counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


Posts in category 'Americas'

29 July 2011

Art that interacts if you interface

Talk to Me
The New York Times reviews Paola Antonelli’s “Talk to Me” show at the Museum of Modern Art.

“At its best “Talk to Me” makes you aware of how our relationship to design has become more emotional and intuitive. Ms. Antonelli points out that “we now expect objects to communicate, a cultural shift made evident when we see children searching for buttons or sensors on a new object, even when the object has no batteries or plug.”

And the show is certainly a brave undertaking for a design department that’s still strongly associated with 20th-century modernism. It’s a big step from a Corbusier chair to an iPhone, or as Ms. Antonelli puts it, “from the centrality of function to that of meaning.”

But from a viewer’s perspective MoMA’s messianic embrace of smartphones in galleries is enervating. Call me a reactionary, but I’m convinced that looking, not scanning or tweeting, is still the primary purpose of a museum visit.”

Read article

19 July 2011

‘Aggravating’ MyFord Touch sends Ford plummeting in quality survey

MyFord Touch
Interestingly, the badly designed user interface of the in-car telematics system was the primary gripe among Ford and Lincoln owners and lessees in the latest J.D. Power survey.

“After steady year-on-year improvement, Ford has plunged from fifth position in 2010 to 23rd in the 2011 Initial Quality Study released by J.D. Power & Associates on Thursday. Lincoln, the luxury subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company, was ranked eighth last year, but fell to 17th this year. […]

Primarily, the steep decline was attributed to consumer complaints about MyFord and MyLincoln Touch, the company’s in-car telematics systems that use a touch screen, dashboard display and voice commands presumably to help drivers operate radio and climate controls, as well as the navigation system.”

Read article

Acclaimed designer Alan Cooper provides further reflection on the matter:

“Automobile manufacturing companies like Ford need to acknowledge that they are no longer making automobiles with attached computer systems. In reality, they are making computer control systems with attached motion mechanisms. The digital computer is increasingly dominating the driver’s attention, even more so than the steering and brakes. If auto makers don’t give equivalent attention to the design and implementation of these digital systems, they will fail, regardless of the quality of the drive train, interior furnishings, and other manufactured systems. […]

Back in the 1960s and 70s, it was efficient for an automobile company, with core competencies in big manufacturing, to outsource dashboard electronics to specialized vendors. but now those little radios have become all-encompassing telematics, and Ford, whether it likes it or not, has to integrate the design of its electronic solutions with the design of its manufacturing business. It’s the riddle for the information age again: Ford isn’t a car company with digital capabilities, but it is a computer company with big manufacturing capabilities.

Designing and building a better automobile cockpit is the tip of the iceberg. The biggest task facing Ford and other car companies is changing the way they think and the way they work.”

15 June 2011

In the fight for better experiences, are you winning or losing?

IA Summit 2011
UX Magazine attended the 2011 IA Summit in Denver this year to interview conference speakers and attendees. In this video, 15 interviewees respond to the question: In the fight for better experiences, are you winning or losing?

Watch video

9 June 2011

Pamphlet: The Internet of People for a Post-Oil World

Pamphlet 8
The Internet of People for a Post-Oil World
Christian Nold and Rob van Kranenburg
Paperback, 67 pages
The Architectural League of New York

In Situated Technologies Pamphlets 8, Christian Nold and Rob van Kranenburg articulate the foundations of a future manifesto for an Internet of Things in the public interest. Nold and Kranenburg propose tangible design interventions that challenge an internet dominated by commercial tools and systems, emphasizing that people from all walks of life have to be at the table when we talk about alternate possibilities for ubiquitous computing. Through horizontally scaling grass roots efforts along with establishing social standards for governments and companies to allow cooperation, Nold and Kranenberg argue for transforming the Internet of Things into an Internet of People.

