January 19, 2010

Mag+ concept for re-inventing magazines in the digital age

BERG (a London based Design Consultancy) has been working with Bonnier RD (RD arm of the Swedish media group of the same name that owns many magazine titles) to envision the future of magazines, digital magazines.

You can see BERG's own explanation of the work at this page http://berglondon.com/blog/2009/12/17/magplus/  or Bonnier's page on Mag+ or view the larger video on Vimeo.

Pages or Scrolls
Two thousand years later, the debate is still raging....pages or scrolls? :-)

Some of the interesting things about their vision of a future magazine is the way that articles scroll, not flip pages. This is bucking the current trend of things going page-based (even Personal Productivity PC applications in Microsoft's Courier concept which I've posted on recently).

In some classic design-speak they think the on-screen page turning metaphor is "not honest".

It's interesting to hear the examples he uses of scrolling reading applications, where he names an iPhone app (InstaPaper - app page that includes a demo video). 

The iPhone itself has avoided scrolling (and the horrible graphics and usability of the often associated scroll-bars with small touch screen devices), and even your home screen(s) of icons are presented in pages you flip-through, and some Apple apps have a "flip side" of the page for settings and additional info.

Yet, other iPhone apps - such as contacts - have gone for the "long list" that is scrolled through, using on-screen gestures (not scroll bars) and the famed physics of the lists behavior).

But it does allow them to lay the articles out in a horizontal array of vertically scrolled articles, and that seems to work quite well.

Perfect Interaction
The thing about these design vision videos is that things always seem to happen instantaneously, with incredible response times and perfect human-machine interaction.  Off-course, this is how it should be!

The problem is that the iPhone is the only device I have seen to date that get's anywhere close to reproducing this sensation.

It will require an excellent implementation to achieve that they show, but maybe Apple are up to the challenge.

It seems they have given the non-trivial task of taking this to the next stage to one Kicker Studio in San Francisco.
"Kicker Studio is working with Bonnier to expand this concept into a robust, interactive prototype over the next several months."  (Kicker Studio's page here)
Let's watch out for that "robust, interactive prototype" eh?!

I'm glad to see some reflective, low-power, display technologies coming along (PixelQi, Mirasol, LiquaVista) that might help us get there and have a decent battery life and a more paper-like visual appearance.

The video and images also shows what a perfect display would look like, very bright (but not too much so!) indoors, even in a dark room, and very bright and readable outdoors. No sign of glare or reflections etc.

These videos and works are very fun, so enjoy it, and keep praying for reality to be able to implement them as envisioned some day.

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