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Posts in category 'Appliance'

29 April 2010

A special report on television

Acropolis
This week’s Economist contains a special report on television. The leader article presents television as the great survivor, which has coped well with technological change:

“It helps that TV is an inherently lazy form of entertainment. The much-repeated prediction that people will cancel their pay-TV subscriptions and piece together an evening’s worth of entertainment from free broadcasts and the internet “assumes that people are willing to work three times harder to get the same thing”, observes Mike Fries of Liberty Global, a cable giant. Laziness also mitigates the threat from piracy. Although many programmes are no more than three or four mouse clicks away, that still sounds too much like work for most of us. And television-watching is a more sociable activity than it may appear. People like to watch programmes when everybody else is watching them. Give them devices that allow them to record and play back programmes easily, and they will still watch live TV at least four-fifths of the time. [...]

That box might appear to be sitting in the corner of the living room, not doing much. In fact, it is constantly evolving. If there is one media business with a chance of completing the perilous journey to the digital future looking as healthy as it did when it set off, it is television.”

Here is the rest of the report:

Changing the channel
Television is adapting better to technological change than any other media business, says Joel Budd

Beyond the box
Television rushes online, only to wonder where the money is

Ahoy there!
The perils of piracy

The lazy medium
How people really watch television

An emergency screen
Mobile television is unlikely to take off

The killer app
Television needs sport almost as much as sport needs television

Who needs it?
Three-dimensional television is coming, whether you want it or not

Here, there and everywhere
Television is spreading in new directions

An interactive future
The last remaining mass medium needs to engage with its audience and target its offerings

29 April 2010

Two new articles on RFID interaction

Touch
Timo Arnall, the acclaimed interaction designer, alerts us to the fact that Touch project PhD researcher Kjetil Nordby has just published two journal articles on interactions with RFID and NFC.

“These articles pull together concepts from ubiquitous computing and HCI, integrated with high-level interaction design practice, alongside analysis from activity theory, and come up with novel theories for the field of design research.”

In the Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing the article Multi-field relations in designing for short-range RFID analyses some of the conceptual foundations for multi-field inputs with RFID enabled artifacts.

The article Conceptual Designing and Technology: Short-Range RFID as Design Material published in the International Journal of Design unpacks RFID—or fields—as design material, and looks at designers motives around emerging technologies.

24 April 2010

The imitation economy

Imitation
Innovation is overrated, writes Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe. It’s time to appreciate the power of the copycat.

“Invaluable though innovation may be, our relentless focus on it may be obscuring the value of its much-maligned relative, imitation. Imitation has always had a faintly disreputable ring to it — presidents do not normally give speeches extolling the virtues of the copycat. But where innovation brings new things into the world, imitation spreads them; where innovators break the old mold, imitators perfect the new one; and while innovators can win big, imitators often win bigger. Indeed, what looks like innovation is often actually artful imitation — tech-savvy observers see Apple’s real genius not in how it creates new technologies (which it rarely does) but in how it synthesizes and packages existing ones.”

Read article

22 April 2010

A new age of user-repaired devices

iFixit
iFixit launched today today a “global repair community” with the aim being user-level repairs of any device.

CrunchGear comments: “Such a project is well-timed; the relationship between user and manufacturer is becoming more one-sided. It doesn’t trouble you that the devices we use every day are so poorly documented, or constructed in such obscure ways, that one has to be an Apple-qualified technician or Dell customer service person to fix a simple problem? “

Read article

21 April 2010

The Screen and the Drum

Design and Culture
The latest issue of Design and Culture contains an article by Louise Crewe, Nicky Gregson and Alan Metcalfe on “homemaking”.

Entitled The Screen and the Drum: on Form, Function, Fit and Failure in Contemporary Home Consumption, it describes the complex relationships people have with their domestic appliances.