Download pamphlet (pdf)

26 May 2011

City as a platform

PSFK
Two talks from the 2011 PSFK conference caught my attention:

City as a platform (video)
In her role as Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York, Rachel Sterne is tasked with strengthening the City’s digital media presence and streamlining internal digital communications.
In her talk Sterne demonstrated recent innovations that are shaping the city’s future. Mentioning how city resident participation is crucial with a real-time approach, attendees were shown “The Daily Pothole,” a Tumblr that tracks the D.O.T.’s progress in filling potholes in the five boroughs and its companion app, the roll-out of QR code technology on building permits, the NYC 311 app, as well as fielding service requests via Twitter.

Industrial Design: ID For The City (alternate) (video)
Duncan Jackson and Eoin Billings (interview), are both partners at Billings Jackson, a design firm specializing in public spaces. They spoke about their work, history and how they bridge the gap between architecture and manufacturing. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, they appreciate and embrace the the urban landscape for what it is. Crafting solutions that interpret design vision in city environments is their forté and the duo explained the value in understanding the intricacies of each place, culture, and its residents before beginning a new project. Their approach is exemplified through their architectural work, with city life exuding from each structure rather then being blurred by it.

> Check also the video and PSFK report on the Microsoft Home of the Future.

2 May 2011

Context aware computing and futurism at Intel

Consumer research
At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco in September last year, Justin Rattner, the director of Intel Labs, announced a new research division, called Interaction and Experience Research (IXR) and headed by Genevieve Bell, and also presented a new vision of context-aware computers and mobile devices.

Now the Intel website provides some more background on Intel’s work on Context Aware Computing.

“Context-awareness can make computing devices more responsive to individual needs and help to intelligently personalize apps and services. Using self-learning mechanisms, sensor inputs, and data analytics, Intel research teams are engaged in a number of projects that promise to take machine learning beyond the lab to practical, real-world applications.”

Most interestingly, the site goes into some depth on Intel’s current projects that explore the boundaries of context-aware computing:

  • Online Semi-Supervised Learning and Face Recognition: Use face recognition in place of a password to log in to any protected site. The self-learning techniques being refined by this project can be adapted to many areas of context awareness.
  • Context Aware Computing—Activity Recognition: This project is developing techniques so that your computer can adapt to your patterns of activity and, based on your needs and expectations, instruct and guide you on a daily basis.
  • Context-Aware Computer—Social Proximity Detection: Your friends, family, and co-workers all play a role in determining how your daily activities unfold. This project identifies ways to use the proximity of people important in your life to adjust communications and to help coordinate activities.

There is also more information on Intel’s Tomorrow Project & Futurism initiative.

“The project features science fiction stories, comics and short screen plays based on current research and emerging technologies and examines their affect on our future. “

Check the stories by Douglas Rushkoff, Ray Hammond. Scarlett Thomas and Markus Heitz. The next one is by Cory Doctorow, it seems.

24 March 2011

Open cities empower citizens

Philadelphia
A recent Knight Foundation/Pew Research study shows how important, demonstrating that if citizens believe their city governments behave in a transparent manner and make information easily accessible, they tend to think more highly about their town and its civic institutions.

The study, “How the Public Perceives Community Information Systems” found that citizens who believe their local institutions share information well are more likely to think positively about the effectiveness of those institutions, and feel confident that the city can and will provide them with relevant information. In doing so, an open government empowers residents, making them feel that they can effect change.

Read article

17 March 2011

Social media, internet, technology and museums

Museuma
The New York Times has published no less than eight articles at once on the topic of social media, internet, technology and museums. Note the article about the Arduino!

Speaking digitally about exhibits
Museums around the world now use social media for marketing and development efforts, and to strengthen relationships with visitors.

The spirit of sharing
Social media technology has created new opportunities for museums to create interactivity inside and outside of their walls. […] While museums have long strived to be welcoming places as well as havens of learning, social media is turning them into virtual community centers.

Four to follow
Several of the people who help lead some of the most innovative museum Web sites found their path serendipitously.

Stopping to gaze and to zoom
The Google Art Project lets users virtually visit museums, and 17 works are on display in super-high resolution for zooming and marveling.

