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Putting People First

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December 2012
12 December 2012

Time for a digital hat rack

digitalhatrack

Though hats have long gone out of fashion, the custom should be a guide for how we adapt to the increasing pervasiveness of personal technology. It’s high time, writes Nir Eyal, that we started doing with our digital devices what well-mannered men did with their fedoras. We need a digital hat rack.

“It seems that whenever people meet in person these days, they do so while separating their attention between the people in the room and the devices in their hands. Somehow, it has become socially acceptable to digitally masturbate in each other’s company. You might say, “but I’m taking notes or responding to an important request!” No you’re not, you are digitally dicking around.” [...]

“Clearly, technology is evolving much faster than our ability to adopt new cultural norms. Devices have infiltrated every facet of our lives and have not given us time to adapt. It’s time to become aware of the cost of our new digital habits and gain control over them, or we will soon discover they have control over us.”

12 December 2012

The “strange” profession of the cyborg anthropologist

 

CNN features a long article about the unusual new profession of the cyborg anthropologist – featuring a robot hand photo for good measure.

But reading the article we find out that “cyborg anthropology is the study of the interaction between humans and technology, and how technology affects culture” and that “cyborg anthropologists step back from the modern world and look at the everyday life and how the people around us are influenced by technology in everyday life.”

Huh? Isn’t that what has been known for years as user research, user-centered design and experience design?

Oh yes, we now also know that “a cyborg is simply someone who interacts with technology.”

12 December 2012

A short film that explores trends in UI, Interaction & Experience Design

 

The 18 minute “Connecting” documentary, created by Bassett & Partners for Windows Phone Design Studio, is an exploration of the future of Interaction Design and User Experience from some of the industry’s thought leaders.

As the role of software is catapulting forward, Interaction Design is seen to be not only increasing in importance dramatically, but also expected to play a leading role in shaping the coming “Internet of things.” Ultimately, when the digital and physical worlds become one, humans along with technology are potentially on the path to becoming a “super organism” capable of influencing and enabling a broad spectrum of new behaviors in the world.

Featuring:
Jennifer Bove Kicker Studio
Andrei Herasimchuk Twitter
Robert Murdock Method
Jonas Löwgren Malmö University
Eric Rodenbeck Stamen
Robert Fabricant frog design
Raphael Grignani Method
Liz Danzico School of Visual Arts
Helen Walters Doblin
Younghee Jung Nokia
Blaise Aguera y Arcas Microsoft
Massimo Banzi Arduino

12 December 2012

A new Behavioural Design Lab in the UK

 

The Warwick Business School and the UK Design Council have launched the world’s first Behavioural Design Lab. The lab aims to bring together the power of design with cutting edge scientific research that Warwick Business School’s burgeoning Behavioural Science group is discovering.

Behavioural Design Lab will address issues ranging from binge drinking to the impact of the internet on teenagers to energy consumption, as well as boosting the UK’s flagging economy.

“We’re here to help organisations transform a better understanding of people into innovative solutions that improve society.

Too many organisations rely on information provision alone, falsely assuming that raising awareness of key facts will change behaviour.

We believe the best way to solve social issues is to not only research how and why people make decisions, but use the design of products, services and places to help us all make better decisions.

Behavioural design boldy provides the best of both worlds to inspire radical ideas, create social and economic value, and further knowledge of human choices and wellbeing.

The lines between the public, private and voluntary sectors are blurring and social enterprise is now entwined with commercial, political and charitable goals.

We can help organisations experiment to understand the role of behaviour in the challenges they face and adopt new approaches through design-led innovation. Change can only happen collaboratively. For those issues common to multiple partners, we aim to bring pioneers together to share the time, cost and risk of innovation.”

12 December 2012

Visualising data: seeing is believing

 

Richard Ingram has posted the transcript of his talk on data visualisation at CS Forum 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa.

