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Putting People First

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January 2013
29 January 2013

Q&A with the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation’s Gerry Greaney and Molly McMahon

 

Since its inception in 2008, the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation has become the poster child for internal innovation practices. The Center for Innovation focuses on engaging all of the stakeholders in the healthcare system, from doctors to patients to staff, and introducing the design process as a means of taking healthcare to the next level.

Core77 published a short interview with the Center for Innovation’s Gerry Greaney and Molly McMahon about how design is reshaping healthcare.

29 January 2013

Uncharted territory: Where digital maps are leading us

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The way we use maps is evolving fast, and it will change a great deal more than how we navigate, argues Kat Austen, an opinion editor at New Scientist.

“Digital maps offer to enhance and optimise the world, giving us an even richer experience as we navigate through it. But equally, there is the risk that they could make us duller, less questioning and more unadventurous – providing a curated, virtually mediated experience that will make us more reliant on proprietary tools than ever before.”

29 January 2013

Successful public service design must focus on human behaviour

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David Halpern, director of the Behavioural Insight Team at the UK Cabinet Office (widely known as the “nudge unit”), discusses research on how subtle changes in the way public services communicate with citizens can yield significant results.

“The power of social influence and networks – our social capital – runs very deep. Who we know, and how we feel about them, affects our employment, our health, our educational attainment, the efficacy of our government and even rates of national economic growth; it has been proven that counties and regions with higher levels of “social trust” growth faster.

We need to apply these insights into every aspect of our public services.”

29 January 2013

New MA at UC London combining anthropology, materials and design

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“The material world is a world of social potential. Social scientists should be better equipped to engage with materials and objects through ethnographic, critical, analytical, presentational and collaborative skills. Designers, artists, engineers, architects and curators should be better equipped to work with people using similar skills.

The MA in Culture, Materials and Design is for people who are interested in developing their people-skills, and ways of thinking about culture and society, to work alongside, and with, designers, engineers, heritage professionals, environmentalists, materials scientists, and others with a pragmatic interest in materials and design.

The course is about anthropological analytical skills and ethnographic methods, with some presentational and studio group-work skills. We mainly apply these skills to exploring the cultural and social implications of materials and design. We do social science in ways which have an affinity with design and related fields.”

20 January 2013

Book: Ethnography and the City – Readings on Doing Urban Fieldwork

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Ethnography and the City: Readings on Doing Urban Fieldwork
Richard E. Ocejo (Editor)
Routledge, 2012, 272 pages
(Amazon link)

The only collection of its kind on the market, this reader gathers the work of some of the most esteemed urban ethnographers in sociology and anthropology. Broken down into sections that cover key aspects of ethnographic research, Ethnography and the City will expose readers to important works in the field, while also guiding students to the study of method as they embark on their own work.

> French book review by Daniel Cefaï

20 January 2013

The irrational consumer: why economics is dead wrong about how we make choices

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The New Science of Pleasure,” a new paper by Daniel L. McFadden, reviews how psychology, biology, and neurology are ganging up on economics to prove that, when it comes to making decisions, people are anything but rational.

Abstract
The neoclassical view of consumers as relentless egoistic maximizers is challenged by evidence from cognitive psychology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, and neurology. This paper begins by surveying the development of neoclassical consumer theory and the measurement of welfare, and expansions to encompass preference fields, nonlinear budgets, hedonic goods and household production, and consumption dynamics. Following this, it reviews the newer evidence on consumer behavior, and what this implies for the measurement of consumer beliefs, intentions, preferences, choices, and well-being.

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson interviewed the author.

“Neither the physiology of pleasure nor the methods we use to make choices are as simple or as single-minded as the classical economists thought. A lot of behavior is consistent with pursuit of self-interest, but in novel or ambiguous decision-making environments there is a good chance that our habits will fail us and inconsistencies in the way we process information will undo us.”

17 January 2013

World’s “tech elite” named to interaction design board

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From the press release:

Today the Interaction Design Foundation, the IDF, has announced its new executive board. The executive board includes Donald Norman; Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research; Ken Friedman, professor and formerly dean of the Faculty of Design at Swinburne University, Australia; Michael Arent, vice president of user experience at SAP Business Objects; Olof Schybergson, founder and CEO of Fjord, a digital service design consultancy; Jonas Lowgren, a professor of interaction design at Sweden’s Malmo University; and Dan Rosenberg, a user experience executive, consultant and professor. All executive board members are serving gratis.