“This paper explores consumers’ connections to their domestic objects. Focusing on two particular objects (televisions and vacuum cleaners), the paper reflects upon why consumers desire particular domestic objects and how they assemble, arrange and use things in the home. It reveals how functionality is intimately infused with form, how design informs the consumption of everyday domestic objects and how both function and form can fail, deceive and trick. the mundane movements and moments that comprise homemaking encompass a whole suite of entanglements between object, subject, agency and space. In all sorts of ways this opens up exciting – but also difficult and perplexing – possibilities for consumer agency in the production of home. New kinds of temporality, the rapidity of fashion and design shifts, transformative technologies and new modes of fabrication require new forms of consumption knowledge, competence and skill.”

Download article

(via Nicolas Nova’s Pasta&Vinegar)

20 April 2010

Transition for display industry

Displays
Interesting, this point of view from the Samsung Economic Research Institute:

“As demand for CRT display devices winds down and the penetration rates of TVs and PCs in advanced markets rises, the rise in demand for display devices is forecast to slow. Also, slowing production of display devices with ever-larger screens and a drop in prices are contributing to the current decline of the display device industry. Next-generation technologies capable of reversing this downward trend are desperately needed, but conditions are inadequate.

In order to adapt to the change, the industry has been modifying its development channels toward a greater focus on user applications. Efforts are being made to increase user convenience via larger interfaces and to create more realistic displays. [...]

In line with new development channels, companies that produce displays must also enact change. In the product planning and development phase, companies should adopt a user-centered perspective. In particular, technological innovations in the interface between IT devices and users should be sought.”

Read article
Download report

20 April 2010

Emerging-market consumers are hard to reach

Hard to reach
The Economist explores the topic of consumer research in emerging markets:

“Emerging markets are far more varied and volatile than mature ones. There is little money around: the average income per person in China is around $3,500 and in India $1,000. Cultural complexities are confounding and tastes are extraordinarily fluid. People who are not used to brands flit easily from one to another.

This has turned great metropolises such as Shanghai into vast laboratories of consumer research. Companies are always coming up with new products, or tweaking old ones, to suit local tastes and meet idiosyncratic preferences. Unilever makes its soaps and shampoos foamier than their Western equivalents. P&G produces toothpaste in herbal and green-tea flavours. PepsiCo adds spice to its potato chips. Adidas has created two kinds of shops—“local” ones that specialise in sportswear designed for Asian bodies and “global” ones that sell the same products as in the West. The shopping mall beneath the company’s regional headquarters in Shanghai has one of each kind.

Innovation extends to changing entire business models.”

Read article

12 April 2010

Putting People First content partner of Appliance Design

Appliance Design
Putting People First has become a content partner of Appliance Design, the site of the US-based magazine of the same name that caters to designers and engineers in the global, commercial and medical appliance/durable goods industry.

The partnership is not financial. Putting People First simply selects blog posts that could fit the audience of the Appliance Design site. If you are already following our blog regularly, you don’t have to do anything: these posts are simply part of our regular updates.

This engagement towards Appliance Design is part of Experientia’s overall strategy to share current thinking and practices on user-centered design and experience design, and our commitment to sustainability.

Appliance Design covers durable goods such as HVAC, majors, water processing, housewares, commercial appliances, vending, medical lab, test & measurement, lawn and garden, electronics, computers, communications, and business equipment.

11 April 2010

Interactions Magazine – March/April 2010 issue

interactions
The latest issue of Interactions Magazine is about a new intellectualism of design, write co-editors Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko: one that embraces discourse, dialogue, systems thinking, and the larger role of designers in shaping culture.

Here are the articles available for free online:

interactions: exploring aspects of design thinking
Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko
Popular discussion of “design thinking” has reached a point of frenzy. Unfortunately, there is often little depth to the discussion, and for many, the topic remains elusive and vague. While each issue of interactions has included articles about or reflecting the application of design thinking, this issue addresses the topic a bit more directly.

Evolution of the mind: a case for design literacy
Chris Pacione
As we come to the end of the first decade of the 21st century and what many consider the end of The Information Age, a recent flurry of books, articles, and initiatives seem to indicate that a new, pervasive mind shift is afoot. It’s called design, and like arithmetic, which was once a peripheral human aptitude until the industrial age forced it to be important for everyone, recent global changes and the heralding of a new age are positioning design as the next human literacy.

