Results tagged “David Wadhwani”

Davos 2014: A View from the World Economic Forum

Note: This post is cross-posted from our Public Policy blog.

WEF 2014

I recently returned to California from a fantastic visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was my first time at Davos, and everything you have heard is true—it is an opportunity to cram a year’s worth of conversations into a few days, and talk directly to amazing thinkers. I am still digesting the discussions, with European and Asian government officials, representatives from the nonprofit and educational sectors, and other business people like me. The news media did a nice job of reporting the major themes that came out of the discussions at Davos. However, there were several interesting themes I picked up on that weren’t widely reported. Let me share a few.

First, Tom Friedman may have taught us all that The World Is Flat eight years ago—an eon ago in Internet time—but the insights in his book are as fresh as ever. Even the bankers were talking about the opportunities presented as the population of the developing world gets online and educated at an unprecedented rate. What this means for Adobe: we need to make sure that we are offering products and services that perform well in all countries where we are able to operate, and not just in our traditional developed-world markets. We believe Adobe provides the world’s best tools for creative people to express their ideas, and we have a responsibility to enable as many people as possible to have access to our tools, via whatever devices and Internet connections are available. As my colleagueDavid Wadhwani has described in the past, Adobe’s role is to help people tell their stories. And, of course, the Cloud and the lower price points of the subscription business model gives Adobe a mechanism to reach customers in the developing world that we couldn’t before with a traditional sales model and the drain of software piracy.

Second, as I took in lectures and presentations, I was struck by the importance of communications skills. One can have the most jaw-dropping research findings, but, unless the ideas are conveyed with impact and creativity, they fall on deaf ears. Really, the whole Davos experience, in which government officials are mixed with artists, explorers, academics, and musicians, is a recognition of the power of creativity. I had a number of conversations with government officials about STEAM – how the addition of the Arts to STEM (a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math curriculum) can pay huge dividends. Research shows that adding that “A” can help cultivate better problem solving skills, more academic engagement, and, of course, better communication.

Finally, governments around the world are increasingly aware of the need to engage citizens online. Many government officials realize the unprecedented opportunity at their disposal in assisting their constituents electronically. Whether it is the astounding technological advances in being able to serve up real-time, relevant content, or engaging content that can now be rendered to large majorities of citizens on mobile devices, government officials are now seeing the tremendous value of electronic engagement with citizens. Citizens are also consumers, and they carry into their interactions with governments expectations fueled by their interactions with best-of-breed commercial apps and Websites. As these citizen expectations increase, the new demands on governments to effectively engage their audiences is extraordinary.  To citizens accustomed to apps and online services that iterate continuously, a government Web portal with the capabilities of even two years ago misses the mark.  Thankfully, there is no lack of leadership and ideas when it comes to reaching more citizens with more information in ways that have never been available before.

We all know the positive impact that can happen when diverse groups work to solve problems. This year’s Davos had no shortage of problems to solve, but I was encouraged by the number of creative ideas being discussed and the appetite to work in earnest to solve them.

Adobe XD explores the analog future

It was fun being on stage at MAX with David Wadhwani to share a few of the projects that we have been working on in XD. The team has been exploring how new form factor displays, new interactions (like touch and gesture), cloud connections and even new hardware might change how you all create and in turn how it might impact what software we need to build. And we have been having a serious amount of fun.

Although there are many explorations going on, we chose three to highlight. The first, Mighty, is our connected pen:

The Adobe "Project Mighty" Connected Pen

The Adobe “Project Mighty” Connected Pen

We actually started project Mighty, our “cloud pen” to help us focus on the future of drawing. I’ve always been a little obsessed with drawing. An early mentor of mine said: “If you can’t draw, you can’t think. I guess I took that to heart. The good news is that absolutely anyone can train himself or herself to draw. With the right tools to support you it’s a little bit like learning to ride a bike – you just have to keep doing it until you tease out your own style of drawing.

Mighty is pressure sensitive, which helps it draw a natural and expressive line. It is also connected to the Creative Cloud through the software and a local Bluetooth LE connection. We have used this connection to pull up Kuler themes and enable a “cloud clipboard” which gives you access to assets you have saved to the cloud for reuse.

Mighty was created with the help of Ammunition, the industrial design firm founded by Robert Brunner. They landed on a three-sided, twisted form that is inspired by the ergonomics of holding a pen. When a child struggles with writing, he or she is given a triangular grip that fits over the pencil. Our design takes that one step further by twisting the pen’s triangular form so that it also rests gently on the hand. It also yields a sculptural object that is both beautiful and distinct. There’s a lot of hardware technology involved in bringing a high tech pen like this to life, so we’ve been working with San Francisco-based MindTribe on the electrical and mechanical engineering.

Although we spend many hours a day behind the keyboard and mouse, we still often start the creative process as we did thousands of years ago with pen and paper. But with tablets and new input methods like Mighty, this is going to change – I am confident. Over the last year, my tablet has replaced my sketchbook. I never thought I would give up drawing in a moleskin sketchbook.

Our second exploration, code named Napoleon is complementary to Mighty. This digital ruler is designed to bring back some of the feeling of drawing with analog tools like the t-square and triangle. Adobe has been talking about building a physical drawing aid like this ever since we built our first digital drafting table, almost two years ago.

Adobe "Project Mighty" Connected Pen & Project Napoleon" Digital Ruler Working on iPad

Adobe “Project Mighty” Connected Pen & Project Napoleon” Digital Ruler Working on iPad

I was originally trained as an architect, and still find great comfort and confidence drawing with these tools. There is something about the confidence of drawing a line aided by a physical device – the tactile feedback you get as you move the straightedge around – as well as the fluidity and accuracy of drawing that comes from interacting with physical objects. Our little ruler (Napoleon, get it?) creates a digitally projected edge that you can use to accurately draw shapes and lines. It just feels right.

The Adobe "Project Napoleon" Digital Ruler

The Adobe “Project Napoleon” Digital Ruler

We are looking at a lot of potential features for Napoleon, but a favorite of mine is snapping to vanishing points. Imagine how easy it will be to sketch in perspective, when you can use the ruler to quickly create and then snap to perspective vanishing points that are well off screen.

Finally, Project Context is the most ambitious of the three explorations. I like to think of it as our answer to “big content.” You know, just like big data, but with images and text and video and the like. Most of us have experience with printing hundreds of images and trying to pin them all on the wall or spreading them on the floor just to try to figure out the big picture. This is another good example of how something was lost when we went from physical to digital. Somehow file folders full of assets, or tiled displays of images don’t quite cut it. We think that large screens with touch and gesture interaction paired with the appropriate software design are a way to not only get back what was lost, but to take the organizing and producing experience to a whole new level.

When combined with InDesign and the Digital Publishing Suite, Context creates an ideal editorial and publishing environment for Wired and other publishers. Context offers a powerful and intuitive way to grab assets from just about anywhere, and to collaboratively organize and eventually even edit and publish them. These exploratory projects stand a much better chance of becoming real shipping products when we work with a customer to build them. We have the good fortune to be working with WIRED to build out the first version of Context as a system to support the editorial and layout process for their magazine.

Digitally enabled, cloud connected physical devices leverage the best from both the digital and the analog worlds. They could enable whole new levels of creative productivity and artistic confidence – and one of the many innovation milestones that makes an Adobe incredible place to work.

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