6 May 2009

User-centred approach drives the design of Intel’s new home storage solution

Be the first to share

Home storage architecture
In December last year, Intel design researcher Daria Loi made a very strong presentation at the UPA Europe conference showing how people in different cultures “keep, protect and find what they value”.

She and others in her team actually went into the homes of people around the world to see how they store both physical and digital things, in order to use their insights of people’s mental model on storage in the development of better digital storage solutions.

(The presentation is not online but can be requested by contacting surrealist.milliner@gmail.com.)

After all, we don’t store things like computers do. But what is a human-centred storage model and how to implement that in a digital storage system?

Now Intel has published two extensive and highly recommendable articles, co-written by Frank Hady, director of network storage pathfinding, and Michael Payne, director of experience definition and assessment, describing in detail how these insights of the design research have been taken forward.

Taken as a whole, they provide an excellent case study of the relevance of a user-centred approach in the design of new and innovative technology-based products and services.

The first article, “Why We Need Whole Home Storage Architecture“, describes the insights of the design research:

“Our findings indicate clear gaps in the ability of current products to simply and intuitively help people to protect, share and access media that is of value to them. […] This article presents an overview of what Intel’s consumer research tells us about home storage trends – and how whole home storage architecture can help fill the gaps.”

Five key insights came out of the design research:

  • People acquire digital media from many places with many different devices, and although people around the world share high-level objectives, including the desire to find and create digital media, protect and store it, easily find and access it, and ultimately enjoy and share it, there are also many differences to be taken into account.
     
  • The volume of digital media is growing rapidly, and it is clear that the continuing growth in the volume of media in coming years will be a huge problem for people worldwide, if comprehensive solutions are not made available.
     
  • Disjointed ‘islands’ of digital media stored on multiple devices make access difficult. As time passes and the media library and number of devices continue to expand, managing the entire media collection across these islands of storage can become an overwhelming problem.
     
  • People are concerned about the safety of their media. Yet many people do not back up, or if they do, they will often use failure-prone disks and platforms with limited lifetimes.
     
  • Today’s solutions have significant limitations. Many consumers report being overwhelmed by the task of managing their digital media collections and finding a storage solution that is reliable, trusted and easy to use

In response to these learnings, Intel sets out a vision: “We envision a whole home storage architecture that will bring the familiar, local storage experience to all the data and media in the home.”

This vision is then articulated in three key requirements: easy accessibility, data permanence, and fast performance, which are in turn given shape in a concept prototype.

Intel’s prototype solution for Whole Home Storage is described in the second article, “A Consumer’s Eye View of Whole Home Storage“.

Based on the user research and a number of usage scenarios — related to viewing and editing photos, storing and viewing videos, listening and sharing music, and whole home media backup — Intel created four value propositions that the prototype solution should cover:

  • It should be simple to set up and use
  • It should accommodate multiple user interfaces
  • It should provide personalization – and parental controls
  • It should preserve the essential magic of TV

The prototype Whole Home Storage solution, which seems to be mainly focused still on a unified directory structure, which is accessible by networked devices anywhere in the home, has been deployed in eight homes to allow early exploration of user experiences. The article describes the benefits and challenges faced by users, and concludes:

“It is clear from our experiences with the Whole Home Storage prototype that the solution has great promise, and people find interesting ways to use the capability. It is also clear that improvements in ease of use, especially during setup, would be required in a productized version.”

Be the first to share
30 March 2015
MIT Technology Review special report on persuasive technology
The MIT Technology Review has just published a special business report on persuasive technology, i.e. how technologies from smartphones to social media are used to influence our tastes, behavior, and even habits. Free registration is …
28 March 2015
More from Gov.uk on the role of ethnography and prototyping in policymaking
Two inspiring posts by Dr. Lucy Kimbell, a visiting Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Fellow at the UK-based Policy Lab, an experimental policy innovation center within the Open Policy Making team of the UK …
27 March 2015
Sharp methodological critiques on current Big Data practices
Two methodological critiques on Big Data that caught our attention: In the Financial Times, economist and journalist Tim Harford points out that sampling bias and statistical errors are, if anything, magnified in Big Data research, …
26 March 2015
Gov.uk’s open policy making toolkit – practical guidance on ethnography and more
The Gov.uk open policy making toolkit is a practical guide to techniques that can help you make better policy. The toolkit, which brings together the latest techniques to improve making and delivering policy, is based on …
26 March 2015
Sensemaking in organizations: Reflections on Karl Weick and social theory
Over the past couple of decades, a small number of psychologists, communication theorists, and organizational scientists have articulated ideas of sensemaking into theories, frames, and methods that we can and probably should incorporate into our …
26 March 2015
How would drivers’ habits change in self-driving cars?
University of North Texas students, guided by Professor Christina Wasson and highly acclaimed corporate anthropologist Dr. Brigitte Jordan of Nissan's Research Center in Silicon Valley to find out how people use their cars. The project entitled …
24 March 2015
Ethnographic research drives IKEA’s global success
In a long Fortune Magazine article on IKEA's successful global expansion, author Beth Kowitt devotes quite a few paragraphs to the importance of qualitative, ethnographic research: "Today research is at the heart of Ikea’s expansion. “The …
24 March 2015
Presentations online of IEA energy efficiency behaviour workshop
The 11th and 12th of March, the International Energy Agency [IEA] in Paris hosted a workshop on energy efficiency and behaviour in the buildings sector. The goal of this workshop was for representatives from IEA …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

16 March 2015
Better Health and Wellbeing: Giving the elderly in Singapore sparkling golden years

Invitation: sharing session, Singapore, 30 March 2015   What are the hopes and fears of the elderly in Singapore? How can designers offer solutions that support the elderly in managing their health and wellness? What can healthcare professionals do to help them keep active? What role can technology play in the elderly’s daily lives? Design consultants […]

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

27 November 2014
Why the world needs anthropologists – an update

Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, […]

30 October 2014
The BancoSmart ATM by Experientia for UniCredit selected for ADI Design Index

Last year Experientia designed the interface of an ATM of UniCredit, a major Italian bank. The interface is now rolled out across the bank’s ATMs in Italy, to great satisfaction of the bank and the customers alike, since interaction speed is much faster and error rates went down dramatically. Last year UniCredit and Experientia also […]

See all articles