The foundation’s keystone project is Interaction-Design.org, a website that publishes free and open educational materials for students, industry leaders and individual tech designers. The present centerpiece of the IDF is the ever-expanding Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction written by 100+ leading designers, Ivy League professors, CEOs, futurists and bestselling authors from across the high-tech universe. Currently the encyclopedia numbers 35 short textbooks or chapters which students, professors and professionals can assemble in any way they want in order to make their own individualized compendium.

A range of new chapters are in the making.

17 January 2013

Living the Quantified Self life

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Festooned with digital accessories that track everything from his heart rate to his footsteps to his sleep patterns, Vanity Fair writer James Wolcott has plugged into the Quantified Self movement. Farewell to gut instinct, and hello to the “data-driven” life: a new path to personal and social enlightenment.

“Self-tracking—treating your body and brain waves as an info dispenser—exemplifies the irresistible converging of microchips, medical advances, social media, geek fashion, affinity branding, and the hardy American tradition of personal improvement. Benjamin Franklin, with his meticulously kept chart book notating his prog­ress in achieving the 13 virtues—frugality, industry, etc.—was a founding father of self-help programming, exhibiting a recordkeeping punctilio converting daily fluctuations into accounting reports with pen and paper. No need for dusty ledgers today—smart-phone apps can take dictation for us. The goal isn’t a steady uptick of Christian virtue and wise prudence, but a greater transparency of our personal biomechanics in the quest for vitality, mental clarity, sleep quality, pain management, smoother operation, enhanced productivity, Zen tranquillity.”

17 January 2013

Interview with Catalina Naranjo-Bock, UX design researcher

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This week Danielle Arad interviewed Catalina Naranjo-Bock, UX design researcher, on key UX issues that are trending today in technology.

Catalina is a hybrid user experience designer and researcher who has collaborated with creative departments in companies across the US, Europe, Canada and South America in the area of human-centered product development. She has also served as adjunct faculty, speaker, and author in different design and research related contexts. Her professional engagements include projects with Intel, LEGO, Nickelodeon, MTV, and Yahoo!.

“I think user experience will continue to become more strategically important instead of just service-oriented. What I’m seeing right now is user experience company-wide goals and metrics that are driven by the highest management level. This is starting to happen more in the technology world, but might spread to other types of products. UX roles might become a lot more specialized; however, what companies will look for is people that have cross-functional skills and can work in a variety of settings. You will start seeing compartments in the field as companies try to find out the best user experience strategy. You will also see the new grads with lots of different skills in their education and a background in design combined with other types of fields that previously might not be associated.”

(via InfoDesign)

16 January 2013

Telling “Stories”: Experientia designs domestic energy consumption monitors (videos)

 

Videos showcasing two sustainability-related projects are now on Experientia’s YouTube channel. The videos, showing the Ecofamilies and Stories projects respectively, both focus on monitoring domestic energy consumption in different areas of Europe.

The Ecofamilies video (in French with our English subtitles) is a feature on the project by France’s TV France3. For Ecofamilies, Experientia partnered with the Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment (CSTB) of Nice, France, and a series of other agencies, for a French sustainability project, aimed at the development of a web platform for a pilot house to monitor domestic energy consumption.

Experientia’s contribution included a benchmark of existing solutions, and guidelines and supervision for the other project partners for conducting user research. We then translated the insights from the user research phase into an initial interface and prototype concept.

From March-June 2012, Experientia conducted participatory co-design workshops with 30 volunteer families. The workshops aimed to discover the real behaviours, attitudes and needs of families when it comes to energy consumption.

The project produced an innovative technological solution that allows families to have a concrete understanding of their energy consumption, and of the choices that are available to reduce it, with personalised tips, and detailed, useful information on household energy use.

The platform has now been implemented in a pilot house in Sophia Antipolis within the CSTB research centre. The outcomes from this pilot project will feed into future developments.

The Stories project is a service concept for monitoring domestic energy consumption, which is accessible while on-the-go.

Together with Telecom Italia, the Turin Polytechnic University, and the ISMB and CSP research centres, Experientia conducted a feasibility study on energy monitoring mobile services. Based on in-depth user research carried out in Turin, we developed a prototype for a mobile application to engage people in monitoring and comparing their energy consumption.

