TEDxEmory Carla Diana Internet of Things


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What does the Internet of Things mean for the future of product design? We know how technology will change, but how can it change people's day-to-day lives in meaningful ways? This talk was given at TEDxEmory on April 21, 2012.

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  • I am a hybrid designer. I was trained as an industrial designer and mechanical engineer to know how to create physical products, but along the way became seduced by digital tools, so I am also an interaction designer. Being a hybrid is at once wonderful and problematic. People don ’t quite know how to label you or where to put you, but at the same time you carve out a new space for yourself that’s very unique. And I’m excited about being able to do that. My space is interaction design for physical objects
  • Being a hybrid has led me to some pretty wonderful projects. This is Simon, an upper-torso humanoid robot currently under development at Georgia Tech. Simon is a social robot. He takes cues from people and tries to respond appropriately and learn. He has pads in his hands and will grab an object if you give it to him. He will then hold the object up to his eyes and inspect it, and if he hasn ’t learned what to do with it, he will ask and take instruction. I designed the shells for simon, and the aim was to have him look friendly and approachable, but also set expectations to let people know they are still interacting with a machine by bringing in an appliance aesthetic. We also added as many modes of expression as possible. For example, the ear pods have LEDs behind them so they can be programmed to light up at certain moments.
  • Here are a few of Simon;s expressions.
  • Simon was a wonderful project, and what I call the “holy grail” of interacting with the physical world, but he’s really a research platform, meant to push the boundaries of what an appliance in the home might be. What I focus on now is products for people in their everyday lives and I work at a firm called Smart Design.
  • Up until now, interaction for physical objects has meant something like this, and it ’s been pretty limited to button pads and things that could be bought off the shelf, and interaction designers works on what we might call the “black rectangle”.
  • In terms of input we can use gesture (Mathmos air switch)
  • We can caress (B&O gesture remote concept)
  • We can even yell (Kelly Dobson, Blendie 2004)
  • Now we ’re used to sophisticated shifts in color, like what’s happening here with this Aerohive router. The chunk cut out of the edge shows you the “activity” that’s happening “inside” and responds with different light patterns. What ’s reall starting to bring things to life are dynamic behaviors. Because they change behavior over time, they can better communicate more complicated ideas, and even begin to express things closer to human emotion.
  • For example, when you add the dynamic behavior of subtle fading on off, you have something that people suddenly read as “breathing”. The Mac sleep indicator is timed to glow at the average breathing rate of an adult: 12 breaths per minute.
  • And at Smart we ’ve been playing around a lot with LED matrices an was that light communicates that allow us to have color as well as icons and letters. This is an experimental interface created in our interaction lab. When you tilt the cube onto one of its sides, you make a new selection on the screen. Our test interface can be used to show status through facial expressions
  • So why has all this changed?? There is a “perfect storm” of factors - robotics, sophisticated sensing, embedded displays, object tagging, and wireless communication - all becoming more and more affordable so that we will soon see them in our everyday objects.
  • An in exchange, we ’ll have richer emotional relationships to them as they become more integrated into our everyday lives. We'll be seeing this in home appliances, entertainment devices, and medical products We ’ve already begun to see this with the the robots that are starting to be in our homes today. With the Roomba, for example, people give them names and refer to them as pets. The neato floor cleaning robot we worked on is a good example of whole object interaction. How it moves, the sounds that are emitted, communicating across the room. WE identified key character defining moments, like what does it do when it ’s stuck under a piece of furniture. Our devices are going to have a whole lot more to say to us, and they'll have lots of new ways they can say it. They will sing, glow, buzz, pose, shimmy and otherwise come to life through robotic behaviors. They will listen better, and they will understand a lot more. All these kinds of things make for a pretty exciting palette, but now we are adding one more:
  • Networking! Many new consumer electronics, toys, appliances, medical and lifestyle devices, and just plain old things like coffee cups and lamps will be connected to the Internet, sharing data with themselves and—more importantly—with people. They will be able to take what they know about the time of day, the weather, and your habits, and use this to perform in a way that offers you the greatest benefit for the situation at hand.
