No. 1 | February 2021 
Hello, RE:Labers!
Welcome to Cruscotti, our monthly newsletter. Please, fasten your seatbelt and let our journey begin.

This is our first issue, so we thank you all for being at our side in this new adventure. 
Our newsletter is the voice of the entire RE:Lab community, everyone can contribute and 
author it, but no names will be done!

It’s a mix of things happening inside and outside RE:Lab that we would like to share with you in this issue. You will read about some innovative projects, such as the HU-Drive we presented at this year's CES in collaboration with EMOJ, Natural, and DALL·E. 

In our guide, you will discover the darker side of the HMI. At the same time, you will find the first chapter of our story, the one we wanted to share with you all since the beginning. 

You will find out some news about Horizon Europe,
the new big thing in the EU world.

You will meet Grandpa Franco and you will understand why there is so much need of RE:Lab even today.  

Finally, you will spot a book from our shelf for those who design interfaces and want to motivate the choices they make and a little magic tip for Photoshop addicts.

The NeUX: news from UX world 

CES 2021, EMOJ & RE:Lab present HU-Drive

The latest innovation we are proud of is HU-Drive. The innovative solution presented at CES 2021 by EMOJ and RE:Lab improves vehicle safety by pushing Advanced Driver Assistant Systems (ADAS) further and introducing constant monitoring of human emotions. HU-Drive is able to automatically recognize the driver's emotional and cognitive state and adapts the vehicle's Human Machine Interface (HMI) to it in real-time.
Interesting, isn't it? The system relies on the use of a cam inside the cockpit, a patented Artificial Intelligence software for driver status recognition and adaptable HMI strategies that promote emotion regulation and drivers' awareness. Watch this video to see how it works.


HU-Drive solution consists of two modules. The first one recognizes the driver's emotional and cognitive state from images captured by cameras inside the cockpit and processed by Deep Neural Networks. It recognizes six emotions, a positive or negative engagement and the valence curve (i.e., users’ satisfaction in performing tasks).
The second module provides a set of nudges, though. HMI adaptation strategies triggered once a specific state is detected, to help the driver manage emotions and act safely.


LinkedIn Even closer to Horizon Europe. We shared with our community the launch of the 2021-2027 Horizon Europe programme organized by the Portuguese EU Council Presidency, together with the European Commission. If you missed it you can go here for the streaming.

 - We have been working on a special issue on HMI and Vehicle Technology which is now open for submission. If you are interested, you can apply. Just follow the subscription information that you can find here.   

The RE:Lab’s guide to the Galaxy


Want to see your idea featured in our newsletter? Share it with us!

While in RE:Lab

The latest cutting edge news our RE:Labers talk about at the coffee machine (which is virtual in this COVID-era)


Have you heard of Natural? It is a generative interface that works through an algorithm that is able to generate the interface around the user's verbal request. It is still under development, but you can find both the teaser presentation on the website and the beta version on the Apple Store. 

UX & Ergo

Do you know what is a Mean Opinion Scale (MOS)? It is an important tool in the development and evaluation of conversational applications. Voice now plays an important role in the interaction with our devices and MOS has been adopted and adapted to assess the quality of synthetic dialogue. Its history is particularly interesting and you can find the first of a two-part series article here that provides more detail about the MOS transitioning from a version with some psychometric weaknesses into a psychometrically stronger questionnaire.


Artificial intelligence at the service of design. This is how we would define DALL·Ea neural network that creates images from text captions for a wide range of concepts expressible in natural language. I mean, in a few years we might be drawing like this. To do that we will have to become good at describing. Read more here.

Fun(d) Raisers 

Horizon Europe. The UK will take part in the programmeThe treaty says that the UK can continue to pay into and participate in five EU funding programmes – including the big Horizon Europe research scheme, a seven-year, €95.5 billion plan to succeed the current programme, Horizon 2020. Here you can find some of the main features of the new relationship in more detail.

Great Need of RE:Lab

 Granpa Franco and the great need of RE:Lab 

Nonno Franco (“Granpa Franco”) had a wonderful life. Two healthy children, a loving wife, a bunch of grandkids, a lifetime of work as a highly valued skilled industry technician. He died quietly in his bed at 93.
And he had 4 fingers. He was born with the regular set of ten, but he left six of them under a hydraulic press when he was 25.
One morning during his daily business his hands got stuck in the machinery and he couldn’t operate it. The young apprentice who came to help was panicked. It was 1938, you know, no graphics, no human-centered design, no affordances, no color codes… machines were hard to interpret and he just pressed the wrong button. The thing went down instead of up, “finishing the job”.
Luckily today things are a little better, but poor interaction design can still be dangerous, and for sure it’s always uncomfortable.
This section of our newsletter is about this. It’s about those cases where something is really wrong with the HMI. It's about the Great Need of Re:Lab that is there and always has been. We can fix it!

