Martin Charlier - Designing Connected Products - raincloud.eu
Designing for connected products is different. To create a great connected product, industrial design, software UX and system design need to be considered in collaboration. Teams must think creatively to design elegant solutions around the limited capabilities of embedded devices.
Effective prototyping is key, but there are lots of possible methods. Choosing the right ones is a question of purpose – what you need to learn – and the effort required to develop it. Techniques like video sketching or enactment, not commonly used in software UX design, can be especially well suited to developing IoT user experiences.
In this talk, Martin will draw on his experience in both product and digital design to present ways in which teams can work together effectively and choose the right design methods to prototype the product experience.
Martin Charlier - Designing Connected Products - raincloud.eu
Effective Design for
BLN IoT 2015 - Cambridge
I’m an independent design consultant
& co-founder of Rain Cloud.
(Digital strategy, UX, Service design)
- Random International
(New media art, physical-digital)
- Frog Design
(Industrial design, Design research)
Designing Connected Products
I’m a co-author of ‘Designing
Release date: May 2015
It’s a practical book aimed at UX
design and technology experts.
I’ve written two chapters: One about
industrial design and one about
Connected products involve
many different facets of
design you need to consider.
- UI and Industrial Design
aren’t the whole picture.
- You’ll need a team that
collectively covers all facets.
- Some facets are more
important than others for
- You need a design approach
that integrates all of these
Designing Connected Products - Chapter 1
To align these facets, translation
and collaboration across
disciplines is required.
- This isn’t just about designers, it
includes software & hardware
engineering, API design, product
- War rooms, a shared language
and a manifestation of your
product vision that is discipline-
You might have to make hardware decisions that keep your
options open to defer the design decision making.
Example: Berg Little Printer (✞)
- Consistent visual language across mobile UI, bridge device
and edge device.
- CMF & typography across physical and digital.
- Paper insert as a means to defer design decisions, no etching
There are prototyping methods that let you answer
fundamental questions before requiring signiﬁcant
investment of time or technology.
Is the overall
What is it like to
live with this
What does the
world look like
with this product
Let’s look at a few…
Media from the future:
- Amazon starts new product
development by writing the press
release ﬁrst, then the FAQs,…
- “Iterating on a press release is a
lot less expensive than iterating
on the product itself (and
- Other examples: Write a news
article about the product.
- Flipchart session: A print advert
or ‘design the box’.
Amazon product development: http://www.quora.com/What-is-Amazons-approach-to-product-development-
More on Amazon: http://brendansterne.com/2013/11/21/amazon-product-management-working-backwards/
Design the box: http://www.gamestorming.com/games-for-design/design-the-box/
Wizard Of Oz prototyping:
- A (hidden) human plays the role of the system or technology.
- The user can experience and react to a product concept even
though its technology is unproven.
User experiencing the prototype. Behind the scenes triggering
based on user action.
Credit: Ericsson Labs, Marcus Nyberg
- Can be ﬁlmed Wizard Of Oz prototype or narrated storyboard.
- Useful because it is shareable with others.
- Many audiences: Validate with users; agree with stakeholders;
unite under a common vision; create your tech requirements.
- Keep it ‘sketchy’ - you don’t want to draw attention to unresolved
detail, but the broader vision.
Stills from a video prototype for the Economizer, a home electricity use monitoring project from Cooper Design for the
Environmental Defense Fund. More info: http://www.cooper.com/journal/2008/12/economizer
Split your product experience up
in order to prototype individual
aspects as early as possible.
- Create a ‘live with’ prototype to
reﬁne the experience in your
products context of use.
- Prototyping what you might
consider tangential aspects of
your product. E.g. the user
manual or setup procedures.
BERG / Timo Arnall
BRCK - After the user experience.
Thermostat Smart Home Hub Connected TV box
Multipurpose Sensor Cloud music playerPet monitor
In case you were wondering:
I’m not saying these are bad products.
It’s just something I think
is worth thinking about.
Industrial design is a powerful
- Brand recognition
- Projecting your values
- Desirable products
- Don Norman’s three levels of design
are helpful lenses to apply:
Behavioural, Visceral and Reﬂective.
Three dimensions of a
- Behavioral: Functional
and usability, how it
makes you behave.
- Visceral: Attractiveness,
initial impact of the
- Reﬂective: Prestige,
what it makes you
think, what it makes
others think about you.
Don Norman - Emotional Design
‘Gender coded design’ - Karin Ehrnberger
Many less functional aspects that
inﬂuence the perception and
experience a user has.
- Knobfeel, Weight, Texture, Materials
- A B&O remote is 3 times the weight
of an average remote.
- In consumer electronics, it’s
common to add artiﬁcial weights to
the assembly to inﬂuence the value
Mood boards, or visual language
collages are a tool to establish and
document these aspects.
- Select and deﬁne a desired
- Communicate across disciplines.
- Exclude and identify what is
*not* the desired direction.
Paul Backett, “Sketching: Approaching the Paper with Purpose
A single connected ‘product’ can be
made up of many separate
- Few device archetypes and
category conventions to build on.
- No interface platforms or
building blocks to work with.
- So where to start?
What your users touch &
see the most.
but very visible.
Rarely touched and
- Visceral and reﬂective design.
- A symbol for your service / brand.
- Help users display the product at its
- Strike the right balance between
representing your service / brand
and integrating the device into
- Both practical and aesthetic
- Favour practicality over
- Make the rare interactions simple:
Big reset button in the middle?
- Design to be cheap (DFM)
But: You might want to challenge this model
as a thought experiment.
Future Routers - Goldsmiths University / TalkTalk
• Aligning design disciplines
Start with a product vision that unites disciplines.
• Effective prototyping
Prototype what it feels like, not just technology.
• Hacking perceptions
Use ID as a communication tool, not just packaging.
• Prioritising design requirements
Use interaction and placement as design drivers.