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Posts in category 'Mobility'

5 May 2009

Taking my community ‘to go’

On call
The latest issue of Vodafone’s Receiver Magazine is entitled “Seizing the Moment”:

“Bending and transcending the constraints of time and space has gotten easy for us. With our mobiles and netbooks, we’re about to create a social setting in which communication and self-expression are possible not only on the go, but also at the speed of thought. We can convert dead time into creative time, are provided with information when we need it, can react to events in an instant and enjoy each precious little moment with our dear ones. Constant contact has become so convenient that we sometimes have to keep ourselves from cramming as much as we can into every second.”

The articles come in weekly instalments, and in her contribution to receiver Mary Chayko, professor and chairperson of sociology at the College of St Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey looks at the connections we make and the social networking that takes place on the internet and mobile phones. She discusses the immediacy and the appeal, the challenges and the complexities, of our spending so many moments interacting in on-line and mobile “portable communities”, and all this in a very human-centred way.

“Portable communities and social networks would not have become such enticing ‘places’ in which to devote so much of our time if the social connections made there were not real and genuine.

It’s clear by now (though it wasn’t when I began studying all this almost twenty years ago) that real social bonds and communities are made with the assistance of technology. These connections can be vivid, authentic, reciprocal, and highly meaningful for people. Of course, sometimes, they are none of these things. But generally, in the emotional, often intimate, immediacy of the moments spent on-line (especially with wireless and mobile devices) social connections are made easily – connections which very much matter to us. They bring about real tears and smiles, create real friendships and partnerships and break up real marriages and careers. In short, they produce genuine feelings and pleasures and problems, with real and definite consequences which, the sociologist »» W.I. Thomas says, is the true test of realness. We do on-line and mobile social connectedness a disservice (and fail to understand it fully) when we treat it as anything less than fully real.”

Read full story

8 March 2009

Share my ride

Zipcar
The New York Times Magazine on the service design concept behind car sharing:

“Car sharing, is a pay-per-use system, which has the effect of significantly altering driving behavior. Evidence suggests that sharers drive from a quarter to half as much as owners — a staggering reduction in energy consumption. Not only do they drive less frequently, but they also drive differently. They “chain” their trips, making multiple stops along the shortest route in order to drive most efficiently. They save money, do better by the environment and contribute less to congestion. Car sharing also has an appealing communal spirit.”

Read full story

6 March 2009

Microsoft Research’s “Technology for Emerging Markets” group

Technology for Emerging Markets
The Technology for Emerging Markets group at Microsoft Research India seeks to address the needs and aspirations of people in emerging-market countries, including those who are increasingly consuming computing technologies and services, as well as those for whom access to computing technologies remains largely out of reach.

“The research in this group consists of both technical and social-science research. We do work in the areas of ethnography, sociology, political science, and economics, all of which help understand the social context of technology, and we also do technical research in hardware and software to devise solutions that are designed for emerging and underserved markets, both in rural and urban environments.”

Check out some of their projects.

3 March 2009

Design thinking for the future at LIFT09

LIFT 2009
The session devoted to Design Thinking was my personal favourite of the entire 2009 LIFT conference.

Beyond the engineers and business’ discourse about the future, what is it designers can propose? What sort of alternatives are they envisioning? What’s the role of design thinking in creating more meaningful futures?
With Fabio Sergio, James Auger and Anab Jain and open stage talks by Fabian Kalker and Felix Koch, and Bill Thompson.

Note: this post contains embedded video which might now not show up in your rss feed.

Fabio Sergio

(Note that the above video is actually in English, and not in French, and that it doesn’t always load).

Fabio Sergio (blog | site) is a design and user experience strategist, and creative director at frog design.

At LIFT he presented a designing for social impact project: Masiluleke (which means “lend a helping hand” in Zulu), a breakthrough approach to reversing HIV and TB in South Africa and beyond.

Frog was asked to conduct a project on this in New York and Sergio is simply relaying the project approach and results (he didn’t work on it himself).

Based on on-the-ground research, it became clear to t he designers that HIV is primarily a problem of information and social stigma in South Africa.

The methodology used was the normal Frog one of shaping the user experience, which goes from immersion, to synthesis, to concept development, and to service design.

In South Africa more than 80% of the population has access to a mobile device. So one of the key ideas of the Masiluleke project is to broadcast sms in the unused space of the “Please Call Me” (PCM) text messages (a special, free form of SMS text widely used in South Africa and across the African continent). These messages can connect mobile users to existing HIV and TB call centres, and remind patients to take theirs drugs.

But the project also wanted to facilitate local testing, so they created a low cost in-home self-test kit with mobile support, that was conceived for easy local production and assembly.

Design, says Sergio, is “how it works” not “how it looks”. When we talk about design as a future shaping discipline, you have to understand people and their behaviour. We don’t call this testing, but verification, as testing implies standing out of the activity.

The secret ingredient to it all is empathy. People-centred design goes beyond usage or consumption. It is also about culture and seeing people how people react to things within their culture.

Technology in this context is just a material to sketch with.

James Auger

James Auger is a partner in the critical design practice Auger-Loizeau whose projects explore the role of technology as a mediator and modifier of the human experience in both contemporary and future societies. He teaches on the Design Interactions course at the Royal College of Art in London and is currently undertaking a design practice based PhD looking into the role of robots in the home environment.

