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Posts in category 'Appliance'

31 August 2014

Converting your home to LED lights is still a challenging user experience

60_LED_3W_Spot_Light_eq_25W

Switching to LED bulbs in your home is still a bit expensive, but makes a lot of economic sense – as you quickly earn your money back through a MUCH lowered electricity bill. Yet it is quite a challenge for most people.

I just successfully replaced 40 halogen and incandescent bulbs of the most varied fittings, sizes, lighting strengths and shapes. The new bulbs all fit and have the luminosity and color warmth that we want in our house. But I can only conclude that industry and retailers need to do a much better job at explaining the challenges and helping customers understand why to buy LED bulbs and what types to buy.

The first impression most people have of LED lights are usually the display racks in retail stores. The fact that LED lights sometimes come in the most bizarre form factors are off-putting if anything, while key information is largely provided in jargon (kelvin, lumen, fitting mount codes, etc.).

The next thing you might then do is go online and search for more relevant information, only to get lost in myriads of blog posts, tech jargon filled pieces, or product tech sheets. The best backgrounders I found – with some effort – are this one from The Guardian and one from the European Commission (in 22 languages!). Nothing much from industry, where websites focus immediately on individual products.

Then you have to figure out what you need in your house (or office). Besides the fitting mounts, the bulb sizes and the wattages, there are four key things to take into account:

  • Colour temperature: In short, the lower “K” or “Kelvin”, the better. For home use stay on or below 2700K for a warm white.
  • Luminosity or light strength: Commonly described in watt, but the most accurate value is actually “lumen”, or even better “lux”.
  • Dimmability: Some LED bulbs can be dimmed but it is usually never clear if you need a special dimmer for that or can do so with your regular dimmer – so trying out is the only option consumers have. Good luck.
  • Avoiding false savings: As The Guardian writes, “halogen bulbs use so much electricity for the light they produce – just feel their heat – that it’s a false economy to wait until they blow to replace them”.

Finally there is purchasing itself. Most DIY stores and electricity supply retailers limit themselves to the most common bulb choices. Special sizes and fittings are not that easy to find. You may want to buy online (which is what I ended up doing).

It is generally recommended to buy only products from reliable brands (Philips, Samsung, etc.), as there is quite some unreliable junk on the market. But these “reliable” brands may not have the exact fitting mounts, wattage or colour temperature you are looking for. It is also hard to find out what quality control the various retailers have in place, and what guarantees consumers have if a product is not up to par.

In all, this is not a trivial matter. If all homes and offices in a city would switch to LED, much less power would be needed in that city, and this would mean a significant impact on carbon emissions. Governments and media are starting to do their part in helping people navigate this.

Industry is lagging behind. Making the products is only part of the challenge. Guidance in consumer education and behavioural change is hardly addressed. It is a job for service designers and good writers/storytellers.

The industry or retailer that ends up doing that job well will gain quite a competitive edge in a rapidly growing market.

20 March 2013

Smart homes: our next digital privacy nightmare

smart-appliances

The hyper-connected smart home of the future promises to change the way we live. More efficient energy usage, Internet-connected appliances that communicate with one another and cloud-enhanced home security are just some of the conveniences we’ll enjoy. It’s going to be amazing. It will also open up major questions about privacy. John Paul Titlow reports on ReadWriteWeb.

“Every time we connect another one of our household appliances to the Internet, we’re going to be generating another set of data about our lives and storing it some company’s servers. That data can be incredibly useful to us, but it creates yet another digital trail of personal details that could become vulnerable to court subpoenas, law enforcement requests (with or without a warrant) or hackers.”

Meanwhile, OvenInfo, the oven review site by Reviewed.com, is running a five-part series about smart appliances and connected homes. Where they are now, how they got here, and most importantly, whether they’ll earn a place among our smartphones and tablets as an everyday part of our lives. So far, three have been published:

1. What is a smart appliance?
The next generation of “smart” appliances will likely connect to your phone, negotiate rates with the power company, and even communicate with other appliances.

2. The history of smart appliances
Everything seems to be trending toward highly automated households, controlled by a mobile device. What’s different now is that this trend is being pushed not merely by what’s possible, but by technologies that are practical and already integrated into our daily lives.

