Adaptive Products
    Designing for evolution through use




    Simon King
    MDes candidate, Interaction Design
    Ca...
User-centered design is
        not future proof.




User-centered design uses an upfront focus on the user to make produ...
Needs and situations
         always change.




Too often designers focus only on the present, forgetting that the contex...
Adaptive Products




That’s why products need to be adaptable, to allow for future change. In my research I found that
th...
Adaptive Architecture




come from architecture.
“Form follows function.”
         —Louis Sullivan




Let’s go back for a moment to the architect Louis Sullivan who gave ...
“We shape our buildings, and
        afterwards they shape us.”
        —Winston Churchill




Here’s a quote about archit...
“First we shape our buildings, then
        they shape us, then we shape them
        again—ad infinitum. Function
       ...
Product
                 Understand what is changing.




I am interested in how products can evolve through use and I inv...
Product
                 Understand what is changing.



         Autonomy
                 Appreciate people’s individual...
Product
                Understand what is changing.



        Autonomy
                Appreciate people’s individual an...
Product?




So, what is a product?
What is a product?
         physical
         discrete
         mass produced




         product | autonomy | adaptation...
What is a product?
        physical                             embedded computation
        discrete
        mass produce...
What is a product?
        physical                            embedded computation
        discrete                      ...
What is a product?
        physical                             embedded computation
        discrete                     ...
What is a product?
         physical                             embedded computation
         discrete                   ...
So, what is a product?




         product | autonomy | adaptation

So, what is a product? Is it defined by physical or vi...
Building.




         product | autonomy | adaptation

Going back to architecture, the world “building” refers to the act...
People  Products




Regardless of the how a product is defined, as designers we’re interested in the relationships that
pe...
Products change people’s
        behavior.




        product | autonomy | adaptation

You may have noticed that using a ...
product | autonomy | adaptation

Cell phones are a good example. They change how you communicate with somehow, when you ta...
“What humans do is in many cases
        co-shaped by the things they use.”
        —Bruno Latour




        product | au...
Products have scripts that
         prescribe particular
         actions.




         product | autonomy | adaptation

H...
product | autonomy | adaptation

He gives the example of a bulky key ring at a hotel. The heavy attachment to the ring infl...
Products transform how
        the world is perceived.




        product | autonomy | adaptation

Products not only influ...
“Mediating technologies amplify
         specific aspects of reality while
         reducing other aspects.”
         —Don...
Architecture of control.




        product | autonomy | adaptation

These mediating influences of products are not natura...
Designers “materialize morality.”
        —Peter-Paul Verbeek




        product | autonomy | adaptation

Philosopher Pet...
Multistability: multiple product
         identities based on context.




         product | autonomy | adaptation

Multi...
Allow people to to edit a
         product’s script.




         product | autonomy | adaptation

Typically designers try...
Designing for adaptation.




How can designers give people the freedom to adapt products as need.
Scenario Planning
            Research         Design           Deploy
                                                   ...
Layers of change
                      Site
           slow


                      Structure
                      Skin
 ...
Layers of change (iPod/iTunes)
                    Site
          slow                                 Computer integratio...
Slippage between layers.




         product | autonomy | adaptation

The slower layers tend to constrain the faster ones...
Visible seams.




        product | autonomy | adaptation

This slippage happens at the “seams” between layers. These sea...
Adaptation moves products
        from conventional to
        personal.




        product | autonomy | adaptation

Adap...
Sticky Information: people know
         what they need, but it’s hard for
         others to find that out.




         ...
“As information about what
        users want and need to do
        becomes more fine-grained . . .
        the incentive...
Learning from users.
                                            Designers     Users


                                   ...
User communities.




        product | autonomy | adaptation

One way to do this is by engaging with user communities whe...
Useful, usable, desirable,
                   today  tomorrow.




To conclude, design must look beyond creating products ...
Thank you.
                                Adaptive Products: Designing for evolution through use
                        ...
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Adaptive Products: Designing for evolution through use

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My Interaction Design MDes thesis paper, presented in Spring 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Adaptive Products: Designing for evolution through use

