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  1. 1. Defining smart productsDerek Nicoll Derek Nicoll
  2. 2. Why define ‘smart’, ‘intelligent’ or‘information intensive’ products Definitions serve as conceptual apparatus whereby we can develop a shared sensibility about a phenomena, event, or object Lack of a shared definition means that different people, institutions, agencies etc. have different perceptions, expectations and anticipations regarding the same thing Lack of shared definitions can lead to interesting avenues of innovation: example: video formats But lack of shared definition can lead to incompatibilities, competition or even misconceptions There is yet no fixed, universal definition of smart technology
  3. 3. Those products addressing a function, not intrinsically information oriented in nature, exhibiting dynamic, real timeinteraction with users, and making use of considerable information processing or manipulation. (Fleck, Molina and Nicoll, 1997)
  4. 4. Some key technologies : Sensors, transducers and associated signal processing methods Self-learning adaptive systems and neural networks: Chips Mechanotronics, e.g. robotics Alternative input-output devices, e.g. bio-electric interfaces, tactile displays, gesture recognition Efficient low volume manufacturing technologies
  5. 5. Key Applications Manufacturing Military Retail Logistics Homes and lifestyles
  6. 6. But why smart products?Perennial demand to make tasks easier, more timeefficient, simpler, frictionless, cost-effective, comfortable -all human perceptions of use - we all want life to be lessarduous, more delightful: continuing the tradition ofdomestic labour-saving devicesAn attempt to account for obvious deficiencies in currentprovisions or human capabilities (i.e. handicaps, lack ofexpertise)PR opportunities (smart products make good news print)Changes in the consumer/market landscape, culturaltrends, changing demographics etc.
  7. 7. Should smart products involve more than technological innovation?Are technologists are running out of ‘more obvious’ targets? In an age of ‘user-focused design and ‘customer-led’ marketing smart products do appear unabashedly technology driven. – the search for new applications for digital technology – desire to exploit advances in materials science
  8. 8. What distinguishes smart products?They are more than technologicaland design innovation The most distinguishing aspect of smart products is an objective to seamlessly meet task and human requirements: They should not be ‘in your face’ To do this suggests a design sensitivity matching technical potentials to both explicit and implicit user needs and requirements We are speaking here of a need then for designers to have at hand significantly richer knowledge of the contingencies of use and usage than has previously been demanded by design products
  9. 9. The human element ofmachine-humaninteraction? The circumstances motivating and shaping particular instances of use The users perception of ease of use (explicit) or assistance to perform a task (implicit) - usability The circumstances motivating and shaping patterns of use i.e. usage The perception, engendering and institution of usefulness
  10. 10. There are always three basicways in which technologies areused and incorporated into thelives of their users . . .
  11. 11. As intended and anticipated bydesigners and marketers - Intentions and use anticipation of use and value Simple and mature Purpose defined by technologies producers. But even a tin opener could be Tin used as a weapon Opener
  12. 12. In ways which contradict theseintentions and anticipationsPurpose was defined largely by use and users Knowledge and anticipation of use and value use Radical and emergent technologies Telephone
  13. 13. In a much more ‘negotiated’ fashionUser- Developersconsumers Domestication Intentions use a need for greater and awareness of use anticipation and users by of use and designers and value producers
  14. 14. The human element of machine-human interaction Technologies, if successful, if they ‘fit’, are situated, naturalised, phenomena They not only contribute to the environments of everyday life, but support, and through their design, define lifestyle and activity But how do they become ‘domesticated’? Socio- cultural factors i.e • Rules governing use • Social acceptability of use Cognitive- psychological factors i.e. • Needs motivating use • Feelings about use
  15. 15. Problem - the time, space and place of contextsContext of design: designers inevitably begin by designing for themselves - their conceptions of what is needed - constrained by what is available - what is known to themContext of use: The interaction between people and their domestic contexts . . .has been neglected in both architectural and psychological circles. Yandell (1995)So the need for contextual studies – independent evaluation of design, efficiency (of machine or human?) with respect to taskHerbert Simons ‘ant’ - complexity may reside in the environment - people often think of the environment to be something to be ‘acted upon’ rather than something to be ‘interacted with’The problems of tacit knowledge - Polanyi (1966) demonstrates that we can know more than we can say: humans make excellent use of tacit knowledge. anaphora, ellipses, unstated shared understanding are all used in the service of our collaborative relationships with each other, and how we define things and tasks on a social level
  16. 16. Needs can only be revealed byanalysing conflicts and opportunitiesof everyday life. Because mostinnovations have roots in existingtechnology, observing and analysingproblems and possibilities of existingtechnology can provide insights notonly for technical innovation, but useinnovation
  17. 17. But the nature of smart productsemphasise the need for developers to‘get closer still’ to consumer-users as true fornext generation Tamagotchis as it is to anti-lock brakesand smart dust
  18. 18. Human and social factors and the time, spaceand place of contexts During the early 90s HCI researchers began to show an interest in context, situation and environment. This led to the development of usability studies which took more notice of context – i.e. Contextual Inquiry (Holtzblatt and Jones; 1992), Contextual Usability (Nicoll, 1994) Contexts – individual, cognitive, experiential, social, political, physical, cultural, educational etc.
