Download essay by Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future
Posts in category 'Ubiquitous computing'
“In Divining a Digital Future D&B reiterate many arguments made in earlier work, provide them with more flesh, and formulate some future directions for ubicomp. To be sure this is not a bad thing, neither for those who wish to read a book on the current state of affairs in ubicomp, nor for ubicomp researchers who wish to enlarge the scope of their own practice. The book attempts to foster an anthropological sensitivity among its (presumed) CHI readership. Fundamentally, their proposition to approach technology (and urbanism) through an ethnographic lens is highly relevant in my view. Imagine what the future of our cities look would like if it were the sole concern of coders and engineers? Indeed, we should never forget Jane Jacobs’ lesson that livable and lively cities are about people.
I also appreciate their relational view of ubicomp as intricately bound up with the messiness of everyday life, their concern with its multiplicity of forms and shapes, and their attention for fringes (edges, periphery, margins). Important too in my view is that D&B implicitly question the notion of ‘the everyday’. The everyday does not consist of stable pre-given categories (home, mobility, etc.) that can be supplemented with ubicomp. It arises from socio-cultural performances and is continuously negotiated. Still, they could have stated this even more explicitly, because ‘the everyday’ is so often unproblematically assumed as a self-explanatory term in both technology and urban studies.
That being said, D&B’s focus is too much directed inward in my view. D&B dish up insights from urban ethnography, sociology and human geography to a ubicomp audience. The ubicomp crowd may find this refreshing; those more familiar with these ‘soft’ disciplines will already consider such insights well-accepted. As said above, what I feel is lacking from their approach is a clear vision how ubicomp can reciprocate to an understanding of the intricacies of techno-urban practices. What can ethnography and urbanism learn from ubicomp?”
“At its best “Talk to Me” makes you aware of how our relationship to design has become more emotional and intuitive. Ms. Antonelli points out that “we now expect objects to communicate, a cultural shift made evident when we see children searching for buttons or sensors on a new object, even when the object has no batteries or plug.”
And the show is certainly a brave undertaking for a design department that’s still strongly associated with 20th-century modernism. It’s a big step from a Corbusier chair to an iPhone, or as Ms. Antonelli puts it, “from the centrality of function to that of meaning.”
But from a viewer’s perspective MoMA’s messianic embrace of smartphones in galleries is enervating. Call me a reactionary, but I’m convinced that looking, not scanning or tweeting, is still the primary purpose of a museum visit.”
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.
(via Tricia Wang)
“Just an hour ago on stage at TED Global, Jawbone announced the grand project they’ve been quietly working on for years: A wearable band called Up, which is infused with sensors and connected to computer-based software, allowing you to track your eating, sleeping, and activity patterns. [...]
The Up is intended to monitor your movement 24 hours a day. The connected, smartphone-based software will then be able to tell how much you’ve been sleeping and how much you’ve moved. Up will then combine that data with information about your meals, which you enter simply by taking pictures of using your smartphone camera. Then, the smartphone program will supply you with “nudges” that are meant to help you live healthier, day by day. For example, if you haven’t slept much, when you wake up the app might suggest a high-protein breakfast and an extra glass of water.”
Thirty years ago we asked what we would use computers for. Now the question is what we don’t use them for. Now, through technology, we create, navigate and carry out our emotional lives. We shape our buildings, Winston Churchill argued, then they shape us. The same is true of our digital technologies. Technology has become the architect of our intimacies.
Online, we face a moment of temptation. Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we conduct “risk free” affairs on Second Life and confuse the scattershot postings on a Facebook wall with authentic communication. And now, we are promised “sociable robots” that will marry companionship with convenience. Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere.
We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude. We turn to new technology to fill the void, but as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down.
MIT technology and society specialist Professor Sherry Turkle has spent fifteen-years exploring our lives on the digital terrain. Based on interviews with hundreds of children and adults, she visits the RSA to describe new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude.
Chair: Aleks Krotoski, academic, journalist and host of the Guardian’s Tech Weekly.
“Magic, or enchantment, is the right metaphor for the future of computing. [...]
Magic is a convenient metaphor of connected things because the affordances are there. You understand the object… and this motivates the incremental function. [...]