James talks about another way of approaching design. Some call it critical design, others discursive or speculative design. By removing the commercial content, we are free to dream and to see things in a slightly different way than they are done at the moment.

The mibEC was an audio tooth implant that looked at the ramifications of biotechnology. This implant, which was positioned as a real product, could be inserted during normal dental surgery and would give you superhuman capabilities. It gathered a huge amount of press attention and was voted as best invention of 2002 by Time Magazine (who never talked to James).

At Medialab Europe, Auger-Loizeau critiqued our immersive use of mobile technology, and created the IsoPhone, an immersive environment for deep social conversation. The 40 to 50 people that tried it at Ars Electronica all said it really changed the way they thought about telecommunications.

Now they are working on a new provocative, discussion-generating project: the carnivorous domestic entertainment robots, that explore the idea of evolution, value and aesthetics.

All these robots are based on microbial fuel cells, which turns organic matter into electrical potential.

What kind of services exist in real life environments that do that that could inspire our designs? Many people own a vivarium, where they feed real life animals to other animals.

James and Jimmy (Loizeau) developed a series of prototypes taking this idea to the extreme, such as the Flypaper Robotic Clock, the Lampshade Robot, the Fly Stealing Robot, the UV Flykiller Parasite Robot, and the Coffee Table Mousetrap Robot.

Anab Jain

Anab Jain (blog | website) is an independent designer and film maker. She likes to tell speculative stories of possible near futures at the intersection of the technological and sociological. She also likes to make these stories tangible by using design objects as props and narratives. Most of all, she likes to play with tomorrow by engaging with people in every possible way. Until recently she was design lead on a project at Microsoft Research Cambridge, which attempted to rethink notions of machine intelligence by developing product and service scenarios around biotechnology and RFID. Currently she works as a service and interaction designer at Nokia Design in London, while developing her emerging design practice ‘Superflux’.

Anab Jain’s talk, entitled “Learning to play with Tomorrow“, was according to me (together with Bill Thompson – see below), one of the best of this conference.

She talked about design futurescaping, which is using design methods like storytelling, experience prototyping, making scenarios tangible, and talking to people on a daily basis, to influence how our near future will turn out.

Anab started off with referring to some historic examples of designers for whom the process of sketching has been hugely influential in their thinking, and allowed them (and us) to think outside of the box.

Two projects Anab worked on in the recent past illustrate this new way of thinking.

The future of work“, a project for Colebrook, Bosson & Saunders, a product design and office furniture company, explored the nomadic nature of work in contemporary life. The client wanted an open-ended project, that created new ways of thinking about the future of work, and opened up new spaces for product innovation. They were particularly interested in the home worker, the nomadic worker and the office worker, and in the demographic of the elderly worker.

Anab decided that the best way to find out what this future would be was to put these people in the future, and she created personas which she projected fifteen years into the future. She invented new jobs for them and placed them in a fictional space, which she called Little Brinkland. By having a new job, they needed new work places, new products and new services, which Anab chronicled about. Many practical service ideas and scenarios came out of this project.

The other project she talked about was loosely titled “Rethinking machine intelligence” (a.k.a. Life and Death in Energy Autonomous Devices and Objects Incognito), a project done in collaboration with Alex Taylor at Microsoft Research in Cambridge.

The group at Microsoft Research that Anab Jain was part of was quite critical of smart homes of the future, simply because the way intelligent machines work may change drastically. Their concept was that the everyday ideas of intelligence are not fixed, but are active in the world. Anab designed a small number of interventions that can show how material things are imbued with intelligence. Perhaps we can even start thinking of new objects and new kinds of computing machines.

To explore better what intelligence means, she designed four objects, the Gubbins, that are mini single-track robots. They are storytelling devices that can be situated through scenarios in people’s everyday lives, and are meant to get people think about ‘smart objects’ in the home.

One of the ideas that came out of the research is that people associate intelligence with living things. This brought up the question how to embed this quality of life, of biological “livingness”, in everyday objects.

So they created the Eco Board, which is an autonomously powered robot, which powers itself. This was then further iterated in objects that are made of sugared and powered things in our homes, but had a fixed lifespan, and in a big radio that can live forever as long as you feed it.

Open stage talk: Fabian Kalker and Felix Koch

The two “lefthanded bloodbrothers from back in the days” Felix Koch, strategic planner and Fabian Kalker, musician/composer, talked about knives, “just knives”.

In five minutes Felix and Fabian went through their wittily called presentation “Who has no knife may not eat pineapples. An off-topic tour d’horizon on the literacy of cutting“, and shared their insights about cutting-culture ( and the most memorable/painful experiences acquiring it ).

This pure and simple user experience presentation was for many in the audience one of their favourites. A must to see on video.

Open stage talk: Bill Thompson

Bill Thompson is a UK technology critic and commentator and his talk, entitled The death of privacy and why we should welcome it., was just marvellous, bringing together philosophical concepts with the mundane tasks of dealing with privacy on Twitter, in a series of thought-provoking questions.

The enlightenment idea of privacy is breaking apart under the strain of new technologies, new social tools, new practices, new ways of seeing things.

Bill thinks that instead of worrying about it, we should embrace it as an opportunity to rethink what we understand by ‘personality’, and perhaps even to find new ways of being human.

how we engage and interact with others and where the boundaries can be put between the public and private, because those of us who live our lives in the open are the avant-garde: we can take on those who believe in the old truths, and we can a find way to live in the new world.

