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Putting People First

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July 2008
29 July 2008

LIFT09 conference focuses on new forms of socialisation

LIFT09
The upcoming edition of the internationally renowned LIFT conference will take place in Geneva on February 25, 26 and 27, 2009.

The LIFT09 conference will explore the new forms of socialization with sessions about the impact of new technologies on the way we love, collaborate, exchange, educate, vote, and much more.

The 2009 edition will feature a large number of innovations in the format of the conference. Registrations are already open and the super early bird price is 650 CHF (400 Euro or 630 USD at current exchange rates).

29 July 2008

P&G goes for design thinking

Olay
Business Week reports on how Procter & Gamble is using design thinking to crack difficult business problems. In the words of Cindy Tripp, marketing director at P&G Global Design:

“The analytical process we typically use to do our work—understand the problem and alternatives; develop several ideas; and do a final external check with the customer—gets flipped. Instead, design thinking methods instruct: There’s an opportunity somewhere in this neighborhood; use a broader consumer context to inform the opportunity; brainstorm a large quantity of fresh ideas; and co-create and iterate using low-resolution prototypes with that consumer.”

The article cites olayforyou.com as an excellent example of this type of reframing.

“The experience is simple yet conveys a deep understanding of the myriad factors that make up your specialized needs. Analyzing your responses, the system quickly assembles a tailored set of recommendations for a regime that is designed to meet your age and stated desires.” […]

“With this seemingly small enhancement, Olay will also differentiate itself in a highly complex, competitive market; speed up the time in which it understands and can build new solutions for its target prospects; and build a database that will enable P&G to reach out directly to its customers on a personal basis (which is a rarity for consumer-product companies).”

Read full story

29 July 2008

Researchers help define next-generation social networking

Faculty Summit
The next generation of social networking will give people more tools for defining smaller online communities in a way that mimics the real world, academic researchers said Monday, as reported by Nancy Gohring of IDG News Service in Macworld.

“One thing that’s very broken in the social tools we have right now is context and boundaries and a sense of who I want to share what with,” said Liz Lawley, director of the laboratory for social computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Many social-networking sites essentially force users to become part of a huge community, or they force users to choose whether someone else is a friend or not, with no other subtleties defining that relationship, she noted.

“People want to create villages and they’re being forced into cities. That’s creating a huge tension in social interactions,” she said. Lawley and other academic researchers spoke at the Microsoft Research annual Faculty Summit, an event that brings together academics, government workers and Microsoft researchers to discuss new fields of computer-science research.

Read full story

28 July 2008

SatNav usability soon to be improved?

SatNav
Something is clearly not working right:

About 300,000 motorists have crashed because of a satnav, the [UK] Mirror [newspaper] has found.

Around 1.5 million drivers have suddenly veered dangerously or illegally in busy traffic while following its directions.

And five million have been sent the wrong way down a one-way street.

I have no idea how one can actually get hold of such data, but yes, there seems to be a problem. Now TomTom, a Dutch manufacturer of automotive navigation systems, has hired Ken McAlpine, formerly at Apple, as senior vice president product design.

Ken McAlpine is an engineering professional with 27 years’ experience in consumer product design, manufacturing and project management. McAlpine was previously employed as director of engineering with Apple Inc, based at the head office in Cupertino, California. McAlpine was involved in the development of, among other products, the MacMini, AppleTV and iPhone. Additionally, McAlpine led Apple’s laptop engineering teams, which were responsible for engineering management, program management, electronic circuit design and support of all Apple laptop products. McAlpine will be responsible for product design and usability within TomTom’s PND division ensuring that the user experience is consistent across all TomTom platforms.

(via DdUX)

25 July 2008

Design for Service publication

Service Design
It’s half a year old but I only now discovered it:

Having identified Service Design as an important new issue for the support of design in companies, SEEdesign developed a range of extra activities including workshops and training sessions on this topic. The material developed during the 3 years of the project has now been compiled into a downloadable publication, which can be used by businesses (in both service and manufacturing sectors) and by providers of design support. Design Wales and the service design consultancy Engine have created the original publication in English with some SEEdesign partners translating the material for use in their own countries. This initiative demonstrates the programme’s commitment to improving the design support provided for companies across Europe by addressing the development of new disciplines such as Service Design.

Download part 1
Download part 2

24 July 2008

Recent videos on Fora TV

Fora TV
Fora TV (a.k.a. “the thinking man’s YouTube”) has some videos that are worth taking a look at:

Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody
Aspen Institute – Jul. 06, 2008
Clay Shirky discusses his latest book, Here Comes Everybody, about the way people organize themselves without formal structures to respond to catalyzing events.

