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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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April 2006
18 April 2006

Creating the jobs of the future [International Herald Tribune]

Services sciences
On his Asian trip last month, President George W. Bush urged Americans to not fear the rise toward prosperity of emerging economies like India. Education, Bush said, was the best response to globalization, climbing further up the ladder of skills to “fill the jobs of the 21st century.”

But a ladder to where? That is, where are educated young Americans likely to find good jobs that will not be shipped off to India or China?

The answer, according to a growing number of universities, corporations and government agencies, is in what is being called services science. The hybrid field seeks to use technology, management, mathematics and engineering expertise to improve the performance of service businesses like transportation, retailing and health care – as well as service functions like marketing, design or customer service that are also crucial in manufacturing industries.

A couple of dozen universities – including the University of California at Berkeley, Arizona State, Stanford, North Carolina State, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Georgia Tech – are experimenting with courses or research programs in the field.

Read full story

17 April 2006

Future sex gizmos: reach out and touch someone [CNN / Reuters]

Future sex gizmos
When America’s top sex researchers gathered recently to discuss the next decade in their field, some envisioned a future in which artificial sex partners could cater to every fantasy.

“What is very likely to be present before 2016 would be a multi-sensual experience of virtual sex,” said Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, Bloomington.

“There is a possibility of developing erotic materials for yourself that would allow you to create a partner of certain dimensions and qualities, the partner saying certain things in that interaction, certain things happening in that interaction.”

Read full story

17 April 2006

New features, new look and new home for Putting People First

Experientia
This is the first post in the relaunched Putting People First, a gateway full of resources for the experience design community.

Sporting a clean and refreshing design by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels and Janina Boesch, PPF is conceived to function as an entry gate for all matters related to experience design, user experience and innovation.

Features and tools

The top navigation bar, an idea of Experientia partner Michele Visciola, organises all categories, including some new ones, grouped under easy-to-remember headings, whereas the right-side column features “The Guesthouse”, with feeds from a guest blog and the latest news from Experientia.

The site takes advantage of some of the more advanced WordPress technologies. Readers will particularly appreciate the Live Search and Live Archives tools, which allow highly accurate search and easy access to the archives. For more information on the how and why of this site, check the About section.

Guest bloggers

We are pleased to announce that we will be opening up Putting People First to guest bloggers and guest contributors. If you are interested please write us: info at experientia dot com.

URL, post links, redirects, email updates and new rss feed

The URL is www.experientia.com/blog. All old post, category or archive URL’s on the former TypePad blog at blog.vanderbeeken.com will automatically redirect to the corresponding page on the new site.

However, please make sure to update your rss feed (which will not update automatically) and bookmarks.

You can also choose to receive your Putting People First updates via email rather than via an rss reader or by viewing the web site

Webmasters and bloggers: it would be nice if you could also update your blogrolls and post links. If you linked to a particular post (you can check this by doing a search for “vanderbeeken”), click on it and you will automatically be taken to the same post on the new site.

Design and development credits

The site was redesigned by Jan-Christoph Zoels and Janina Boesch. Technical development was in the hands of the WordPress wizzard Beverly Tang.

16 April 2006

User Centered Design Works

User Centered Design Works
The User Centered Design Works website intends to promote user-centered design by providing case studies of projects where a user-centered design approach was applied successfully, some basic principles for a user-centered design methodology, and the UCD Yellow Pages with an overview of organisations, websites, events and magazines dedicated to user-centered design.

The website is initiated and managed by the IOP MMI, an Innovation-oriented Research Program Human-Machine Interaction funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

16 April 2006

Games and user experience

Games and user experience
Luke Wroblewski, principal designer at Yahoo!, points to a series of resources about how the principles behind games enable richer user experiences and more.

Dream machines, Wired (guest editor: Will Wright)
“… the gamers’ mindset – the fact that they are learning in a totally new way – means they’ll treat the world as a place for creation, not consumption. This is the true impact videogames will have on our culture.”

Putting the fun in functional (by Amy Jo Kim, creative director, ShuffleBrain)
Games are designed to be fun and engaging, and whenever you can make any system or application more fun you’ll likely improve the user experience and get them using the system more regularly and for longer times.

Clues to the future: what the users of tomorrow are teaching us today (by Andrew Hinton)
Designing a game overlaps heavily with designing information spaces and thus there is much IAs can learn from game design. For example, game sites assume multitasking and are ok with complex interfaces. Games assume you will learn by doing.

Casual games = social software (by Duncan Gough)
This passive interaction is key to the gameplay, it’s almost not designed to be addictive, rather, it’s designed to be hard to give up (a thin difference, I admit). How does passive interaction show itself in proper social software? Metadata.

Creating passionate users
At SxSW2006 Kathy Sierra talked about bringing the principles behind good game design to software design.

