Archive | September 19, 2013

Skeuomorphism vs flat design: 0-1

What is Skeuomorphism anyway?

Scewomo-what?? No need to remember this thorny word, because as fast as it took over the design world in 2007, it is already on its decline. Anno 2013 people are starting to embrace a new design concept.

Skeuomorphism means using the design of concepts inherent to an old technology as input for the implementation of a new design.

Most people associate skeuomorphism with Apple products. Just consider the Calculator, Clock, Calendar or Newsstand on your Iphone; they are all digital illustrations of their real-world counterparts. But not only these obvious recognizable components stand out, the subtle movements in the images act as if they are physical products. Originally these ‘old’ designs were used to evoke a sense of familiarity to the user when encountering a new concept or app online. Thanks to Apple’s (read: Steve Jobs’) objective to make a user-friendly design, this has been the look of Apple software for years. Its hardware on the other hand was designed by Jony Ive for the past two decades, a British industrial designer that values a functional and clean look. This combination has made Apple’s look of products world-renowned and extremely popular. A perfect fit.

But times have changed. As many of you know, there has been some shake-up in Apple’s executive positions back in 2012; with as a result that Jony Ive is now responsible for both the software and hardware of Apple. The ultimate result of this decision has been unveiled yesterday. Launched 18 September 2013, Apple has shown an entirely different look, the flat user interface of its 7th mobile operating system (iOS7). Flat design takes out the graphical look of different textures and strips away all the non-functional elements thereby making it a more minimalistic and clean design. But whereas skeuomorphism limited creativity, flat design fosters it by thinking of new ways to represent elements. Not only Apple is embracing the flat design, Windows is following this trend suit with its Metro design in Windows 8.

First opinions have called the flat user interface minimalistic and childish, while others love it. Nonetheless, if it will make skeuomorphism redundant is yet to be seen, for the moment being people are obsessed with its design-counterpart. Don’t forget that the discussion can be extended beyond Apple or Windows to mechanical vs electronic wristwatches, dashboard elements in a car, the traditional look of a house, etc.

What do you think? Should skeuomorphism disappear entirely?

Flat vs Skeuomorphic

PS: if you wonder who was crazy enough to think of this word: skeuomorph is derived from the Greek; skeuos (container or tool) and morphe (shape).

Caroline Massart



Smart tooth: a tooth-sensor that monitors your health

It looks like people cannot cheat anymore when it comes to unhealthy habits. Researchers of National Taiwan University have developed a smart tooth that can monitor your health. They have placed an oral sensory system inside the artificial smart tooth. The accelerometers embedded in the smart tooth track all the movements of the mouth when someone eats, drinks, talks or coughs. When for example someone eats too much this smart tooth can inform you. The sensors of the smart tooth collect all the movements which can gives us meaningful information about a person’s habit. Therefore the tooth is smart because the information from the device can help us to live a healthier lifestyle.

Doctors could use this extra information to have a better idea what the condition of the patient is, which can help to provide better health service. Also dentist could use this information to monitor who clench or grind their teeth. Moreover this technology has the potential to enhance exiting oral-related healthcare monitoring applications such as dietary tracking.

This technology is quite accurate with a percentage of 93.8%. The researchers are improving the smart tooth, because the current prototype cannot transmit wirelessly data to devices for analysis. In the future the smart tooth might have a small energy pack that can provide enough power to run the device.

Do you think that this information really provide meaningful information? Would you wear this smart tooth to get more information about your personal habits/health?



Is it the money? A closer look at Software Competitions

Do you want to make some quick cash? Go win a software competition!

It seems easy enough, trying to compete with the world most leading software engineers and solving actual problems that companies have to deal with. Because after all, who doesn’t know how to work with big data.

All kidding aside, my hat’s off to the people who can commit to software competitions as posted by and It is not easy to excel when there are so many complex problems which need proper solving.

In order for a person to compete in a Kaggle competition one only needs to sign up and get started. There are multiple problems that Kaggle has laid out for prospecting competitors, so when you click the ‘competition’ tab you are immediately directed to the active competitions.  If you have what it takes, you might just make $100,000 evenly divided between your teammates or maybe a job at your dream company.

With over a thousand entries, is it really worth your time to spend weeks or even months solving a problem or creating an algorithm when the odds of winning the grand prize is close to none (although contenders might see that differently)?


