glasgow University could not participate this year due to other commitments but we still have Robert Gordons University, Dundee University and Edinburgh College of Art.

I am also pleased that we not only have the continued support of Scottish Enterprise this year we have added Creative Scotland and the V & A at Dundee. Members from each will be part of the judging panel.

The Brief:

NCR use the brand slogan: ‘Experience a new world of interaction’ – Taking this as the theme, explore what this could mean to you and your generation in the next 2 years. What is the new world of self-service interaction? Research and understand what people want their experience to be in relation to a particular area of self-service. Demonstrate how the consumers experience is facilitated through a concept design. The initial solutions should be able to be brought to market in a 2 year time frame. All final solutions should be sensitive to the NCR brand.

The Kick-off Event:

This year it was hosted by Sue Fairburn of Robert Gordons University in Aberdeen.

There were various speakers, from NCR, Charlie Rohan (Director of Cx | Design) presenting project background, self-service within NCR and the NCR design process. Chistopher McNicholl (last years winner) came to present his winning project and importantly gave the students an insight into his internship within the NCR Cx design team.

During the kick-off event we like to have a small design activity that get the students working with each other and is a bit of fun. This year the students got to play with Lego while thinking about design solutions that matched objects/things on a series of playing cards. It was a great activity to get the creative mind working and really helped to break down any barriers and I am sure all involved enjoyed the activity.

The student group

Competition kick-off event

Competition kick-off event

Design workshop activity

I recently presented at the ISA world congress of sociology conference in Gothenburg.

It was an interesting experience as it was my first presenting as a PhD student. I think I got away lightly as the audience were not designers, not interested in design and had no idea what I was talking about! I presented the Dance Base activity and touched on elements of the Pillar ATM design process.

ISA Presentation

ISA Presentation

The fortunate thing was that others on the same panel as I were of the same mindset and at least we were all interested in each others projects/activities. One I particularly liked was presented by Chris Speed of Edinburgh College of Art. He presented a wonderful story of digital tagging, memories and old belongings. You can find out more here.

Video Probes

November 12, 2010

Since my first post on Video Probes I have been developing the use of the design research method through a series of studies. The video probe is a specific time framed video response to a question. The first study was conducted with Dance Base (as previously posted). The participants were asked – “what are your perceptions of dance base?” The responses were then used to help inspire and inform the design of the connected Collection Boxes as well as gain a greater understanding of the people and place.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

The second study was conducted with MSc Ethnography students at Dundee University as part of a deeper study into self-service (more about that later). The student groups approached the probes in very different and interesting ways. Some using it more as a field work tool, others to strengthen their initial insights, others were able to communicate their insights through the probes in a very clear thought provoking way.

The groups were split to focus their field observations on different influencing factors of self-service – Interactions, Transactions, Environment, Consumers.

Their Video Probes can be viewed below





We will now be using the insights from the Video Probes and other activities to inform a project that aims to gain a greater understanding of consumers in relation to self-serivce.

The Pillar ATM

November 12, 2010

The Pillar ATM

The Pillar ATM

The Pillar ATM is an internal NCR concept ATM that came out of an investigation into low cost emerging markets. The cylindrical form allows for a more social interaction if required. The body work has been paired back to its bare metal, highlighting its robustness while also reducing cost. The whole unit is secured in a concrete base, not a conventional method but suitable for the environment.

The device has been designed to be scalable in both size and functionality to make it adapt to different contexts and markets. It can be both desktop mounted or mounted on a pedestal. The Pillar ATM is constructed in 3 cylindrical metal sections and a top fascia, these sections allow for different levels of access.

The Pillar ATM is a deliberate departure from any other ATM on the market. It queries current conventions and expectations and was created to raise questions.

The Pillar ATM Process

The Pillar ATM Process

Christopher McNicholl. Well done to all the students who participated in the event. Chris from Dundee University was the worthy winner and had a 4 month placement within the Cx Group at NCR.

Moneytree Savings

“Nowadays, most banks provide several kinds of savings accounts for young people, however few offer any other services or facilities to bring children to the bank. With finance becoming of increasing importance in modern society, it would seem that educating children more about money should be on our agendas.

