The NextGen PC Design Competition chose their winners, and unfortunately neither of the products I was rooting for has won. In fact, of all the innovative ideas in the competition the one that won the prize money was for a PC that is like writing on a napkin. While it’s a mildly cute concept, the fact that it beat out 2 concepts I loved is less than pleasing.
My two favorite concepts both dealt with accessibility, and either of them could cause a huge shift in the way visually impaired people use the internet (or a computer period). I was really hopeful that at least 1 of these two wins some of the prize money. It might have been enough to jump start a marketing run to get more funding for production.
My Favorite: Siafu
Siafu does what we already have technology for (turning text into dynamic braille). However, it also takes it a step further: By allowing websites to be displayed, as designed, in raised relief:
I could talk for hours about how wonderful that would be to both web developers and people who need the technology.
My Second Favorite: Zen
The ability to ‘rake’ your hand over the platform to turn on the computer is just wonderful usability. I also love the concept of being able to simply place your phone / pda etc.. anywhere on the platform to have it sync with your computer.
The Zen really takes on the ability to simulate pretty much anything it runs across in a raised fashion, and that could really open some doors in functionality for people who need assistive technology.
Overall, there are some really great ideas out there for accessible tools – but I’m still disappointed that neither of them received the prize money to make any of those concepts a reality. Don’t lose heart though, apparently we’ll soon see technology that will allow us to jot down notes on napkins!