3. The business of smart appliances
Smart appliances are not big business yet—at least not within the scope of the entire industry. In 2012, smart appliances sales totaled a modest $613 million, a fraction of the worldwide bottom line. But that isn’t stopping a few manufacturers from trying to make the future of smart appliances happen right now.

4. The future of smart appliances
Touchscreens and Twitter are fine, but smart appliances will need to save time and money.

5. How to buy a smart appliance right now
Smart appliances still can’t do your laundry on their own, but a few good models are ready for a place in your home.

5 March 2013

Are our household appliances getting too complicated?

Breville toaster

Who needs a kettle with four heat settings? A washing machine with a ‘freshen up’ function? A toaster with six browning modes? What happened to the good old days of the on/off switch, asks Tom Meltzer in The Guardian.

“Function inflation or “setting creep” – both of which are names I’ve just made up – is not, of course, confined to the kitchen. We can see it in our computers and cars, our phones and televisions, and, in its purest form, in the deranged one-upmanship of a top-of-the-range Swiss Army knife, complete with a “fish scaler”, a “chisel” and a “pressurised ballpoint pen”. But is the surreal image of a war fought using descaled fish in Switzerland really progress? Or are all these settings just getting in our way?”

5 July 2012

Designing for context: the multiscreen ecosystem

small_30

In a long article, designer Avi Itzkovitch explains how, when connecting applications across smart devices, UX designers can create product ecosystems that dynamically respond to user contexts and thus provide enhanced experiences.

The author reviews various theories on the multiscreen ecosystem, including this one from Google:

“Michal Levin, a UX designer at Google, describes multiscreen ecosystems in terms of three main categories. The first is consistent experience, where the application and the experience are similar across all screens. […] The second category is the complementary experience, where devices work together and communicate with each other in order to create a unique experience. […] The third category of app ecosystems the continuous multiscreen experience, which is possibly the most important category for a contextual multiscreen design. For a continuous experience across several devices, UX professionals must evaluate when and where a product will be used in order to assess the optimal experience for the user at the time of use.”

Itzkovitch then continues by providing his own accumulated experience in understanding the basic context assumption for the various device types: smartphones, tablets, personal computers and smart TVs.

20 October 2011

Cadillac User Experience (CUE)

Cadillac CUE
Last week, Cadillac launched its new “CUE” vehicle infotainment system.

The name is an acronym that stands for Cadillac User Experience — the company’s refined and expanded approach to connected vehicles.

Electronista took an early look at the new system before it arrives in production vehicles.

“Most of the individual features in the CUE system are not technically new to vehicles, but Cadillac has worked to take inspiration from the latest mobile hardware and operating systems. The approach aims to expand connectivity and customizability, while also improving existing technologies.

CUE enables users to connect up to 10 devices, including Bluetooth-enabled phones, SD cards, USB sticks, and MP3 players. The eight-inch nav display and instrument cluster—a larger LCD—provide access to media content and other information such as e-mails, instant messages and Doppler radar. Like smartphone interfaces, CUE supports familiar multi-touch gestures.

The standard features can be found on a number of vehicles, however Cadillac’s interface presents customizable and arrangeable icons that only appear when proximity sensors detect an approaching hand. Capacitive sensors on a panel below the display eliminate the need for standard buttons, while haptic feedback provides input confirmation.”

Read article

Other reviews: Fortune / ChipChick

1 September 2011

Human plus Machine

The future of human-machine interaction
In the next ten years, smart machines will enter virtually every domain of our lives, including assisting doctors during surgery, fighting on battlefields, building things in factories, and assisting in classrooms, nursing homes, and offices. As machines augment and replace humans in various tasks, their largest impact may be less obvious: their presence among us will change how we see ourselves, forcing us to confront the fundamental question of what we humans are uniquely good at. What is our competitive advantage, and where is our place alongside these machines?

Download essay by Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future

28 July 2011

Are we becoming too analytical?

Network data
Or, why did Google PowerMeter fail?

