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Designing Calm Technology

Given at MCEConference | Warsaw, Poland

Our world is made of information that competes for our attention. What is needed? What is not? We cannot interact with our everyday life in the same way we interact with a desktop computer. The terms calm computing and calm technology were coined in 1995 by PARC Researchers Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown in reaction to the increasing complexities that information technologies were creating.

Calm technology describes a state of technological maturity where a user's primary task is not computing, but being human. The idea behind Calm Technology is to have smarter people, not things. Technology shouldn't require all of our attention, just some of it, and only when necessary.

How can our devices take advantage of location, proximity and haptics to help improve our lives instead of get in the way? How can designers can make apps “ambient” while respecting privacy and security?

This talk will cover how to use principles of Calm Technology to design the next generation of connected devices. We'll look at notification styles, compressing information into other senses, and designing for the least amount of cognitive overhead.

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Designing Calm Technology

  1. 1. caseorganic.com Calm Technology and the Future of the Interface Amber Case | @caseorganic Director, Esri R&D Center Portland ! MCE Conf 7 Feb 2015 Warsaw, Poland
  2. 2. caseorganic.com 50 billion devices will be online by 2020. -Cisco
  3. 3. caseorganic.com Sound good?
  4. 4. caseorganic.com Consider…
  5. 5. caseorganic.com The "Smart" Watch
  6. 6. caseorganic.com The "Smart" Fridge
  7. 7. caseorganic.com The Dystopian Kitchen of the Future
  8. 8. caseorganic.com An era of interruptive technology
  9. 9. caseorganic.com We need a Calm Technology
  10. 10. caseorganic.com XEROX PARC: mid-90s Mark Weiser John Seeley Brown
  11. 11. caseorganic.com
  12. 12. caseorganic.com Technology shouldn’t require all of our attention, just some of it, and only when necessary.
  13. 13. caseorganic.com Calm technology makes use of our peripheral attention, allowing us to be aware of more things with less cognitive overhead. Empowering the Periphery
  14. 14. caseorganic.com A calm technology will move easily from the periphery of our attention, to the center, and back: ! Things in the periphery are attuned to by the large portion of our brains devoted to peripheral (sensory) processing. By placing things in the periphery we are able to attune to many more things than we could if everything had to be at the center. Thus the periphery is informing without overburdening. ! - Weiser, Brown, The Coming Age of Calm Technology
  15. 15. caseorganic.com I. Examples of Calm Technology
  16. 16. caseorganic.com A Tea Kettle
  17. 17. caseorganic.com A little tech goes a long way…
  18. 18. caseorganic.com Toilet Occupied Sign
  19. 19. caseorganic.com Light-Based Status System ! Aaron Parecki @aaronpk 2014 ! connected to Beeminder
  20. 20. caseorganic.com Weather Status Lighting ! Aaron Parecki @aaronpk 2014 ! Hue Lightbulb connected to a weather report
  21. 21. caseorganic.com II. Designing Calm Technology
  22. 22. caseorganic.com 1. A technology should inform and encalm 2. Make use of the periphery Two Principles of Calm Technology
  23. 23. caseorganic.com 1. Machines shouldn't act like humans 2. Humans shouldn't act like machines 3. Amplify the best part of each Design for people first
  24. 24. caseorganic.com Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak
  25. 25. caseorganic.com The Roomba Robotic Vacuum Cleaner :)
  26. 26. caseorganic.com LUMOBack Smart Posture Sensor Buzzes you when you exhibit poor posture.
  27. 27. caseorganic.com Sleep Cycle Sleep Tracker and Alarm Clock sleepcycle.com
  28. 28. caseorganic.com Sleep Cycle Sleep Tracker and Alarm Clock sleepcycle.com
  29. 29. caseorganic.com 1. Haptics vs. auditory alerts (haptic compass) 2. Light status vs. full display (on/off) 3. Positive or negative tones (home electronics) 4. Transparency (inner-office windows) Create ambient awareness through different senses
  30. 30. caseorganic.com Jawbone Up
  31. 31. caseorganic.com
  32. 32. caseorganic.com III. Calm Technology and Privacy
  33. 33. caseorganic.com What is Privacy?
  34. 34. caseorganic.com Privacy is the ability to have control over where your content goes and who it is accessed by.
  35. 35. caseorganic.com Privacy can also be a feeling or perception of security. ! This perception of security can be designed.
  36. 36. caseorganic.com
  37. 37. caseorganic.com Privacy is the ability not to be surprised.
  38. 38. caseorganic.com How can we design for privacy?! 1. Temporary Solution (Privacy by Design) 2. Longer term Solution (Data Ownership) Privacy by Design: Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D. Information & Privacy Commissioner, Ontario, Canada. http://www.privacybydesign.ca/
  39. 39. caseorganic.com Contextual Privacy Instagram, Facebook, Foursquare do this well. ! Expose privacy controls with every piece of content that can be created or shared
  40. 40. caseorganic.com Half of privacy is perceived The idea of privacy is socially created and attached to behavioral norms. Behavior can change when norms change.
  41. 41. caseorganic.com Privacy and Norms
  42. 42. caseorganic.com Feature Phones
  43. 43. caseorganic.com Feature Phones •Limited Features •Text and Voice Calls •Few apps •Became widespread over time
  44. 44. caseorganic.com The arrival of smartphone cameras
  45. 45. caseorganic.com Google Glass
  46. 46. caseorganic.com What was different? • Design and product launch • Developer on-boarding failure • Secrecy/Mystery/Exclusivity Closed system Too many features Price
  47. 47. caseorganic.com Results •Reduced play •Confusion •Speculation •Fear
  48. 48. caseorganic.com Questions people asked me when I wore Google Glass caseorganic.com
  49. 49. caseorganic.com Compare to iPhone Developer Launch • Development tools available before new hardware/OS released • $99 fee • Launch: many apps • People had phones already
  50. 50. caseorganic.com Great design allows people to accomplish their goals in the least amount of moves
  51. 51. caseorganic.com Calm Technology allows people to accomplish the same goals with the least amount of mental cost
  52. 52. caseorganic.com A person's primary task should not be computing, but being human.
  53. 53. caseorganic.com More at calmtechnology.com!
  54. 54. caseorganic.com Thank you very much! calmtechnology.com caseorganic.com Amber Case | @caseorganic Director, Esri R&D Center Portland ! MCE Conf 7 Feb 2015 Warsaw, Poland

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