The project demonstrates the feasibility of advanced smart metering services in the Italian context, both from a technological point of view, and from the perspective of the actual user interest.

The project was funded by the Piedmont Region (POR FESR 2007/2013), the European Fund for Regional Development and the Republic of Italy.

(The Stories video is also available on Vimeo.)

16 January 2013

Rob van Kranenberg’s comprehensive global Internet of Things action plan

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Rob Van Kranenburg, a member of the EU Expert Group on the Internet of Things, has published a provocative comprehensive global Internet of Things action plan, as input for the inaugural meeting of the Internet of Things World Forum Steering Committee, February 20-21, 2013 in San Jose, California, USA.

Bruce Sterling posted it on his blog.

“Owning the hybrid objects of IoT makes no sense (liability, accountability). Leasing is the logical business model. As items and platforms can no longer be secured, the logical business model of IoT is the smart city. You buy life. Pick your car, you lease mobility. Your fridge will be always full, you lease storage of food. You can secure a city. So there you have the logical trajectory of IoT: traditional policing and military securing traditional proprietary business models. The former have become militia’s as the states are gone. The latter will pay for the development of bio and nano as sophistication and preservation of their initial investments. This is happening as we speak. Gated communities are the fastest rising form of building in the US and in China. The smart cities models for 50.000 persons are no labs, and not intended to become inclusive. In 2020 there will be 1500 smart cities and Mad Max in between. You would not want to live in either.

Is there an alternative? There is.”

16 January 2013

Helsinki Design Lab closing in June 2013

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Marco Steinberg, who directs the strategic design efforts of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, announced last week that Sitra’s Helsinki Design Lab will close in June 2013.

Helsinki Design Lab is an initiative by Sitra to advance strategic design as a way to re-examine, re-think, and re-design the systems we’ve inherited from the past.

According to Steinberg, “design at Sitra is shifting from a strategic to a service role. The current members of the design team (Bryan Boyer, Justin Cook, and myself*) are committed to strategic design and will therefore pursue this interest beyond Sitra. In the spring Sitra will hire for a new role to grow service design within the organization.”

[* The fourth member of the team, Dan Hill, left earlier, and is now the CEO of Fabrica in Treviso, Italy.]

During the next five months Brian, Justin and Marco will be converting the site into an archive of the most recent phase of HDL. The archive will be legible, free, and open, they write, so that the “work and experience of Helsinki Design Lab be useful not just for the next phase of design at Sitra, but for the community as well.”

The team is now compiling the case study research from Helsinki Design Lab 2012 into a forthcoming publication on stewardship, with a tentative publication date of May 2013. This completes the existing publication “Recipes for Systemic Change,” which you can download for free.

We can also expect a public event in Helsinki on June 10th, 2013.

Over the last years, Experientia has worked intensively – and to our great satisfaction – with Sitra and with the team of the Helsinki Design Lab in particular, through our involvement on the Low2No project. We wish Sitra and the HDL team the very best in the coming months and afterwards, and we are sure that we will find many ways to collaborate in the future.

(For more reflection on the closing, check also this post by Bryan Boyer).

15 January 2013

A sustainable building promotes pro-environmental behavior

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A Sustainable Building Promotes Pro-Environmental Behavior: An Observational Study on Food Disposal
by Wu DW, DiGiacomo A, Kingstone A
PLoS ONE 8(1): e53856. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053856 – January 2013

In order to develop a more sustainable society, the wider public will need to increase engagement in pro-environmental behaviors. Psychological research on pro-environmental behaviors has thus far focused on identifying individual factors that promote such behavior, designing interventions based on these factors, and evaluating these interventions. Contextual factors that may also influence behavior at an aggregate level have been largely ignored.

In the current study, we test a novel hypothesis – whether simply being in a sustainable building can elicit environmentally sustainable behavior. We find support for our hypothesis: people are significantly more likely to correctly choose the proper disposal bin (garbage, compost, recycling) in a building designed with sustainability in mind compared to a building that was not.