In his latest post, James Landay questions whether over-analysis of data gets in the way of designing a product that truly understands the needs of its users. He provides several examples of when the data needs trumped design and user needs, which then results in “Product Failure Due to Over Reliance on Self Data Analysis”.

“The biggest reason I believe these two products [Google PowerMeter and Google Health] have not taken off is their reliance on the belief that simply giving people their data and letting them analyze it is the way to improve behavior (both for health and for the environment). The user interfaces for both products have an analytical take on information design — for instance they focus on showing people graphs of their data […]

As I spoke with members of the Google team, I was surprised at the lack of knowledge of behavior change theories from psychology as well as much of the user interface design work that had been done by researchers in this space over the past ten years.”

A post worth reading also for those interested in the topic of smart metering and behavioural change.

Read article

(via Tricia Wang)

15 May 2011

The kitchen-table industrialists

littleBits
My favourite New York Times writer Anand Giridharadas delved into the topic of “making stuff” in this week’s Magazine.

“The American romance with making actual things is going through a resurgence. In recent years, a nationwide movement of do-it-yourself aficionados has embraced the self-made object. Within this group is a quixotic band of soldering, laser-cutting, software-programming types who, defying all economic logic, contend that they can reverse America’s manufacturing slump. America will make things again, they say, because Americans will make things — not just in factories but also in their own homes, and not because it’s artisinal or faddish, but because it’s easier, better for the environment, and more fun.”

Read article

11 February 2011

Female interaction – design for advanced electronic products

Female Interaction
Female Interaction is a 2.5 year, DKK 4.7 mio (630,000 euro / 850,000 usd) multidisciplinary research project focusing on female interaction design for advanced electronic products, in particular on how to make these products attractive and convenient to use for females – and for the rest of the world

User-driven development methods and tools are being developed and tested – focusing on the demands and desires of female users.

The project, which is co-financed by the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority (DEACA) as part of its programme for user-driven innovation, brings together development and market-research specialists, scientists and designers in an interdisciplinary collaboration.

Female Interaction has been initiated by design-people in collaboration with Aalborg University, Aarhus University, Bang and Olufsen, GN Netcom, Danfoss and Lindberg International.

The project sets out to offer a novel approach to user-driven innovation in businesses by bringing together scientists, businesses, designers and market analysts for purposes of developing new process models and guidelines and new results for the benefit of the user.

3 December 2010

Automation suppliers strive to boost product usability

Automation
Automation World reports at length on how human-centered design techniques are gaining attention in the world of industrial controls and automation, as more users struggle with complex user interfaces.

“Many of today’s industrial products, with their ever-growing feature sets, have become too complex and difficult to use, leading to increased training costs and lost time, and in some cases, even robbing manufacturing companies of the very benefits that the features were intended to produce. But more vendors are beginning to take notice. Increasingly, as a way to differentiate their products and help customers become more productive, automation suppliers are stepping up their efforts to reduce complexity in their products and make them easier to use.”

Read article

5 November 2010

The evolved user experience

UX Magazine
Alexander Negash, analytics and user experience manager at the American Cancer Society, discusses on UX Magazine how to adopt social technologies in user research to get rapid, up-to-date user information and feedback, and to drive UX design and product strategy.

“Today, social technologies have made it less challenging for UX teams to involve users in the full project lifecycle, from initial phase of co-ideation, to ongoing iterations and testing during the design and development phases. In an environment where there is an ongoing relationship with the user that encourages flow of fresh ideas and feelings, changes in user behavior become more predictable compared to an environment where there’s a very limited day-to-day relationship with the user.

Involving users in the product development cycle is of course not a new concept; it has been practiced by user-centered design (UCD) teams for a long time. The difference today is that social technologies enable ongoing user interaction with the product in real time, allowing product designers to vet ideas with users, and learn from users’ concerns and firsthand experiences.

Social technologies offer opportunities for UX teams to lead the way in creating revolutionary concepts for product design and development as well as new and innovative ways of involving users in the product lifecycle.”

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.

11 October 2010

Experientia supporting Flemish applied research on mobility and sustainability

Flanders InShape
Experientia is excited to be working on two applied research projects for Flanders InShape, a Flemish design promotion agency that supports and advises small and mid-size companies in Flanders, Belgium on matters related to product development and design.

