28 April 2006

Adam Greensfield on the unique challenges of designing for ubiquitous computing

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“Sometimes a change in technology has implications that are so epochal that everyone must wrestle with them, accommodate them, or prepare for them,” writes Adam Greenfield, the author of “Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing”, on the Adobe website.

“The revolution in information technologies known as “ubiquitous computing” (or ubicomp) is the most recent such change, and it is beginning to impact the practice—and the business—of digital design,” he continues in this long article, where he explores some of the unique experience design and interaction design challenges, and gives an insight into the new responsibilities this brings about the for the designer.

“The home, the garment, and the store become sites of processing and mediation. Ordinary objects are reimagined as places where facts about the world are gathered, considered, and acted upon. And all the familiar rituals of daily life—things as fundamental as the way we wake up in the morning, get to work, or shop for our groceries—are remade as an intricate dance of information.”

He outlines how the role of design will change fundamentally when we for “these boxes we call computers” and concludes “The role of designer assumes a new importance in this context—a new responsibility for ensuring that, wherever possible, the ubiquitous systems we make together improve (or at the very least do not unduly burden) the everyday lives of their users. But if everyware calls upon its designers to act with unusual delicacy, and above all compassion for the needs of a hugely enlarged and diversified user base, it also presents rich opportunities for personal development and growth on the part of those designers. Everyware extends our efforts in that beautiful, endlessly intriguing, occasionally exasperating, place where we all live and breathe.”

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(via Ann Light in Usability News)

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