  • Our devices are going to have a whole lot more to say to us, and they'll have lots of new ways they can say it. They will sing, glow, buzz, pose, shimmy and otherwise come to life through robotic behaviors. They will listen better, and they will understand a lot more. As designers and technologists and people who create these things, we will be responsible for crafting these conversations, and crafting personality.
  • Some promising examples of where we are today: energy hub creates what technology theorist Mike Kuniavsky calls an “information shadow” that keeps track of the applicances in the home, knows the current electricity rates, and allows you to connect with your devices remotely
  • networking Objects not only can communicate with the person while in the room, but can communicate at a distance, remotely. Your thermostat can take instructions and begin warming up the house. Your washing machine can call you can let you know the clothes are ready
  • Aside from those main examples, we ’re seeing a lot in the DIY space. Mavia is one in a series of DIY-type systems. It plugs into your car and lets you locate where you parked it, set reminders that text you when you pass certain locations, or create an “emergency reponse team” of family and friend who get called in emergencies
  • Even non-tech objects can be infused with the ability to communicate and given a “voice”. Green Goose sensors communicate with a hub attached to a modem, but the sensors themsel
  • Being able to access, collect and store data gives people an ability to change behavior. They can make meaning out of patterns of use over time and adjust their lifestyles accordingly. They can also access live databases of information to learn about trends in price, health care and environmental factors. Take blood pressure monitors, for example. Traditional devices can measure “diastolic” and “systolic”, but how do you know what this means? Is it bad? very bad? Has it been steadily rising, or is it just basically the same? With digitally-enhanced, networked monitors, a device can highlight when spikes of high readings have occurred, and link them to times of day, changes in prescriptions, or diet tracking. The device can even be set up to automatically alert a doctor or family member when readings indicate that medical intervention may be needed.
  • When we enhance traditional products with embedded electronics, they can offer all the benefits of the physical world, along with the ability to see, hear, feel and morph as needed. Products that have Analog+ value can be intuitive to use, eliminating the need to learn an interface. They take advantage of sensors to use real world actions as inputs, and offer rich feedback through light, sound and haptics in addition to screen graphics. For example, sports equipment such as golf clubs or tennis rackets can analyze a player ’s swing to act as a coaching service and track performance over time, but rather than asking people to fuss with equipment, the measurements take place automatically. This “always on” system that’s listening for speeds, positions grips and gestures lets people continue to use their equipment the way they’ve always used it, but with an added layer of coaching that can take place a the moment the sport is being payed as well as after the game or practice is over. Combined with learning and feedback products, these objects can provide important information to show people how they perform in different situations and suggest ways to improve over time.
  • Being online and location aware gives us an enhanced view of the here and now. Wireless connectivity combined with maps, GPS and gestural input builds a layer on top of our everyday world that can help us navigate unfamiliar terrain and discover new experiences. Cloud computing has created a constant presence of rich data, creating “smart cities” that teach us about everything we see through animated and video content. At the same time, location services can be used to monitor other parts of our lives, such as the status of our home appliances. A good example here is a device that gives us a “window” onto the world in front of us through a pair of glasses or a car windshield. This enhanced view can let people apply a specific filter to suit the moment’s needs. If a family has been on a long road trip and needs to stop for food, the windshield can display the names of nearby restaurants, along with Yelp ratings and ideal driving routes. A pair of sunglasses can let you scan a conference so you and a colleague can find each other easier. It can also switch to views of remote locations and let you know if the stove was left on or if the back door was left open.
  • Combining web-enabled products with social networks lets people compare their behavior to others ’ to gain powerful emotional support and behavior-changing motivation. They can connect with friends on familiar subjects, collaborate with colleagues or compete with others remotely, and anonymously. Collaborations can take any form, from real-time video meetings to asynchronous contributions. A good example of this is a tagging everyday objects, such as wine bottles, and then learning about the origin of the wine, getting recommendations, sharing your inventory with others, etc.
  • I know there are a lot of creative people in the audience, and this Internet of Things is going to open up a whole range of opportunities for new devices, services and businesses, so I just wanted to highlight a few guidelines that have helped me in thinking about these opportunities.