Questionnaires reveal that these results are not due to self-selection biases. Our study provides empirical support that one’s surroundings can have a profound and positive impact on behavior. It also suggests the opportunity for a new line of research that bridges psychology, design, and policy-making in an attempt to understand how the human environment can be designed and used as a subtle yet powerful tool to encourage and achieve aggregate pro-environmental behavior.

15 January 2013

Experientia® Prisma kitchen in Interni Annual Cucina 2012

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The Interni Annual Cucina 2012 is out, and this year’s monograph features Experientia’s Prisma design for Toncelli Kitchens. The Prisma was the 2012 flagship kitchen in Toncelli’s presentation at Eurocucina 2012 – the International Kitchen Furniture Trade Show, held in Milan.

Experientia® designed Prisma, Toncelli’s first entry-level kitchen, to revitalise the company image and communicate a new focus on Asian design and markets, and the incorporation of modern (and futuristic) technology into traditional kitchen environments. Its eye-catching combination of minimalist design and latest technologies is one of the reasons it is featured in the Interni Cucina Annual 2012.

Here’s a little of what Interni had to say about Prisma:

“The innovative Prisma kitchen, the result of the Toncelli Experientia collaboration, stands out for its essential, dynamic and high-impact design, combined with exclusive technologies. The worktop in glass of the island is equipped with an interactive touchscreen connected to the internet, and the rotating food stand can be outfitted with a tablet. The prismatic effect of the surfaces of the cabinets conveys a sense of movement, enhanced by the lighting fixtures that illuminate the furnishings from below.”

Interni is an Italian magazine (with an accompanying English translation) that selects and documents the most significant new developments, trends, and projects in Italian and international design. The Interni Annual monographs are published three times a year, with editions dedicated to the kitchen, bathroom and contract sectors, and showcase the best and most interesting designs in the sector.

For more about the Prisma kitchen, see our project description or the Experientia-designed Toncelli Eurocucina 2012 minisite.

The Interni Annual Cucina 2012 is on sale now at selected news vendors.

13 January 2013

How a simple smartphone can turn your car, home, or medical device into a deadly weapon

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The day is not far off when the manipulation of medical devices will be done routinely by punching keys on a smartphone, writes Charles C. Mann in Vanity Fair, putting an individual’s internal organs in the hands of every hacker, online scammer, and digital vandal on Earth.

“[Increasingly,] a smartphone links patients’ bodies and doctors’ computers, which in turn are connected to the Internet, which in turn is connected to any smartphone anywhere. The new devices could put the management of an individual’s internal organs, in the hands of every hacker, online scammer, and digital vandal on Earth.” [...]

“Medical devices represent only one early and obvious target of opportunity. Major power and telephone grids have long been controlled by computer networks, but now similar systems are embedded in such mundane objects as electric meters, alarm clocks, home refrigerators and thermostats, video cameras, bathroom scales, and Christmas-tree lights—all of which are, or soon will be, accessible remotely. Every automobile on the market today has scores of built-in computers, many of which can be accessed from outside the vehicle. Not only are new homes connected to the Internet but their appliances are too.”

11 January 2013

How research misses the human behind the demographic

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Deutsch’s Douglas Van Praet discusses how focus-group feedback, and the whole notion of the consumer, are misguided and how research should focus on understanding the unconscious and improving human lives.

“How [market] research studies are done is at sharp odds with what science now knows. The elephant in the room is that the vast majority of our decisions are made unconsciously. What is a no-brainer for any cognitive scientist remains mind-boggling to marketers. The conscious mind is simply not running the show, but we’ve created an entire industry pretending that it does.

Advertisers are doubling down on this myth, investing in exhaustive investigations of self-reported preferences, attitudes, opinions, and beliefs. These deceptions become guideposts for product and campaign development. For $150 and a ham sandwich, panelists are drilled for hours in formal focus groups before two-way mirrors and cleverly concealed microphones that elicit groupthink and inauthenticity. The best become “professional respondents” glibly dominating groups on the topic du jour–from potato chip to microchip.

The problem is we’re profoundly social beings having spent 99% of our evolution relying on vital resources from tribal affiliates whose opinions mattered. Group rejection likely meant a death sentence. So it’s no surprise we still only put our best face forward while artfully maneuvering ourselves competitively in the pecking order.

