What can Snow White’s magic mirror, Wonder Woman’s lasso, Frodo’s sword, and runic amulets teach us about next generation Internet technologies? Using the metaphors of magic I attempt to explain the growing trend of embedded computing that is sweeping over consumer electronics, healthcare, travel, and media.
Or wonder woman’s magic lasso (a tool to know the truth)Ordinary things become augmented things. Given super-powers.Typically to help the protagonist in a very specific way- to drive the storyforward. And usually they are purpose built...
In middle earth, enchantment is found swords that magically knowabout nearby orcs, in invisibility cloaks (protection), food satchels thatnever deplete (health), infinitely strong ropes, gazing pools for divingthe future (omniscience).
Enchantment creates the right affordancesWhile rain isnt as critical as Orcs, its still important to be prepared.My last company created an umbrella that received wireless signals fromAccuweather to anticipate its need.Magic is a convenient metaphor for the future of connected things Ambient Umbrellabecause the affordances are there. You understand the object...and thismotivates the incremental function.
So,which objects should we enchant?but given all the objects that we surround ourselves with. how do wedecide where to start? What should we enchant?
Study the history of the futureHere’s that exciting part for you and me: today’s enchanters...We can take a lessons from the history of the future to figure out whichenchanted things will succeed or fail. The ones that satisfy primal wishesor fantasies will succeed.
These primal wishes are revealed through narratives that we know andcan analyze. Its a psychology problem. Especially for cinderella’snarcissistic step mother.I’m not sure what robots wish for, but I can tell you what human want:
1 2 3 Omniscience Communication Protection 4 5 6 Health Teleportation ExpressionWe wish for six things that enchanted objects tend to satisfy:For Omniscience, for human connection, for protection, Health(immortality is better), for effortless mobility or teleportation, and forexpression (or creative manifestation). These are the killer apps.
Enchanted Objects 1 OmniscienceLet’s look at enchanted objects that reveal a specific fantasy. I’ll give ahistorical precedent, then a recent invention that vibrates on the samefrequency. First, the wish to know.
Celtic tribes, known to exist in Britain as early as 2,000 BC, were uniﬁed by a priesthood known as Druids. Druids are one of the earliest known peoples to have used crystals in divination.A crystal ball were believed to aid clairvoyance.
The desire to know...in the 1939 film Wizard of Oz the witch uses the same device, a crystalball, to dispatch her flying monkeys to the forest to find Dorothy.
A single pixel browser10 years ago I founded a company, Ambient Devices, to makeenchanted objects. Our fantasy is about speed. The speed of knowingwithout thinking.
OrbOur aim was to respect the most scarce resource available. YOURattention. Something that FaceBook and Twitter seem to ignore.
Knowing, without thinking about knowing Stage 1: Stage 2: Pre-attentive Late Processing Processing • Rapid parallel • Slower serial processing • Feature extraction • Emphasis on symbols • Involuntary • VolitionalThe big idea was represent data in a way where your mind could attuneat a pre-attentive level, without distracting you from other tasks. So youcould get a sense for...pollen count, activity conditions, and more.
FishingThe orb is personalized to whatever data-stream matters to you most.
In NC this public display of realtime customer satisfaction feedback isvisible to all employees and passers-by in the highway. The bestinformation displays change behavior in positive ways.
Enchanted Objects 2 CommunicationA second timeless desire is the wish to connect effortlessly with others
Maxwell Smart anticipated wearable computing before cellphones,albeit in a mocking way
Bond’s Pen Dick tracy’s watchIn comic books Dick Tracy had an uber-communicator. Hey that’sFaceTime™ on a watch!
The most interesting work in communication is not in wearables, butfixtures. Harry Potters friend the Weasleys had a FourSquare-likegrandfather clock to track the status of their large family.
Presence objects: LumiTouch (from MIT) communicates via squeeze sensors and lightHuman to human communication is one of the most exiting area tomine for enchanted objects. This enchanted photo frame has squeezesensors that allow you to Blow a kiss to a loved one.
These presence objects, Hangsters, invented by some of my students at Enchanted ObjectsMIT signals the availability of friends by varying the height of theiravatar on a mobile.
Enchanted Objects 3 ProtectionThe desire for protection and power drives a lot of enchantedweaponry...in legends and role playing games. The most spectacularenchantment insures protection without harm.
post-vietnam there was a particular interest in exploration withoutdesecration. To “boldly go where no man has gone before”, withoutannihilating the natives. The fantasy then was to set phasers on stun.
This functionality is mirrored in todays taser.
For many super-heros, invisibility insures protection, to lurk in theshadows and see without being seen.
Today you can enchant a plush bear (with a wireless camera) to achievethe same creepy wish.
Fountain of YouthThe Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores theyouth of anyone who drinks of its waters. Now its apparentlysomewhere in Florida, at least thats what the states board of tourismwould have you believe.
Now we know that most chronic diseases are preventable with healthybehavior. But how do we motivate people to do whats in their own bestinterest? How we reflect data into everyday objects and rituals toprovide effective motivational feedback loops?
z Dramatically improving medication adherence through smart packaging, reminders, reports, and rewards.How is magic typically expressed in film and books? It’s embodied. itsembodied in Narnia in Lucys magical healing potion...
