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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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July 2007
4 July 2007

Involving end-users in the design of medical devices

Medical device
Successful medical device OEMs recognize the importance of an early and extensive partnership with potential end-users, writes Bill Evans in Medical Device Link.

As the potential of the technology that goes into medical products grows, so does the need for product design features that make them accessible to users. The drop in cost of both processing power and high-resolution color screens, for example, means they are finding their way into many areas of healthcare. At the same time, the typical medical device user in the developed world is routinely exposed to sophisticated consumer user interfaces (UIs). Products like TiVo, iPods, cell phones, Apple computers, and Microsoft Windows have raised the bar in terms of consumer expectations. Consumers now have an idea of how easy it can be to interact with a piece of complex technology.

The consumer devices mentioned here have been designed for a broad user base—from ages 8 to 80 is a common goal. But medical products are usually designed with a specific group or groups of users in mind. How can product development teams design UIs that really resonate with their particular customers? A truly great UI allows a user to more effectively exploit all the sophisticated features the design team slaved over to give the product a competitive advantage. An intuitive UI matches a user’s mental model of what they need to do to operate the device with how the device actually works.

Manufacturers can use design research to create better UIs.

A first article addresses how to conduct the early research and create concept UIs. The second one explains the process of taking these concepts back out to users. It also addresses how development teams can lay the foundation to meet FDA requirements for usability and good human factors design and the validation process.

(via Usability in the News)

4 July 2007

Peter Greenaway and the Savoy experience

First we observe
The Venaria Reale is a spectacular palace from the XVIIth and XVIIIth Century just outside Turin, Italy. It was built as the hunting grounds of the Savoy king – rumours go that the prey was also human and female.

When the royals were deposed just after the Second World War, the Turin population sacked the complex and took everything imaginable and unimaginable along with them. It also served as army barracks and immigrant housing at that time. As one can imagine, only a beautiful shell remained. Luckily the local authorities decided for preservation and a costly renovation is now completed.

When pondering what to do with such an enormous palace (it’s bigger than Buckingham Palace), the Region of Piedmont turned to Peter Greenaway. His project, called “Peopling the Palaces”, will feature five giant projections onto the bare palace walls (the original panelling and paintings were sacked as well), illustrating court life in the 17th and 18th centuries. “Imagine going into Venaria Reale and as it were watching 300 cinema films all at once which all interconnect,” said Peter Greenaway.

From a La Stampa newspaper article today [my translation]:
“The visitors will be welcomed by period actors, real and virtual at the same time, that will introduce them to to the palace, and guide him to the private apartments of the Duke, to the kitchen, and to the hunt. They will also be introduced to the court and to the “flying squadron” of the Savoy house, a formation invented by Caterina de Medici and afterwards copied, a group of 40 luxurious damsels ready to offer their services in exchange for alliances, information and secrets. Greenaway has meticulously documented himself on the period and wrote all the dialogues, which were then translated into and recited in Italian. The dialogues, though historically correct, are absolutely unconventional, and so are the projections which are currently being edited.”

View video of Peter Greenaway describing the project

3 July 2007

The Nokia “observe and design” brand slide show

First we observe
Nokia’s Keith Pardy and Alastair Curtis produced a slideshow on brand and design priorities, as part of an external presentation to investors at the Nokia Capital Markets Day 2006.

The presentation is all about Nokia’s human approach to technology: i.e. observing first (“the often small, the sometimes big moments of everyday”) and designing later, and turning that int a brand philosophy.

Keith Pardy is strategic vice president of Nokia Strategic Marketing, whereas Alastair Curtis is Nokia’s chief designer.

(via Logic & Emotion)

3 July 2007

New Core77 article series more sophisticated than ever

Core77
The Core77 “Reactor” article series is becoming increasingly sophisticated and more and more relevant to the experience design discourse that this blog addresses as well. Check out the latest articles (with my personal preference ever so slightly on the last one):

Riding the Flux by Kevin McCullagh
Kevin McCullagh helps designers navigate the tectonic shifts affecting the design industry.

“The era of product design as practiced by a small band of gurus in Milan, London, Munich and New York is long gone. There are now thousands of competent product designers around the world able to ‘give good form.’ Design as ‘styling’ or ‘form-giving’ has become commoditized, and competing at this level is already a tough low-margin slog. While those hide-bound by the past batten down the hatches, the wise remember that change throws up opportunities as well as challenges.
If we shed the blinkers and see the world differently there are many positive shifts, like the mainstreaming of design in business and the public sector, which offer glimpses of a chance to drastically expand the frontiers of design. A good place to start is by taking a wider view of our know-how.”

Device Art by Carla Diana
Carla Diana brings us up to speed on Device Art, highlights some leading practitioners, and delves into the cross-cultural considerations.