12 December 2012

Service design for innovative banking

 

Chris Brooker recently ran the Service Design for Innovative Banking workshop at the World Usability Day conference in Silesia, Poland, during which he explored how service design techniques can produce unique service ideas for the rapidly evolving banking sector.

Brooker has now summarized the content of the workshop and some innovative new financial services.

5 December 2012

Design patterns for mobile user interfaces targeted at older adults

 

The use of smartphones is becoming widespread among all sectors of the population.

However, developers and designers do not have access to guidance in designing for specific audiences such as older adults.

This study by Roxanne Leitão of Fraunhofer Portugal investigated optimal target sizes, and spacing sizes between targets, for smartphones user interfaces intended for older adults.

Two independent variables were studied — target sizes and spacing between targets — for two common smartphone gestures — tap and swipe. Dependent variables were accuracy rates, task completion times, and participants’ subjective preferences. 40 older adults recruited from several daycare centers participated in both tasks and a post-­‐session questionnaire.

The recommendations drawn from the authors’ research support two interaction design patterns relative to touch target sizes for older adults, and are presented in a scientific paper and on quite an attractive and hands-on website (although some visuals would have been nice).

5 December 2012

No one likes a city that’s too smart

Songdo smart city

This week London hosts a jamboree of computer geeks, politicians, and urban planners from around the world. At the Urban Age conference, they will discuss the latest whizz idea in high tech, the “smart city”.

“But,” writes Richard Sennett in The Guardian, “the danger now is that this information-rich city may do nothing to help people think for themselves or communicate well with one another.”

“A great deal of research during the last decade, in cities as different as Mumbai and Chicago, suggests that once basic services are in place people don’t value efficiency above all; they want quality of life. A hand-held GPS device won’t, for instance, provide a sense of community. More, the prospect of an orderly city has not been a lure for voluntary migration, neither to European cities in the past nor today to the sprawling cities of South America and Asia. If they have a choice, people want a more open, indeterminate city in which to make their way; this is how they can come to take ownership over their lives.”

5 December 2012

Using ethnography to study asthma

theasthmafiles

Ethnography can be used to inform important health and policy decisions. But there are few public case studies that illustrate the value of ethnography for this specific context. When Erik Bigras of EthnographyMatters learned about The Asthma Files, a project where ethnographers were not only gathering data to better understand asthma but also openly sharing the data, we became very excited to feature their work.

The Asthma Files was first envisioned in 2006 by Kim and Mike Fortun, who wanted to address the contested space of asthma research. One of Kim’s graduate students, Erik Bigras, became involved in the project in 2009. Although Erik’s original dissertation topic was on game design, his research evolved to include the Asthma Files as one of his fieldsites.

In the first post of their three-part series, Erik and Kim tell us about how they conceptualized The Asthma Files, why asthma deserves research attention from ethnographers, and how research data is shared on an open content management system.

Erik and Kim’s second post details the exciting process of choosing the best data sharing platform for their project, Plone. We learn about how the Tehran Asthma Files was born out of a close collaboration with the Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at the University of California, Irvine.

The final post in this series will discuss how other researchers from social scientists to epidemiologists and global health experts can participate in the research project and make use of the data.

5 December 2012

What does it mean to be a digital native?

digital-native-touchscreen-story-top

The war between natives and immigrants is ending. The natives have won, argues Oliver Joy on the CNN website.

It was a bloodless conflict fought not with bullets and spears, but with iPhones and floppy disks. Now the battle between the haves and have-nots can begin.

The post-millennial “digital native,” a term coined by U.S. author Marc Prensky in 2001 is emerging as the globe’s dominant demographic, while the “digital immigrant,” becomes a relic of a previous time.

[But] as technology filters into every corner of the globe and tech cities spring up in some unlikely places from Bangalore to Tel Aviv, a new gulf is emerging to separate the digitally savvy from the disconnected: Poverty.