The ASSIST project, in collaboration with Enthoven Associates, is focused on improving mobility and communications for people with motor disabilities, whereas the EVENT project (conducted with FutureProofed) supports Kortrijk Xpo in becoming the most sustainable trade fair and congress complex in Belgium and one of the top five most sustainable fair complexes in Europe by 2020.

With these applied research projects, Flanders InShape aims to augment the efficiency and effectiveness of product development in Flanders and to improve the competitive position of Flemish companies through the development of products with higher added value for the customer.

ASSIST – Improving mobility and communications for people with motor disabilities

The Assist project, which Experientia conducts in collaboration with acclaimed Belgian design consultancy Enthoven Associates and care organisations Centrum voor Zorgtechnologie and In-HAM, aims to develop new concept ideas for assistive technologies for people with motor disabilities, using a people-centred design process. Although aimed at a Flemish context, the project focuses on international technological and design projects.

In the first phase of the project, Experientia has conducted a comprehensive benchmarking of current assistive device solutions for people with walking difficulties. The benchmark explores both on-body assistive devices, which are always in contact with motor disabled people, such as wheelchairs, rollators and standers; and assistive environments, including public transportation, mobile applications and accessibility.

Experientia will also contribute to the creation of scenarios for use during contextual observation to validate the design opportunities found in the benchmark. Enthoven Associates is currently conducting the user research and jointly the partners will then take the insights further, supported by a creative workshop to generate ideas, into design concepts.

EVENT – Sustainable event management project

The Event project sees Experientia team up with Futureproofed, a sustainable design consultancy, and Kortrijk Xpo, a conference and trade fair venue in Kortrijk, Belgium, to explore ways to make events more sustainable. The ambitious goal of this project is to make Kortrijk Xpo the most sustainable trade fair and congress complex in Belgium and one of the top five most sustainable fair complexes in Europe by 2020.

Trade fairs, congresses and events are key areas of concern for sustainability, because they involve a large number of diverse players both directly and indirectly (e.g. stand builders, lighting installers, textile manufacturers, etc.) and because time criteria often become more important during assembly, disassembly and transport, than any concern for sustainability.

This project will explore how impact can be best achieved, though good planning, preparation and usage of the right materials and products.

Futureproofed will carry out a carbon footprint analysis of Kortrijk Xpo, whereas Experientia will benchmark international best practice on sustainability for trade shows, expositions, and major public events. Together with Futureproofed, we will build a behavioural change framework, and conduct participatory workshops and concept development for more sustainable practices.

This exciting project builds on the themes that Experientia is currently exploring in our Low2No project in Helsinki, and is in keeping with our overall company commitment to sustainability.

14 July 2010

People-focused innovation in healthcare

People-focused innovation in healthcare
Philips Design has published a downloadable paper on how it uses qualitative research and design thinking to support development of solutions for the ever-changing healthcare landscape.

“Our lifestyles are increasingly out of balance and we are placing our health at risk through unhealthy habits. We are ageing as a population and more likely to suffer from chronic diseases as we get older. As a result, our healthcare systems are under increasing demand for costly and complicated care. Yet, with their limited resources and traditional models, they are already struggling to meet existing demand. In short, the healthcare industry is in crisis and facing paradigm change. However, there are plenty of opportunities for innovation within this crisis.

Philips Design supports Philips in delivering healthcare end-user value through innovation. Over the past two decades, Philips Design has developed a people-focused innovation approach that has generated tangible proof-points of the Philips Healthcare promise of ‘People- focused, Healthcare simplified’ across the home and hospital healthcare domain. It is an approach that is driven by qualitative research, applies design thinking to identify innovation opportunities, and leverages design skills to propose solutions with measurable end-user value. It has proved relevant in business processes ranging from strategy to product development, and has successfully supported both short and longer-term innovation.

This paper describes the mindset, methods and tools used in this approach, citing examples from Philips Design to illustrate the strategic contribution and value that design can offer in healthcare innovation.”

Download paper

1 July 2010

The product of a healthy relationship

Design blueprint
The relationship between researchers and product designers can be a rocky one. Paul Golden looks at how market research can make sure it promotes creative thinking rather than obstructs it.