Smithsonian uses social media to expand Its mission
The museums increasingly use the public to help research and add personal touches to history.

An interactive exhibit for about $30
A tiny programmable computer, the Arduino, has brought the price of interactivity down sharply in the last few years for museums and galleries.

Multimedia tour guides on your smartphone
Museums are increasingly using smartphone apps to enhance the experiences of visitors.

Social media as inspiration and canvas
Mining Vimeo, YouTube and Flickr, artists and museums use social sites to provide a direct link to their audiences.

4 March 2011

Videos of Interaction 11 keynotes

Interaction11
Videos are now available for all seven Interaction11 keynote presentations.

Interaction is a yearly conference organised by the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). The 2011 conference took place on February 9-12 in Boulder, Colorado.

Bill Verplank (opening keynote) [1:02:38]
Brenda Laurel [47:45]
Bruce Sterling (closing keynote) [45:09]
Eric Hersman, Ushahidi [33:04]
Jason Bruges [55:14]
Lisa Strausfeld, Pentagram [48:09]
Richard Buchanan, Weatherhead School of Management [53:12]

25 January 2011

Connected they write

Girl with laptop
Raquel Recuero (blog) is an associate professor at the Departments of Applied Linguistics and Social Communication in Universidade Católica de Pelotas (UCPel) in Brazil. Her research focuses on Internet social networks, virtual communities and computer mediated-communication in general, trying to understand the impact of the Internet in sociability and language in South America and Brazil.

In an article for DMLcentral.net she writes about the positive impact that the massive adoption of digital media in the everyday life of teens in Latin America is having on literacy, learning, reading, and especially, writing.

“In Chile, for example, more than 96 percent of all students have Internet access. In Brazil, almost 80 percent of the population between 16 and 24 years and almost 70 percent of those aged 10 to 15 accessed the Internet in 2009. With that kind of penetration, digital media is creating new ways to understand literacy, learning, reading, and especially, writing. Far from hurting the writing practices for youth, digital media seems to be creating a far more complex and compelling space for them to flourish.”

DMLcentral.net is the online presence for the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub located at the systemwide University of California Humanities Research Institute and hosted at the UC Irvine campus.

Read article

17 January 2011

Experientia part of EPIC 2011

EPIC
The Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) has become the premier international forum for bringing together academics, computer scientists, designers, policy makers, social scientists, marketers and other professionals interested in the ongoing development of the field of applied ethnographic research and practice.

The call for contributions to the 2011 conference is now open, seeking original, high quality and engaging papers, workshops, artifacts and presentations.

Experientia president Michele Visciola will be in charge of the “artifacts” session and will help to provide high visibility and success to all demos, prototypes, posters and 3D presentations that are submitted to the conference.

The theme of the 2011 conference, to be held in Boulder, Colorado, from September 18 to 21, is “Evolution/Revolution: change and ethnographic work.” In particular, it will focus on the harmonies and disjunctions between the continuous evolution of practice and the pressures of radical disruptions that come from technology, history, economics, and other areas where change is the rule.

For up to date information and further details on the conference and submissions, visit the EPIC conference website.

29 December 2010

Videos of UX Week 2010

UX Week
At the end of August Adaptive Path held its UX Week 2010 in San Francisco and uploaded videos of all the presentations a little after. I only noticed them now. Some personally selected highlights:

Data informed, not data driven
by Adam Mosseri, Facebook
At Facebook, analytics play a critical role in informing design decisions, but internally there’s a wariness of the idea of design by numbers.
In this talk we’ll hear about three primary ways Facebook uses quantitative data: optimizing small but important interactions; finding pain points in existing work flows; and setting high level success metrics for large projects.
We’ll hear Facebook’s take on how they think they should improve their ability to quantify some of the less tangible data points, like brand perception and long term network value. Those analytics can begin to perform as counter metrics so that they can begin to rely less heavily on instinct, which is important but sometimes fallible.

