Bridging the Physical-Digital Divide: Industrial Designer Edition

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With the proliferation of touchscreens and a hardware revival driven by internet technologists, Industrial Design is at risk of becoming irrelevant.

How can Industrial Design engage with the technology, user experience and software communities to help create harmony across physical products and digital services?

From research with 30+ Industrial Designers, User Experience designers and technologists, I concluded that the divide can be broken down across a series of axes and bridged by connecting, calibrating and collaborating.

A cut-down Industrial Designer oriented version of a longer 45 minute presentation for Interactions 14.

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  • Thanks Jason. This is right on point. We've got a long way to go on this but I'm confident that amazing products will emerge from these merged disciplines. I know a number of ID/UX peeps that learned both skill sets out of necessity and frustration.
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Bridging the Physical-Digital Divide: Industrial Designer Edition

  1. 1. Bridging the Physical-Digital Divide ! 23 May 2014 Product Design and Innovation 2014 ! Jason Mesut Head of User Experience, Plan Local Leader, IxDA London !
  2. 2. 5years ! Industrial Design years ! Digital User Experience 15
  3. 3. 3years Local leader Interaction Design Association L o n d o n Subjects over 3 years Internet of Things Future of publishing Urban environment Smart materials Mobility / Automotive Clinical applications ! Upcoming… Smart home Music interfaces Consumer healthcare
  4. 4. I want a future where physical products and digital services work in harmony
  5. 5. Industrial Designers Industrial Designers Digital / UX Designers I’ve interviewed over 30 designers
  6. 6. Experiences with familiar names Consultancies Manufacturers Education
  7. 7. Some key questions —Why should we care? —What are we aiming for? —What are the challenges? —How can we tackle them? ?
  8. 8. Some key questions —Why should we care? —What are we aiming for? —What are the challenges? —How can we tackle them?
  9. 9. Screens dominating
  10. 10. Screens on everything
  11. 11. Screens replacing tactile controls
  12. 12. Screens in front of babies http://www.digitaltrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/fisher-price-ipad-apptivity-seat.jpg
  13. 13. Emerging hardware revival
  14. 14. The internet of things is hitting the mainstream Niche Mass
  15. 15. In odd ways
  16. 16. http://www.beamtoothbrush.com/toothbrush/ http://www.beamtoothbrush.com/toothbrush/
  17. 17. Tech companies buying hardware companies + skills
  18. 18. Service companies selling hardware
  19. 19. Wearable excitement Something other than a smartphone to design
  20. 20. Even if they make us look ridiculous
  21. 21. Industrial Design seems to be losing relevancy

  22. 22. Digital designers
 User Experience for web, 
 GUI expertise Software technologists
 Understand infrastructure 
 and web services Makers
 Prototype, and play with 
 combining technologies Graphical User Interfaces Systems thinking Human behaviour & experience Web technology Data Infrastructure Prototyping Human behaviour Connection with the arts Mike Kuniavsky, author of Smart Things Matt Webb, Berg Kate Hartman, artist, technologist, educator OCAD Digital natives seem to be driving the future
  23. 23. Industrial Design doesn’t engage Industrial Designers have their heads in the ground Ian Bach
 Senior Interaction Designer Method
  24. 24. Doesn’t include freelancers £350-600+ a day Industrial Design User Experience Huge pay gap
  25. 25. Some key questions —Why should we care? —What are we aiming for? —What are the challenges? —How can we tackle them?
  26. 26. Greater harmony between physical and digital 

  27. 27. A recipe for integrated products? + +Physical Product Digital Interface Digital Service Integrated product =
  28. 28. + +Physical Product Digital Interface Digital Services ! Aesthetic 
 Visceral. Visual, sonic, feel.
 Interactive Behavioural. Distribution of inputs and controls. ! Experiential Reflective. Fit with person’s context and ecosystems. ! ! Key levels of harmony Components of integrated experience
  29. 29. Unite product and graphic language Nokia and Microsoft Windows mobile
 Separated at birth

  30. 30. Physical form and interaction design Nokia and Meego
 A touchscreen curved at the edges to aid friction for swipes from the edge