Every Twitterer, Tumblr, Dopplr or Brightkite user at Lift is sharing more data with more people than even the FBI under Hoover or the Stasi at the height of its powers could have dreamed of. And you are doing it voluntarily, willingly, because you are hoping to benefit in a variety of ways. You believe that this unwarranted disclosure will in the end produce some public good, or even some private benefit.

Those of us who are ahead of the curve when it comes to the adoption and use of technologies that undermine the old model of privacy, should start thinking about what it means.

We can offer advice and support to those who might be less happy to have their movements, eating habits, friendships and patterns of media consumption tracked and made available to all.

We can begin to explore what it might be like to be a post-private human, or perhaps a human in recovery from the stultifying burden of privacy.

Bill Thompson is telling the “great God Google” everything about himself, and has no expectation that that data is or will remain private.

The reason he objects to the encroachment of the database state is because he is aware of the power that the asymetrical relationship gives the state at the moment.

Yet to some extent the power only exists because we believe there is a border between public and private. But this only matters if we believe in the individuals, if we believe in people that have behaviours, characteristics and personalities instead of accepting that each one of us is simply a contingent set of responses to stimuli, that we are defined by the people and situations around us.

The idea of the monolithic personality is in fact a mistake. We do not exist in the sense that we think we exist, and therefore we do not require privacy in the sense that we currently think about it. It is a necessary illusion.

We have a legal framework that is based on assumptions of individuality, existence and personality, that encourages us to draw lines. Bill Thomson is not sure those lines should be drawn any more.

We need to think about it again. The technologies we have around us now are challenging the enlightenment way of thinking, and what it means to be a human being at all. We have the option now of taking the big risk of living life in the open, and to embrace it. Privacy is over already.

This will not work for everyone. Some will suffer. That may be the price we have to pay for finding a new enlightenment, a digital enlightenment, that is far more powerful and important even than the first enlightenment was. But in order to do we have to get over the idea of privacy.

1 March 2009

Carlo Ratti, Dan Hill and Anne Galloway on the ‘long here’ at LIFT09

LIFT 2009
One of the best sessions of the entire LIFT conference took place on Thursday afternoon.

As half of the world is now living in cities, it’s undeniable that the recombination of our physical environment through technological advancements will lead to unexpected changes, problems but also new opportunities. Carlo Ratti, Dan Hill and Anne Galloway discussed how our relationship to space will change through various new technologies and examine the main challenges of this field.

Note: this post contains embedded video which might now not show up in your rss feed.

Carlo Ratti

An architect, engineer and agit-prop, Carlo Ratti (wikipedia) practices in Torino, Italy, and teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, where he directs the SENSEable City Laboratory.

The digital layer didn’t really kill the physical layer. They combined. Bits and data are coming together to provide new types of experiences in urban space. The challenge is to provide new ways of sense making by getting rid of all the information we don’t need.

To illustrate the point of information visualisation, Carlo showed a lot of work that has taken place at the SENSEable City Lab.
- Cellphone activity during the World Cup Final in Rome
- Real Time Rome
- The world’s eyes (based on Flickr location data)
- globe encounters
- the world inside new york
- Digital Water Pavilion for Zaragoza 2008

Dan Hill

(Note that the above video is actually in English, and not in French).

Dan Hill (blog) has been working at the forefront of innovative information and communication technologies (ICT) since the early ‘90s. He was one of the key architects of a BBC redesigned for the on-demand media age, launched Monocle magazine, organised the architecture and urbanism conference, Postopolis, in New York, and runs City of Sound, generally acclaimed as one of the leading architecture and urbanism websites. For Arup, Dan is helping clients explore the possibilities of ICT from a creative, design-led perspective, re-thinking how information changes streets and cities, neighbourhoods and organisations, mobility and work, play and public space.

Dan started off his talk “soft infrastructure” with a particularly vivid example of soft infrastructure attacking, i.e. not behaving as it should be, as he spent four days getting from Australia to Zurich.

It may not matter how good the hard infrastructure is, it is the soft infrastructure that affects how you feel, what the experience is like.

At ARUP, a hardcore engineering firm, Dan deals with interaction design, software design, IA, service design, looking at the wider context of the organisation, systems and people, urban design, urban informatics. But not only.

Soft infrastructure is also about business models, the legal and political context, the belief systems and the social and cultural fabric.

Dan then takes a step back and showed the movie “The City”, the Regional Planning Association of America’s plea for community chaotic cities and urban sprawl (watch it here: part 1 and part 2).

Another example of that mindset is the book New Movement in Cities (1966, featuring several pre-Archigram diagrams from Warren Chalk, Ron Herron and Dennis Crompton) that shows a city of arteries and tubes, and a clip from the magisterial 1963 film Hands Over the City, directed by Francesco Rosi.

What happened?
Why didn’t these visions of the future turn out differently?

People happened, not technology.
Social, cultural and political belief systems changed.
Industry moved out of cities, and finance moved in.
And the leisure society didn’t happen at all.
The city became valued by pocket calculators (something to slice and dice).

Soft infrastructure gives us a few possibilities though, and one of them is the possibility to bend the physical city, e.g. through informational approaches to transit (examples are MIT’s City Car project and the Volkswagen 2028 project).

Both these projects are based on freedom and availability, but not on ownership.

The city of the future is the walking city, the biking city – with human-scaled, walkable urbanism, augmented with informatics.

These interventions – e.g. bikesharing – change how the city feels without changing the physical infrastructure. Other ways of doing this is by providing people with real-time information about their city.