‘Moneytree Savings’ is a savings scheme for children, designed to get them more involved in banking activities from a younger age. By giving them a virtual tree to grow and nurture, it is intended that ‘Moneytree Savings’ will instil the skills and values required to manage personal finance in later life. The scheme also encourages children to go to the bank on a regular basis, familiarising them with such an environment and the practices used there. In addition, the child will also be contributing to their own account, which will provide them financial support once they reach a certain age.”

NCR | Scottish Universities Design Competition 2009

We have recently kicked off the 5th Annual NCR sponsored design competition. This year we have opened the competition up to 4 Scottish product Design courses at Glasgow School of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone, Grays School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art.

The brief this year is simply ‘Experience a new world of interaction’ – Tell us what that could be.

We started the project with a kick-off workshop at the Apex Hotel in Dundee. The workshop included an overview of NCRs business and how we approach the design process and a discussion around what it means to be a digital native.

We hope the students get to grips with the brief and produce new, innovative and exciting results that will impress the judges. The selected students will be judged at and event on the 18th of December 09.

I will post more information and updates on this soon.

NCR | Scottish Universities Design Competition 2009

NCR | Scottish Universities Design Competition 2009

Connection Boxes

November 18, 2009

Connection Boxes
Dance Base

The Background

We were approached by Dance Base to create a collection box for their architecturally designed building on the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. As a group we recognised that to simply place a large collection box in the middle of the front foyer would be insensitive, unrewarding and simply not work.

As well as the obvious use of a collection box, which is to collect donations, the Dance Base team wanted to raise the awareness to their customers of the fact that they were actually a charity. They are dependant on grants and funding to function day to day and manage a range of outreach programs for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This began a program of activities and design exercises to help the design team understand the environment, the people and the design challenges.

The Approach

We were designing a product to be used by people of all ages and backgrounds brought together in one place by dance. In order to understand the people, the tutors, the infrastructure, and the environment better we enrolled in a dance class. The class we enrolled in was called an Alexander Technique class.

Being part of this class not only showed us the variety of people that attended the one class but also allowed the participants and tutors get used to us. We were new comers into their environment. This helped to break down any barriers which allowed us to communicate with them more effectively.

To get a deeper understanding of Dance Base we asked several of the employees if they would each create a 3 minute film showing their ‘perceptions of Dance Base’. We called this exercise a ‘Video Probe’. This helped us in gaining greater insights and design inspiration.

We took what we learned in the Alexander Technique class and the Video Probes and applied it to a workshop held with board members, staff and customers of Dance Base. We wanted to approach the workshop from their level, to incorporate things familiar to them, not to intimidate them with our initial design concepts.

One of the elements we recognised as designers was the use of the space by various user groups. Professional dancers, drop in classes, children interested in street dance, children interested in ballet, ballroom dancers, administration staff, and the board of directors. We wanted to create an object that connected the ‘space’ with the various interconnecting people.

This began an exploration of ‘connected objects’. The objects investigated connecting the people through a dance studio radio, twitter, flickr and youtube. Although interesting objects in their own right, upon review they were not suitable for the dance base. There was still a strong desire to ensure a financial element to the final design; the collection boxes provided this.

The Outcome

The Connection Boxes are essentially self-service communication terminals. They provide feedback through sound to the consumer directly; giving them an instant reward for their donation. Importantly they also communicate to a wider audience as inserting money in one device triggers a reaction from the rest that are placed throughout the building.

This reaction can be modified to suit a particular environment, a particular event or marketing strategy. One of the key reasons for the whole project was to raise the awareness to customers of the fact that Dance Base was a charity. This had to be done in a sensitive and considered way.

The sounds selected are important as they provide an instant reward to the user which in turn encourages re-use of the product. The greater the reward, the more frequent use, the more frequent use the more money collected.

Three objects have been created initially; the aim is to expand on this. Having three objects allows the objects to have 3 distinct ‘personalities’. The sounds projected from the devices can be for example, informative, cheeky or gratifying in content and female, male or computerized in delivery. By giving the devices a personality the aim is to promote the feeling of trust, encourage repeat use and ensure an unexpected but rewarding experience for donating money.