Design thinking in stereo: Brown and Martin
Paula Thornton
By 2006 an IIT Institute of Design interview with Roger Martin, titled “Designing Decisions,” told of his conversion to the concept when noting the language and behaviors of designer friends. That same year, Tim Brown presented fundamental thoughts on design thinking that also caught my attention. By the end of 2009 both Martin and Brown had released books on the topic.

Designing interactions at work: applying design to discussions, meetings and relationships
Roger Martin, Jennifer Riel
Ultimately, designers and business leaders want the same thing: transformative ideas that can be translated into real value. Yet, even with this common purpose, the interactions between design teams and business leaders often represent the biggest stumbling block to the development of breakthrough ideas. How often has a brilliant design idea been strangled in its infancy by a client who could not, or would not, “get it”? How often is breakthrough innovation stopped short by number crunchers who don’t understand the process of design or the insights afforded by it? And how often do business folks moan that designers lack even the most basic understanding of cost and strategy?

From Davis to David: lessons from improvisation
Liz Danzico
Improv is extending its practicality. Designers have been adopting improvisation design methods in their own practices. Made more visible by organizations such as IDEO and Pixar and the research of people from Elizabeth Gerber at Northwestern University and Steve Portigal at Portigal Consulting, we’re seeing how improvisation can be powerful in interaction design work. With collaboration activities in particular, improv becomes especially important when untangling complex problems that require teamwork or just getting a client unstuck.

Technology first, needs last: the research-product gulf
Don Norman
Design research is great when it comes to improving existing product categories, but essentially useless when it comes to breakthroughs.

Sugared puppy dog tails: gender and design
Elizabeth Churchill
Designers are not passive bystanders in the production, reproduction, reinforcing, or challenging of cultural values. We actively create artifacts and experiences. We design products with implicit or explicit assumptions about how products will be used and by whom. We mentally simulate the product user who is part of an imagined story of the product in use – these imaginary people are drawn from our everyday lives and usually have a gender, perhaps a shape, size, age and ethnicity. Thus we embed imagined, gendered others into our designs, inadvertently reproducing cultural norms because they seem so “natural.” And so in a chain of reification and reproduction, products are wired in subtle ways that reflect and reinforce existing cultural assumptions.

The lens of feminist HCI in the context of sustainable interaction design
Shaowen Bardzell, Eli Blevis
One might identify feminism’s central tenets as commitments to agency, fulfillment, identity, equality, empowerment, and social justice. I think these commitments make feminism a natural ally to interaction design. As computers increasingly become a part of everyday life, feminism is poised to help us understand how gender identities and relations shape both the use and design of interactive technologies – and how things could be otherwise, through design.

MyMeal: an interactive user-tailored meal visualization tool for teenagers with eating disorders
Desmond Balance, Jodie Jenkinson
Since patients with eating disorders (EDs) have demonstrably abnormal perceptions of the size of food, a meal-visualization tool could help patients with EDs feel more comfortable about portions by helping them understand what appropriate food portions look like in the context of a balanced meal.

On design thinking, business, the arts, STEM …
Jon Kolko, Richard Anderson
Why [is it] only now [...] that the language related to the intellectual and intangible aspects of design is beginning to catch on?

11 April 2010

Durability – is it losing power as a customer driver?

Dina Mehta
In a three-part article series, Dina Mehta, founder and managing director of Mosoci India, argues that durability is losing its power as a consumer driver in some product categories in India.

Somehow this is sad news.

“For the most part, my feeling is that while [durability] may still hold importance for some categories, it’s seen as a given – a hygiene-factor almost, that users expect from their products. Research I’ve done in the last few years indicates that neither a brand differentiator nor a purchase driver, as it was even just 7-8 years ago.”

Read article: part 1 | part 2 | part 3

Also check out a series of presentations that Metha found on principles, processes, personas, ideation, creativity, scenarios and story in Design Thinking for new product development.

11 April 2010

Your life in 2020

2020
Forbes Magazine, in collaboration with Frog Design, has been looking at what the future in 2020 might look like in a range of areas: computer, choice, classroom, commute, home, job, diet, health and reputation.