This makes you feel as if you are in control of the transit network and not the other way around, and pulls the transit network back down to the level of people.

Another change that informatics is bringing about is that work is becoming invisible. You don’t know anymore what knowledge workers are working on. So how can we make this invisible work visible again?

The latent promise of informatics is that things can indeed change in response to information, and we need to use user-centred design techniques in this context.

Read also this excellent post-talk reflection by Dan, which contains several of the videos he presented.
 

Anne Galloway

There is no video of the talk (yet) by Anne Galloway, which is too bad, because she is quite an engaging speaker and my notes are not too great.

Anne Galloway (site | blog) who teaches design and computation arts at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, recently completed a PhD in sociology and anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, which involved an ethnographic study of the design of mobile and pervasive technologies for urban environments. Interested in connections between technological, spatial and cultural practices, Anne’s current research explores how actor-network theory and critiques of everyday life can help people understand and shape emergent technologies.

When envisioning the future city, we also have to address people’s expectations, promises and hopes. These however are not qualities we have, but actions we do. We expect. We promise. We hope.

They make some futures and not others.
They guide our activities and provide structure & legitimation.
They attract interest and foster investment.
They define roles & clarify duties.
They offer visions of how to prepare for opportunities and risks.
They mobilise resources at global, national, institutional and individual levels.
They warrant the production of measurements, calculations and models.
They broker relationships between different people & groups.
They build mutually binding, obligations and groups.

What if we imagine the future city as a gift we want to give people?

Gifts are powerful, but gifting is tricky business.

The gift
- what is the relationship between the giver and the receiver?
- what can each expect of the other?
- how do you know she evens wants your gift?

Gifting
- how will you know if he appreciates your gift?
- what will you do if she dislikes your gift?
- how will you act if he misuses your gift?
Have you ever gotten a great gift you didn’t use?

Now let’s think again about gifted cities. Cities that provide us with ‘interesting information’ and feedback loops, for free, for us to use.

But what am I going to do with that?
What are we going to do with these presents?

Citizens, the argument goes, can use these data to take political action, to better map the environment around them.

But this requires first of all that we want to be data collectors and that we have the ability to make sense of the data we collect.

The new urban citizen in other words creates “gifted risks”
- when active citizenship requires access to technology, people without access effectively become non-citizens.
- when scientific data are the most appropriate types of evidence a citizen can collect, political action relies on conformity to existing structure of knowledge and power.

So in conclusion, when you are building the new city,
- what kind of future city do you hope to give?
- what kind of city do you hope to receive?

1 March 2009

Nicolas Nova and David Rose on change at LIFT09

LIFT 2009
The entire morning of the first day of the LIFT conference was devoted to change. I selected a few presentations here that I found personally most stimulating.

Note: this post contains embedded video which might now not show up in your rss feed.

Nicolas Nova

Nicolas Nova (blog) is a user experience researcher who studied at EPFL and now works for LIFTlab as a researcher, blogger and consultant, and the editorial manager of the conference.

In his talk entitled “The Recurring Failure of Holy Grails“, Nicolas focuses on the failed product of the future to better understand possible design futures. Examples he highlights were the videophone (launched in 1969), the intelligent fridge (1996), location-based services (1983), – products that never broke through when they were launched.

All these examples share overoptimisim, a recurring reinvention of the wheel with little knowledge of similar attempts, a sincere conviction that this the product is a holy grail solution, and lots of press attention.

But why do they then not break through? Often these products are stuck in a particular frame of thinking that limits the vision of what is possible. They are not really disruptive and tend to extrapolate the short term to the long term. The designers tend to focus on the ‘average human’ and have no real understanding of human needs and differences, and tend to have a slanted view of what constitutes ‘natural interaction’.

These failed products are weak signals of possible futures (as they often contain good ideas) and can provide inspiration for design.

David Rose

David Rose (personal page) is a product designer, technology visionary, and social entrepreneur. Currently David is Chief Executive at Vitality, a company that is reinventing medication packaging with wireless technology. Rose founded and was CEO of Ambient Devices where he pioneered glanceable technology: embedding Internet information in everyday objects like light bulbs, mirrors, refrigerators, umbrellas to make the physical environment an interface to digital information.

In his talk entitled “Enchanted Objects – how fiction foreshadows innovation”, David elaborates on the themes earlier introduced by Nicolas Nova and tries to understand what magical objects can teach us about the ‘web of things’. (Note that he doesn’t use the term ‘Internet of Things’). His hypothesis is that there are at least a dozen or so persistent needs, wishes or fantasies that seem to carry through millennia of time, and keep reinventing themselves in different ways.

He shows how for instance the fantasy is the object for clairvoyance was the inspiration for Ambient Devices’ single pixel browser, which makes you aware in a pre-attentive manner.

Pre-attentive processing can also be triggered by angular displacement, and this was used in a dashboard system developed by Ambient Devices.

Another promise of glanceable information became a display for weather information and sold hundreds of thousands. It has no buttons and is not navigable. You can only read it. It was even imbedded once in a refrigerator.

If the fantasy is to know, there are different type of representations that take different time to know. Often more glanceable information are more valuable, because you read them faster.

David also collaborated with Orange in the design of a display with a proximity sensor that tailors the resolution of the information to people’s distance. It gives more granular information when you are close to it, but just a very big general number when you are looking at it from far away.