We can take a lesson from the history of the future to figure out what enchanted things will succeed or fail. The ones that satisfy primal wishes or fantasies will succeed. These primal wishes are revealed through narratives that we know and can analyze. It’s a psychology problem. Especially for Cinderella’s narcissistic stepmother. I’m not sure what robots wish for, but I can tell you what humans want:
We wish for six things that enchanted objects tend to satisfy:
For Omniscience, for human connection, for protection, for health (immortality is better), for effortless mobility or teleportation, and for expression (or creative manifestation).
These are the killer apps.”
Check also David’s recent reflection on the topic of “juicy feedback,” a term that comes from game design and describes when a small action produces a surprisingly large reaction. He uses this paradigm to develop six design ideas relevant to products intended to change people’s behavior.
David’s thinking was inspiring for an article in this month’s Wired Magazine, which argues that by providing people with information about their actions in real time, you give them a chance to change those actions, and push them toward better behaviors.
David Rose is a product designer, technology visionary, and serial 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, refrigerator doors, digital post-it notes, and umbrellas to make the physical environment an interface to digital information.
Rose founded Viant’s Innovation Center, an advanced technology group for Fortune 500s including Sony, GM, Schwab, Sprint and Kinkos. He helped build Viant to over 900 people, $140M and a successful IPO.
In 1997 Rose patented online photo-sharing and founded Opholio (acquired by FlashPoint Technology).
Before the Internet he founded and was President of Interactive Factory (acquired by RDW Group) which creates interactive museum exhibits, educational software and smart toys, including the award-winning LEGO Mindstorms Robotic Invention System.
Rose taught information visualization at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and currently teaches a popular course in tangible user interfaces at the MIT Media Lab. He is a frequent speaker to corporations and design and technology conferences.
Christian Nold and Rob van Kranenburg
Paperback, 67 pages
The Architectural League of New York
In Situated Technologies Pamphlets 8, Christian Nold and Rob van Kranenburg articulate the foundations of a future manifesto for an Internet of Things in the public interest. Nold and Kranenburg propose tangible design interventions that challenge an internet dominated by commercial tools and systems, emphasizing that people from all walks of life have to be at the table when we talk about alternate possibilities for ubiquitous computing. Through horizontally scaling grass roots efforts along with establishing social standards for governments and companies to allow cooperation, Nold and Kranenberg argue for transforming the Internet of Things into an Internet of People.
Download pamphlet (pdf)
Science and technology reporter Katia Moskvitch reports for BBC News.
City as a platform (video)
In her role as Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York, Rachel Sterne is tasked with strengthening the City’s digital media presence and streamlining internal digital communications.
In her talk Sterne demonstrated recent innovations that are shaping the city’s future. Mentioning how city resident participation is crucial with a real-time approach, attendees were shown “The Daily Pothole,” a Tumblr that tracks the D.O.T.’s progress in filling potholes in the five boroughs and its companion app, the roll-out of QR code technology on building permits, the NYC 311 app, as well as fielding service requests via Twitter.
Industrial Design: ID For The City (alternate) (video)
Duncan Jackson and Eoin Billings (interview), are both partners at Billings Jackson, a design firm specializing in public spaces. They spoke about their work, history and how they bridge the gap between architecture and manufacturing. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, they appreciate and embrace the the urban landscape for what it is. Crafting solutions that interpret design vision in city environments is their forté and the duo explained the value in understanding the intricacies of each place, culture, and its residents before beginning a new project. Their approach is exemplified through their architectural work, with city life exuding from each structure rather then being blurred by it.
Jo Pierson, Enid Mante-Meijer and Eugène Loos (eds.)
Peter Lang – International Academic Publishers
Recent developments in new media devices and applications have led to the rise of what have become known as ‘social media’, ‘Web 2.0’, ‘social computing’ or ‘participative web’. This shift in ICT, from unidirectional to conversational media of mass self-communication has lowered the technological thresholds for everyday users to cooperate for their own benefit, to participate in online environments and social network sites, to co-create business value and to become ‘produsers’ or ‘pro-ams’. At the same time, we see an evolution towards people-centred design and user-driven innovation in the design of new media technologies. This has created new opportunities and heightened expectations regarding user empowerment in different societal arenas.