Some articles are clearly more inspired (and less technology and US-centered) than others. Many scenarios are far too optimistic, and I miss some broader socio-economic and environmental analysis. What could be the real consequences of privacy concerns, crime, cultural differences, war, climate change, overpopulation or poverty in all this?

Here is for instance a quote from one of the scenarios (about social networking in 2020) that, when thinking about it, would open up a huge range of privacy and security problems, none of which are acknowledged or addressed:

“The virtual display could be used to illustrate relationships between a group of people. A husband and wife might be linked by a thin glowing tether. Flowchart arrows could indicate if one person is another’s boss. Even former friends–people who were once connected but severed ties–could be identified with broken chains or angry lightning bolts.”

This lack of broader contextualisation makes the whole exercise somewhat naive and superficial. That said, here are my preferred pieces (with Steve McCallion’s one – addressing some of the issues mentioned above – my personal number one):

Your life in 2020
by John Maeda, president of RISD
In 2020 we might just regain some of the humanity that was lost in 2010.

“So, what will take technology’s place? It begins with art, design and you: Products and culture that are made by many individuals, made by hand, made well, made by people we trust, and made to capture some of the nuances and imperfections that we treasure in the physical world. It may just feel like we’ve regained some of what we’ve lost in 2010.”

Your computer in 2020
by Mark Rolston, chief creative officer at Frog Design
Traditional computers are disappearing; human beings themselves are becoming information augmented

“When computing becomes deeply integrated into our knowing, our thinking, our decision processes, our bodies and even our consciousness, we are forever changed. We are becoming augmented. Our first and second lives will be forever entwined.”

Transportation in 2020
by Steve McCallion, executive creative director at Ziba Design
In 10 years, your commute will be short, cheap and, dare we say, fun.

“In 2020 a new generation will emerge from a period of frugality into one of resourcefulness and resilience. Americans will start searching for transportation solutions that are smarter, healthier, slower and more social.”

The classroom in 2020
by George Kembel, cofounder and executive director of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design
The next decade will bring an end to school as we know it.

“In 2020 we will see an end to the classroom as we know it. The lone professor will be replaced by a team of coaches from vastly different fields. Tidy lectures will be supplanted by messy real-world challenges. Instead of parking themselves in a lecture hall for hours, students will work in collaborative spaces, where future doctors, lawyers, business leaders, engineers, journalists and artists learn to integrate their different approaches to problem solving and innovate together.”

Reputation in 2020
by David Ewait, Fortune Magazine
Social networks change the way we look at the world and introduce new economic incentives.

“Web-based social networks are cutting-edge technology in 2010. By the year 2020 they’ll be so commonplace–and so deeply embedded in our lives–that we’ll navigate them in the real world, in real time, using displays that splash details over our own field of vision. We’ll even use the social capital that results from these networks as a form of currency.”

But if you understand French, it is useful to compare these insights with the five videos broadcast on the France 5 channel: vivre en 2040.

6 April 2010

Natural user interfaces are not natural

Donald Norman
In his bimonthly column in the ACM CHI magazine, Interactions, Donald Norman argues that most gestures are neither natural nor easy to learn or remember.

“Gestures lack critical clues deemed essential for successful human-computer interaction. Because gestures are ephemeral, they do not leave behind any record of their path, which means that if one makes a gesture and either gets no response or the wrong response, there is little information available to help understand why. The requisite feedback is lacking. Moreover, a pure gestural system makes it difficult to discover the set of possibilities and the precise dynamics of execution. These problems can be overcome, of course, but only by adding conventional interface elements, such as menus, help systems, traces, tutorials, undo operations, and other forms of feedback and guides.” [...]

“Gestural systems are no different from any other form of interaction. They need to follow the basic rules of interaction design, which means well-defined modes of expression, a clear conceptual model of the way they interact with the system, their consequences, and means of navigating unintended consequences. As a result, means of providing feedback, explicit hints as to possible actions, and guides for how they are to be conducted are required.”

Read article

2 April 2010

Co-creation: not just another focus group

Twist
To launch Twist, a new men’s fragrance in its global Axe brand, Unilever turned to a preapproved crowd of eager young amateurs for help. Venessa Wong reports in Business Week.

