12 Pixels is on Sony Ericsson new phone.


Sony Ericsson included 12Pixels as a standard feature of its new mobile phone.

12Pixels is an interface and application that allows creating and sharing sophisticated pixel art drawings using just 12 keys of a mobile phone. We developed it at Sony CSL.

Cedar™ is exactly the type of mobile phone that we had in mind for 12Pixels: an affordable candybar-shaped handset designed to be used anywhere in the world in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe and Americas. Somehow we keep forgetting that more then 80% of mobile phone users do not use smart phones with touch screens! It is phones like Cedar™ that connect majority of people to each other.

In addition to 12Pixels Cedar™  has impressive specs including web access, 3G modem, nice color screen, camera and Facebook integration.

12Pixels in Tokyo Interactive Ad Awards!

12Pixels was awarded a Bronze Prize in the application category of Tokyo Interactive Ad Awards! Tokyo Interactive Ad Awards is a prestigious design competition for digital media advertisement in Japan. 12Pixels got an award both for the web site and for it’s promotion campaign developed by Imaginative Inc.

The idea of promotion was to let people to produce their own physical accessories by drawing them with 12Pixels first and then submitting for production. It was cute. A full list of awards can be found here.

12Pixels hits 20000 downloads!


12Pixels service hits 20000 uploads!

This means that 20000 pixel drawings have been created and uploaded on SonyStyle 12Pixels web site. It took us approximately a year to achieve this number and although its tiny when compared to PC-based services for user-generated content, it is nevertheless a significant achievement for such a niche application as pixel-art drawing tool and sharing service for mobile phones.

The drawings created by 12Pixels users continue to amaze me. Below is a collection of some of the drawings that were uploaded to 12Pixels web server. The current stream of drawings can be experienced here.

Embarassing myself on Japanese TV.

I love Japanese TV. I think its great. That is why I was absolutely thrilled when an opportunity came to publicly embarrass myself on a proper TV talk show, with proper Japanese TV celebrities and broadcast all over Japan.

We did two segments at Watch-Me!TV (ワッチミー!TV) about 12Pixels Color, which was ran on two consecutive weeks. Watch-Me!TV is a late night show produced by Fuji TV station and hosted by Marie (マリエ) , a well known TV personality in Japan. One of the segment, the least embarrassing one, is embedded below.

You can also check segments in the order of broadcast starting with first segment followed by second segment part 1 and part 2.

Are not we all beautiful here?
From let to right Neeko, Tezuka-san from Sony Marketing, me and Marie. Karl Willis is in front.

12 Pixels Color is released in Japan!


A new version of 12Pixels has  been released in Japan by Sony Marketing on Sony web site. This new version, named 12Pixels Color,  incorporated a lot of changes and improvements that resulted from observing how people were using the first version. Some of these improvements include: allowing to draw with color (obviously, hence the name!), simplifying interface for drawing emoticons, improving help and adding a lot of traditional social web features, such as ranking and commenting.

This release has been done in collaboration with Sony artist, musician and TV personality Neeko (ニーコ) who provided her original content and encouraged people to re-mix it and post on 12Pixels web site. She visited us in Sony CSL the other day.


12Pixels stays free and the goal of the project stays the same: to explore how people can be creative with traditional mobile phones. For more information please check links below:

  • 12Pixels Color is here;
  • Neeko 12Pixels page with her profile and drawings is here;
  • Research page that explains what 12Pixels is all about is here.

Mobile Creativity article in Vodafone Reciever.

A good article on mobile creativity has been written recently by Michael Keferl and Sven Kilian for Vodafone Reciever magazine. The title of the article is “Mobile creation – the Japanese way”  and it provides a nice discussion of how mobile phones are being used in Japan as one of the primary platforms for user-generated content, i.e. Web 2.0 style services. The authors make good point by saying that while on the West the Internet has been traditionally tethered to PC, in Japan mobile phone has become a major gateway to everything Internet-related, including social web and user-generated content. The authors note in the article  that ” … since voice functions are among the least utilized by the mobile generation, to call a mobile handset a ‘phone’ is a tremendous understatement”.

I agree.

They also mention 12Pixels project as one of the examples of mobile phone applications and services that are geared toward user-generated content.

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