Game changing: how you can transform client mindsets through play
Jess McMullin’s presentation at IA Summit 2006 presented some ideas for building strategic rapport with clients by utilizing the underlying principles of game play.

14 April 2006

European Futurists Conference presentations

European Futurists Conference
Several interesting presentations of the first European Futurists Conference, held last year in Lucerne, Switzerland, are currently available for download.

Patrik Sallner, Director of Insight & Foresight at Nokia, talked about how future studies can help business leaders make good decisions and provides insight on the Nokia foresight methodology.
-> Download presentation (pdf, 509 kb, 13 slides)

Matthias Horx, founder of the German Zukunftsintitut, presented a philosophical discourse on how forecasting influences business, politics and minds and reflected on methods, ethos and function of modern futurology.
-> Download presentation (pdf, 5.3 mb, 39 slides)

Heinrich Stuckenschneider, Vice President Corporate Technology and Head of Strategic Marketing of Siemens AG, described how Siemens uses scenario techniques for the identification of attractive solutions and of requirements to their realisation, thus establishing a foundation for the management of innovation.
-> Download presentation (pdf, 3.3 mb, 23 slides)

A CD-ROM with all the presentations is for sale at a cost of CHF 50.00.

The 2006 European Futurists Conference is scheduled for 22-24 November.

(via Jan-Christoph Zoels)

14 April 2006

Book: Mobile Interaction Design

Mobile Interaction Design
"Mobile Interaction Design", a new book by Matt Jones (University of Wales, UK) and Gary Marsden (University of Cape Town, South Africa), covers important issues relating to this ever-changing technology, including, developing interfaces and devices with a great deal of sensitivity to human needs, desires, and capabilities.

This book is written to inspire and challenge designers’ preconceived notions of this marketplace and to convey lessons learned, and principles involved, in the development and deployment of interactive systems to the mobile environment.

The book presents key interaction design ideas and successes in an accessible, relevant way and provides ideals and techniques which will enable designers to create the next generation of effective mobile applications.

It critiques current mobile interaction design (bloopers) to help designers avoid pitfalls and discusses the new applications and gadgets requiring knowledgeable and inspired thinking about usability and design.

- Book description: Wiley- Amazon
- Download chapter 1 (pdf, 2.3 mb, 37 pages)
- Download table of contents (pdf, 60 kb, 7 pages)
- Download index (pdf, 88 kb, 11 pages)

(via Small Surfaces)

13 April 2006

Donald Norman on emotionally-centred design

Yahoo! Maps
Web 2.0 is coming. Rich Internet applications (RIA) are here. Hurrah! The internet has caught up with the desktop, at long last. As a result, they provide some natural experiments in emotionally-attractive websites, allowing us to contrast the more traditional, static html page website with these more interactive, dynamic ones, where there are natural controls for information content, utility, and usability. So let’s see what we can learn from them. In this exploration, I concentrate on map websites because they provide the ingredients for appropriate comparisons.

We know how to make products that are easy to use and understand. But what about emotions? What about designs that delight? What do we know about how to produce an emotional impact?

Why are Google earth, Google maps (maps.google.com), the Beta version of Yahoo! maps (maps.yahoo.com/beta) and Microsoft’s Windows Live (local.live.com) so compelling, addictive, delightful? They provide the same information as the older, static maps from Yahoo!, MapQuest, MSN, and others, and the very same driving directions. They aren’t any more usable or easy to understand than the older, more static sites – some people have even found them more difficult, especially in their beta deployments. But they are more fun and engaging. What lessons can be learned from this?

Read full post

(via Usability in the News)

13 April 2006

Trendwatching website on Infolust

Infolust
Experienced consumers are lusting after detailed information on where to get the best of the best, the cheapest of the cheapest, the first of the first, the healthiest of the healthiest, the coolest of the coolest, or on how to become the smartest of the smartest. Instant information gratification is upon us.

So forget information overload: this desire for relevant information is insatiable, and will soon move from the online world to the ‘real’ world to achieve true ubiquity. Get ready for a click-and-know, point-and-know, text-and-know, hear-and-know, smell-and-know, touch-and-know and snap-and-know world.

The driving force behind INFOLUST is a basic human need. Which goes for most consumer trends. In this case: the need for power and empowerment, or at least the illusion thereof. Information is power. So is knowledge. And being in the know. And now that INFOLUST can be satisfied instantly, and millions of consumers have had a taste of the new, transparent world of information distribution, expectations about access to information have been raised.

Read full story

13 April 2006

Whirlpool’s in.home project

Whirlpool's Living Cube
Recognising that the role of appliances is moving away from their traditional places in the kitchen and laundry room, Whirlpool decided to explore a household of linked appliances.

This involved two major shifts in traditional appliance design thinking: conceptualising new devices for locations where they’ve never been and inventing ways that they could all interact as a system, rather than just as standalone devices.