  31. 31. iPod The original integrated product? Appropriate interactions —Hardware and software interface working together —iTunes store —Aesthetic mismatch

  32. 32. Clunky car interfaces Screen clash Dangerous disparity —Aesthetic mismatch —Interface not tactile —Doesn’t create a better experience

  33. 33. Integrated automotive interface Texas Instruments
 Immersive Automobile
 Physical controls designed in concert with graphical user interface

  34. 34. Nest Rare harmony? Coherent product-service —Elegant hardware —Slick UI —Intelligent services

  35. 35. Nest Rare harmony?
  36. 36. We need to seek 1. Quality balance 2. Connected design language 3. Appropriate interactions 4. Consideration of overall experience
  37. 37. Some key questions —Why should we care? —What are we aiming for? —What are the challenges? —How can we tackle them?
  38. 38. Why harmony is rare

  39. 39. Hardware is being commoditised
 1/2/3/4
  40. 40. Objects, like apps, are becoming transient — like kettles that don’t last or phones we replace regularly ! Jeremy Offer Design Director, Great Fridays Objects becoming transient
  41. 41. Delivery timelines are different
 1/2/3/4
  42. 42. UX is very much focused on the near term — it’s less reliant on supply chains ! Mark Delaney Head of Design Forward, Nokia UX focuses on the short term
  43. 43. Software design often begins later in the cycle. ! You’re given a spec of controls and it’s very hard to adjust the hardware in the midst of development without long delays. ! Nick Myers Director User Experience Design, Fitbit Software added in later
  44. 44. Different delivery timeframes 18 months+ 3 months+ initially Then monthly, weekly or daily Hardware Software Problem framing Tooling Tuning production Manufacturing development ! Ideation ! Design development R C D ! Production 2-6W 4-8W 4-8W 26W 12W 3W 4-8W C D C D C D RCD RCD Research Concept Design RCD RCD RCD RCD RCD RCD RCD RCD
  45. 45. Disciplines don’t understand each other
 1/2/3/4
  46. 46. UX has done a pretty good job of making itself complicated in a short period of time with all the different sub-disciplines: IA, IxD, etc. ! The more compartmentalised, the worse the result. ! Marcus Hoggarth Industrial Design Director, Native UX is confusing
  47. 47. Teams are separated
 1/2/3/4
  48. 48. Hardware and software teams often separated SW HW SW HW In-house In-house Agency SW HW Agency 1 Agency 2 SW HW Agency
  49. 49. Design silos inhibit collaboration ID UX VD SD
  50. 50. Should we destroy design silos before organisation ones?
  51. 51. Why harmony is rare 1. Hardware commoditisation 2. Delivery differences 3. Don’t understand each other 4. Teams are separated
  52. 52. Some key questions —Why should we care? —What are we aiming for? —What are the challenges? —How can we tackle them?
  53. 53. How can we bridge the physical-digital divide?
  54. 54. How can we bridge the physical-digital divide First, we must Define the divide
 

  55. 55. ID Industrial Design Physical Product Design Mechanical Engineering Ergonomics CMF Product visualisation
  56. 56. Offer Mindset Language Tools Time ID Industrial Design Physical UX Digital User Experience Product Design Mechanical Engineering Ergonomics CMF Product visualisation Interaction Design Information Architecture Content Strategy User Research Visual Design Experience strategy
  57. 57. Jargon ! Documentation ! Communication Motivation ! Values ! Principles Methods ! Software ! Approaches Value ! Uniqueness ! Horizons ! Timelines ! Pace Which factors affect how we work together? Offer Mindset Language Tools Time
  58. 58. Offer Mindset Language Tools Time What separates us? Bespoke vs. Universal & documented ! Design + Experience Mechanical vs. Theoretical ! ! Solving problems + Making solutions Manufacturing vs. Modelling ! ! Researching + Sketching + Prototyping Hardware vs. Software ! ! Understanding people + Conceiving solutions Long term vs. Short term ! ! Fast-paced + Immediate interaction
  59. 59. Offer Mindset Language Tools Time What unites us? Bespoke vs. Universal & documented ! Brand + Design + Experience Mechanical vs. Theoretical ! ! Solving problems + Making solutions Manufacturing vs. Modelling ! ! Researching + Sketching + Prototyping Hardware vs. Software ! ! Understanding people + Conceiving solutions Long term vs. Short term ! ! Fast-paced + Immediate interaction
  60. 60. How can we bridge the physical-digital divide?
  61. 61. How can we bridge the physical-digital divide? We need to Connect / Calibrate / Collaborate
 