How the web works
by Jeffrey Veen, Small Batch Inc.
Turns out that the fundamental principles that led to the success of the web will lead you there, too. Drawing on 15 years of web design and development experience, Jeff will take you on a guided tour of what makes things work on this amazing platform we’re all building together. You’ll learn how to stop selling ice, why web browsers work the way they do, and where Rupert Murdoch can put his business model.

Computational information design
by Ben Fry
The ability to collect and store data continues to increase, but our ability to understand it remains unchanged. Data visualization makes use of our evolutionary proclivity for decoding visual images and employs this ability as a high-bandwidth means of getting data into our heads. In this talk, I’ll present work I’ve developed ranging from illustrations of data for magazines and journals to software tools used by geneticists to interactive applications for Fortune 10 companies.

Video games and the user interface
by Joe Kowalski, Double Fine
Working as a user interface designer in the games industry presents some unique opportunities to engage players. So why are memorable interfaces a rarity? Joe will attempt to answer that question, and he’ll offer his perspective on the industry, show some of his work from major titles, and talk about what inspires him.

Gamestorming: design practices for co-creation and engagement
by Dave Gray, XPLANE
We’re moving from an industrial to a knowledge economy, where creativity and innovation will be the keys to value. New rules apply. Yet two hundred years of industrial habits are embedded in our workplaces, our schools and our systems of government. How must we change our work practices to thrive in the 21st Century? Dave Gray will share insights from his upcoming book, Gamestorming: A playbook for innovators, rule-breakers and changemakers (O’Reilly Media).

The future of UX is play: the 4 keys to fun, emotion and user engagement
by Nicole Lazzaro, XEODesign, Inc.
The future of UX are designs that employ emotions to guide attention, improve memory, enhance performance, and reward users for a job well done. Master these four techniques to paint attention onto a UI like Velcro and color it with emotions that best match the product, brand, or task at hand. Come join us to see how game design can unlock human potential and improve quality of life through play!

Keynote: Mediated culture
by Michael Wesch, Kansas State University
It took tens of thousands of years for writing to emerge after humans spoke their first words. It took thousands more before the printing press and a few hundred again before the telegraph. Today a new medium of communication emerges every time somebody creates a new web application. A Flickr here, a Twitter there, and a new way of relating to others emerges. New types of conversation, argumentation, and collaboration are realized. Using examples from anthropological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, YouTube, university classrooms, and “the future,” this presentation will demonstrate the profound yet often unnoticed ways in which media “mediate” our culture.

Don’t forget the humans!
by Chris McCarthy and Christi Zuber, Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Consultancy
Don’t Forget the Humans! This is the mantra in world of healthcare, and over and over again we hear that “patient-centered care” is the perfect desired state. But what about all those other humans in the system? What about the nurses, pharmacists, doctors, transporters and business people? Designing and planning your business for just one type of human not only alienates others, but it actually could be the reason for design failure and solutions that don’t sustain the tests of time.
Our group at Kaiser designs for the humans in our system; we optimize the experience of our patients and clinicians so that the system serves them and their needs, and brings as much joy to their interaction that is, well…. as humanly possible.

Service montage
by Christian Palino, Adaptive Path
In The Godfather, during Michael Corleone’s nephew’s baptism, shots of the sacrament of baptism performed by the priest are mixed with shots of killings ordered by Michael taking place elsewhere. These murders are thus experienced by the audience as Michael’s “baptism” into a life of crime. This collision of shots is an example of Eisenstein’s theory of montage and provides an analogous model for exploring the relationship of service touchpoints to the space between those touchpoints, and how users experience them both.