However, the question remains to what extent users and communities interacting in an all-IP new media ecosystem are empowered (and not disempowered) to express their creativity and concerns in their social and cultural environment and to obtain a prominent role in the process of new media design and innovation. The book attempts to answer this question through a collection of chapters that scrutinise this issue. The different chapters focus on the way that social and economic opportunities and threats enable and/or constrain user empowerment.
This work consists of four major sections, each of which examines the (potential) empowerment/disempowerment of users in relation to new media technologies from a different angle. The chapters in the first section describe different theoretical perspectives on user roles and user involvement in the new media ecosystem, referring to interpretative, positivist and critical schools of thought. Based on these overall guiding frameworks, we then explore the leverage users have, both on content level and on technological level. This refers respectively to the second and third section of the book. In the fourth section different case studies are presented, each of which highlight how user empowerment manifests itself in different new media sectors and environments (such as publishing, the music industry and social networking sites).
The book is based on interdisciplinary research. It offers innovative insights based on state-of-the-art academic and industry-driven ICT user research in various European countries. This work will appeal to post-graduate students and researchers in the field of media and communication studies, social studies of technology, digital media marketing and other domains that investigate the mutual relationship between new media technologies and society.
- Yves Punie: Introduction: New Media Technologies and User Empowerment. Is there a Happy Ending?
- Enid Mante-Meijer/Eugène Loos: Innovation and the Role of Push and Pull
- Valerie Frissen/Mijke Slot: The Return of the Bricoleur: Redefining Media Business
- Serge Proulx/Lorna Heaton: Forms of User Contribution in Online Communities: Mechanisms of Mutual Recognition between Contributors
- Aphra Kerr/Stefano De Paoli/Cristiano Storni: Rethinking the Role of Users in ICT Design: Reflections for the Internet
- James Stewart/Laurence Claeys: Problems and Opportunities of Interdisciplinary Work Involving Users in Speculative Research for Innovation of Novel ICT Applications
- Marinka Vangenck/Jo Pierson/Wendy Van den Broeck/Bram Lievens: User-Driven Innovation in the Case of Three-Dimensional Urban Environments
- Mijke Slot: Web Roles Re-examined: Exploring User Roles in the Media Environment
- Philip Ely/David Frohlich/Nicola Green: Uncertainty, Upheavals and Upgrades: Digital-DIY during Life-change
- Eva K. Törnquist: In Search of Elks and Birds: Two Case Studies on the Creative Use of ICT in Sweden
- Levente Szekely/Agnes Urban: Over the Innovators and Early Adopters: Incentives and Obstacles of Internet Usage
- James Stewart/Richard Coyne/Penny Travlou/Mark Wright/Henrik Ekeus: The Memory Space and the Conference: Exploring Future Uses of Web2.0 and Mobile Internet through Design Interventions
- Sanna Martilla/Kati Hyyppä/Kari-Hans Kommonen: Co-Design of a Software Toolkit for Media Practices: P2P-Fusion Case Study
- Ike Picone: Mapping Users’ Motivations and Thresholds for Casually «Produsing» News
- Stijn Bannier: The Musical Network 2.0 & 3.0
- Enid Mante-Meijer/Jo Pierson/Eugène Loos: Conclusion: Substantiating User Empowerment
- Jo Pierson is Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel – Department of Communication Studies / SMIT (Studies on Media, Information and Telecommunication)
- Enid Mante-Meijer is emeritus Professor at Utrecht University – Utrecht School of Governance
- Eugène Loos is Professor at the University of Amsterdam – Department of Communication Science / ASCoR (Amsterdam School of Communication Research).
“When it comes to identity, users have historically been locked in a dance with the devil—our data in return for some subsidized service (search, email, whatever). Frankly, in the past it’s been a raw deal, because the data has typically been working for advertisers, rather than for us. But smart designers are now turning this equation on its head, creating a raft of sexy, bespoke services that use our data to better reflect our identities in their products, and (if we so choose) share that data with the wider world. They are designing these services to be transparent, intuitive, and delightful. And they are pointing the way towards a future where sharing data is actually worth doing.”
His main point is that “augmented reality is the experience of contextually appropriate data in the environment. And that experience not only can, but MUST, use every sense available.”