Whirlpool and Syneo created 11 new appliance concepts that they took all the way to physical prototype and installed at the Future Technology in the Kitchen exhibition at the Milan Furniture Fair.

To envision how these products would interact, they developed four use scenarios and had the prototype house "act" them out. The four scenarios represented (roughly) an active morning, a quiet morning, a busy evening and a quiet evening.

- Read full post by Mike Kuniavsky, who contributed on the project
- Introductory essay (pdf, 108 kb)
- Some context based on demographic and social trends (pdf, 170 kb)
- The Living Cube prototype (pdf, 164 kb)

12 April 2006

The future of the internet [Red Herring]

The future of the internet
The Net is used in ways never imagined 10 years ago. In the next 10 years, it will burrow more deeply than ever into our lives.

The year is 2016. You’ve just come out of surgery and are being pushed down the hospital corridor on a gurney toward the recovery room. The nurses know you are on the way because a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag on your plastic patient identification bracelet automatically generated an alert to the nursing station.

The doctor doing rounds checks the Internet to monitor your vital signs. As always, the implants in your body are beaming real-time information about your brain waves and blood pressure to a protected web site 24/7. Your daughter, who is on a different continent, is already whispering words of encouragement into your ear—thanks to an embedded speech processor equipped with 802.11 wireless technology, TCP/IP communications protocol, and specialized software that allows sound from the Internet to flow directly into your cochlea. Using your VOIP-enabled mobile telephone, you tell her not to worry.

Read full story

10 April 2006

Senior citizens not big users of cell phones, even for emergencies

Jitterbug phone
New Jitterbug phone designed for seniors with easy use, big numbers may make difference

A new cell phone has been introduced that the distributors say is targeted for baby boomers and their senior citizen parents. The Jitterbug, they say, features "unprecedented simplicity." The announcement comes as new information from the Pew Research Center shows seniors are not frequent cell phone users, even for emergencies.

Read full story

 
8 April 2006

Alarm over shopping radio tags [BBC]

RFID
Supermarkets are now introducing a new technology that some say threatens a fundamental invasion of our privacy: the RFID tag, or radio frequency ID tag.

These smart labels consist of a tiny chip surrounded by a coiled antenna.

The technology has attracted [plenty of] criticism.

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf says: "What everybody worries about is that these identifiers will be used not to keep track of the object, but of the person associated with the object and then there’s a Big Brother scenario that everybody worries about."

"But when the economics get to the point where the readers are inexpensive and the chips are inexpensive, then you start to ask yourself who has the ability to read the chips and what do they do with the information?"

Former Australian privacy commissioner Malcolm Crompton says: "If done wrongly, it really is possible that I can buy things in one shop and be tracked in another shop, that the data, once collected, stays there for someone to come in and collect and use under circumstances that I don’t know about or that I don’t approve of."

"I think that is when society is on a slippery slope."

Read full story

7 April 2006

Vodafone online magazine on mobile phones and the yearning factor

Vodafone Receiver 15
Vodafone has just published the 15th issue of Receiver, its online magazine on the future of communications technologies.

The current edition is all about that yearning factor that comes with using the mobile phone, about the meta-message which is always present: ‘wish you were here’.

"We always take the mobile with us because we want to be reachable. But who do we want to be reachable for? Take a closer look: primarily for those we love. Apart from using them for work-related purposes, mobile phones are a great source of strength for our inner circle – they connect us to those stored in the handset’s contact list whom we want to reassure that we are with in spirit, and who know when we might need the emotional support of a quick text."

The nine articles deal with the social roles of mobile phones and how we use it connect with friends, family and loved ones.

7 April 2006

New report on the relationship between teens, technology and society

GTR Consulting
GTR Consulting, a qualitative marketing research and strategic planning consultancy, has published its gTrend Report, "an in-depth, qualitative look at the uneven relationship between teens, technology and society".

The authors say that it "explains what it is like to be a teen in today’s challenging social and technological environments" and the report is said to contain "insightful trends, dynamic quotes from teens, realistic, actionable implications, and critical research for anyone communicating with or marketing to teenagers".

For this report, GTR Consulting handpicked a panel of over 100 trend-leading teens from across the U.S. to discuss their technology and societal behaviours.

"Modern technology is reprogramming today’s teenager," said Gary Rudman, veteran teen researcher and president of GTR Consulting. "They’re a part of what I call ‘the Flux Generation.’ They feel they must adopt, adapt and advance as fast as they can. They expect instant gratification in everything they do. They’re dependent upon technology to accumulate social currency, cache every part of their lives, and provide digital disguises to gain more control over their chaotic worlds."

"Teens used to set the trends and be the revolutionaries. Today, they’re no longer in control; they’re struggling to keep their heads above water as technology and society set the trends and the pace in which teens are forced to adopt them," said Rudman.

