Cleaning up my old hard disks, I found several designs I did while I was a digital design student in the 90’s, when the majority of multimedia projects were done in Macromedia Director and Flash was in its infancy. Sorry if images are too small (at that time, monitor resolution was a big issue).

In today’s world of tablets , it is common to encounter applications that enable/disable their interfaces to facilitate the work with content. This can be easily found in drawing apps, where the canvas is a blank “sheet” and, depending on your interaction, a menu with brushes and colors options appear. I call these experiences as hidden interfaces.


Autodesk SketchBook app in its default interface.

Autodesk SketchBook app in showing more interface options after user clicked a spot area.
I’ve always liked the concept of hidden interfaces. In fact, my first experiment with the topic was in 2001, while in the school, for a project about Ferrari‘s (the Italian car maker). It was a simply interaction: click anywhere and a menu with 3 options (an icon that linked to 3 different screens) would appear.:

This work was really simple but gave me the basics for a much intricate design I created for my Digital Design, Bachelor in Arts, in the following year. In this project, our group related the similarities between the movies Metropolis and Blade Runner. For this last one, we’ve created a fully immersive cd-rom experience that presented a navigation form not seen before. For example, rollover the mouse of a text piece in the screen and the cursor changed showing that area has a special way to navigate. Click over the text and the cursor became a full menu to manage the way you see the content (in this example, enabling the user to increase/decrease the size of the text and scrolling it up/down):

YouTube skewed this video.
As shown above, users were able to control audio, play/pause videos, move between sections, just following the cursor changes. Below the original studies for the cursor/menus:

YouTube skewed this video.

Hint of the day: Don’t limit your creativity just because you haven’t seen something similar to your ideas before. Play with your sketches, experiment. Even if the idea does not work, it may help you in future projects.