“At the moment, we are seeing an explosion of Device Art activity emerging in Japan, with new artwork appearing in such mainstream channels as electronics catalogs and department stores. In the U.S., however, the Device Art landscape is somewhat bare. One would think that the public’s voracious appetite for gadgets, combined with the creative community’s growing discontent with formulaic, brand-obsessed corporate design would solidly set the stage for this discipline to become a strong cultural force in the U.S., yet it seems relegated to museum boutiques and the back rooms of hipster Japanese toy stores. What gives?”

ID Strategy Conference Review by Nico Macdonald
Nico Macdonald provides a super-detailed review of this year’s Institute of Design Strategy Conference from Chicago, divided up his review into “Reduction,” “Reactions” and “Reflection.”

“Apple and Steve jobs are a great example of not so much user-centered design but CEO-centered design,” quipped Patrick Whitney, Director of the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. Soft-spoken Whitney was setting up the program for the Institute’s annual Strategy Conference he chairs, which took place this past May, and which has become the key English-speaking forum for discussing and investigating the new relationships emerging between design and business. Formally the Strategy Conference is an ‘international executive forum addressing how businesses can use design to explore emerging opportunities, solve complex problems, and achieve lasting strategic advantage.’ In person, Whitney captures its goal more succinctly and engagingly. It is about ‘Where to play and How to win.’

Design and Poetry by Xanthe Matychak
Xanthe Matychak investigates what designers can learn from poetry, providing some inspiring tricks toward innovation and some real-world examples.

“What I fear about empirical research—research based purely on observation—is that it doesn’t recognize a deep context. So when designers ask questions like, how do we “design a device where incoming communications are noticed 100% of the time?” we are assuming that people need to notice them 100% of the time. We don’t take into account how rapidly changing technologies have constructed consumer preferences for the faster, the smaller, and the newer. And when we make conclusions based simply on observation, we are jumping too quickly to tech-driven answers. If we designers can, instead, open ourselves up beyond research findings to the practice of reflection, then we can ask deeper questions and discover more meaningful, long-term solutions.”

3 July 2007

Business Week on John Thackara’s sustainable design approach and what business is learning from it

Dott07
“With Dott07, John Thackara looks at daily life as a design opportunity and tackles social issues in small doses,” writes Helen Walters in Business Week.

Working at the intersection of business, technology, sustainability, and design, the former journalist, educator, and director of the Netherlands Design Institute is in the business of meshing innovations that drive social change with design.

As the director of design futures network Doors of Perception, and program director of Dott07, an ambitious, year-long initiative to establish a sustainable region in cities throughout the northeast of England, Thackara is at the forefront of the flourishing sustainable design movement. And as far as he’s concerned, the right question to be asking is, “What might a sustainable world look like?” with a prompt follow-up, “What sort of design actions can we take to get there?”

The author underlines how the project is “rooted in reality rather, and have a purpose other than high-falutin’ idealism,” and how important it is that it is taking place in the struggling, post-industrial northeast of England. “Such willful parochialism is almost unheard of in Britain, where the focus is almost always trained on glamorous London (in the south), or trendy cities such as Liverpool or Manchester, which have embarked on determined, relatively successful rebranding exercises in recent years.” Walters also underlines how Thackara strives for a true collaboration network approach.

Taking a hat tip from one of the people interviewed in the article who says about Thackara that “he is never about the world of design, but always about the design of the world,” Walters then expands her analysis with a long reflection on sustainability and business.

- Read full story
View slideshow

2 July 2007

Recent stories on the Turin 2008 World Design Capital website

Torino 2008 World Design Capital
A few months ago Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken started doing some writing for the Turin 2008 World Design Capital website, and will continue to do so until the end of 2008.

The site has just been refreshed with an interview with Marie-Josée Lacroix, design commissioner of the City of Montreal; an essay on design and sustainability by Niti Bhan; a short overview of the history of the UK Design Council; and some stories from the international press.

For the first edition of the online magazine, Mark interviewed Ranjit Makkuni, wrote an essay on people-centred design, profiled the Nagoya Design Center, and zoomed in on the thinking of Mike Kuniavsky.

Feel free to contact us (mark followed by experientia dot com) with comments, suggestions, criticisms and proposals.

2 July 2007

Nicolas Nova in Turin

 
Nicolas Nova, Swiss Federal Research Institute (CH)
Designing a new ecology of mixed digital and physical environments

12 July 2007 – 7pm
Order of Architects of the Province of Turin
via G. Giolitti 1 – Torino – 3rd floor

Nicolas Nova will give a critical overview of the evolution towards “hybridised environments”, i.e. mixed physical and digital ecologies, sometimes also identified as media spaces, mixed realities, ubiquitous computing, and lifelogging realities. He will describe the systems as well the underlying technologies needed to support them, with a strong focus on how to best address people’s needs and enhance their lives. Examples such as lab projects, start-up products and art pieces will help outline the main trends and applications to expect in the near future. Nova will discuss the implications of this evolution for designers, architects and engineers on issues such as the user experience, the practice changes and the challenges to be solved.

