Talsmann

In the diploma project Talsmann: Using products to introduce cross-country skiing as a spare time activity in China, Birger Løype looked at cross-cultural translations of products and activities. After a wide-ranging study of cross-country skiing in China, Birger used mobile phones and near field communication to propose a service that integrates information, products and physical places.

The project had two overall intentions:

  • To explore how the design process can be used to integrate activities and products based on one cultural value system into a society with a different cultural value system.
  • To create a case study to visualise how the process impacts a product. Cross country skiing and its associated products were chosen as the activity.

    Process

    In Norway there is a long tradition of cross country skiing. Skiing was a necessary skill to survive in everyday life hundreds of years ago. During the 19th century skiing became part of the Norwegian national identity. It has since become a popular spare time activity. Based on this tradition some of the best ski equipment brands are located in Norway such as Swix, Madshus and Rottefella.

    Cross-country skiing is not a well known activity in China. A month of field work was conducted in ski resorts around Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdo, China to uncover more about skiing activities. The output of this research informed the resulting product development, and can be summarised like this:

  • Collectivism is one of the most important cultural values in China. For cross country skiing there’s a desire to belong to a group and to get information from people they can identify with.
  • A Chinese skier’s primary motivation is the feeling of adventure and as a way of expressing identity. These differences in motivation create different demands for associated products.
  • Ski wax is the biggest difficulty for a beginner: basic information about all aspects connected to ski wax is needed.

    ‘Talsmann’ concept

    The result of this project is a conceptual Swix service where all Swix products are the first touch points to the service. Through an RFID tag embedded within products the user get access to instructions and user-driven forums where people have described their experiences with videos, images and words.

    swix_nfc_skiing08.jpg

    swix_nfc_skiing03.jpg

    One of the biggest barriers to taking up cross country skiing is ski-waxing: which can make the difference between enjoyment and frustration. The conventional wax thermometer was redesigned to include an RFID tag as well as the usual temperature and wax recommendations. These would be placed at ski resorts where users can share recomendations for wax according to different temperatures, conditions and routes.

    swix_nfc_skiing06.jpg

    Track markings would also act as touch points to the service.

    swix_nfc_skiing02.jpg

    Through these touch points the user get access to a geographically dependent forum. By using the multimedia features of modern phones, the user will also find information about wax through a service where Swix gives advices about what wax to use and how to wax the skis. This could be triggered by the first touch points of the products.

    swix_nfc_skiing09.jpg

    Birger’s project shows some strong near-future trends. The first is the increasing levels of brand involvement through the integration of service, infrastructure and community into physical products. This will become more important as the cost of simple technologies like RFID reduces; allowing cheap – even disposable – products to have identities and connections to a network. Distributing physical products may become more like distributing service touchpoints.

    The project also shows the longer-term potential of integrating service infrastructures into physical spaces. Although it was driven by a desire to create physical ‘products’, the project covered many of the steps towards creating situated software that affect people’s behaviour and activities in public places. It seems sporting activities could be a good starting point for the design of place-based services, and this is an area that needs more attention from an interaction design perspective.

    See more student projects.

    Related things:

    1. Connected products This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating. RFID may begin to enable cheap – even disposable – products that have identities and connections to a network.......
    2. Touchable services: Underskog In March 2006 Fourth year interaction design students at AHO conducted intense one-week investigations into Near Field Communication in a project called Touchable services. See more student projects. Anette Andersen and Jørn Knutsen worked......
    3. Place and product-based collaborative filtering In March 2006 fourth year interaction design students at AHO conducted intense one-week investigations into Near Field Communication in a project called Touchable services. See more student projects. Jon Olav Eikenes, Guilia Schneider, Bjørn......
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3 Comments

  1. Ling Cao
    Posted 30 January 2007 at 16:14 | Permalink

    I am a researcher at Swedish Institute of Computer Science. I am interested in the NFC mobile phone you use. It seems it is a SonyEricsson’s NFC phone. Does SonyEricsson has a NFC phone ? Do you know how to get it ?

    B. R.

    Ling

  2. Timo
    Posted 30 January 2007 at 22:03 | Permalink

    These are experience prototypes. Sony Ericsson hasn’t announced any NFC plans, even though Sony is behind FeliCa.

  3. Rhea Wessel
    Posted 16 February 2007 at 16:24 | Permalink

    i’m interested in writing about the project for RFID Journal. was it actually implemented or was this just an idea?

One Trackback

  1. By Connected products · Touch on 3 July 2007 at 18:00

    [...] Talsmann: Using products to introduce cross-country skiing as a spare time activity in China. RFID-enabled products to introduce online information and community. [...]

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