The IE system prototyping tools have been developed to support product designers developing interactive products.
Information appliances are products that combine both custom hardware and software designs. This broad category can include products ranging from MP3 players and Mobile phones to ticket machines in public car parks. These products can be challenging to prototype, as this requires skills from electrical engineering, software, interaction and industrial design. The IE system prototyping tools lower the technical barrier for creating interactive prototypes, allowing product designers to create rough prototypes early in the design process. This allows product designers to concentrate on getting the design of the product right, rather than tackling technical issues, when prototyping at the early stages of the design process.
All of the current variations of the IE tools work on the basis of embedding switches in a model, translating inputs from the switches into keyboard inputs and then using these to trigger an interface simulation. The diagram below shows how the IE4 prototyping tools work. An IE4 is embedded in a dummy model of the product that has switches embedded in. When the user presses the switches, the IE4 converts these to keyboard inputs, and sends them via Bluetooth to a laptop that is running an interface simulation. To see the IE4 in action, check out the demos page.
IE4 prototyping tools implementation