It seems that these software competitions aren’t really searched for by contenders for the money. In fact, many of them work hard just to test how far they can push themselves. is known for its real time feedback. Letting contenders know that they are on the right track. This serves as great motivation for top-notch developers and students.

It’s interesting to see that the top scoring contenders of software competitions are offered job offers from companies all over the world. So it seems that, next to large sums of money, contenders can also compete for jobs at prestigious companies.  When you visit Kaggle’s homepage you will be greeted by Tim Salimans, a Dutch contender who is ranked at number 11 worldwide. Salimans also studied at the Erasmus University and has founded his own company called Algoritmica, passing on numerous job offers.

Scrolling over the pictures on the homepage with help companies find data scientists like Tim Salimans,  Sergey Yurgenson (USA) and Wayne Zhang (Hong Kong). So Kaggle isn’t just a way for contenders to try and win the prize money. It is also a great place for companies to find the people they need in a fun and challenging way.

I had always known there were software competitions like and, but I never knew that there was more to it than just solving complicated problems. But I find it a very interesting way of supply meeting demand.

What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments below.






Digital Transformation in the Classroom

You, me and everybody older than the age of 12 remembers their primary school as sitting in a classroom with a book and pencil in front of you, watching the teacher writing down a mathematical equation or a sentence on the chalkboard. The next generation of children will remember their school days vastly different. 

Businesses today undergo digital transformations, reconsidering what it is what customers want and how they can create competitive advantage by making use of the newest technologies. This trend hasn’t just reached the business world – classrooms are affected by the drill as well. The challenge for the educational system is not if, but how to use technology as a learning tool.

Technology can be an incredible learning tool. It can help students with working through difficult subjects and skill sets. It can provide support to students at their own level, so that both struggling and skillful students can learn at their own pace. Students’ papers have never contained such a diverse content. Moreover, programs are developed which assist students in understanding difficult topics and problems. Technology allows for these positive developments, only with a couple of clicks away.  

However, in the latest rush to bring technology into the classroom, it is often only used at a fraction of its potential. The most common undesirable technological habit is that it is predominantly used as a source of information. Rather than learning with technology as described above, it is now merely employed as a research tool, purely replacing books.

Where does this lack of technology integration come from? It might be a lack of resources, or teachers who are simply not aware of the opportunities which can be offered to their students through technology. Perhaps the teachers are hesitant and feel uncomfortable with using technology themselves. What is more, the fear might exist that student lose their attention during the class, being distracted by their iPads. 

Whatever the reason for this lack of integration is, walking into a classroom and seeing every pupil working on a computer does not straightaway indicate that learning is taking place. I believe that much more research is needed on how to effectively use technology in the classroom for it to live up to its potential.


ImageReferences used:

# Hashtag and Facebook: a good combination?

I think that you know what a hashtag is. But if you don’t: A hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #. The combination makes it simple to search for a message with the same topic. The # symbol has become the key factor to connecting people, events and brands on social media.

The first social media who used the hashtag was Twitter. The hashtag sign is official from Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks, where people used the # to label groups and topics. In 2007 the first hashtag was used and in 2009 Twitter makes it possible to hyperlink hashtags. With the hyperlink it became possible to easily search for and click on certain hashtags.  In 2010 the trending topic was added. With the trending topic people can see which topics are popular. In 2011 Instagram introduced the hashtag. You can upload your picture and add a hashtag. When you click at the hashtag you can see other pictures with similar hashtags.

Since June 2013 you can also use hashtags at Facebook. Facebook allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion. When you click on a hashtag in Facebook, you’ll see a feed of what other people and pages are saying about that event or topic. You can also search for hashtags from the search bar.

Does Facebook really need the hashtags? Or is it to compete with Twitter?

Researchers have found that there is no impact for Facebook. There is no extra exposure and no viral reach. Posts with hashtags are less likely to have viral reach than those without a hashtag. The opposite is true for Twitter. Hashtags proved to be helpful for viral reach on Twitter. Brands experiences an increase in ReTweeds when they are using a hashtag. Hashtags are often used in promotional material. Some brands created campaigns around hashtags and use them in television commercials.

Facebook hashtags are now useless because few people are clicking on them. Maybe brands are not using the hashtags correctly. Maybe they don’t know how to use the hashtags correctly. Maybe people don’t associate hashtags with Facebook.

I think we have to wait some while before we can concluded if hashtags and Facebook are a good or bad combination. I think that people and brands first have to be familiar with the hashtags on Facebook.

What do you think?