Clay Shirky on social networks and the Obama campaign
Aspen Institute – Jul. 06, 2008
Clay Shirky discusses social software, including the system used by the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. He notes the way members of the community organized in response to Obama’s support for the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act legislation.

Clay Shirky on Social Networks like Facebook and MySpace
Aspen Institute – Jul. 06, 2008
NYU Professor Clay Shirky discusses Facebook, Friendster and other social software.

Danah Boyd on social networks and immersive environments
Aspen Institute Jul. 04, 2008
Anthropologist of the online community Danah Boyd discusses ways young people use social network sites to connect with their friends and present themselves online. Boyd compares social networks like MySpace to immersive environments like Second Life. She also discusses mobile portability.

Danah Boyd on how teens interact online
Aspen Institute – Jul. 04, 2008
Danah Boyd discusses ways young people use social network sites to connect with their friends and present themselves online. She discusses various techniques teens use to talk and interact online.

Craig Barrett: Technology the Human Impact
Aspen Institute – Jun. 30, 2008
In an interview with Aspen Institute Trustee and venture capitalist John Doerr, Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, discusses the intersection of technology and society.

23 July 2008

Crowd-sourcing the e-car

Electric car
eCars – Now!” is a Finnish Internet community seeking to apply the collective approach taken by online collaborators like the authors of Wikipedia to start converting used petrol-fuelled cars to electric ones, with the first roll-out due this year.

The Finnish-language forum [now also in English and Swedish] claims to be first of its kind in the world, and wants to provide an alternative to what its members perceive as foot-dragging in the oil and auto industries.

Read full story

23 July 2008

Health-related social networking sites

Trusera
There are quite a few new health-related social networking sites:

Daily Strength
Healia
HopeCube
ICYou
iMedix
I’m Too Young for This
MDJunction
MedHelp
SugarStats
TauMed
Trusera
TuDiabetes
WEGOHealth

Read more here

23 July 2008

In three years…

Experientia
Three years ago we founded Experientia. It has been a very exciting ride since.

In three years we worked with some of the best companies in the field and some of the best people too.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

Our clients
Alcatel-Lucent (France, Spain), Area Association (Italy), Arits Consulting (Belgium), AVIS (Italy), Barclays (Italy, UK), Blyk (Finland, UK), Cittadellarte (Italy), City of Genk (Belgium), Condé Nast (Italy), Conifer Research (USA), CSI (Italy), CVS-Pharmacy (USA), Design Flanders (Belgium), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Expedia (UK), Facem (Italy), Fidelity International (UK), Finmeccanica (Italy), Flanders in Shape (Belgium), Haier (China), Hewlett Packard (India), IEDC-Bled School of Management (Slovenia), IKS-Core Consulting (Italy), Istud Foundation (Italy), Kodak (USA), LAit (Italy), Last Minute (UK), Max Mara (Italy), Media & Design Academy (Belgium), Microsoft (USA), Motorola (USA), MPG Ferrero (Italy), Nokia (Denmark, France, Finland), Research in Motion (Canada), Samsung (Italy, Korea, UK), Swisscom (Switzerland), Tandem Seven (USA), Torino World Design Capital (Italy), Voce di Romagna (Italy), Vodafone (Germany, Italy, UK), and Whirlpool (UK).