Another fantasy deals with socialisation and communication. The big opportunity according to David lies in presence applications, without requiring any intentional input and requiring any cognitive overload.

Then there is the fantasy of healing, exemplified by magic potions or fountains of youth. This was the inspiration for health feedback devices, e.g. a glowing pill bottle caps that alert patients to when they need to take their medication, or a mirror that gives you feedback about your health.

Finally David highlights the fantasy of protection, e.g. magical sword, which of course was the inspiration for the ambient umbrella that knows when rain is coming. It highlights an approach that embeds the intelligence in the objects or environments that are relevant for you at that particular moment.

1 March 2009

Adam Greenfield towards a newer urbanism

Adam Greenfield
Adam Greenfield, Nokia’s head of design direction for service and user-interface design, is frequently featured on Putting People First as his thinking is close to our own interests.

According to his Twitter feed, he is not entirely happy in Finland, but having lived up north myself, I have to share with Adam that the long dark winters have a way of getting at you. Patience, Adam. The bright, light summer is coming soon.

In a lengthy interview (12,500 words) by Tish Shute, Greenfield talks about augmented reality, virtual worlds, Usman Haque’s Pachube project, the networked book, the networked city, and what to do at the end of the world.

“You know what I’d really like to see interaction design wrestle with? I would love to see a rigorous, no-holds-barred examination of the complexities of the self and its performance in everyday life, and how these condition our use of public space (and personal media in public space). I would love to see the development of ostensibly “social” platforms informed by some kind of reckoning with issues like vulnerability, dishonesty, the fact of power dynamics. In other words, before we deign to go about “helping” people, wouldn’t it be lovely if we understood what they perceived themselves as needing help with, and why?

I’d also pay good money to see talented interaction designers turn their efforts toward tools for the support of deliberative democracy, for the navigation of complex multivariate decision spaces, and for conflict resolution.”

Another quote I enjoyed, is Adam’s thinking on the role of everyware in reducing carbon footprint/energy management etc:

“I’m not skeptical about the potential of ubiquitous systems to meter energy use, and maybe even incentivize some reduction in that use – not at all. I’m simply not convinced that anything we do will make any difference.

Look, I think we really, seriously screwed the pooch on this. We have fouled the nest so thoroughly and in so many ways that I would be absolutely shocked if humanity comes out the other end of this century with any level of organization above that of clans and villages. It’s not just carbon emissions and global warming, it’s depleted soil fertility, it’s synthetic estrogens bioaccumulating in the aquatic food chain, it’s our inability to stop using antibiotics in a way that gives rise to multi-drug-resistance in microbes.

Any one of these threats in isolation would pose a challenge to our ability to collectively identify and respond to it, as it’s clear anthropogenic global warming already does. Put all of these things together, assess the total threat they pose in the light of our societies’ willingness and/or capacity to reckon with them, and I think any moderately knowledgeable and intellectually honest person has to conclude that it’s more or less “game over, man” – that sometime in the next sixty years or so a convergence of Extremely Bad Circumstances is going to put an effective end to our ability to conduct highly ordered and highly energy-intensive civilization on this planet, for something on the order of thousands of years to come.”

Read interview

1 March 2009

Nissan interaction design team suffers to make future cars simple and painless

Nissan prototype
With the help of a proprietary “ageing suit” that mimics the mobility and faculties of an elderly driver, interaction designers at Nissan Design Center were able to create a unique interior-concept prototype.

“It is almost painful to watch Nissan designer Naoki Yamamoto get out of a test car. To understand the challenges aging drivers face, the 39-year-old interaction specialist is encased in a proprietary “aging suit” that gives him the mobility and faculties of a driver twice his age. “Sure, it’s uncomfortable,” Yamamoto says, “but to really understand a problem you have to feel it in your bones.”

At an “Interaction Design Workshop” today at the Nissan Design Center in Atsugi, Japan, Yamamoto demonstrated to reporters one of many methods Nissan’s Interaction Design team employs in a continuing effort to make future car interiors easier to understand and more comfortable to use.”

Read full story

31 January 2009

35 Picnic conference videos

PICNIC
On Vimeo you can find no less than 35 videos of the Picnic conference. They are great.

My personal favourites (quite a few):

Jim Stolze: The virtual happiness project
“Virtual Happiness” is a research project that aims to provide insights on the relationship between internet usage and happiness.
- Jim Stolze specializes in new thinking on digital communication.

Matt Hanson: Celebrating Collaborative Creativity
Matt Hanson, a filmmaker, working on the open-source movie project A Swarm of Angels

Panel Discussion: Celebrating Collaborative Creativity
In this fast paced session, several examples of collaborative creativity are under review- what processes and business models appear? What changes will occur in the movie, music, ppublishing and advertising industry?
Moderator: Laurent Haug, entrepreneur and co-founder Liftlab
- Matt Hanson, a filmaker, working on the open-source movie project A Swarm of Angels
- Ton Roosendaal, founder of Blender, an open-source, cross-platform suite of tools for 3D creation
- Katarina Skoberne is the co-founder and managing director of OpenAd.net, ‘The biggest Creative Department’
- Pim Betist, a music lover and founder of Sellaband, an audience supported business model for bands.
- Eileen Gittens, founder and CEO of Blurb, has built a creative publishing platform that makes it easy for anyone to design, publish, share and sell real bookstore-quality books

Ben Cerveny: Can you see what I know?
Artists, scientists and designers are exploring a new world of software aesthetics and developing new languages for interactive and visual expression. How can we make information intuitively meaningful?
- Ben Cerveny is a strategic and conceptual advisor to Stamen, specialists in creative visualization. He is highly regarded experience designer and conceptual strategist.