  • Information overload is never fun Although “the quanitifed self” has become all the rage for a niche group of info junkies, most people in their everyday lives don’t want a lot of data coming at them all at once. Carefully deciding information hierarchies and eliminating less relevant information is a critical first step in determining what should be communicated to people through the object’s interface or in a smartphone app.
  • Life now, data later Though it may be interesting to see how much water is consumed every morning or how long you ’ve sat on the couch, having to fuss with an interface before your shower or when relaxing at home is a drag. The best Internet of Things solutions will let you live life as you always have, giving you on the spot information (like water temperature or current energy rates) when you need it, but enabling a deeper dive into the data when you’ve got more time to reflect and process information about overall trends and social interactions.
  • Context is everything While it may be fun to know that your friend is nearby while you ’re bored and waiting for your bus to arrive, it would be distracting to get the same information whizzing by on your windshield while you are focused on driving to a destination. No matter what you’re designing, it’s important to identify the main contexts of use and design your product to broadcast only those messages that are relevant to the time and place at hand.
  • Communication defines personality When you add a dynamic layer to a product, it exhibits behaviors that begin to form a distinct personality. Glowing, vibrating, making sounds or even movement all contribute to this sense of personality, whether you intent it to or not. When we design a product, we consider the overall brand attributes, along with the context of use, in order to craft a distinct personality that will make sense and connect with people on an emotional level.
  • Playing nice with others The product you design will not be alone in the house. While it may seem fun to have a toaster that flashes messages and beeps every time it gets one shade darker, remember that there ’s a coffeemaker, oven, window thermometer that will also be competing for people’s attention. In addition to communicating with you, the devices will need to communicate with one another, as well.
  • Knowing when to borrow the screen Though there are some instances when it makes sense to display information directly through an everyday object, there are other times when it makes sense to send data to a smartphone to take advantage of its rich resolution and responsive input capabilities. Since people have them with them anyway, it often makes sense to utilize it for certain inputs or as a display device for your household energy trends, running maps or tweets from your plants that need watering.
  • Ultimately, we are excited about what the near future brings and are looking forward to collaborating with technologists, entrepreneurs and services to create a new smart future.
  • Ultimately, we are excited about what the near future brings and are looking forward to collaborating with technologists, entrepreneurs and services to create a new smart future.
  • TEDxEmory Carla Diana Internet of Things

    1. 1. On being a hybrid + = !
    2. 2. Simon: Social Robot
    3. 3. Beyond the black rectangle
    4. 4. Simple hand gestures Mathmos Air Switch
    5. 5. Caressing B&O Gesture Remote
    6. 6. Even yelling Kelly Dobson, Blendie
    7. 7. Expressive lighting Aerohive Hive AP Wireless Access Point
    8. 8. Dynamic behaviors Mac sleep indicator
    9. 9. Programmed responses MenuCube from Smart Interaction Lab
    10. 10. The perfect storm:roboticsaffordable sensorsobject taggingwirelesscommunicationsbroadband
    11. 11. Whole object interaction Neato Robotics
    12. 12. The conversation is about to get a lot moreinteresting
    13. 13. During 2008, the number ofthings connected to theInternet exceeded thenumber of people on earth.By 2020 there will be 50billion. - Cisco Systems
    14. 14. Energy Hub
    15. 15. Nest Thermostat
    16. 16. Mavia System
    17. 17. Green Goose
    18. 18. How this can change people’severyday lives
    19. 19. Learning and feedback: enabling behavior change
    20. 20. Analog+: wired features through familiarinteractions
    21. 21. Anytime, anywhere: enhanced view of location
    22. 22. You, me and everyone: connecting people tocommunities
    23. 23. And a few things to keep inmind
    24. 24. Information overload is never fun
    25. 25. Life now, data later
    26. 26. Context is everything
    27. 27. Communication defines personality
    28. 28. Playing nice with others
    29. 29. Knowing when to borrow the screen
    30. 30. What’s next…
    31. 31. Thank you.smartdesignworldwide.comcarla.diana@smartdesignworldwide.com@carladiana_