Understanding and designing the everyday Internet: users, people, groups and networks
by Elizabeth Churchill, Yahoo! Research
Since 2006, time spent on the Internet has outstripped time spent watching TV. According to a Harris Interactive poll conducted in late 2009 people spend an average of 13 hours per week online–excluding email. With the increasing penetration of Internet-enabled phones, many people spend substantially more time than that.
Social scientists, designers, user experience professionals, technologists and business entrepreneurs are all intrigued by the changing landscape of media consumption and communication. As a result, many methods and models have been developed to get an understanding of what people are doing, when, how and why. However, analysis methods are often myopic, addressing either on a single applications (“Is it usable?”), what an single person does (“What is the user up to?”), creating aggregated results from many people, or describing what people-as-nodes are doing in a network. In this talk, Elizabeth will talk about a number of projects where she has mixed different design and evaluation methods to try to understand how people’s experiences vary, and to illustrate the tensions that exist between overly specific and overly general models of user experience.

The Mag+ concept: the silent mode of digital magazine reading
by Sara Öhrvall, Bonnier Group
On April 3rd, 2010, media publisher Bonnier launched Popular Science+ iPad edition as a first step toward a vision of what digital magazine reading can be. See demo.
PopularScience+ is built on the Mag+ platform, developed by Bonnier R&D together with British design studio Berg. The idea was to deconstruct the print layout and to reinvent it in a way that makes it come to life on the iPad’s screen. A new magazine-like UX in which each piece of content flows organically to the next, letting readers feel like they’re touching the actual magazine, without working through layers of buttons.
But if digital magazine reading is all about the silent mode – a leaned back experience away from the browser – how will digital magazines remain contemporary objects in a world where so much more is expected from digital content than just the passive reading? What will be the plus in the Mag+ user experience?
Sara Öhrvall, director of global R&D at Bonnier, will share her thoughts on bridging the gap between magazine content and the interactivity of the social Web. She’ll talk about how the Mag+ platform aims to “socialize” magazine content, bringing it out of the print magazine and into the online spaces where conversation happens.

WIRED’s digital rebirth
by Wyatt Mitchell, Wired magazine
Traditionally, magazine designers and editors have been well-equipped to create compelling experiences in print, but highly crafted digital formats have proven more elusive. With the arrival of the iPad, Condé Nast’s WIRED—in partnership with Adobe—is leading an industry-wide revolution in how people experience and consume magazines. Join Wyatt Mitchell, Design Director of WIRED as he walks through the behind-the-scenes process for the creation of a new digital version of WIRED.

IDEO case study: MyFord Touch – helping define the interior experience for Ford’s 2010 vehicle portfolio
by Iain Roberts and Tasos Karahalios, IDEO
For over two years, designers and engineers at IDEO and Ford Motor Company collaborated closely on a signature HMI experience for the company’s entire Ford and Lincoln 2010 vehicle portfolio that consumers would find simple, attentive, and intuitive. IDEO designers Iain Roberts and Tasos Karahalios will be speaking about the team’s ambitious and ingenious prototyping effort, which included rough-and-ready driving simulators and dashboard interfaces hacked together using a Ford Edge dashboard, touch-sensitive screens, various video game controllers, and the Playstation 2 game “Gran Turismo 3.”

Make It So: learning from SciFi interfaces
by Chris Noessel, Cooper, and Nathan Shedroff, California College of the Arts
Make It So explores how science fiction and interface design relate to each other. The authors have developed a model that traces lines of influence between the two, and use this as a scaffold to investigate how the depiction of technologies evolve over time, how fictional interfaces influence those in the real world, and what lessons interface designers can learn through this process. This investigation of science fiction television shows and movies has yielded practical lessons that apply to online, social, mobile, and other media interfaces.

The reality of fantasy
by Mark Coleran
For many years, Fantasy user interfaces (FUI) in film and television have drawn both acclaim and ridicule in equal measure. Credited with pushing boundaries about what is possible and dumbing down and misrepresenting a complex field of work and setting false expectations in the eyes of users. What is the truth?
In this presentation, Mark Coleran examines why FUI looks the way it does, how it has evolved and the unique challenges and requirements that shape this unusual area of UI work.

2 December 2010

UX efforts in a context of retail and marketing

UX Magazine
Two new articles in UX Magazine:

Crafting the UX of REI’s retail experience
by Samantha Starmer
Video interview (with text transcript) on the strategy, techniques and thinking behind translating REI‘s warm, hand-crafted in-store experiences into the digital space.