  19. 19. Back to the technology -taxonomy of smart products “Those products addressing a function, not intrinsically information oriented in nature, exhibiting dynamic, real time interaction with users, and making use of considerable information processing or manipulation.” •Function •Information •Time •Interaction •Information processing
  20. 20. FunctionSmart products, as opposed to orthodox products - may work bestwhen their functionality is not consciously registered by the user -example: intelligent lifts. This may be a problem for evaluation.A smart product can interface people with people, people withorganisations, people with their environments, between people andtasks. As such they must be acknowledged as a social as well asindividual and personal technology - example: smart housing for agedor disabled where human monitoring and observation is neededIn some cases smart products short circuit human activity, in othersthey augment and even extend activity - example: ‘intuitive’ automationself-diagnostic and repair systems or intelligent help systems
  21. 21. Information People and their lifestyles, objects and their biographies, generate useful information for design and business Behavioural sciences examine the past to describe and explain behaviour while designers and new users have a strong future orientation Capturing patterns and styles of use can inform new product ideas, anticipating uses more accurately Evolutionary function and features depend on a constant flow of data and information Stock control, post-Fordist manufacture, customization all rely strongly on accurate information flows
  22. 22. Time Real time - response to use and usage or/and to immediate and changing environmental conditions. Dynamic and non-linear - real life use can through up some ‘spanners in the works’ for self-learning systems which would, like retail and manufacturing businesses prefer that use and consumption styles and patterns remained stable and predictable
  23. 23. Interaction &Information processingSmart products can be understood to communicate in anumber of different ways . . . Communication between technologies (scenarios and automation) Communication mediated by technology - between the individual, outside agencies, services and other people (daily routines) Communication between the technology and outside agencies (monitoring and surveillance) Communication between the technologies and the individuals (personal habits and activities)
  24. 24. So where are smartproducts - and come to that,where are we going?
  25. 25. Where are we going?“By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices, modern man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed . . . the notion that automation give any guarantee of human liberation is a piece of wishful thinking.”Lewis Mumford - The Challenge of Renewal, 1951.
  26. 26. So where are smart productsgoing? Technologies which learn and respond - that cocoon, enable, contain - is this the new paradigm for design?Deturo-learning or learning II was originally suggested by Bateson (1972), with respect to evolution, and more recently by Argyris and Schön (1996) in their discussion of organisational learning
  27. 27. Smart products their ability to learn? Level of learni ng Learning III Learning II Evolution Learning 1 of ‘smartness Learning 0 ’ Complexity of processing independent of human intervention
  28. 28. Smart products their ability to learn?Level of Stimulus relations Technology Pavlovian Outcomelearning to outcome equivalentLearning 0 Hard-wired – one Hand held tools Salivating while eating food Direct response to one stimulus- responseLearning I Analogy – a Pressing a Linking the sound of a bell to Leaned response – based on mapping of button an anticipation of the arrival of trial and error stimulus to food BehaviorLearning II Generalization – Neural nets and Linking other relevant sounds Generalizing what is learned to i.e. for the masses automated to salivation – i.e. Refrigerator other instances – linking stimulus technologies door opening or the to behaviors with some development of develop a finer ability to learn discrimination i.e. higher from use, or of pitched rings, or finding that their other behaviours such as sitting enviroment and begging results in a higher chance of being fed,Learning III Customization – Smart Different sets of results As the learner moves to linking stimulus/es technology? operating within different sets Learning III, he or she is able to to a variety of of occasions - What codify those sets of choices and contingencies behaviours, in what situations, to actively choose from are most likely to result in me different sets in different getting fed?) situations in order to consistently achieve a desired outcome.
  29. 29. Smart products their ability to learn? Level of learni ng Learning III Learning II Evolution Learning 1 of ‘smartness Learning 0 ’ Complexity of processing independent of, BUT RELEVANT TO human intervention
  30. 30. The functionality of smart products issensitive to their use and to changing environmental (or use) conditions.They customize automatically or theyinterface customization. They may be discretely intelligent or rendered intelligent by performing as part of a communication system or network.
  31. 31. Conclusion - Defining smart products help us to: Fully or truly understand the technology - its potentials and possibilities to organise, assist, surprise and delight Understand potential use value against richer and deeper understandings of possible and actual use contexts Develop sensibilities towards open, flexible and approaches to innovation sensitive to real world needs. When human-human collaboration becomes human-computer-human co-active collaboration, we must address explicitly issues of tacit knowledge and the human unconscious in relation to function Most importantly; realise how human and socio-cultural trends - such as the rise of the ‘always-on’ society and the ‘24-hour world’ begin to cocoon people. They drive new needs independent of and dependent upon emerging technology
  32. 32. Thank you