  62. 62. How can we bridge the physical-digital divide? We need to Connect / Calibrate / Collaborate
 
Find the common ground Connect on a personal level Respect differences

  63. 63. How can we bridge the physical-digital divide? We need to Connect / Calibrate / Collaborate
 
 Adapt ourselves Adapt our processes Translate our language ! 

  64. 64. How can we bridge the physical-digital divide? We need to Connect / Calibrate / Collaborate
 
 Unite on common purpose Share between teams Prototype together ! 

  65. 65. Find common ground Connect on a personal level Respect differences Connect Offer Mindset Language Tools Time
  66. 66. Hardware is appropriately named because it’s hard... ! ...It’s a long, hard, painful, expensive process ! ... It requires a long term commitment to a design ! Robert Brunner Partner, Ammunition (the guy who hired Jony Ive) Hardware is hard
  67. 67. Software is slippery 1. Hidden impacts from changes 2. Multiple releases 3. Integration challenges 4. Multiple platforms 5. Legacy code ! Some large organisations have terrible legacy code — it can take months to change a word or button on a site
  68. 68. Find common ground Connect on a personal level Respect differences Break down language barriers Adapt our skills Adapt our processes Connect Calibrate Offer Mindset Language Tools Time
  69. 69. Adapt our skills and teams Shifter Hybrid Partner Neutral leader Moving from ID-to-UX Blending skills across ID + UX ID + UX working closely together Solution agnostic leadership +
  70. 70. No Learn skills, but don’t expect to do it all Yes Find ways to work with specialists to create excellence Maybe Rare few able to do this Are you ready to walk away from the craft? Maybe ID to UX is possible, but the other way is tougher especially for seniors Shifter Hybrid Partner Neutral ID + UX working closely together Partner or shift +
  71. 71. Each approach has it's own value, but close that gap and the future will happen quicker and better ! Duncan Fitzsimons Founder, Vitamins Close the horizon gap
  72. 72. 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Digital focuses on shorter term Horizon gap
  73. 73. Find common ground Connect on a personal level Respect differences Break down language barriers Adapt our skills Adapt our processes Connect Calibrate Collaborate Unite on a common purpose Share regularly Prototype together Develop shared vocabulary Offer Mindset Language Tools Time
  74. 74. I’ve found the best way to get integration is to get away from the features and unite on the higher goals ! Scott Jenson Product Strategy, Google Unite on a common purpose
  75. 75. We structure projects so industrial designers, interaction designers, mechanical engineers, and strategists can do the research together. ! David Sherwin Interaction Design Director, Frog Research together Photograph by Misha Miller
  76. 76. Share regularly At Palm, we did show and tells across ID and UX. IDs would bring their models and we would offer suggestions and opinions. We would bring our interface concepts or prototypes and they would share their ideas too. ! Kim Lenox Former Director of User Experience, Lunar
  77. 77. We prototype in physical and digital - it's easy to do fast, and there is a lot to be said for tangible design - it might not be shippable, but it is experiential and experimental ! Duncan Fitzsimons Co-founder, Vitamins Prototype together
  78. 78. Hardware prototyping Tinkertronics
  79. 79. Hardware Problem framing Tooling Tuning production Manufacturing development ! Ideation ! Design development ! Production 2-6W 4-8W 4-8W 26W 12W 3W 4-8W Adapt our processes Cadence and relationships Software C D RCD Research Concept Design RCD RCD RCD RCD RCD RCD RCDDetail design C D
  80. 80. ! Why? ! Seeking ! Against ! ! We must ! Losing relevancy ! Greater harmony ! Commoditisation, silos, processes, language
 Connect Calibrate Collaborate

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