“If AR is the experience of any kind of data by any sense then we have the options to associate secondary data with secondary senses to create hierarchies of information that match our cognitive abilities.
For me, augmented reality is the extension of our senses into the realm of information shadows where physical objects have data representations that can be manipulated digitally as we manipulate objects physically. To me this goes further than putting a layer of information over the world, like a veil. It’s about enhancing the direct experience of the world, not to replace it, and to do it in a way that’s not about being completely in the background, like ambient data weather, or about taking over our attention.
So what I’m advocating for is a change in language away from “augmented reality” to something that’s more representative of the whole experience of data in the environment. I’m calling it “Somatic Data Perception” and I close on a challenge to you. As you’re designing, think about what IS secondary data and what are secondary, and how can the two be brought together?”
Mike Kuniavsky is a writer, designer, researcher and entrepreneur. His focus is the intersection of people and technology. His 2003 book, “Observing the User Experience,” has helped thousands of people understand the relationship between people and products, and it is used as a textbook by top universities around the world. His 2010 book, “Smart Things: ubiquitous computing user experience design” is a guide to the user-centered design of digital consumer electronics, appliances, and environments. He has designed dozens of award-winning product experiences that are used by tens of thousands of people every day. He is a cofounder of ThingM, an electronic hardware design, development and manufacturing company, and was a founding partner of Adaptive Path, an influential San Francisco internet consultancy.
Be nice to the telepresence robot
If you’re talking to a colleague on the other side of the world via their robotic representative, will it be rude to turn down its volume?
Stroll through data in the augmented city
City streets, buildings and even people are about to be painted with a vibrant array of virtual information and adverts.
Don’t invent, evolve
We are about to enter a new era of invention, thanks to software that can evolve designs we could never dream of.
Eat a printed dinner in your printed home
3D printers can fabricate objects of any shape – jewellery and machine parts for now, but printed buildings, food and even body organs could be on the way.
Jacking into your brain
Direct link between our brains and computers are set to challenge our notions of identity, culpability and the acceptable limits of human enhancement.
The crystal ball internet
Sentiments expressed in the torrent of blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates offer a powerful way to predict the future.
Digital wallets will empty faster
The ability to pay with a swipe of a cellphone will shorten queues in stores – and make it easy for us to spend much more.
As Bruce Sterling points out, Augmented Reality is “truly a child of the twenty-teens, a genuine digital native,” and one visible indication that …the Internet really could look like a “legacy.”
“The Legacy Internet as an old-fashioned, dusty, desk-based place best left to archivists and librarians, while the action is out on the streets.”
The fate of your online soul
We are the first people in history to create vast online records of our lives. How much of it will endure when we are gone?
Archaeology of the future
Future historians will want to study the birth of the web using our digital trails – but how will they make sense of it all?
Respecting the digital dead
How can we keep digital bequests safe without poking our noses where they’re not wanted?
Amateur heroes of online heritage
It’ll take more than money alone to preserve today’s internet pages for posterity
Digital legacy: Teaching the net to forget
We’ve begun to accept that the internet cannot forget, but the power to change that has been in our hands for decades
“Can a $5 or $10 app really make visiting cities like Paris, Tokyo, or Moscow a breeze? To find out, I flew to Rome carrying an iPhone 4 and a Samsung Captivate, which runs Google’s Android operating system. After three days of rigorous testing—during which I walked more than 25 miles, weaved past several thousand tourists, consumed two excellent bowls of pasta and molti cones of gelato, and downloaded over 100 megabytes of data—I had the answer. So, does AR deliver all that it promises? Not so much.”
Now the Intel website provides some more background on Intel’s work on Context Aware Computing.
“Context-awareness can make computing devices more responsive to individual needs and help to intelligently personalize apps and services. Using self-learning mechanisms, sensor inputs, and data analytics, Intel research teams are engaged in a number of projects that promise to take machine learning beyond the lab to practical, real-world applications.”
Most interestingly, the site goes into some depth on Intel’s current projects that explore the boundaries of context-aware computing:
- Online Semi-Supervised Learning and Face Recognition: Use face recognition in place of a password to log in to any protected site. The self-learning techniques being refined by this project can be adapted to many areas of context awareness.
