Digital Textbook

Client: Microsoft

Digital Textbook

Client: Microsoft

 

  • UX
  • Interaction Design
  • 3D
  • User Research
  • Instant Messaging
  • Content Pipeline
  • XPS (XML Paper Spec)
  • XSLT
  • WPF
  • C#

A digital artifact from the classroom of the near future.

We designed and built this integrated textbook, homework, and messaging product for the Microsoft Education Group in collaboration with designer Daniele Monte.

Interaction Design

Converting a physical book into digital form created many opportunities to leverage our real-world physical intuition.

We created affordances to mimic the ways we leaf through a book with our hands — browsing, bookmarking, and flipping between pages — all with the goal of bringing the best elements of analog books into the digital world.

Other considerations included a custom pagination algorithm to provide a bridge between print & digital, so that teachers could assign reading pages. And colorful bookmarks that stick out of the side of the book just like real ones.

Process

Starting from a blank canvas we explored interaction designs, created wireframes, and refined the vision of the app.

We worked as an agile team, designing and building features in very short sprints. As design & development progressed, we delivered frequent demos of work in progress to our client and incorporated their feedback in subsequent iterations.

Development

We converted raw textbook data provided by a textbook publisher into a format compatible with the target platform.

To create the illusion of a real book, we developed an interactive 3D model, with several added details for intuitive navigation. We bridged the print-oriented content to display-oriented 3D pages with arbitrary layout dimensions.

The app integrates plug-in content created by 3rd-party vendors, such as interactive 3D diagrams of natural phenomena. This was done to tap into a library of rich interactive educational content being developed by Microsoft and its partners.

Built-in Features

In addition to the core textbook reading experience, this app bundles additional educational features:

Interactive homework sets including crossword puzzles, multiple choice, and fill-in-the-blank Q&A. A rotating library of textbooks, designed to update as students start new subjects. And an integrated messaging client with special connectivity between students and teachers.

Impact

2 years before the iPad was released, this app predicted trends and interactions that would come to define the current age of user interfaces.

The app was well-received and widely demonstrated inside Microsoft, and word of its innovative design spread throughout the company.

  • UX
  • Interaction Design
  • 3D
  • User Research
  • Instant Messaging
  • Content Pipeline
  • XPS (XML Paper Spec)
  • XSLT
  • WPF
  • C#