Customer Experience Nirvana: How UX and marketing are set to increasingly collaborate
by David Moskovic
Article examines how UX and marketing can collaborate to manage digital touchpoints and to build the next generation of customer engagement.

20 November 2010

How college students evaluate and use information in the digital age

PIL
Project Information Literacy (PIL) is ongoing research project, based in the University of Washington’s Information School, that collects data from early adults enrolled in US colleges and universities, to understand how they conceptualize and operationalize research activities for course work and “everyday life” use and especially how they resolve issues of credibility, authority, relevance, and currency in the digital age.

A new progress report entitled “Truth Be Told: How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in the Digital Age,” explores the current state of the project.

Abstract
A report about college students and their information-seeking strategies and research difficulties, including findings from 8,353 survey respondents from college students on 25 campuses distributed across the U.S. in spring of 2010, as part of Project Information Literacy. Respondents reported taking little at face value and were frequent evaluators of Web and library sources used for course work, and to a lesser extent, of Web content for personal use. Most respondents turned to friends and family when asking for help with evaluating information for personal use and instructors when evaluating information for course research. Respondents reported using a repertoire of research techniques—mostly for writing papers—for completing one research assignment to the next, though few respondents reported using Web 2.0 applications for collaborating on assignments. Even though most respondents considered themselves adept at finding and evaluating information, especially when it was retrieved from the Web, students reported difficulties getting started with research assignments and determining the nature and scope of what was required of them. Overall, the findings suggest students use an information-seeking and research strategy driven by efficiency and predictability for managing and controlling all of the information available to them on college campuses, though conducting comprehensive research and learning something new is important to most, along with passing the course and the grade received. Recommendations are included for how campus-wide stakeholders—faculty, librarians, and higher education administrators—can work together to help inform pedagogies for a new century.

Download report

16 November 2010

The newest web users are changing the culture of the internet

Cybercafe in Brazil
The newest billion people to venture online are doing so in developing countries rather than North America or Europe, writes Erik German in Globalpost, and they are changing the culture of the internet itself.

“Researchers say the web as it was originally, if idealistically, conceived — a largely free, monolingual space where a shared digital culture prevailed — may soon be a distant memory. And it’s happening remarkably fast.”

Read article

15 October 2010

Device Design Day videos

Device Design Day
Kicker Studio organised on 20 August a Device Design Day in San Francisco, exploring the design of the next generation of products. Most videos are now online:

Stuart Karten: User-driven innovation [31:40]
Stuart Karten Design
The fast pace of technology development makes almost anything possible. The challenge that product developers face is implementing technologies in ways that meet customer needs and facilitate trust. In the hearing aid industry, technology allows hearing instruments to become smaller and smaller and opens up new possibilities for user interface. In taking Starkey’s hearing aids to the next level, Stuart Karten and his team at design and innovation consultancy SKD served as user advocates, making sure that Starkey’s advanced technology was developed into a family of products that meet the unique needs of 65- to 85-year-old end users. Karten will share the tools and strategies that SKD employed to maintain its focus on the end user throughout the product and interface development process.

Kim Goodwin: Convergent products, convergent process [37:57]
Author, Designing for the Digital Age
Interaction designers and industrial designers are kindred spirits in many ways, yet we tend to lean on somewhat different skills, biases, and design approaches. Many teams struggle with these differences, and the results of that struggle are visible in the telephones, remote controls, and even toaster ovens that drive us all a little bit crazy. So how do we get past atoms vs. pixels, while still benefiting from the different strengths of each discipline? No doubt there’s more than one answer, but the one that has worked for us is a convergent design process that incorporates both co-design and parallel design, but never sequential design in which one discipline drives the other. We’ll share that process—and the project management considerations that go with it—from both IxD and ID perspectives.