“In July 2008, Unilever executives convened 16 regular young men and women from around the world at a meeting in New York. Why? To tap them for ideas for a new global fragrance for Axe, a brand of men’s body spray, antiperspirant, and shower gel. The company had previously experimented with consumer-driven product development for local launches, but never for one on such a large scale.”

Read article

> Related article

25 March 2010

Book: Ubiquitous computing user experience design

Smart Things
At Lift France 09, Mike Kuniavsky spoke about Changing Things: Fab Labs, towards decentralized design and production of material products (link to 25 min. video).

Kuniavsky’s new book on ubiquitous computing user experience design is now finished and will be shipping in August.

Based on case studies, the book will show the evolution of products caused by ubiquitous computing. It also describes frameworks and processes, as well as giving practical advice on how to handle these unique design challenges.

Abstract:

The world of smart shoes, appliances, and phones is already here, but the practice of user experience (UX) design for ubiquitous computing is still relatively new. Design companies like IDEO and frogdesign are regularly asked to design products that unify software interaction, device design and service design — which are all the key components of ubiquitous computing UX — and practicing designers need a way to tackle practical challenges of design. Theory is not enough for them — luckily the industry is now mature enough to have tried and tested best practices and case studies from the field.

Smart Things presents a problem-solving approach to addressing designers’ needs and concentrates on process, rather than technological detail, to keep from being quickly outdated. It pays close attention to the capabilities and limitations of the medium in question and discusses the tradeoffs and challenges of design in a commercial environment. Divided into two sections ? frameworks and techniques ? the book discusses broad design methods and case studies that reflect key aspects of these approaches. The book then presents a set of techniques highly valuable to a practicing designer. It is intentionally not a comprehensive tutorial of user-centered design’as that is covered in many other books’but it is a handful of techniques useful when designing ubiquitous computing user experiences.

In shot, Smart Things gives its readers both the “why” of this kind of design and the “how,” in well-defined chunks.

  • Tackles design of products in the post-Web world where computers no longer have to be monolithic, expensive general-purpose devices
  • Features broad frameworks and processes, practical advice to help approach specifics, and techniques for the unique design challenges
  • Presents case studies that describe, in detail, how others have solved problems, managed trade-offs, and met successes

Mike Kuniavsky is a founding partner of Adaptive Path, a user experience consulting company in San Francisco. He has been developing commercial web sites since 1994, and is the interaction designer of an award-winning search engine, HotBot. He created the Wired Digital User Experience Laboratory and served as its chief investigator for two years. His design work and writing have appeared in many publications, including WebMonkey, ID Magazine, Wired, Step-By-Step Design, Inc., The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times, and .Net (UK).

22 March 2010

Connectile dysfunction

Connectile dysfunction
Designers can play a pivotal role, writes Mark Baskinger, associate professor in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, in empowering elders towards sustained autonomous living through improving the communicative properties of everyday products.

“Products fail us every day. For some reason, though, we tend to blame ourselves for those failures—for our inability to perform adequately, our lack of understanding, and, sometimes, our unsafe practice. A product’s physical/visual form needs to communicate to the user on an immediate and intuitive level what the product’s purpose is and how it should be used. Without this communication, a gulf or disconnect can develop between what a user is trying to do (his intent) to do and what he actually does (his action).

This disconnect—caused by complexity, physical configuration, and/or poor information mapping—can prime a hazardous scenario, lead to misuse, foster product abandonment, or induce personal injury. This problem is especially pronounced for elders suffering from age-related physical, cognitive, and sensorial changes, for whom product-related accidents, unsafe practice, and personal injury are common.

Addressing this disconnect between intent and action—this “connectile dysfunction”—can be a key approach for developing products for at-risk populations. It encourages safe practices and enhances the quality of users’ experiences. In this sense, designers can have a positive impact in peoples’ daily lives.

Designers can play a pivotal role in empowering elders toward sustained autonomous living through improving the communicative properties of everyday products.

This article introduces emergent themes for designers developing product experiences for an aging population, with a specific focus on major home appliances.”

