12Pixels

This may be small but it’s pretty cool, too. After some heaver, more function-oriented, posts about things like designing interactivity for people who are illiterate in developing countries and after reading this recent report on how mobile phones are used in Africa, why not post about something that allows people to be creative, too? So, go check out Ivan Poupyrev’s 12Pixels project.

12Pixels’ interface lets people with regular mobile phones (ie. with just a numeric keypad) create bitmapped art. They can work in broad (if very square) “strokes,” or they can zoom in to edit details using a clever zoom/grid tool. Colors can be changed, and the resulting mini-artworks shared.

The application was released in March 2009 on the website in Japan as a free web service. And the site 12pixels.com has lots of information about not just the Japanese launch, but other uses, too.

Whoops – did I just say that Japan is a developing country?! Sorry. 😉 What I meant to say was that I think it’d be great to see how this app (and apps like it) could be used in developing countries. Or used by people who may not be literate. Sure, doing pixel art isn’t quite as fluid and right-brained as touch-screen sketching on a fancy iPhone, but that technology is pretty out-of-reach for a lot of users. And giving people the tools to express themselves, and to communicate, visually seems like a hugely untapped opportunity.

Zoom/grid interface tool
Zoom/grid tool in-use