Our collaborators (interns, consultants and staff)
Sven Adolph, Ana Camila Amorim, Andrea Arosio, An Beckers-Vanderbeeken, Josef ‘Yosi’ Bercovitch, Enrico Bergese, Niti Bhan, Elena Bobbola, Janina Boesch, Giovanni Buono, Donatella Capretti, Manlio Cavallaro, Gaurav Chadha, Dave Chiu, Raffaella Citterio, Sarah Conigliaro, Piermaria Cosina, Marco Costacurta, Laura Cunningham, Regine Debatty, Stefano Dominici, Saulo Dourado, Tal Drori, Dina Mohamed El-Sayed, Marion Froehlich, Giuseppe Gavazza, Valeria Gemello, Michele Giannasi, Young-Eun Han, Vanessa Harden, Yasmina Haryono, Bernd Hitzeroth, Juin-Yi ‘Suno’ Huang, Tom Kahrl, Erez Kikin-Gil, Ruth Kikin-Gil, Helena Kraus, Francesca Labrini, Alberto Lagna, Shadi Lahham, Jörg Liebsch, Cristina Lobnik, Maya Lotan, Ofer Luft, Davide Marazita, Claude Martin, Camilla Masala, Myriel Milicevic, Kim Mingo, Emanuela Miretti, Massimo Morelli, Peter Morville, Muzayun Mukhtar, Giorgio Olivero, Pablo Onnias, Hector Ouilhet, Christian Pallino, Giorgio Partesana, Magda Passarella, Romina Pastorelli, Danilo Penna, Andrea Piccolo, Rachelly Plaut, Laura Polazzi, Laura Puppo, Alain Regnier, Enza Reina, Anna Rink, Michal Rinott, Silvana Rosso, Emanuela Sabena, Vera de Sa-Varanda, Craig Schinnerer, Fabio Sergio, Manuela Serra, Sofia Shores, Massimo Sirelli, Natasha Sopieva, Yaniv Steiner, Riccardo Strobbia, Victor Szilagyi, David Tait, Beverly Tang, Akemi Tazaki, Luca Troisi, Raymond Turner, Haraldur Unnarsson, Ilaria Urbinati, Carlo Valbonesi, Marcello Varaldi, Giorgio Venturi, Anna Vilchis, Dvorit Weinheber, Alexander Wiethoff, Junu Joseph Yang, and Mario Zannone.

Our partners
Amberlight, Design for Lucy, Fecit, Finsa, Flow Interactive, Foviance, Italia 150, Launch Institute, Prospect, Savigny Research, Syzygy, Torino World Design Capital, UPA, URN, Usability Partners International, Usercentric, UserFocus, User Interface Design, and UXnet.

Our friends (insofar not covered by the above)
Nik Baerten, Valerie Bauwens, Toon Berckmoes, Ralf Beuker, Marco Bevolo, Daniella Botta, Stefana Broadbent, Francesco Cara, Jan Chipchase, Allan Chochinov, Elizabeth Churchill, Gillian Crampton-Smith, Regine Debatty, Federico De Giuli, Jesse James Garrett, Adam Greenfield, Hubert Guillaud, Wilfried Grommen, Laurent Haug, Bob Jacobson, Marguerite Kahrl, Anna Kirah, Simona Lodi, Peter Merholz, Bill Moggridge, Donald Norman, Nicolas Nova, Bruce Nussbaum, Laura Orestano, Vittorio Pasteris, Gianluigi Perotto, Carlo Ratti, Hans Robertus, Bruce Sterling, John Thackara, Joannes Vandermeulen, Lowie Vermeersch, Judy Wert, and Younghee Yung.

Thanks to you all!

Pierpaolo Perotto, Mark Vanderbeeken, Michele Visciola and Jan-Christoph Zoels
The Experientia partners

PS. We are constantly looking for great talent! We currently have openings for interaction designers, communication designer, information architect, IT staff, usability consultants, etc.

20 July 2008

2008 Tribalization of Business Study

Tobs2008
Online communities are proliferating as companies look to harness the collective wisdom and ideas of their employees, customers, and other constituents in order to innovate faster, reduce costs, and create the relationships that will grow their businesses and bolster their bottom lines.

Beeline Labs, Deloitte and the Society of New Communications Research have produced “2008 Tribalization of Business Study“, the first study of its kind to learn from the early experiences of more than 140 organizations on how they’re managing communities, measuring success, and deriving business benefits. The survey and interviews examined online community initiatives at a mix of business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies, as well as non-profits, with communities ranging from fewer than 100 members to more than 10,000 members.

The Wall Street Journal published recently a reaction on the report, entitled “Why most online communities fail”:

“Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members; less than 25% have more than 1,000 members – despite the fact that close to 60% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects.”

(via FreshNetworks and FutureLab)

20 July 2008

The impact of the internet on customer behaviour

internet influence
Matt Rhodes, head of client services at FreshNetworks, writes about a study that studies, tracks and measures the impact of the internet on consumer behaviour across three European countries (UK, France and Germany), and suggests that the internet is twice as influential as television and eight times as influential as print media.

Read full story

(via FutureLab)

20 July 2008

Inside Nairobi, the Next Palo Alto?

Nairobi
The New York Times reports on software development for mobile devices in emerging markets, through a nice feature on what is currently happening in that area in Kenya:

“While engineers in the United States lavish attention on expensive phones that boast laptoplike features, in Kenya there are 10 million low-end phones. Millions more are used elsewhere in Africa. Enhancements to such basic phones can be experimented with cheaply in Nairobi, and because designers are weaned on narrow bandwidth, they are comfortable writing compact programs suited to puny devices.”