Dan Harden: Breaking through the noise [45:50]
Whipsaw
There are so many electronic devices, gadgets, and techy do-dads in this world, and quite frankly, most are junk. Every once in awhile one comes along and it’s different. It breaks through the noise. You dig it because it works flawlessly, it delivers real value, and it even has soul. Technology may enable it to BE, but design is what makes it sing. What are the factors that go into creating these kind of transcendent product experiences that resonate with soul? We will discuss this and share a few examples of how we interpret this illusive goal.

Mike Kuniavsky: Information as a material [34:03]
Author, Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design
We have passed the era of Peak MHz. The race in CPU development is now for smaller, cheaper, and less power-hungry processors. As the price of powerful CPUs approaches that of basic components, how information processing is used—and how to design with/for it—fundamentally changes. When information processing is this cheap, it becomes a material with which to design the world, like plastic, iron, and wood. This vision argues that most information processing in the near future will not be in some distant data center, but immediately present in our environment, distributed throughout the world, and embedded in things we don’t think of as computers (or even as “phones”).
In his talk Kuniavsky discusses what it means to treat information as a material, the properties of information as a design material, the possibilities created by information as a design material, and approaches for designing with information. Information as a material enables The Internet of Things, object-oriented hardware, smart materials, ubiquitous computing, and intelligent environments.

Julian Bleecker: Design fiction goes from props to prototypes [33:23]
Nokia / Near Future Laboratory
Prototypes are ways to test ideas—but where do those ideas come from? It may be that the path to better device design is best followed by creating props that help tell stories before prototypes designed to test technical feasibility. What I want to suggest in this talk is the way that design can use fiction—and fiction can use design—to help imagine how things can be designed just a little bit better.

Gretchen Anderson: Motivating healthy behaviors [21:49]
Punchcut
We’ve moved into an era where the gadgets we use affect our very being. Purpose-built medical devices are moving into the hands of consumers, and apps deliver healthcare over-the-air. This session looks at key concerns and best practices when designing medical devices and motivating healthy behaviors.

Jared Benson: One size does not fit all [20:57]
Punchcut
Are you inadvertently porting old UI paradigms to new contexts of use? Tomorrow’s devices need new affordances. I’ll share insights and considerations for designing distributed experiences across a range of converged devices.

Wendy Ju: Designing implicit interactions [24:31]
California College of Arts
Implicit interactions can interactive devices to help communicate cues and to provide feedback to make interactive devices easier, more effective and less infuriating. We’ll look at examples and design guidelines to help design good implicit interactions and avoid making inadvertent bad ones.

Ian Myles: More thought than you’d think
meep
How to go a little deeper on strategic design decisions with surprising results.

15 October 2010

Project explores human factor in ‘smarter cities’

Smart neighbourhood
Boston University is participating in a $2 million National Science Foundation-funded Smart Neighborhood project that seeks to make a Boston neighborhood more energy efficient. But rather than just install solar panels or electricity monitors, researchers are focusing on ways to get people on board and participate in what they hope will be a “living laboratory.”

One of the ideas behind the project is that there is no lack of technology to measure energy consumption, project participants said at a recent public outreach event. Two-way smart meters, for example, can be hooked up to provide a real-time display of electricity use. But more data doesn’t necessarily lead to changes in energy-related behavior, such as cutting wasted energy or shifting to off-peak hours to reduce bills.

The BU project does intend to monitor electricity in an effort to lower its carbon footprint. But it’s coupled that with community relations, financing, and even measuring the the impact from trees on the local carbon footprint.

Read article

2 October 2010

Talk by anthropologist Mimi Ito in Milan

Mimi Ito
Yesterday cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito spoke on the impact of technology on teen and youth culture at the Meet The Media Guru event in Milan, Italy. The video is available online.

Cultural anthropologist, with degrees from Harvard and Stanford, Mimi Ito co-directed the Digital Youth Project, which was funded by the MacArthur Foundation and focused on new m-Learning scenarios. The project has become an important point of reference for those studying the relationship between teens and new media.