- Context Aware Computing—Activity Recognition: This project is developing techniques so that your computer can adapt to your patterns of activity and, based on your needs and expectations, instruct and guide you on a daily basis.
- Context-Aware Computer—Social Proximity Detection: Your friends, family, and co-workers all play a role in determining how your daily activities unfold. This project identifies ways to use the proximity of people important in your life to adjust communications and to help coordinate activities.
There is also more information on Intel’s Tomorrow Project & Futurism initiative.
“The project features science fiction stories, comics and short screen plays based on current research and emerging technologies and examines their affect on our future. “
Check the stories by Douglas Rushkoff, Ray Hammond. Scarlett Thomas and Markus Heitz. The next one is by Cory Doctorow, it seems.
Based on the deep research and collective experience of PARC and other practitioners, both books draw on extensive case studies or field experience to make the areas they cover more accessible for broader audiences. The books highlight how innovations and business applications in these areas have and can give companies a real competitive edge, especially in today’s environment, where products are always at risk of being commoditized, the services sector increasingly dominates economic activity, and global competition is intensifying.
In Making Work Visible: Ethnographically Grounded Case Studies of Work Practice (Cambridge University Press, April 2011), Peggy Szymanski and co-editor Jack Whalen share how “ethnography” engagements are conducted, and how findings from these studies can lead to business impact. By applying naturalistic observation in different contexts to understand what people actually do – as opposed to only what they say they do – ethnography makes the unknown known, makes the tacit explicit, and reveals insights that would not otherwise be revealed. The embedding of social scientists in technology companies (often referred to as corporate ethnography) was pioneered at PARC in the 1970s, and has evolved here and elsewhere since. Drawing on contributions from PARC, Xerox, and other researchers throughout the world, this book demonstrates how ethnography can improve technology design and help develop better ways of working. The book focuses on case studies in production, office, home, and retail settings – including the critical “customer front.”
In Ubiquitous Computing for Business: Find New Markets, Create Better Businesses, and Reach Customers Around the World 24-7-365 (Financial Times Press, March 10, 2011), Bo Begole shares how companies can incorporate this game-changing technology into their products, services, processes, and strategies while mitigating their risks, making better decisions about “build vs. buy,” and sorting hype from real value. Conceived at PARC in the 1990s, the paradigm of ubiquitous computing – pervasive, mobile devices; embedded sensors and data; and seamless integration across physical and digital worlds – has recently exploded in the form of pervasive personalized devices and services. From the Web to the iPod, smart phones to social networks, “Ubicomp” technologies continue to interweave computing more deeply into human life than ever before, enabling massive new industries and destroying companies that can’t adapt. The book describes the general capabilities that Ubicomp technologies create, the limitations they face, and their impact across industry categories. Begole shares proven strategies for leveraging Ubicomp technologies to drive business value, illustrated with a number of real-world innovation case studies.
by Daniel Wigdor and Dennis Wixon
Paperback, 264 pages
Morgan Kaufmann, 2011
Natural user interfaces (NUIs) have been hailed as next evolutionary step in human-computer interaction. As software companies struggle to catch up with one another in terms of developing the next great touch-based interface, designers are charged with the daunting task of keeping up with the advances in NUI technology and this new aspect to user experience design.
Product and interaction designers, developers and managers are already well versed in UI design, but touch-based interfaces have added a new level of complexity. They need quick references and real world examples in order to make informed decisions when designing for these particular interfaces.
Brave NUI World is the first practical book for product and interaction developers and designing touch and gesture interfaces.
Written by the team from Microsoft that developed the multi-touch, multi-user Surface® tabletop product, this book gives you the necessary tools and information to integrate touch and gesture practices into your daily work, presenting scenarios, problem solving, metaphors, and techniques intended to avoid making mistakes.
Daniel Wigdor is UX Architect and Platform Architect at Microsoft and an Assistant Professor of computer science at the University of Toronto. Before joining U of T, he worked at Microsoft in nearly a dozen different roles, among them serving as the User Experience Architect of the Microsoft Surface product, and as a cross company expert in the creation of Natural User Interfaces. Dennis Wixon is currently Discipline Lead for Microsoft US BPD. Prior to this role he was the head of research for Microsoft Surface, and has also managed research teams at Microsoft Game Studies, and MSN/Home Products.Sample chapter