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A Taste of The Astonishing Tribe (TAT)

Screen shot 2010-12-05 at 2.11.38 PM

When RIM first announced that they had acquired The Astonishing Tribe TAT) and their expert UI design team most of us had never heard of them. Now that their website ( is no longer hammered with new visitors I decided to do some digging around and found some interesting details and learned a little more about TAT which is headquartered in Malmoe, Sweden with offices in the US and Korea.

Their main product seems to be TAT Cascades but they also have a product called TAT Motion Lab which is built in their TAT Kastor Platform. TAT Cascades is a XML based user interface framework for creating engaging design driven user interfaces. My guess is that the TAT Cascades framework is why RIM purchased TAT. According to the Intro video on their Videos page their technology is powering 470+ million devices and more than 15% of all new phones in 2010 and 20% of touch phones. Pretty impressive stats!

According to their site the Cascades framework was created for constrained environments to bring an awesome UI to mid level hardware but now also lets you create amazing UIs on advanced platforms with graphics chips built in. The idea with Cascades is that you can get a slick UI up and running quickly and it scales due to its underlying XML nature.

In simple English TAT makes it easy for companies to create awesome user interfaces with a minimal amount of effort while allowing for easy changes and scaling between devices like a phone and a tablet. :)

Sounds like RIM made a great purchase… Here is to hoping we get blown away with the upcoming UI upgrades. What I want is something as thought out as the BlackBerry email client with easier shortcuts. Personally I think radial menus are the way to go.

6 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. {nitpick}

    This is a bit misleading: “The idea with Cascades is that you can get a slick UI up and running quickly and it scales due to its underlying XML nature.”

    Technically, almost *any* binary format is more efficient than a text-based format; and an XML format is even worse, since it adds the overhead of additional processing…

    I’m just surprised to learn that they went the XML route for mobile platforms, which have such limited resources.

    • Hey Marc,
      I do not have as much experience with XML beyond RSS but it seems to be the underlying format for certain systems to communicate. Personally I prefer JSON since I mostly do JavaScript work.
      Can you expound a little on why XML would add additional processing? As far as I know it is just a bunch of tags with enclosed data.

      • I won’t pretend to speak for marc.paradise, but I often find xml files to be a bit large.

        In terms of “additional processing” you do need to parse the xml, but I have often found the time this takes to be irrelevant.

        The main issue with using xml on mobile devices is that it makes the file size a bit larger then a binary format would. This is important when memory is limited as it is on mobile devices. However, as on device memory increases, this will become less critical.

        • That I can understand. Maybe the parsing of a large XML file would add overhead but if the XML is what drives the interface it may speed things up by only needing to load a new XML file for the interface instead of a new frontend every time?

  2. Sweden winning the WC…. I have never laughed sooo much and so loud…. Qatar have a better chance!

    The UI doesn’t really impress me that much. The functionality show is also very much dependent upon the underlying hardware and its capabilities… Besides, when will RIM ever allow their UI or OS to be embedded or even used in a mirror or a see-thru flat screen monitor???

    Q. Have RIM purchased a pipe dream? If not why? How do you see this UI being used?

    • To me, the biggest potential in this is scalable user interfaces between devices of varying screen size and resolution. Sure, you can run an iPhone app on an iPad and it just interpolates the interface to double vertically and horizontally, but with this schema it seems there is much greater potential for a truly scalable user interface that doesn’t just get “bigger” on a bigger screen, but can actually scale to take advantage without having to be hard coded for multiple resolutions.

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