Nicolas Nova is a researcher at the Media and Design Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne where he completed a Ph.D in human-computer interaction. His research focuses on spatial and location-awareness, location-based, virtual and tangible gaming experiences, and the hybridisation of digital and physical environments. He is a co-producer of the highly acclaimed, and internationally prestigious LIFT conference in Geneva, which this year was attended by over 500 participants. He blogs at Pasta and Vinegar about emerging technologies usage and foresight.

The lecture, which will be in English, is jointly organised by Experientia and the Order of Architects of the Province of Turinthe organisation which by the way is also responsible for next year’s UIA World Congress of Architecture. Additional communication support is provided by the design community TURN.

RSVP: architettitorino at awn dot it

1 July 2007

Nicolas Nova lectures in Turin, Italy – 12 July

Nicolas Nova
Nicolas Nova, Swiss Federal Research Institute (CH)
Designing a new ecology of mixed digital and physical environments

12 July 2007 – 7pm
Order of Architects of the Province of Turin
via G. Giolitti 1 – Torino – 3rd floor

Nicolas Nova will give a critical overview of the evolution towards “hybridised environments”, i.e. mixed physical and digital ecologies, sometimes also identified as media spaces, mixed realities, ubiquitous computing, and lifelogging realities. He will describe the systems as well the underlying technologies needed to support them, with a strong focus on how to best address people’s needs and enhance their lives. Examples such as lab projects, start-up products and art pieces will help outline the main trends and applications to expect in the near future. Nova will discuss the implications of this evolution for designers, architects and engineers on issues such as the user experience, the practice changes and the challenges to be solved.

Nicolas Nova is a researcher at the Media and Design Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne where he completed a Ph.D in human-computer interaction. His research focuses on spatial and location-awareness, location-based, virtual and tangible gaming experiences, and the hybridisation of digital and physical environments. He is a co-producer of the highly acclaimed, and internationally prestigious LIFT conference in Geneva, which this year was attended by over 500 participants. He blogs at Pasta and Vinegar about emerging technologies usage and foresight.

The lecture, which will be in English, is jointly organised by Experientia and the Order of Architects of the Province of Turinthe organisation which by the way is also responsible for next year’s UIA World Congress of Architecture. Additional communication support is provided by the design community TURN.

RSVP: architettitorino at awn dot it

1 July 2007

Timo Veikkola (Nokia) on a vision of the future

Timo Veikkola
This 20 minute video from the PSFK Conference London 2007 shows the presentation given by Timo Veikkola, senior future specialist at Nokia, on a Vision of our Future. As design is the reflection of society, how can we envision the future through trends, observation and informed intuition. What values, attitudes and behaviours of today will shape our future?

Juliana Xavier provides some more background on her blog “mind the gap”.

Timo Veikkola is an anthropologist; he studies people into culture. As many anthropologists these days he holds a strategic position inside a global corporation. As senior future specialist at Nokia Design, he looks at society to comprehend how there are going to be shifts in behaviour and culture that can inspire their design team. [...]

According to him, trends are the manifestation of values and attitudes, of people’s behaviour and reaction to what is happening in the world. Therefore, innovation, be it a product innovation or a different way to communicate it, has to be based on a good observation and informed intuition of what is going on in the present.

Read full report

1 July 2007

Jyske, the Danish experience bank

Jyske Bank
Jyske Bank, Denmark’s third largest financial institution, invested last year 400 million Danish kroner (equivalent to 54m euro or 72m USD) to redesign and brand their bank as an experience bank.

Excerpted from the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies:

Jyske Bank recently fundamentally changed its business concept, so the customer can put together his own banking solution. The bank has focused on the product experience, both “virtually” and in the branch. The bank calls the initiative “Jyske Difference” ["Jyske Forskelle"] and their slogan is “Jyske is the bank that makes a difference.”

In the short process (four months) during which the new business concept has been developed and partially implemented, the bank has been especially inspired by the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies‘ thoughts on Creative Man and the individualization megatrend. As they write to FO/futureorientation:

“Many consumers see banks and bank products as uniform – and a little boring. At the same time, we see that customers are changing behavior. They want more influence; they are more self-reliant while demanding personal service. The creative consumer, who wishes to create his or her own solution, is the coming thing. Consumers want to tailor their own charter vacations, car, and bank product. With the new initiative, the bank can better meet the modern consumer types of the present. With Jyske Difference, Jyske Bank signals that we are more than a bank. Jyske Bank is a bank, a store, and a modern library. Jyske Bank is the place where customers become smarter, inspired, and experience a straightforward atmosphere.”

See also this concept presentation video (2:49).

At the end of August Frank Pedersen, communication- and marketing director at Jyske Bank, will explain what they did and what the result was one year after, at Motion, the brand new experience economy conference in Norway.