34 Weeks of OHA #30

News and Rumors 34 Weeks of OHA #30

Company Name: TAT – The Astonishing Tribe AB

How the OHA site classifies them: Commercialization Company

What the OHA site says about them: TAT – The Astonishing Tribe – a specialist in mobile user interfaces, recognized for its design capabilities and for its software solutions that enable richer user experiences on any platform, to date embedded in more than 140 million devices.

What they do: On the about page of The Astinishing Tribe site there’s a side blurb labeled “Our Philosophy”. It reads as follows:

  • Everything is possible; don’t set limits – create visions

  • Projects should be fun, as passion creates quality

  • Seeing is believing

  • A structured workflow improves creativity

Dude, I want to work for that company. “Projects should be fun” — there are a couple of System Analyst arseholes around my place of employment who need that lesson learned ’em.

The Astonishing Tribe are Swedish mobile interface specialists, and apparently they’re cool. Probably has something to do with being artistic. I always wanted to be artistic; instead I ended up snide and cynical. As per Wikipedia, they got their start working in TV commercials, film post production, animation, and the compression of images for embedded systems. There’s actually, according to IMDB, a 1996 film called “The Atonishing Tribe” directed by one Paul Blomdahl, who along with a number of other people with insanely Scandinavian-sounding names are the founders of the company.

The History information on the TAT website proclaims

The six founders successfully competed as a team on the Nordic demo scene in the 90s, where the challenge was to create beautiful and advanced visual experiences in limited time on a limited hardware platform

The group took this experience and identified the burgeoning mobile industry, which was just starting to offer colour LCD screens, as the perfect place to make practical money from their artistic experience.

A few years, over a hundred employees, and over a hundred million devices later, TAT got involved in the OHA.

What they bring to OHA and Android: Go check out this youtube video for a fast glimpse at what TAT brings to the table. It’s a concept for an unlocking mechanism, running on a HTC Touch Diamond, which takes the “unlocking” concept perhaps a little too literally, but is nonetheless both fun and creative.

Then go check out some of the goodness for offer on their Conceptlab page, on which they demo some ideas. Coolness all around. That bit with the picture-in-picture video settings? Or the concept of media files as items laid out on a table over which the viewer is slowly flying, and can pick up items for review? These ideas are hella cool and, get ready for the buzzword, intuitive. Also, they make anything the fruit-branded phone has to offer pale in comparison.

Androidguys interviewed Hampus Jakobsson of TAT back in April, and he had this to say about exactly what they do:

Our main work is licensing a UI-engine that allows a complete customization of the user interface – you can build all the concepts you see on our web page.

It’s reasonable to assume that some version of variation of this UI framework is in Android. TAT has probably also contributed to the specific UI design; ideas like the slide out “drawer” and fully customizeable home screen obviously bear conceptual relationships to some of the work for display on the Tribe’s site. Walt Mossberg and Paul Miller of Engadget have both taken the opportunity comment favourably on these aspects of the Android interface, and I bet that it’s TAT that we have to thank for much of the feel and function they’re praising.

So when you have your shiny new G1 in hand and you’re tripping on the UI, take a moment and give a thought to these artsy-fartsy Scandinavians and what they’ve brought to Android.

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