Stefan Agamanolis: Dueling with Distance
Based on his work at MIT and Distance Lab, Stefan Agamanolis reports on hot trends in communication and connectedness that are doing battle with distance in unexpected ways, ranging from sports games you play over a distance to telephones crossed with flotation tanks.
- Stefan Agamanolis is the Chief Executive and Research director of Distance Lab

Matt Jones: The Emerging Real-Time Social Web
Matt Jones is a creative director and user experience designer who worked a Sapient and the BBC before founding travel service Dopplr

Jyri Engestrom: The Emerging Real-Time Social Web
Jyri Engestrom is a social scientist as well as the founder of the Finnish mobile presence service Jaiku, which was acquired by Google in 2007; his subsequent move to Silicon Valley resulted in his renewed attention to social processes in new media platforms.

Conversation the Emerging Real-Time Social Web
With ubiquitous internet connections and a surge of connected mobile services, slices of reality can be saved that people could not capture before. Saving and sharing our presence, we can feel those of others as well. We are on the verge of a reality with ‘social peripheral vision’, in which ambient friendships flourish and life stories and life’s details are stored, shared and searchable.
- Matt Jones is a creative director and user experience designer who worked a Sapient and the BBC before founding travel service Dopplr
- Philip Rosedale is founder of the 3D online world Second Life and a pioneer in virtual worlds
- Addy Feuerstein is the co-founder and CEO of AllofMe, a service that allows you to create digital personal timelines form digital assests such as pictures, videos, and blogs.
- Jyri Engestrom is a social scientist as well as the founder of the Finnish mobile presence service Jaiku, which was acquired by Google in 2007

Younghee Jung: Design as a Collaborative process
New interactions develop into new design practices; new processes induce new forms of creativity. How can creators involve the peopele they want to create for in their work?
- Younghee Jung, a senior design manager at Nokia, shows how users are imagining new products.

Bill Moggridge: Design as a Collaborative Process
New interactions develop into new design practices; new processes induce new forms of creativity. How can creators invovle the people they want to create for in their work?
- Bill Moggridge is founder of IDEO, one of the most successful design firms in the world and of the first to integrate the design of software and hardware into the practice of industrial design.

Ethan Zuckerman: Surprising Africa
A presentation on vibrant and fast-moving tecnological and creative developments in cities and rural areas across Africa, from mobile naking to new communication patterns.
- Ethan Zuckerman, the co-founder of Global Voices, a research fellow at the Berkman Center, and a prodigious blogger interested in hte impact of technology on the developing world.

Conversation with Ethan Zuckerman, Helen Omwando and Binyavanga Wainaina: Surprising Africa
An update on vibrant and fast-moving technological and creative developments in cities and rural areas across Africa, from mobile banking to new communication patterns.
- Ethan Zuckerman, the co-founder of Global Voices, a research fellow at the Berkman Center, and a prodigious blogger interested in the impact of technology on the developing world
- Helen Omwando, head of market intelligence for Royal Philips Electronics
- Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan author and journalist

Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody
A revelatory examination of how the spread of new forms of social interaction enabled by technology is changing the way humans form groups and exict within them. Our age’s new technologies of social networking are evolving- and causing us to evolve into new groups doing new things in new ways.
- Clay Shirky is a leading Internet thinker, the author of Here Comes Everybody, and a sharp analyst of social media developments.

Wolfgang Wagener and Jared Blumenfeld: Eco Map
What can we do with an open source collaboration platform that enables citizens and business to see collective results of their actions?
- Wolfgang Wagener, Director, Sustainable Cities Connected Urban Development, CISCO and Jared Blumenfeld, Director, Department of the Environment, City and County of San Francisco

Euro Beinat: The Visible City
What if we could view an entire city from above, as if from an airplane – and see not only the buildings and squares but also all the human beings populating it, oudoors and indoors?
- Euro Beinat, professor of location awareness at Salzburg University, CEO if Geodan Mobile Solutions, and founder of the Senseable Future Foundation

Stan Williams: Tracking our World
CeNSE: The Central Nervous System for the Earth is based on the believe that nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionise human interaction with the Earth as profoundly as the Internet has revolutionised personal and business interaction.
- Stan Williams, HP senior fellow; director, HP Information and Quantum Systems Lab

Adam Greenfield: The Long Here, the Big Now, and other tales of the networked city
Future urban life will thrive on new modes of perception and experience, based on real-time data and feedback. What will the networked city feel like to its users? How will it transform our sense of the metropolitan?
- Adam Greenfield , head of design direction for Nokia and author of Everyware

Charles Leadbeater – We Think: The Power of Mass Creativity
The conflict between the rising surge of mass collaboration and the attempts to retain top-down control will be one of the defining battles of our time. An exploration of what this means for our culture, the way we work, government, science and business.
- Charles Leadbeater, thinker, famed policy advisor to former UK prime Minister Tony Blair, and author of We Think, a groundbreaking analysis of a changing world

Charles Leadbeater in conversation with Clay Shirky
The conflict between the rising surge of mass collaboration and the attempts to retain top-down control will be one of the defining battles of our time. An exploration of what this means for our culture, the way we work, government, science and business.
- Charles Leadbeater, thinker, famed policy advisor to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and author of We Think, a groundbreaking analysis of a changing world,
- Clay Shirky, leading Internet thinker

(via Laurent Haug)

31 January 2009

Dopplr designer Matt Jones on bionic noticing

Matt Jones
Reporting on PSFK’s Good Ideas Salon yesterday in London, Guardian writer Jemima Kiss highlights the presentation by Dopplr designer Matt Jones:

He sees mobile as something of a super power device and described something he calls “bionic noticing” – obsessively recording curious things he sees around him, driven by this multi-capable device in his pocket. [...]