The brain is designed to hide most of our intentions and promote self-confidence, an adaptive function that improves lives and prevents information overload. So we invent stories and believe our lies and confabulations. Social science experiments reveal that we are inherently self-righteous and consistently overrate our knowledge, autonomy, and abilities. We say advertising doesn’t influence us even though sales say otherwise. And we maintain these self-serving delusions when wired to a lie detector, which means we are lying to ourselves and not intentionally to the experimenters.

Douglas Van Praet is the author of Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing. He is also Executive Vice President at agency Deutsch L.A., where his responsibilities include Group Planning Director for the Volkswagen account. Van Praet’s approach to advertising and marketing draws from unconscious behaviorism and applies neurobiology, evolutionary psychology, and behavioral economics to business problems.

11 January 2013

Intel’s ‘Women and the Web’ report

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From the press release:

Intel Corporation released a groundbreaking report on “Women and the Web,” unveiling concrete data on the enormous Internet gender gap in the developing world and the social and economic benefits of securing Internet access for women. To better understand the gender gap, Intel commissioned this study and consulted with the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, UN Women and World Pulse, a global network for women. The report issues a call to action to double the number of women and girls online in developing countries from 600 million today to 1.2 billion in 3 years.

On average, across the developing world nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report. Further, the study found that one in five women in India and Egypt believes the Internet is not appropriate for them.

Seeing another 600 million women online would mean that 40 percent of women and girls in developing countries — nearly double the share today — would have access to the transformative power of the Internet. This goal, if realized, could potentially contribute an estimated US $13 billion to $18 billion to annual GDP across 144 developing countries.

The report’s findings are based on interviews and surveys of 2,200 women and girls living in urban and peri-urban areas of four focus countries: Egypt, India, Mexico and Uganda, as well as analyses of global databases. The findings were unveiled during a panel discussion today in Washington, D.C. as part of the 2-day international working forum on women, ICT and development hosted by the State Department and UN Women.

9 January 2013

Focus groups are dangerous and kill innovation

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Gianfranco Zaccai is co-founder and president of the global design and innovation consultancy Continuum. And he doesn’t like focus groups very much (and neither do we):

Why Focus Groups Kill Innovation, From The Designer Behind Swiffer
18 October 2012
The Aeron chair, the Swiffer, and the Reebok Pump – none of these breakthrough products would have gotten high marks from a focus group. Here, Continuum’s Gianfranco Zaccai lists four steps to take before introducing a design to the masses.

Focus Groups Are Dangerous. Know When To Use Them
9 January 2013
Focus groups won’t give rise to innovative ideas, maintains Continuum’s Gianfranco Zaccai. But they can help refine the core concept when used at the right moment in the design process. Here’s how to do it.

9 January 2013

Ethnographic research on vehicular design in China

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Zach Hyman is based in Chongqing, China on a year long ethnographic dive into creative practices of vehicular design among resource-constrained users. After four months in the field, Zach shares with Ethnography Matters his first field update.

His observations on low-tech vehicles are incredibly relevant for the current global shifts in automative production. China is now the largest car market. But many Western companies are discovering that simply transferring a car designed for Western users does not appeal to Asian users. Point in case GM’s Cadillac, a car built for American consumers fails to connect to Chinese consumers. It’s no surprise to an audience of ethnographers that cultural values inform design decisions, but companies like GM are having to learn the hard way.

A deep understanding of workers’ current vehicle practices reveals new opportunities to develop vehicles that challenge the current domination of resource-intensive cars. One entrepreneur, Joel Jackson, created Mobius One in Kenya with local welders to overcome transport challenges. The result? A $6,000 low-tech car made for Africa. Like Joel, Zach’s research contributes to a growing group of designers and entrepreneurs who will create a new class of vehicles.

4 January 2013

Steelcase’s anthropologist on remaking offices to create happier workers

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Anthropologist Donna Flynn directs Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures, a 19-member independent research group within the global office design company, that is responsible for “thinking into the future”: understanding the trends shaping the ways we work and sharing that intelligence with Steelcase and its customers.

The initiatives that WorkSpace Futures tackles are so big they call them “quests,” as they are long, oft-meandering journeys of discovery.

Flynn talked with Fast Company about a few of the most pressing quests for leaders to wrap their minds around: the ongoing redefinition of collaboration, the role of privacy in getting work done, the progression of worker well-being, and how all of these trends relate to the places in which we work. Places that are changing.