“The prospect of marrying low-end mobile phones with the Internet is earning Nairobi notice from outsiders, who wonder whether the city might emerge as a test-bed for tomorrow’s technologies. One intriguing possibility is broadcasting local television programs on mobile phones.”

Read full story

18 July 2008

Anthropology’s technology-driven renaissance

Newsbox
As our lives become exposed to more and more technology, and companies become more and more interested in how technology affects us and how we interface with it, anthropologists have found themselves in increasing demand. Ken Banks of Kiwanja.net provides some context:

“The explosive growth of mobile-phone ownership in the developing world is largely down to a vibrant recycling market and the arrival of cheap US$20 phones, but is also down, in part, to the efforts of forward-thinking mobile-phone manufacturers. Anthropologists working for companies such as Nokia spend increasing amounts of time trying to understand what people living at the so-called “bottom of the pyramid” might want from a phone.”

Read full story

(via textually.org)

18 July 2008

StoryBank – using mobiles to share stories in an Indian village

StoryBank
For the last two years, David Frohlich and Matt Jones have worked together on StoryBank (movie), a project enabling textual and computer illiterate people to build a repository of audio-visual content via camera phones.

Vodafone Receiver magazine has published their report from Budikote, a village in rural India, as part of its ongoing series on emerging markets.

“The StoryBank project, based in a rural Indian region, has been looking at ways of using [mobile phones] to enable technology-poor villagers to participate in and benefit from content creation and sharing activities. Skipping the text-based internet paradigm altogether, the project is exploring how camera phones and a library of digital stories (the story-bank) can be used to extend existing initiatives in community radio.”

David Frohlich is the Director of the Digital World Research Centre and Professor of Interaction Design at the University of Surrey, where he works on future photography, literacy and communication technologies. Before joining Digital World, Frohlich, who has a PhD in psychology, spent 14 years as Senior Research Scientist at Hewlett Packard Labs, a time devoted to tangible interfaces, new media design, and the digital divide.

Matt Jones returned from New Zealand to Wales to help set up the Future Interaction Technology Lab at Swansea University. As a Reader in the FIT Lab he explores the human-computer interaction aspects of mobile and ubiquitous computing as well as socially-inclusive and impacting design. He recently co-authored Mobile Interaction Design (Wiley 2006).

Read full story

18 July 2008

Switching on: Connecting the world

Switching On
In May this year, the Guardian weekly published a 5-page special report for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on how new technologies are improving the lives of people around the world, with a particular emphasis on developing nations.

Articles focus on the concept of leapfrogging and remote education, with in-depth stories on Africa and India.

17 July 2008

The slow suit experience

byBiella
A few days ago I was part of a panel at the Biella Chamber of Commerce.

Biella is a small city in the North of Italy, that became wealthy because of its textile industry, and is now coming to terms with a new global landscape that is not so favourable any more. Some companies have managed to do rather well – Ermenegildo Zegna is an example – while many others are struggling.

The town is now trying to put itself on the map – globally – as a place of exquisite textiles. Their marketing campaign is all about the “art of excellence“.

So in our panel discussion I quizzed the audience on what the concept of “slow” might mean for textiles. What could slow fashion be? How could the concept of slow thinking be applied to the textile industry, a very crucial branch of Italy’s design industry? And how can we make it into a lever for sustainability (with fashion often being exactly the opposite)?

One of the audience members, Paola Fini, wrote me about a new company she started – partly inspired by the internationally known Biella-based artist Michelangelo Pistoletto and his Cittadellarte – trying to address these questions.

byBiella is all about traditional suit making, with a special slow experience. The entire process of selecting the fabric, choosing the style and taking the measurements is done at the client’s home. The bespoke suit – Made in Italy of course with great attention to fabric quality and detailing – is then produced in four weeks.

Moreover, much like Slow Food, byBiella emphasises the culture of dressing and elegance, as a balance between the inside and the outside, with the individual at the heart of the company’s activities.

A great initiative it seems, that I can only applaud, although I would like to hear more about sustainability and see a stronger storytelling component (especially on the website which didn’t make me feel part of a vision that I would want to share, endorse and promote to others).

Now what does “slow” imply for the not so high end in the clothing industry? byBiella is an entirely valid concept, yet also a company that offers “slow” products that are probably out of reach for most people. What might slow fashion mean for more modest budgets? How to bring the excellence, the sense of quality, and the natural purity so pervasive in Biella, into textile products that are also within reach of a wider population, let’s say for children, teenagers or young adults – much like Slow Food has done with excellent quality local food products?