There are 3.5 billion medication prescriptions made by US doctorsevery year. And people obey their doctor’s orders to take theirmedication about 50% of the time!
So I invented a cheap wireless pillcap, and did a deal with AT&T to connect 41them to the internet via a home health hub, disguised as a nightlight
Every month you and your physician receive a printed progress report.and worked with behavioral economists, pharmacists and doctors tonudge people with reminders, social incentives, auto-refills, andaccountability to care givers.
This is what poor-adherence looks like... Each row is person, each column is a day. Red indicates a missed dose.Here’s a snapshot of a couple of months of data from a control groupwhere red means that person missed their dose that day.
This is what adherence looks like with GlowCapsWhen we turn the services on, people take their meds over 98% of thetime! This could save the country about $300B in unneeded medicalcosts according to the New England Healthcare Institute.
Vitality BlisterPackTo support the rest of the world we have developed blister-packed andinjectable medication solutions.
Vitality WatchAnd to create a feedback loop for moderating stress, we are working ona watch that shows your online calendar, and stress.
Soft Scale • Converts ordinary soft bathmat into a weight and BMI scale • Fiber-optic LEDs sewn into the mat display last 2 weeks weight trends against a goal line • Wireless connection to the web permits realtime data analysis and graphing on smart phone.Data must be sensed through everyday objects and displayed inincidental, ambient ways.
Vitality Sticker • Adhere to a water bottle, toothbrush, floss, a musical instrument, cellphone, any object. • Activity is reported in realtime through the hubAdding this band aid with an accelerometer and wireless chip toeveryday objects allows you to track their use.
Spirometer Kazoo • Makes spirometry fun using sound and projection • Spirograph projection shows visual feedback to anticipate an asthma attack • Wireless connection to the web permits realtime data analysis and graphing on smart phone.There is a big design opportunity in connected health to bringconsumer aesthetics to medicalized tools. A kazoo for asthmatics testlung functionality while projecting a spirograph on the wall.
Pepper projector• Dispenses salt and grinds pepper• 360 degree camera uploads images to offshore nutritionist for realtime analysis• Mini-projector displays information adjacent to each item: calories against a budget, ecological footprint, transportation modality. •How is magic typically expressed in film and books? It’s embodied. its Press the “i” for more information.embodied in Narnia in Lucys magical healing potion...
Enchanted Objects 5 TeleportationWe all want to fly.
effortless mobility has been a fantasy across cultures
JetsonIn the 1950s, Ford Motor Company performed a serious feasibilitystudy for a flying car product. They concluded that such a product wastechnically feasible, economically manufacturable, and had significantrealistic markets.
A Boston startup Terrafugia is pursing the same dream today
For most of us, effortless travel more achievable than flying carpets orcars. Simply knowing the wait-time for public transportation woulddecrease pan and dramatically increase ridership.
Ambient Bus PoleThis bus pole design is essentially a giant fill-bar, viewable from about ablock away. Long viewing distance is critical to let people stop intonearby stores to take advantage of waiting time. ambient
Enchanted Objects 6 ExpressionMaslow called the top of his hierarchy self actualization, or creativemanifestation
The most common fantasy about robots, is they will take away the jobsthat are dangerous, dirty and drudgery so we have the leisure timerequired to create.
The Roomba may aspire to be your sorcerers apprentice, but I still findmyself cleaning up after the kids.
Seymour Papert called LEGOs a type of Brickolage. They allow your to Mindstormsquickly build what you imagine. I worked on the LEGO Mindstormsrobot which allows you to program behaviors that you imagine.
Another colleague from MIT is working on enchanted tangible bricksthat you may have seen in another TED talk.
IO BrushAt the Tangible media group at MIT, there are interfaces invented tomake creation easier. This is a modern version of paint-by-number.
Guitar HeroEnchanted instruments like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, also inventedat MIT, invert the learning curve. You can start performing at near-mastery and work your way up to learning a real guitar. What adelightful way to enjoy music and learn to play.
Enchanted Objects 1 2 3 Omniscience Communication Protection 4 of fantasies and examples of enchanted objects thatSo, six categories 5 6 Health Teleportation Expressionsatisfy those timeless wishes for omniscience, for connection, forprotection and immortality, for teleportation, and for creativeexpression. What does this mean for you, now?
Use Enchanted Objects for: * UX simplicity * glanceability * brand presenceIf you designing a software or experience designer, you need to leverageenchanted objects. For simplicity, for glanceabilty, and for presence inpeoples lives.
Objects are avatars for servicesIf you are an object designer, realize that your objects are just avatars toa layer of rich services. I recommend this compelling book by my friendMike Kuniavsky. It contains many examples of smart things and theservice layers they support.
levels of enchantment story-ificationHere’s your opportunity to level up. Consider a simple scale. You couldenchant it in stages: gamificationAugmentation: (memory, communication, other services) socializationPersonalization: (re)Configuration, preferencesSocialization: tweetGame-ification: point system personalizationStory-ification: embedding the object in a larger narrative augmentationIts beyond bionic. Lighter, cheaper, faster, thinner is good, butenchantment takes you through a another door.
So,which objects should we enchant?Whats next? What’s next is when the inanimate becomes animate.When ordinary things become extraordinary, and satisfy the fantasiesthat we all share..that we’ve always shared.