Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - 09:35  •  By Scott Lozier  •  gamification, web
At Integrated Computer Solutions (ICS), we create a lot of games for our clients for use at trade shows and conferences, and for sales teams to show off products. We’ve built a wide variety of game types, including target games, races, puzzles and 3D-immersion games. Most-often requested are trivia-based games. Regardless of game style, we’ve found interactive games succeed when game creators follow these five simple rules: 1. Understand Motivation  Why would someone play the game? To win a prize (extrinsic motivation), bragging rights or because it’s fun (intrinsic motivation), that’s why…
Thursday, October 11, 2018 - 14:36  •  By Scott Lozier  •  web
With the acceleration of technology, being a web developer today is like being inside Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece Dr. Strangelove. If you’re not familiar, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was an absurdist look at the end of the world. More specifically, a black comedy political satire about Cold War-fears of a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. (Seems relevant today, no?) Anyway, if you strip away the politics, Dr. Strangelove essentially was about how a simple decision could morph into absolute chaos. If you’re a…
Friday, August 17, 2018 - 11:34  •  By Scott Lozier  •  web
That’s right, I said it. And I stand by it. Building cross-platform software can be easy if you know how to do it. Sure, it used to be impossible. You had to decide on your platform upfront and build to that platform. Or build two completely different platforms. But these days, you can build your app and then decide which platforms to deploy it to. How do I know? I have a recent client project to thank for this insight. My client wanted to create an interactive web game that also ran locally on sales reps’ Windows computers when they were not connected to the internet. The game was a fairly…
Friday, June 22, 2018 - 09:36  •  By Thomas Ternisien, Scott Lozier  •  Raspberry Pi, gamification
Thinking of building large gameshow-like interactive experiences? Want to use your Raspberry Pi to talk to your computer? Interested in integrating custom controllers with your games? If so, this blog is you. We were tasked with creating an interactive experience — a Plinko-like game — for attendees to play at a trade show. It was a pretty cool project. We're sharing this walk-through so you can build your own. But first, let's get this out of the way: what exactly is Plinko? Ever seen The Price is Right? Plinko is one of the show's most popular games. In the physical game,…
Friday, May 18, 2018 - 07:30  •  By Scott Lozier  •  voice app, alexa, chatbot
Do you pay attention to every word someone else says? Or even every word your home device says? Probably not. As humans, we listen for contextual clues to tell us when we need to pay closer attention. But how does your chatbot know to do that? Think about it. Alexa is still a young girl, er chatbot, without the sophisticated communication skills of an adult. She’s relying on us — developers — to offer the guidance and direction she needs to elevate her listening, comprehension and speaking skills. For instance, she needs a little help understanding verbal emphasis and a speaker’s pauses.…
Friday, May 18, 2018 - 05:38  •  By Stephanie Van Ness  •  medical device
Innovative cancer-treatment systems. Operating-room environmental control systems. Advanced infusion pumps. Life-critical ventilators. Easy-to-operate automatic external defibrillators. Integrated Computer Solutions (ICS) is pushing the medical device industry forward with high-performance products that are intuitive, easy to use and carefully designed to aid patients, physicians and critical-care teams, and other caregivers. If you’re a product or engineering manager — or anyone looking to build compelling devices that can make a real difference — check out our customer success stories,…
Friday, May 18, 2018 - 05:34  •  By Dustin Kassman  •  Intel
ICS engineers have published a set of papers on the Intel Developer Zone website that discuss utilizing parallel processing to improve performance in 3D graphics intensive applications, such as gaming. In this domain, realism is important as an indicator of success. In order to mimic the actual world, many things need to happen at the same time which requires parallel processing. Each article covers the topic using a different graphics system: Unity 5.6 Vulkan 1.0 Unreal Engine 4 Direct3D 12 Moving from single-threaded to multi-threaded processing on the CPU, the articles advance to…
Monday, February 26, 2018 - 11:45  •  By Scott Lozier  •  voice assistant, alexa, siri
Voice will soon be in every gadget. At least, that’s the vision a lot of industry watchers share. And, they’re probably right. Already, Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant will happily listen to and act upon your every word. Who can resist that? Certainly not consumers — something brands have noticed. That's one reason a number of heavyweights, among them Starbucks and Nestlé, have developed their own brand-specific voice assistants and voice-skill apps. The goal is to ensure that the information served up by Alexa and her cronies includes them, a clever…
Monday, January 22, 2018 - 11:19  •  By Mark Hatch  •  UX Design, Software Development, product development
You’re a product manager. Your company is counting on you to get a new product to market quickly. Not just any product — a product your customers will love. So how do you rapidly develop something that works while ensuring it's something people will like to use? Integrating user experience (UX) design methodologies into software development projects so you end up with a sound product useful to your customer can be challenging. That’s because today’s typical product-development process requires you to create and complete the UX design before software development begins. UX’s…
Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 14:23  •  By Scott Lozier  •  web, cybersecurity, security