I don’t have the answer, but the question needs to be addressed urgently. We need many more Paola Fini’s in Biella.

17 July 2008

design mind 8

design mind
Two articles in design mind, the online and print magazine of frog design, are worth pointing out on this blog:

555 Million Subscribers & Counting
As the competition grows in China’s mobile market, it is cultural dynamics that will determine who comes out on top.

“Success requires a keen understanding of the country’s changing cultural dynamics, where increased affluence, a breakdown of traditional family relationships, and an aging population have created a unique set of user needs.”

Calculated Design
In defense of quantitative analysis: a new call for integrated design research

“Ethnography breaks down at the moment we ask not just for depth of knowledge, but breadth. Anyone who’s struggled to conduct a massive ethnographic study across multiple time zones can tell you this firsthand. While ethnography facilitates the generation of ideas in relation to specific users and use scenarios, it leaves us clueless as to which among these will satisfy a wider audience. Ultimately, we need complementary methods that scale more effectively and validate our work in a way clients can understand. What we need is quantitative research.”

17 July 2008

Ageing in England

Ageing
If you are interested in the elderly, two interesting UK studies were published this week.

The first report, “Living in the 21st century: older people in England” (press releasestudy download) presents a major longitudinal study (316 pages) about the reality of ageing in England. It covers employment, material well-being and poverty, health, quality of life and independent living.

(via FutureLab)

The second study, entitled “Don’t stop me now – Preparing for an ageing population“, (press releasestudy download) illustrates how unprepared the UK Councils are for this ageing population.

“The report asked older ‘mystery shoppers’ to identify the everyday challenges they face in accessing council services. They approached 49 councils asking a series of questions and found that most councils need to improve the way they provide information in key areas such as volunteering, leisure and social activities, learning opportunities and transport.”

17 July 2008

Philips launches its first patient monitoring system ‘designed for emerging markets’ in India

Philips SureSigns VM3
Press release:

Hyderabad, India – Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) today announced a series of new portable, compact patient monitors that provides a reliable, yet affordable means to observe and care for patients. Now available to healthcare providers in India, the new Philips SureSigns VM3 is the first Philips patient monitor designed for emerging markets.

With a growing per capita income and adoption of new lifestyles, healthcare services in India are rapidly changing. In order to meet the increasing demand for quality care, people in urban areas have seen the construction of new, state-of-the-art hospitals and associated satellite facilities, while others are increasingly seeking care at smaller nursing homes and clinics. […]

High-end patient monitors are out of reach for many small to mid-sized clinics, forcing doctors and nurses to apply treatment only based on visible symptoms. On occasion, this means they must wait for a patient’s condition to deteriorate before changing treatment. With access to more affordable patient monitoring equipment, clinicians have the ability to observe a patient’s vital signs and make more informed, timely decisions about patient care.

Built on a strong heritage and industry leadership in patient monitoring, the Philips SureSigns VM3 offers ECG, respiration and pulse oximetry in one user friendly, compact monitor that helps provide quality care in almost any clinical setting. It offers vital signs measurement and monitoring in an easy-to-use system that can be used in various departments throughout the hospital, nursing homes, private practices and rural clinics, as well as ambulances and mobile facilities.

Read full press release

17 July 2008

Reflecting on ‘Subject to Change’

Subject to Change
Nadyne Mielke, user experience researcher in the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft wasn’t so impressed apparently with Adaptive Path’s recent book Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World: Adaptive Path on Design.

“I was disappointed when I got my pre-order of this book. At a scant 160 pages, I was skeptical that it could offer very much insight.

On reading it, I was proven correct. Much of the book was nothing more than an extended advertisement for Adaptive Path. Case studies were too short to learn much from. The only case study really discussed in depth was of Target’s new prescription bottles, which have been discussed more in depth and more usefully in too many other books.

The book’s eight chapters are full of short sections; many of them read as though they are blog entries. They’re strung together with little regard for content or context. The seventh chapter, a flawed discussion of agile development, is completely worthless. The book could have been so much better if the authors had taken the time and effort to better consider their arguments and write a more cohesive work.

If you can look past the book’s many shortcomings, there are some interesting nuggets in there. Sadly, the useful bits comprise less than 10% of the book.”

I personally consider the book more as an introductory guidance book for people not yet fully familiar with the field, rather than a professional manual for UX professionals, which might explain her reaction.

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