The objects have been designed to be distinctly different from any other collection boxes that are routinely ignored on counter tops around the country. There is a certain ambiguity about the form. This is deliberate. The aim is to create an initial interest in the object that will attract potential donators. Once the initial interest has been captured then there should be no confusion of how to use the device. There is a large area on the top of the device for instruction and branding. The money slot is prominent, protruding toward to user; this clearly indicates where money should be inserted.

The Impact

The Connection Boxes are to be placed at locations within Dance Base. A series of studies will be held to asses the impact in terms of amount of funds raised and if the devices have increased the awareness with in the community of the fact Dance Base is a charity.

The methods used to understand the impact of the designed object with in the environment will be developed in conjunction with the Dance Base team but will be transferable to different sites, charitable bodies and industry. Understanding how to measure the impact of an object within a community is an important factor of the research element of this project. The insights gained through the partnership with Dance Base will help in the understanding of the consumer experience of other self-service objects and how the designer can impact that experience.

Connected Collection Boxes

Connected Collection Boxes

Video Probes

March 23, 2009

I have been developing a research technique to be used at the beginning of the design process to help understand and gain insights to users and aid in the generation of new concepts.

Video probe snap shot

Video probe snap shot

This method uses short 3 minute videos to record images, surroundings and people so the researcher can understand more about the participants perceptions of a product or space.

The Video Probe can be used on various levels.

Inspiration: Analyzing the videos to generate a range of different ideas specific to a particular design challenge. The videos help the researcher to pick out details that may otherwise have been missed.

Understanding of participant: As a designer I am engaging with people, places and communities I know nothing about. The 3 minute videos allow me to very quickly get a better understanding of the various stakeholders, the environment and challenges.

Understanding of community: As part of my research I am studying self-service products in a community environment – using the video in this way is a better method for capturing the wider community as opposed to a photograph as it shows the participants interaction in real time. The videos can be viewed through the eyes of the participant, as opposed to viewing the participant using a machine/in an environment.

Promotion: A surprising outcome of the method has been how it has also been useful for the participants. The quality was such that they have been able to use the videos created as promotional material for their business.

Use within Industry: This method is appropriate to my research as it allows me to quickly get an understanding of the people, place, and product. This method can be used within a large multi-national corporation to help us try and better understand various elements of a users experience, a users day to day activity or environment in which our product will be situated. It is a method that does not require a huge investment. The researchers time is not taken up actually recording as the video camera is left with the participant.

Some of the strengths of this activity are:

Involvement of the participant in the design process ensures a closer relationship with the researcher and therefore a better understanding and appreciation of the final solution.

Useful output: valid not just for one particular project. Ability to build up an audio and visual record of a community of people within an environment.

Ease of use: Allowing the participants to simply play with the video camera can be a fun and enlightening process. There is no pressure on the participant to suddenly become the next Steven Spielberg…a 3 minute limit (no strict restrictions on time) has been set to so they do not become overwhelmed by the thought of creating a movie.

It should be noted that the use of the probe is only as useful as the researchers ability to be able to pull out the information or ability to be inspired by what has been recorded. 

Research Training

January 29, 2009

Yesterday I attended a Reseach Training workshop hosted by Jeanette Paul (Dundee University) and Dr Julian Malins (The Robert Gordons University) at the DCA in Dundee. The event was a joint venture between Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee and Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen.


Research Training Workshop

Research Training Workshop

 The workshop discussed and informed us on areas such as contextual review, keeping focus, understanding your argument and the process of review. There was also a useful resource sharing exercise – great for someone at my stage of study.

Professor Tom Inns held an interesting excersise on mapping out your research topic. The Knowledge Mapping method I found very insightful – I even suprised myself at how focused I actually was! The method allowed me to illustrate, who, what and how people, things and literature had and continues to influence my academic research. Displaying your Knowledge Map allowed others to see your topic of interest which sparked up collaborations, discussions and the swapping of the odd business card.


My research map

My research map