This is the board of pushbuttons of an elevator that serves 8 floors plus ground and -1. The building is standard construction, with a standard “vertical” shape.
There is no relationship at all between the position of buttons and level of floors. In fact, the two lines of buttons are organized so that lower floors, including zero and underground, are located in a higher position.
Ground floor, which is used for sure by all users, is not isolated in a prominent position as it frequently happens for such elevator boards and it is simply placed between -1 and 1.
Usability is really at its minimum for able users, let alone what visually impaired persons should do to master it. They would probably need to touch several times all braille characters, in order to figure out the floor number.
There was actually enough room for better positioning of each button possibly creating a slot for -1, one for zero and a bigger one for the higher floors, with a vertical orientation. However, the idea itself of using such a horizontal frame for the panel should probably have been discouraged in the first place.

There is a Great Need of Re:Lab!

Serial Stories

History of RE:Lab 

Thus begins the serial story of RE:Lab that will stay with us for a long time... A very long time... We want our RE:Labers to know in detail all the events that have taken place over the years. 
Only by sharing memories can we build identity and a sense of togetherness.

Chapter 1
The Origins 
It often happens that people who work at RE:Lab wonder about the origin of this name.
Some people assume that it is associated with Reggio Emilia, while others think it is some kind of a cross between Reggio and some kind of laboratory idea or simply cannot figure out why it is called that.
One of RE:Lab's great omissions, perhaps not entirely unintentional, was precisely that of not explicitly recounting the origin of this name. However, it is linked to a very important meaning that, after so many years, is beginning to arise and needs to be told.

Why RE:?
If you look closely, the name is RE:Lab. The idea is to recover the expression we find in the subject line of an email when we are replying.
The truth, then, is that RE: stands for “Reply”, as we would like to be a company that is, or knows how to be, responsive.

Why Lab?
Lab is a complex and important word in the history of RE:Lab, which stands for Laboratory.
The idea behind it is to use a laboratory approach that combines a creative spirit, a constructive craftsmanship attitude and the desire to create "things" to carry forward the company's themes and projects, with a rigorous approach. These "things" must work, and to do so they must be based on a solid technical foundation, be verified and verifiable within an empirical path.
Therefore, in this idea lies the strength and sense of RE:Lab: answering questions - which can be research questions, questions relating to unsolved problems, solutions and missing ideas - starting from this laboratory approach that has characterized the company's work in recent years.

The RE:Lab Bookshelf 

  • D.  Kahneman, Thinking fast and slow, Penguin Books, 2012

    A valuable book for those who design user interfaces and want to motivate the choices they make. The author, Daniel Kahneman, is a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2002. Kahneman wrote much of his work together with Amon Tversky, an outstanding cognitive psychologist who died prematurely in 1996. Their scientific liaison is also described in this (beautiful) book.

    Thinking fast and slow explains how our brain resorts to two systems when making estimates, deciding and relating to the world and things. System 1 (fast) is inaccurate, intuitive, not data-driven but damn fast. System 2 (slow) is accurate, uses data and information, is thoughtful but slow. 
    The interest of the authors goes in particular to system 1, 'the hero of the book'. Both have limitations, are exposed to systematic errors (bias) and resort to shortcuts that facilitate understanding (heuristics) and even some errors... There are many examples and design ideas. RE:Labers should pay attention to the search for reasons behind design ideas in chapter 5.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Broom-Broom

The magic tips corner

Have you ever tried this combination in Photoshop?
command + alt/option + MAIUSC + E
This is a key combination that allows you to create a new raster layer of what you are currently viewing in the Photoshop screen, without affecting any layers already in the file
This simplifies the complex weaving of layers to lighten the file and/or for asset creation.
Useful, isn't it? 

We think it would be nice to learn something new and useful every day. If you would also like to share some magic tips with other RE:Labers, send us your secret here.

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If you want to read the previous issues, you can find them all here.
And here you can find why is named Cruscotti.
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