He’s frustrated with the disembodied way that we engage with mobile devices: “beautiful shiny plastic things with some gangly bag of mostly water tapping away on them”.

“We should be an embodied person in the world rather than a disembodied finger tickling a screen walking down the street. We need to unfold and unpack the screen into the world.”

Read full story

Photograph: adactio/Flickr/Some rights reserved

31 January 2009

W3C workshop on the future of social networking

W3C
A few weeks ago, W3C, the body in charge of global web standards directed by Tim Berners-Lee, organised a Workshop on the Future of Social Networking in Barcelona, with a high level goal of bringing together the world experts on social networking design, management and operation in a neutral and objective environment where the social networking history to date could be examined and discussed, the risks and opportunities analysed and the state of affairs accurately portrayed.

Within the W3C workshop, the issues facing social networking growth could be documented and, in this workshop in particular, taking into account social networking on mobile devices/platforms with and without PC/broadband Internet services.

The workshop also explored whether it is worthwhile to consider the creation of an Interest or Working Group under the auspices of W3C to continue these discussions.

The discussions of the workshop were fed by the input of the 72 (!) position papers submitted by the participants, and animated by the Program Committee composed of experts from the industry and academics on this topic.

Companies that submitted papers include Atos Origin, Ericsson, IBM, Microsoft, Opera, Samsung Electronics, SUN, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Vodafone, Yahoo!, and YouTube, so the papers section definitely requires a quick scan. You can read the brief summaries by Libby Miller on each of them.

You can also read rough minutes of Day 1 and Day 2 of the workshop, download the slides of the various presentations (linked from the agenda) and watch videos of some of the sessions.

In a short article, the New Scientist focuses on one of the papers on the potency of mobile social networking in developing market economies (with the great subtitle: “The Revolution will be ‘mobil’-ised”), written by South Africa-based mobile social media consultant Gloria Ruhrmund.:

Western consumers are becoming used to the idea that the computing power of their phone is catching up with what is traditionally expected from a computer. But in Africa and some other poor regions it is phones that have all the computing power – mobile handsets far outnumber PCs and broadband connections.

As a result, innovative new uses of mobile connectivity are appearing in those developing areas first, possibly providing a glimpse of what the future holds for cellphone users in richer countries.

25 January 2009

People-centric sensing in the city of the near future

People-centric sensing
Fabien Girardin, whose work I start to know (and appreciate) more and more, just uploaded the presentation of his research work in the domain of people-centric sensing, presented last week at Yahoo! Research lab in Barcelona.

Abstract
Technological advances in sensing, computation, storage, and communications is turning people as sensors of their own environment. Indeed, the increasing deployment of wireless and mobile devices produce new types of dynamic urban data that people generate by passively and actively interacting with these ubiquitous technologies. In this talk, I will illustrate through a few examples how the analysis and visualization of these data gives the ability to show previously invisible urban dynamics resulting in opportunities to inform the urban design, planning and management processes. Moreover, the increasing integration of these technologies into the fabrics of our lives could create more responsive cities in which authorities, service providers and citizens can monitor urban processes and react to events in real-time. Finally, I will ponder these opportunities by highlighting the complex socio-technical assemblage that challenges researchers and practitioners in designing the integration of these new dynamic urban information into people’s daily life.

Download presentation

15 January 2009

People-centric sensing in the city of the near future

Flickr sensing
More on people-centric sensing, this time by LIFT’s Fabien Girardin, and it’s as if he is taking the Nokia paper I just wrote about one step further:

“In the past, sensors networks in cities has been limited to fixed sensors, embedded in particular locations, under centralised control. Now, there new application that leverage humans as sensors and their volunteer generated information. It becomes necessary to discuss their integration into the city of the “near future”, the city “produced” by the activity of its actors and inhabitants. In the scope of my research work, I particularly consider the implication of this emerging amount of data and their effect on contemporary practices in the city.”

Read article

15 January 2009

Sensing the world with mobile devices

Sensing
The Nokia Research Center published a short paper on participatory mobile sensing that I like very much because of its human-centred approach:

By putting mobile phones in the hands of human participants, we can take advantage of users as creators, custodians, actuators, and publishers of the data they collect.

That’s a good thing, because the physical world contains more sensory data than we can possibly comprehend. Even while moving across great distances, humans narrow down observations via critical decisions, reality checks, and inferences. Which data is important? How much do we need? How can we use the data to tell a better story? Humans make opportunistic choices on the spot, taking into consideration immediate factors not possible using digital methods.

A people-centric sensing network would behave much like a self-organizing organic system, with personal data interplaying in fluid and unpredictable ways with environmental, community, and global data. And since the data is organic by nature, it calls to mind an ecosystem more than an architecture—capable of self-assembling dynamically as the data and its constructs shift and expand.