Business today is digital. Software-dependent. That means nearly every company is exposed to a growing number of potential vulnerabilities. Major system hacks — anxiety-inducing and costly to fix — regularly make the news. Hacker's preferred target: the application layer. Fortunately, protecting your application layer is straightforward. Here’s a look at what hackers see, how they break in, and what you, the web developer, can do to prevent it.  Securing Traffic What hackers see: They know speed is important to your site; that the page load time matters for SEO and the user…
Friday, October 13, 2017 - 08:57  •  By Scott Lozier, Brandon Desormeaux  •  VR, online shopping
You know that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the drama switches from black and white to color? The story becomes magical. A whole new viewing experience where anything seems possible. Well, that moment will soon happen on the web.  In the near future, now-familiar 2D websites will transform into vivid 3D experiences — turning online shopping into a whole new ballgame. Flat images will be replaced with 3D objects (mixed reality) that can be customized to meet shoppers’ specific needs.  In other words, websites will become a whole lot more interesting. As an added bonus, the…
Monday, September 18, 2017 - 09:57  •  By Peter Winston  •  IoT, cybersecurity, connected device
With the expansive Equifax breach still making news, the focus on cybersecurity is again intense. At ICS, security is always top of mind as we aim to build — and help others build — connected devices that integrate substantial security features. In my last blog I framed the issue and offered a number of telling statistics. This week, I’m sharing some tips device manufacturers can follow to strengthen security, as well as some measures enterprises that rely on IoT devices can take immediately to better protect themselves. Though not intended as a comprehensive plan, these measures can have a…
Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 10:27  •  By Peter Winston  •  IoT, Embedded, cybersecurity
Nearly half of all companies in the US using an Internet of Things (IoT) network have been the victims of at least one security breach. Forty-eight percent. That’s according to a recent survey of 400 IT decision-makers across 19 industries conducted by strategy consulting group Altman Vilandrie & Company.  What kind of breaches? Here are just two examples: An attack on a Vegas casino reported by cyber security firm Darktrace in July 2017.  In that event, hackers swiped 10 gigabytes of data by accessing the casino’s network through a recently installed smart fish tank.…
Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 14:16  •  By Scott Lozier  •  AR, VR, touchscreen, interactive games
Our customers often mention virtual reality (VR) when they are looking to do something unique and eye-catching at conferences. They’re not exactly sure how VR could be used to present their product or tell their story but they know the technology is trending and they don’t want to get left behind. Maybe you’re also considering including VR in your marketing mix. But is VR the right choice? What about augmented reality (AR)? Or a touchscreen game? While touchscreen games create a community experience, VR and AR alter our perception of the world. They’re typically used for gaming, simulations…
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 11:12  •  By Scott Lozier  •  API, chatbot
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Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 10:43  •  By Scott Lozier  •  gamification, interactive games, trade shows, web
Have you ever watched the DVD extras where you get a peek at how a film was made? See a camera on a dolly moving in synch with the actors as they walk down the street? Or glimpse the behind-the-scenes process as a make-up artist transforms a regular guy into a cyborg? That’s what this blog is about. Ok, maybe no cyborgs. But, I will give you a backstage look at how my team created a custom interactive game for medical device company Boston Scientific. About the Game Boston Scientific wanted to showcase one of its products at an industry trade show, using a game format to engage…
Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 14:49  •  By Stephanie Van Ness  •  medical device, product development
Consumer electronics and medical device development teams have different priorities. Match your team to your goal. Today’s consumers have high expectations. Not only do they want products that solve their immediate problems, they want new and innovative products that make their lives easier or better in some way. Manufacturers must keep pace with rising customer expectations and evolving business ecosystems in order to remain competitive. But, product development is no easy task. And, if we’re talking product development in the medical device arena, where the stakes are highest,…
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 09:43  •  By Scott Lozier  •  webteam, web, architecture
You only have a few seconds to connect with customers in a meaningful way. So how do you lower the barrier so it’s easy for them to interact with your content? By employing the interface on the device the user is on. But, how do you do it across many platforms? You build a digital ecosystem for sharing assets and data. Digital Ecosystems Technology is finally catching up to digital ecosystems, an idea that been around for more than 10 years. According to Wikipedia, a digital ecosystem is a distributed, adaptive, open socio-technical system with properties of self-organization, scalability…
Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - 08:47  •  By Peter Winston  •  ICS, Skills gap
In my last few blogs I discussed the skills gap — that chasm between the skills and expertise within a team, and the skills that are actually needed to successfully execute a particular project. This gap is created by advances in industry and technology. No matter how far out in front of your market you are, changes in adjacent spaces create opportunities for you, as well as your competitors. It’s important understand that this gap is chronic, rooted in the changing nature of our economy, and not simply a result of a particular person leaving or a specific project’s requirements. Thus, the…