“When handled properly, [the initial exploratory phase of the research process] allows planners and developers to identify potential design territories on which to focus development of more finished (and expensive) prototypes, while providing clues as to the type of stimulus that needs to be developed for these subsequent stages – for example, the context in which consumers need to be exposed to the concepts, the level of finish required and the need for working or non-working models.”

Read article

13 June 2010

Book: Screen Future

Screen Future
Screen Future
The Future of Entertainment, Computing, and the Devices We Love
By Brian David Johnson

June 30th 2010 will see the publication of the book, Screen Future: The Future of Entertainment, Computing and the Devices We Love, by Brian David Johnson, customer experience architect at Intel.

Screen Future is a technical book about people, technology, and the economics that are shaping and the evolution of entertainment. Blending social and computer sciences, the book provides a vision for what happens after convergence and what we need to do to get there.

Screen Future explores the big unanswered questions: What do consumers really want? What are the real world implications for bringing about the future of TV across multiple platforms? As the experience of watching television permeates all of consumer electronics devices how will it be delivered and paid for? Pulling from global consumer research, Screen Future explores in concrete terms what real people actually want from the future of TVs and how the entertainment and technology industries might bring this vision to market in ways that work for all involved.

Table of contents (pdf)
Blog post by the author
Book review on Dealerscope

11 June 2010

Poor user experience with smart meters a risk for energy suppliers

Smart meters
Smart meters represent a fork in the road for energy suppliers; engage with customers now and build value-added experiences that re-energise the supplier-consumer relationship, or do nothing and run the risk of third parties exploiting customer data and further eroding brand loyalty.

This white paper on smart meters by Foolproof explores potential applications of smart meters, and the opportunities this rich data source could create beyond basic energy consumption monitoring. A number of scenarios were presented to typical UK energy consumers to explore their potential impact.

The implications being that energy suppliers need to think and act now about how they will use smart meter data to strengthen and deepen customer relationships using the clues in this report. To do this, supply companies need to quickly promote customer experience to being a senior discipline.

Read article

7 June 2010

Hooked on gadgets, and paying a mental price

Brain on gadgets
The debate continues: scientists say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information from e-mail and other interruptions. The New York Times reports.

“Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.

These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.

The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. And for millions of people […], these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life.”

Read article

11 May 2010

Philips Design’s latest projects

Rice cooker
The latest issue of new value by design, the Philips Design newsletter, contains three short articles that sit closely to what we cover in this blog:

Self Health – Philips Design’s exploration into reconnecting people with their bodies
The latest Philips Design Probe, Self Health, takes a “provocative and unconventional look at areas that could have a profound effect on the way we understand and monitor our own health and make lifestyle choices 15-20 years from now.”
Unfortunately, the descriptions on the website are so short that one can only superficially understand the concept ideas that have been developed, and not at all assess their value.

Beyond glocalization – The value of design in emerging markets
Design helps business understand and innovate in new, promising markets, bringing long-term business success.
> Emerging markets design backgrounder (pdf)

Market driven innovation – Making rice cooking easier and healthier in China
An easier and healthier cooking solution for China, driven by a deep understanding of the local people and context of use.

9 May 2010

Homesense project launched

Homesense
Tinker London (the team promoting the use of Arduino in design) started a collaboration with EDF R&D on Homesense, an open user-centered research project investigating the use of smart and networked technologies in the home.

Homesense will bring the open collaboration methods of online communities to physical infrastructures in the home. Over the course of several months, selected households across Europe (UK, France and Italy initially) will have access to the latest in open source hardware and software tools, decide what they want to do with them in the context of their home and share the results with the world. Local technology experts will be selected to support them in the development of their ideas and the whole process from start to finish. The process will be documented by users themselves in the form of blogs, videos and images taken throughout a 3 month long process in the Autumn of 2010.

The team believes that better scenarios and solutions could emerge when design and research in this area can be conducted in an open way. This breaks from tradition as users, rather than seeing products forced on them by a top-down design process, will create their own smart home and live with those technologies they have themselves developed without prior technical expertise.