The three-year Digital Youth Project researched kids’ and teens’ informal learning through digital media, with a particular focus on the day-to-day use and the impact of these new technologies on learning, play and social interaction.

The results of the project are encapsulated in the report, Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project, and the book Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media.

Mimi explored a vast range of social activities that are “augmented” by digital technology: online gaming, virtual communities, production and consumptin of children’s software, and the relationship between children and new media.

She is also specialised in amateur content production and peer-to-peer learning.

She teaches at the Department of Informatics of the University of California, Irvine, and at Kejo University in Kanagawa, Japan. She has also worked for the Institute for Research and Learning, Xerox PARC, Tokyo University, the National Institute for Educational Research in Japan, and for Apple Computer.

Her new book on Otaku culture, the Japanese term for children that have an obsessive interest in video games and manga, will be published shortly.

Mimi Ito joined the Wiki Foundation Advisory Board in June of this year.

Watch video (Mimi starts speaking at 19:30)

14 September 2010

Experience-based product design from Intel

Genevieve Bell
The Day Zero event of the Intel Developer Forum started off with a presentation by Intel Fellow (and anthropologist) Genevieve Bell who is now also the head of Intel’s Interaction and Experience Research (IXR) division, that is focused on defining new user experiences and new computing platforms (see earlier announcement).

A few blogs report on Bell’s contribution, but so far no video is online.

Damian Koh on CNet Asia:

“Aside from asking the right questions, it’s also about learning through engagement and designing a set of experiences. Bell cited one of her latest coup in the last couple of years was that users are now as important to Intel as silicon. One of her biggest breakthroughs was the realization that she needed a roadmap that reflects what users needed instead of a simple processor update. However, she conceded that unless the intended experience of the silicon is very clear, it’s hard to make the right call throughout the entire process of conceptualizing and designing to testing in the homes and labs.”

Rupert Goodwins on ZDNet UK:

“We’re marrying social science with engineering. Taking what we know about human beings,. We have a centre of excellence for understanding people, and one for engineering. The lab thinks about human IO, not just computer IO, and running the gamut with new forms of input method, being playful and provocative. Having engineers makes this happen In the next ten years, you will see some very different things from Intel,” said Genevieve Bell.

Loyd Case on Tom’s Hardware:

“Intel thinks the idea of understanding future user experiences is important enough that it has funded an entire arm of its research organization to this, known as “Interactions and Experiences Research.” Split into design and technology elements, and headed by Dr. Bell, the idea is to understand how users worldwide experience their technology, what they love about it, and what frustrates them.”

Harley Ogier in New Zealand PC World:

“Speaking on Day Zero of this year’s Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Bell suggested that Intel should begin to “think about experiences as a starting point for designing new technology”. Instead of working around a list of features, she explained that this would require Intel to understand the experiences people have with technology today. With such understanding, the company could focus on creating new technologies to better those existing “beloved” experiences and facilitate new ones.”

Xavier Lanier on GottaBeMobile:

“Genevieve Bell, an anthropologist and Intel researcher spoke about how she is trying to get Intel to think simple instead of complex. She and her team travel the world watching how people use technology in public and at home.”

1 September 2010

A weird way of thinking has prevailed worldwide

Anand Giridharadas
If a provocative new study is to be believed, the world lives in a situation where American undergraduates monopolize our knowledge of human nature, writes Anand Giridharadas in the New York Times.

“In the study, published last month in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan — all psychologists at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver — condemn their field’s quest for human universals.

Psychologists claim to speak of human nature, the study argues, but they have mostly been telling us about a group of WEIRD outliers, as the study calls them — Westernized, educated people from industrialized, rich democracies.

According to the study, 68 percent of research subjects in a sample of hundreds of studies in leading psychology journals came from the United States, and 96 percent from Western industrialized nations. Of the American subjects, 67 percent were undergraduates studying psychology — making a randomly selected American undergraduate 4,000 times likelier to be a subject than a random non-Westerner.”

Read article