counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


November 2006
3 November 2006

Waking up to a surveillance society

Surveillance
The UK Information Commissioner launched yesterday a public debate on the implications of living in a surveillance society and published a detailed report on the issue.

The report, entitled “A surveillance society”, looks at surveillance in 2006 and projects forward ten years to 2016. It describes a surveillance society as one where technology is extensively and routinely used to track and record our activities and movements. This includes systematic tracking and recording of travel and use of public services, automated use of CCTV, analysis of buying habits and financial transactions, and the work-place monitoring of telephone calls, email and internet use. This can often be in ways which are invisible or not obvious to ordinary individuals as they are watched and monitored, and the report shows how pervasive surveillance looks set to accelerate in the years to come.

Richard Thomas said: “Two years ago I warned that we were in danger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Today I fear that we are in fact waking up to a surveillance society that is already all around us. surveillance activities can be well-intentioned and bring benefits. They may be necessary or desirable – for example to fight terrorism and serious crime, to improve entitlement and access to public and private services, and to improve healthcare. But unseen, uncontrolled or excessive surveillance can foster a climate of suspicion and undermine trust.”

The report provides glimpses of life in a surveillance society in 2016, including how:

  • Shoppers will be scanned as they enter stores, their clothes recognised through unique RFID tags embedded in them. This will be matched with loyalty card data to affect the way they are treated as they do their shopping, with some given preferential treatment over others
  • Cars linked to global satellite navigation systems which will provide the quickest route to avoid current congestion, automatically debit the mileage charge from bank accounts and allow police to monitor the speed of all cars and to track selected cars more closely
  • Employees will be subject to biometric and psychometric tests plus lifestyle profiles with diagnostic health tests common place. Jobs are refused to those who are seen as a health risk or don’t submit to the tests. Staff benefit packages are drawn up depending upon any perceived future health problems that may affect their productivity.
  • Schools will introduce card systems to allow parents to monitor what their children eat, their attendance, record of achievement and drug test results
  • Facial recognition systems will be used to monitor our movements using tiny cameras embedded in lampposts and in walls, with “friendly flying eyes in the sky” (unmanned aerial vehicles) keeping an eye on us from above
  • Older people will feel more isolated as sensors and cameras in their home provide reassurance to their families who know they are safe therefore pay fewer family visits.
  • Prosperous individuals will start to use personal information management services to monitor their ‘data shadow’ to make sure they are not disadvantaged by any of the vast quantities of information held about them being wrong or out of date. Others without the resources do this will be forced to stand on the other side of a new ‘digital divide’.

- Go to report download page
- Articles from The Guardian and BBC News

In a related story, The Guardian reports that according to experts “the internet will hold so much digital data in five years that it will be possible to find out what an individual was doing at a specific time and place”.

“Nigel Gilbert, a professor heading a Royal Academy of Engineering study into surveillance, said people would be able to sit down and type into Google ‘what was a particular individual doing at 2.30 yesterday and would get an answer’.”

“The answer would come from a range of data, for instance video recordings or databanks which store readings from electronic chips. Such chips embedded in people’s clothes could track their movements. He told a privacy conference the internet would be capable of holding huge amounts of data very cheaply and patterns of information could be extracted very quickly. “Everything can be recorded for ever,” he said.”

Read full story

3 November 2006

Why the “online office” won’t work for now

Office online
Bringing the desktop experience to the web is a tricky problem, claims the WeBreakStuff blog.

“People aren’t used to the web browser as capable of doing dragging and dropping, file management, rich editing text (at a level they would expect from an office solution), or correct printing. In fact, people are used to the simplicity of the point and click, and expect that behavior, and little more, inside the browser.”

“Changing this mentality is the complex part of the equation. In very recent years, the web has seen such fast evolution that the technology to bring an online office solution to reality actually exists. Improving the experience, however, should be the main focus.”

“The role of the designer as a ‘manufacturer’ of experiences and user advocate is now (more than ever) of uttermost importance. It is up to the designer to figure out new metaphors for online interactions. Taking the ‘online office’ problem as an example, designers need to come up with systems that allow for real-time preview of documents. Or file management. Or saving, sharing, printing.”

Read full story

3 November 2006

Adidas sports performance store in Paris: it is all about the interactive experience

Adidas cube
The Germany-based sportswear brand opened its Mi Innovation Center on the Champs-Elysées. It’s a tech, fashion, and custom-design wonderland, writes Business Week.