3 December 2012

In safe hands

clarebrass

Clare Brass is the team leader of Sustain at the Royal College of Art in London, where she presides over a radical initiative to make sustainability a core issue for all students, whether they are studying architecture, textiles, visual communications or industrial design.

Rather than training designers to make yet more beautiful objects, Brass’s ambition is to show them how to tackle some of the largest problems we face on the planet: waste, depleted natural resources and overconsumption.

The Financial Times profiles her and her initiative.

3 December 2012

Morality, the next frontier in human-computer interaction

Gov. Brown Signs Legislation At Google HQ That Allows Testing Of Autonomous Vehicles

John Pavlus reflects in the MIT Technology Review on a short essay by Gary Marcus in the New Yorker about the ethical quandaries raised by Google’s driverless car.

“The real problems that artificially intelligent cars will bring with them,” he says, “aren’t the grand techno-ethical abstractions mulled over by the Singularity Institute, but practical issues of product and interface design, constrained by the usual vicissitudes of politics and economics. For better or worse, it’s the designers, lawyers, and consumers—not the philosophers or academics—who will be the ultimate arbiters of what passes muster as a “moral machine.’”

3 December 2012

How Ford makes its cars smarter

mascarenas

In the fast-evolving world of connected cars, CTO Paul Mascarenas is bringing Detroit and Silicon Valley together to chart Ford’s path into the future.

Brian Cooley of CNet interviews him during a walk through Ford’s advanced research facilities.

3 December 2012

Intel’s UX research on touch interface usage and Ultrabooks

darialoi

One of the more innovative studies to come along at Intel in regards to user experience and the Ultrabook is Daria Loi’s global survey of touch interface usage.

Dario Loi, who is UX Innovation Manager at Intel’s PC Client Solution’s Division, presents in this video, entitled “How Multi-Region User Experience Influences Touch on Ultrabook (video),” an overview of a recent multi-region User Experience study and discusses how it is influencing Intel’s Ultrabook strategy, particularly in view of Windows 8.

The study, a qualitative UX investigation focused on the use of touch in clamshell devices, was conducted in Q3 and Q4 2011 in US, Italy, PRC and Brazil. The talk focuses on the research’s motivations, insights, recommendations, strategic impact and influence, providing a number of key examples which are narrated through users’ voices.

To read more about this research, see the article The Human Touch – Building Ultrabook Applications in a Post-PC Age.

The topic of touch features in Ultrabook apps is further explored in an ongoing Intel series by Luke Wroblewski. He provides a thoughtful look at how various touch factors work when integrated into working apps. The videos are by Luke Wroblewski, the accompanying articles by Wendy Boswell:
1. Touch interfaces: Video | Article
2. Touch target: Video | Article
3. Touch gestures: Video | Article
4. Location detection (article by Wendy Boswell)

Intel has also posted three overview articles on the topic:

Keyboard and Touch: Like Peanut Butter and Jelly
by Wendy Boswell
Is there really validity for a so-called “pure” touch experience? Is getting rid of the keyboard something that should even be seriously considered? Are we moving towards a completely touch-only computing age? In this article, we’re going to take a look at the touch experience without the keyboard, evaluating this perspective both from the developer and the consumer side. We’re going to pretend that the upcoming touch-based Ultrabook isn’t coming with a nifty keyboard, and in fact, only offers touch as an input method. Let’s take a look at what all of this might look like.

Innovating for User Experience on Intel Ultrabook
by Rajagopal A
Get the secrets of innovating for your users. This article (video) gives you the approach, the design concept to innovate User Experience on your app. We share with you how we created an cool Ux on the Intel Ultrabook. To find out a novel way to interact with your PC, see the videos in this article.

User Experience and Ultrabook™ App Development
by Wendy Boswell
In this article, we’re going to take a look at what user experience is all about, especially in regards to Ultrabook devices and Ultrabook app development. We’re also going to figure out how usability fits in with user experience, and how UX can impact app development (for better or for worse).