Press release (pdf)
Report Table of Contents (pdf)
gTrend Herosion Newsletter (pdf)

7 April 2006

HP targets “next billion customers” with technologies for growing economies

HP gesture-based keyboard
HP yesterday announced new technologies, created by researchers in HP Labs India, which are designed to help grow opportunities in rapidly expanding economies.

The technologies, which primarily focus on India but also address markets in China, Russia and Brazil, are designed to adapt to the needs of non-Western languages, unique infrastructures, and indigenous cultures and customs.

“Our goal is to help our customers around the world by improving access to information and communications technologies that best suit their needs and the needs of their economies and societies,” said Dick Lampman, HP senior vice president, research, and director, HP Labs. “We believe this will create opportunities for HP to access its next billion customers.”

Read press release | backgrounder | story (San Francisco Chronicle)

UPDATE:
Eric Kintz, HP’s vice president of global marketing strategy and excellence, just contacted me to alert us to a follow-up story he wrote on this matter.

7 April 2006

Design for patient safety

Design for Patient Safety
The UK’s National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) is currently involved in a number of intiatives dealing with safer design.

Information Design for Patient Safety (pdf, 2.1 mb, 80 pages, 26 January 2006)
This guide shows how graphic design on medicine packaging can enhance patient safety and details best practice based on established guidelines. It is aimed at packaging designers and pharmaceutical companies. It will also be of interest to those in the NHS who regulate and purchase medication. The guide is based on the results of a one-year design research collaboration between the NPSA and the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre (HHRC) at the Royal College of Art, London. The study was carried out by Thea Swayne, a postgraduate specialist in information and graphic design and involved user research of patients, pharmaceutical industry personnel, nurses, pharmacists and staff of the NHS agencies.

Some related materials

Design for Patient Safety (pdf, 960 kb, 45 pages, October 2003)
This report sets out a perspective from the world of design – based on a scoping study carried out by a research team from the Universities of Cambridge and Surrey and the Royal College of Art – to identify previously unrecognised opportunities for improved patient safety in the NHS and advocates a system-wide design-led approach to tackling patient safety.

Almus – drug packaging (Design Council case study)
A new design for pharmaceutical packaging is making life easier for pharmacists by reducing the potential for dispensing errors and improving patient safety

Boxing clever (Design Council, April 2004)
A new design is promising to cut the number of medical mistakes made because of prescription drug packaging

5 April 2006

Disney offers teen-tracker mobile [BBC]

Disney mobile tracker
Disney is launching a US service that will enable parents to monitor how their children use their mobile phones.

They will be able to track voice, text, video and picture messages and set limits on their children’s calls.

The phone will also allow parents to locate where their children are via a global positioning system.

The entertainment giant hopes to target what is a niche but rapidly expanding market of mobile phone using children between 10 and 15 years old.

Read full story

Related stories: International Herald Tribune | Red Herring

5 April 2006

Mobile phone user experience hampered by contradictory shell and ghosts

Mobile phone user experience
Fabio Sergio just posted a long reflection on a problem that hinders the experiential qualities of mobile handsets: their shells and their ghosts often tell different stories, with hardware currently playing the lion’s share when it comes to innovation and sheer commercial appeal.

Mobile handset are churned out at a hellish pace, with the expression extreme parallelism describing common practices quite well.

Hardware and software follow parallel development tracks, each team running after rogue deadlines imposed by different, sometimes contradicting requirements, ranging from tooling lead-times and costs on one side, to software re-use and UI-platform-alignment issues on the other… this not to mention the fact that user interface designers are often nested within software development groups, while product designers usually enjoy a higher visibility and/or more independence.

The end result is that the key touch-point among the two teams often consists in the agreement around the number and position of buttons. I am not saying this is always the case, mind you, but that it is not that uncommon either.

For the end-user this means an object that whispers certain qualities when turned off, and shouts contradicting values when on and in use. Shells. Ghosts.

Read full post

5 April 2006

EU Commissioner advocates user-centred design and citizen-centric services

Viviane Reding
In an eGov Monitor interview, Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, discusses the EU’s commitment to citizen-centric services and user-centred design.

"Electronic government is moving beyond online information to fully transactional, citizen-centric and personalised services that deliver the high value added that citizens expect."

"For its part, the European Commission will promote research and innovation in eGovernment, on user-centred design and user satisfaction, and support for deploying large-scale pilot projects in electronic identification and electronic public procurement.  Furthermore, this spring the Commission will also present an eGovernment 2010 Action Plan which will look at the further challenges: ensuring social inclusion, making efficiency and effectiveness a reality, strengthening participation in democratic decision-making, delivering high impact applications, and putting key enablers in place."

I couldn’t find anything else on the EU website about this. Perhaps a reader can point me to more in-depth materials.

Read full interview