Monday, November 7, 2016 - 13:51  •  By Peter Winston  •  ICS, Skills gap, surge
In my last blog I outlined how the skills gap negatively impacts product development, particularly in terms of protracted timelines or cost overruns. Now, I want to help you most effectively close this gap. Specialists are Key By enlisting the help of specialist providers like Integrated Computer Solutions (ICS) to bridge the skills gap between your own internal expertise and your goal to manufacture and deliver a quality product, you’ll be well-equipped to successfully manage the entire project development lifecycle, for your current project and future endeavors. The quality and expertise…
Monday, November 7, 2016 - 13:27  •  By Peter Winston  •  ICS
Skills gap. It’s a phrase in vogue these days as employers complain they can’t find workers with the technical chops necessary to excel in the digital age. The Wall Street Journal calls it a “significant gap between an organization’s current talent capabilities and the skills it needs to grow or remain competitive” and it’s a key concern to 73% of CEOs. This skills gap obviously impacts tech companies, which struggle to find an adequate corps of employees experienced with the most leading-edge technologies. But, it also extends well beyond to even the most traditional, old-school businesses…
Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 10:49  •  By Peter Winston  •  ICS
Integrated Computer Solutions, Inc. (ICS), which provides custom software development and UX design for touchscreen, mobile, embedded and desktop applications for Fortune 1000 companies worldwide, has relocated its Boston-area headquarters from Bedford to Waltham, Mass. The company’s new office at 230 Second Avenue is situated just off Route 128, often referred to as America’s Technology Highway. ICS’ new headquarters is intended to foster a sense of community and support collaboration. The office features an open-concept design, ample natural light, multiple conference and training rooms,…
Monday, June 20, 2016 - 10:10  •  By Peter Winston  •  Automotive, UX
A popular concept these days is User Experience or UX. Wikipedia defines UX as “the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product.” A less-used term is Customer Experience or CX. Wikipedia defines that as “the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer's attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, and purchase and use of a service.” UX is sometimes perceived as kind of…
Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - 17:40  •  By Peter Mui  •  ICS HMI Solution, Speech Recognition, IVI, GENIVI, Automotive
Speech recognition has been around for a long time. Products that run on your PC initially required voice training and targeted professionals in vertical industries with highly specialized vocabularies (e.g. doctors). As speech recognition algorithms improved, computer processing got better, and more memory was available to store ever-larger dictionaries of words and phrases, products like Nuance’s Dragon Dictation have eventually gotten to the point where they’re largely general purpose and work very well. Yet speech recognition did not come into wide use until the advent of the smartphone…
Friday, December 18, 2015 - 13:59  •  By Peter Winston  •  In-flight entertainment, in-vehicle, In-vehicle infotainment, IFE, automotive IVI, IVI
ICS is one of a very few companies that has worked on both In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) for passenger airlines and In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) for passenger automobiles. Our experience in both IFE and IVI means that one space informs the other, creating a mutually beneficial cycle of ever-increasingly excellent work. Given our unique perspective on IFE and IVI, we’re in a unique position to comment on the efforts of the smartphone manufacturers to become the IVI platforms for cars. Specifically: Google’s Android Auto®, Apple’s CarPlay® and Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive® are all…
Monday, November 2, 2015 - 13:13  •  By Peter Winston  •  Software Development, ICS, supply chain management
There are many challenges when considering software development in general. Adding to that complexity is the need to have and maintain external resources. Many software development projects today are global and require teams of engineers who are versed in the latest technologies and can produce safe, reliable, high-quality products. While no software company is immune from these foundational issues, there are ways in which companies can manage its software supply chain that make good business sense. In this blog entry, I am going to elaborate more about one of the reasons for an effective…
Monday, October 5, 2015 - 11:51  •  By Peter Winston  •  touchscreen, touchscreen interfaces, Interactive Kiosk, IVI
ICS is building large touchscreen kiosks for retailers, through our work on other specialized touchscreen systems such as In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) systems for international airlines and In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI) systems for automobile suppliers, we’ve developed an expertise in creating high-performance, compelling and responsive end-user interactive systems. By developing kiosks, we are leveraging that expertise to revolutionize the retail customer experience. With customer experience gaining momentum in many industries, it seems like it’s the obvious natural extension of our…
Friday, May 15, 2015 - 15:23  •  By Peter Winston  •  interactive, touchscreen, ICS, UX, ViewPoint, touchscreen interface
Here at ICS demand for our touchscreen-related services has grown by leaps and bounds. Interest in (and respect for) the skills we’ve developed over 25 years of experience has risen as organizations realize the myriad engineering and design elements to be considered that are necessary to truly deliver on a world-class touchscreen interface. The interest and appreciation is coming from both existing and new clients: Existing clients -- established storied companies with long product pedigrees -- who are transitioning their designs away from using traditional physical controls such as knobs,…