Download paper

(Check also this website on Nokia’s SensorPlanet project)

24 November 2008

The rise of the sensor citizen

Citizen Science
The current issue of Vodafone’s Receiver magazine — on space and location — is one of the best yet. Every week the editors invite another thoughtful thinker to contribute an essay on the topic, and this week the honour goes to Anne Galloway.

Anne Galloway (blog) recently completed a PhD in sociology and anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, which involved conducting an ethnographic study of the design of mobile and pervasive technologies (download dissertation). She is interested in connections between technological, spatial and cultural practices, and her current research explores design as a social and cultural activity and asks how social and cultural relations are designed.

In her (somewhat academically written) Receiver contribution she takes a close look at community mapping and sensing projects, and points out both the opportunities and challenges for activism made possible by locative technologies.

“Community mapping and sensing projects that use commonly available consumer electronics as environmental measurement devices, enable people to collect and view a wide array of location-based data. As a form of public science, such projects stand to reinvigorate environmentally focused civic engagement. However, given public concerns around environmental risks and their connections to technological progress, I believe that this kind of active citizenship should promote more critical reflection on the values and goals of the very projects that expect to create such profound changes in these domains, and carefully consider the limits of its own power.”

Read full story

A related paper is “Mobile Publics and Issues-Based Art and Design.” To Appear in Sampling the Spectrum, edited by Barbara Crow, Michael Longford and Kim Sawchuck, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming 2008.

20 November 2008

The world as the interface – location data and the mobile web

wwwtomtomcom
Jonathan Follett, president and CEO of Hot Knife Design, Inc., a Boston based UX and web collaborative, shares his thoughts on the hybrid experience of interacting with on-line data in the physical world, through the mobile geospatial web.

The article was published in the current issue of Vodafone’s Receiver Magazine, which is all about space, exploring how we are using the world itself as our interface.

“There is a world of information that we can’t immediately see in the streets we walk and drive in, and in the buildings in which we work, play, and live. The great potential of the mobile geospatial web is to reveal this hidden world to us, by adding geospatial and timing data to the user experience in an instant. But this immediacy also presents challenges we must weigh carefully, if we are to successfully create geospatial mobile experience.”

Read full story

20 November 2008

Nokia designs the future

Curtis
Alastair Curtis, Nokia’s chief designer, discusses his design inspirations, coming Nokia devices and how Indian teenagers will influence the future of mobility, in an interview published on Forbes.com.

As Nokia’s chief designer, a post the company veteran has held since 2006, he influences the look and feel of the millions of cellphones the Finnish communications giant produces each year.

Curtis describes his role as promoting “the intelligent use of creativity” within Nokia. He says he feels privileged to work in a fast-moving industry–his team just completed a first take on the firm’s 2010 product portfolio–but also stresses the importance of doing something right, as opposed to first.

Read interview

9 November 2008

Nokia’s Jan Chipchase on nine trends in social interactions

Jan Chipchase
Videos of the September LIFT conference in Seoul, Korea are slowly being posted. The latest one is by Jan Chipchase, a well-known Nokia user researcher.

“He details the nine trends he thinks will shape the future of social interactions, trends he identified through the extensive field work he and his team are conducting around the world. Jan’s work shows how the digital devices are creating new practices and usages by becoming smaller and smaller, opening up a new design space for the mobile industry.”

Jan is not entirely happy with this video, as he thinks the talk is a draft, still a little rough around the edges.

- Watch video
- Slides and presentation notes

26 October 2008

Timo Arnall on design directions for physical interfaces

The web in the world
Timo Arnall, a designer working with interactive products and media, runs a design research project that looks at emerging technologies at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.

In a new presentation he explores the current shift in technology from screen-based interaction to physical interaction with the world around us.

In the same way as the web is quickly extending onto the mobile platform, we are starting to see the web moving further into the physical world. Many emerging technologies are beginning to offer physical-world inputs and outputs; multi-touch iPhones, gestural Wii controllers, RFID-driven museum interfaces, QR-coded magazines and GPS-enabled mobile phones.

These technologies have been used to create very useful services that interact with the web such as Plazes, Nokia Sports Tracker, Wattson, Tikitag and Nike Plus. But the technologies themselves often overshadow the user-experience and so far designers haven’t had language or patterns to express new ideas for these interfaces.

This talk will focus on a number of design directions for new physical interfaces. We will discuss various ideas around presence, location, context awareness, peripheral interaction as well as haptics and tangible interfaces. How do these interactions work with the web? What are the potentials and problems, and what kinds of design approaches are needed?

20 October 2008

How mobile is changing our society

Teemu Arina
Teemu Arina, who will speak at the upcoming Mobile Monday event in Amsterdam, has put a lengthy essay on his blog on the topic “how mobile is changing our society.”

“I have a feeling that the question we pose today is wrong. It’s not about mobile anymore. For some people, mobile means the devices that we carry around as we move, usually hooked up to a cellular network. The truth is, the activities we go through online with computers and what we do with our “mobiles” cannot be seen as separate anymore. This convergence means our language needs to change or our culture will never understand its future.

As ordinary physical items enter the same network, it’s not going to be about virtual or physical activities anymore. Both will be different faces of the same coin. It’s not going to be about context or not. Context will be the primary component of everything. The primary device will no longer be a “mobile”, but more like something that interacts with the network in a highly contextual way. Ideas, people and physical objects will be part of the same network in a very literal sense.”

Read full story

(via Smart Mobs)