Read article

18 March 2010

Creating new concepts, products and services with user driven innovation

Creating new concepts, products and services with user driven innovation
From the Nordic Innovation website:

User driven innovation is emerging as one of the successful ways of creating breakthrough innovations for companies and organisations.

In this project called “Create concept innovation with users“, a Nordic and Baltic consortium lead by FORA has been able to identify four generic methods of working with user driven innovation:
– user test,
– user exploration,
– user innovation, and
– user participation.

Even though these methods might vary slightly from one company to the other, they have some basic features which are common. When working with users, companies might choose to include the users either directly or indirectly in the innovation process, depending on what type of knowledge the company wants to obtain from the user. Users’ ability to communicate and express their problems and needs varies greatly and will also influence the user driven innovation method chosen by a company. Sometimes users are fully aware of what problems they face and which needs they experience, while in other cases they will not be able to communicate or articulate what they are experiencing.

Based on this framework, the project members interviewed companies in the Nordic and Baltic countries about how they work with user driven innovation, what innovation outcomes they achieved and how satisfied they were with the processes during the project. Furthermore the project members wanted to get an understanding of whether there were any differences among the Nordic and Baltic countries regarding the methods they used by mapping the user driven innovation activity among companies and organisations.

Download report

13 March 2010

Guardian supplement on service design

Service design
The Guardian, one of the leading UK newspapers, has publish an eight-page supplement on service design (pdf) – subtitled “Design innovation in the public and private sector – in association with the Service Design Network (that Experientia is a member of).

“Service design is a relatively new discipline that asks some fundamental questions: what should the customer experience be like? What should the employee experience be like? How does a company remain true to its brand, to its core business assets and stay relevant to customers?

Design is a highly pragmatic discipline. That is why it is of such interest to business: it gets results. But if at its heart lies the idea of experience, then, as this supplement shows, the methods and ideas behind service design can equally be applied to the public sector. We reveal how service methods can help design experiences that are more efficient and more effective.

We also take a look at developments in sustainability for transport and water systems, as well as at changes in the voluntary sector, where the question: “Can design help change the world?” is increasingly gaining relevance.”

Articles cover service innovation management in major industries, service reform in the public sector, sustainability in the financial sector, car design as service ecosystem design, environmental design and social innovation. Much attention is devoted to methodology. Also included are interviews with Dan Pink (author), Joe Ferry (Virgin Atlantic) and others.

11 March 2010

IBM’s hottest new cell phone market: senior citizens and the illiterate

Senior citizen
Among cell-phone users in developed countries, IBM is betting the market with the biggest growth potential is…people over the age of 65. Fast Company reports.

IBM’s two-year research program, which also involves the National Institute of Design of India and Tokyo University, will explicitly focus on making cell phones easier to use, for both the elderly and the illiterate. Moreover, the software it develops will be open-source, so all governments and businesses can take advantage.

Read full story
Read press release

18 February 2010

Design bugs out

Hospital design
The Design Council and the Department of Health partner to combat the spread of infection in U.K. hospitals. David Sokol reports in Metropolis Magazine.

“Patients go into hospitals to be cured of what ails them, but the ugly truth is that some get sick from being there. In 2007, around 9,000 people in the United Kingdom died from hospital-borne infections. Though the National Health Service has implemented procedural changes that have halved the number of antibiotic-resistant staph infections, or MRSAs, in the last three years, the agency is not content to stop there. [...]

In July 2008, the DH turned to the Design Council for solutions. The resulting program, called Design Bugs Out, began with a team conducting interviews for a month with patients and caregivers in NHS hospitals in Huddersfield, Manchester, and Southampton. From that research, health-care experts determined 11 categories of products in which redesigns could drastically reduce infection-related fatality rates.”

Read full story

14 February 2010

Americans increasingly elevating experiences over things

Montoya
Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things, reports The New York Times.

“Because of the Great Recession, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online.

But Americans are not just getting by with less. They are also doing more.

Some are working longer hours, but a larger proportion, the poll shows, are spending additional time with family and friends, gardening, cooking, reading, watching television and engaging in other hobbies.”

Read full story