“At the futuristic 1,750-square-meter store, the largest Adidas store in the world, shoppers can browse the latest trends (Stella McCartney-designed skiwear and faux fur vests from rapper Missy Elliot) while immersing themselves in interactive technologies.”

“The focal point of the innovation center is a large, sleek black cube. Customers simply point at images on the cube and laser and infrared technologies interpret their gestures, converting them to commands. Radio frequency identification (RFID)-activated monitors give detailed information on Adidas product at the pointing of a finger.”

“Heinrich Paravicini, the director of Mutabor, the German communication design agency that contributed to the design of the cube, says that technology alone won’t draw in shoppers. It’s all about the interactive experience. ‘When people are shopping they don’t want to learn,’ he says. ‘They want to be entertained.’”

Read full story

2 November 2006

Philips Research magazine provides deeper look at simplicity commitment

Philips Research Password
The October 2006 issue of Password, the Philips Research magazine, went online yesterday.

It contains a long feature story about Philips Research’s new light-emitting ‘Lumalive’ fabrics, with some nicely illustrated examples of how they could be meaningfully applied in daily life conditions.

The magazine also includes an interview with Kenneth Morse of MIT’s Entrepreneurship Center on how an entrepreneurial and sales culture can coax research and technologies to the global market place, as well as a background piece on some of the internal challenges of implementing a full end-user commitment within Philips, in order to be able to deliver on its Sense & Simplicity brand promise and to develop this into exciting Next Simplicity events.

Download Password (pdf, 1.9 mb, pages)

2 November 2006

User-centred design at the Young Tate

Young Tate
The Tate went out of its way to get young people involved in the web design process for a new site aimed at 13-25-year-olds, according to a case study on ProjectsETC.

“The Young Tate website is aimed at young people aged 13 to 25. It features different ways of learning and becoming involved with the world of art including the activities and events developed by the Young People’s Programmes curators at all four Tate galleries. Tate has run an in-gallery programme for young people outside the formal education sector since 1988. The key features of this programme are consultation with young people and peer-leadership. Tate has pioneered an approach in which young people are provided with the tools to shape their own learning experience.”

“The Young Tate website was launched in August 2006 and was designed to reflect the ethos of the in-gallery programme. It was essential that the website was driven ‘by young people and for young people.’ With this in mind, young people were involved in every stage of the website’s design and will continue to contribute to the site.”

ProjectsETC is a new resource site for people creating interactive projects in education, technology and culture, launched by Culture Online, part of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Read case study

2 November 2006

Tim Berners-Lee launches research project on social implications of web’s development

Bernerslee
According to the BBC, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (Wikipedia | blog) wants to set up a research project to study the social implications of the web’s development.

“The changes experienced to date because of the internet are just the start of a more radical transformation of society, he says.”

“His new web science research initiative will be more than just computer science, he insists. He wants to attract researchers from a range of disciplines to study it as a social as well as technological phenomenon.”

The British developer of the world wide web also said that he is doing this also because “he is worried about the way it could be used to spread ‘misinformation and undemocratic forces’.”

Read full story (BBC)

Also the New York Times features Berners-Lee today:

“The Web has become such a force in commerce and culture that a group of leading university researchers now deems it worthy of its own field of study.”

“The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Southampton in Britain plan to announce today that they are starting a joint research program in Web science.”

“Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Web’s basic software, is leading the program. An Oxford-educated Englishman, Mr. Berners-Lee is a senior researcher at M.I.T., a professor at the University of Southampton and the director of the World Wide Web Consortium, an Internet standards-setting organization.”

“Web science, the researchers say, has social and engineering dimensions. It extends well beyond traditional computer science, they say, to include the emerging research in social networks and the social sciences that is being used to study how people behave on the Web. And Web science, they add, shifts the center of gravity in engineering research from how a single computer works to how huge decentralized Web systems work.”

Read full story (New York Times)

1 November 2006

The future of technology, according to Motorola

The future of technology, according to Motorola
At its first-ever Technology Innovation Showcase in Chicago, Motorola outlined its vision for the future with a wide array of new products and technologies, writes Dominic Basulto in Fortune Magazine’s Business Innovation Insider blog.

“According to Motorola executives, the mobile phone will be at the center of the next computing revolution, but the product will likely look and feel a lot different than it does now.”

“PC Magazine has extensive coverage of the types of new products that Motorola is working on — like a robotic, avatar-based tech support assistant; boxes that light up different colors to reflect the level of interest in products; biodegradable cell phone casings; and new set-top cable/satellite boxes for the living room. Motorola is also working on a version of ‘social TV’ for consumers.”

Read full story