Design + Build = Future Innovation

They did it again. Yahoo!’s annual Design Expo has surprised and delighted the senses all over again with student projects that ranged from moaning calla lilies to game platforms that encourage you to yell on your mobile phone. So, there weren’t any edible interfaces this year, but much in the spirit of the Design Expo, the student design projects provided great insight into the future of user desires and technology uses with a multi-sensory twist.

Design Expo mastermind Joy Mountford (vice president of User Experience Design at Yahoo!) has been gathering the brightest and most creative student designers, concepts, and community together for the past 18 years to foster "out of the box" thinking among the design and technology worlds. Over 2,000 students have participated in the program so far and have all helped to push the envelope on the future of product design.

Students from seven different universities around the world, including the Indian Institute of Technology, Academy of Media Arts (Germany), Royal College of Art (UK), UCLA, NYU, California College of Art, and University of Illinois, were tasked with designing prototypes that captured the physical, social and media experience. The best of the best were asked to present their projects in a big black tent at Yahoo!'s Sunnyvale campus this week, ranging from the inspiring to just plain bizarre.

Here are my faves:

  • Cube it: The CubeBrowser is a 3D six-display cube that acts as a browser for Flickr photos. Turn the cube and discover new photosets on the computer screen.
  • Incognito: The Identity Protection System allows you to hide or reveal your photo image by simply wearing a big green sticker. Wherever the sticker was placed, the image on the screen blurred out. James Bond anyone?
  • Go go go!: MegaPhone allows you to play a game with random people using your mobile phone in a public space. Players call in to initiate and move their avatar through various keys and audio sounds. Perfect for downtime at the movies or airport.
  • PG-13 flowers: Visually stunning Whisper generates a woman’s moan from below, which echoes through the calla lillies. What follows are a lot of embarrassed giggles and confused smiles.

That’s not all. Take a look for yourself (sorry, you can’t touch) as Joy gives you the grand tour. (This photomontage video was created using an internal prototype called Storytellr, created by our Media Innovation Group. Read more about it here.)

Julie Han
Blog Team