  1. 1. Adaptive Products Designing for evolution through use Simon King MDes candidate, Interaction Design Carnegie Mellon University January 26, 2007 Thesis advisor: Richard Buchanan
  2. 2. User-centered design is not future proof. User-centered design uses an upfront focus on the user to make products that are useful, usable, and desirable, but it’s not enough.
  3. 3. Needs and situations always change. Too often designers focus only on the present, forgetting that the context they’re designing for will change. Products can become obsolete or worse still create undesirable consequences that were never intended.
  4. 4. Adaptive Products That’s why products need to be adaptable, to allow for future change. In my research I found that the richest examples of adaptive design....
  5. 5. Adaptive Architecture come from architecture.
  6. 6. “Form follows function.” —Louis Sullivan Let’s go back for a moment to the architect Louis Sullivan who gave designers the guiding maxim: “form follows function”. This phrase has served us well, but oers little insight into the social nature of form.
  7. 7. “We shape our buildings, and afterwards they shape us.” —Winston Churchill Here’s a quote about architecture from Winston Churchill, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards they shape us.” He’s referring to the eect that the House of Commons had on how Parliament members interacted with each other. But this isn’t the whole story either.
  8. 8. “First we shape our buildings, then they shape us, then we shape them again—ad infinitum. Function reforms form, perpetually.” —Stewart Brand Stewart Brand, author of How Buildings Learn, expands on Churchill’s idea to note that we shape our buildings, then they shape us, then we shape them again. This notion of cyclical influence and change applies not only to buildings, but can relate to products as well.
  9. 9. Product Understand what is changing. I am interested in how products can evolve through use and I investigate this idea by exploring three concepts that relate to it: Product, to understand what is changing.
  10. 10. Product Understand what is changing. Autonomy Appreciate people’s individual and collective involvement. Autonomy, to appreciate people’s individual and collective involvement in the process.
  11. 11. Product Understand what is changing. Autonomy Appreciate people’s individual and collective involvement. Adaptation Learn how designers can enable and encourage evolution. Adaptation, to learn how designers can encourage and enable evolution.
  12. 12. Product? So, what is a product?
  13. 13. What is a product? physical discrete mass produced product | autonomy | adaptation A traditional definition of a product would include words like physical, discrete, and mass produced. But today these requirements are no longer requires. Changes include:
  14. 14. What is a product? physical embedded computation discrete mass produced product | autonomy | adaptation Embedded computation: the functional possibilities are decoupled from physical form.
  15. 15. What is a product? physical embedded computation discrete software + internet mass produced product | autonomy | adaptation Software + Internet: where products can be modified and updated constantly.
  16. 16. What is a product? physical embedded computation discrete software + internet mass produced mass-personalization product | autonomy | adaptation Mass-Personalization: new technologies and a demand for uniqueness is creating ever smaller market segments.
  17. 17. What is a product? physical embedded computation discrete software + internet mass produced mass-personalization product/service systems product | autonomy | adaptation and increasingly products are really components in a larger product-service system.
  18. 18. So, what is a product? product | autonomy | adaptation So, what is a product? Is it defined by physical or virtual form? Our personalization of those forms? Or it is all about use, about the interactions and experiences that people have through it.
  19. 19. Building. product | autonomy | adaptation Going back to architecture, the world “building” refers to the action of the verb BUILD and that which is built. We don’t have such an elegant combination of meanings in the definition of “product” but we can say that use form and irrevocably combined.
  20. 20. People Products Regardless of the how a product is defined, as designers we’re interested in the relationships that people have with them.
  21. 21. Products change people’s behavior. product | autonomy | adaptation You may have noticed that using a new product changes the way you do things, not only the functional capabilities but the other things that happen because of it.
  22. 22. product | autonomy | adaptation Cell phones are a good example. They change how you communicate with somehow, when you talk, and how much attention you give them.
  23. 23. “What humans do is in many cases co-shaped by the things they use.” —Bruno Latour product | autonomy | adaptation Sociologist Bruno Latour has pointed out that “what humans do is in many cases co-shaped by the things they use.” The cell phone isn’t forcing me to make those changes, but it is influencing me.
  24. 24. Products have scripts that prescribe particular actions. product | autonomy | adaptation He calls this influence the “script” of a product, and like the script for a play it prescribes particular actions for the people who use it.
  25. 25. product | autonomy | adaptation He gives the example of a bulky key ring at a hotel. The heavy attachment to the ring influences people to return it to the front desk instead of taking it with them. The hotel manager could remind guests verbally, or make a sign that asks them to return the key, but this request is instead delegated to the key ring itself – it’s script make sure that guests return it because it’s simply too inconvenient not to.
  26. 26. Products transform how the world is perceived. product | autonomy | adaptation Products not only influence the actions of people, they can also transform the way the world is perceived. Consider a thermometer that converts direct experience of temperature into an abstract value, or an MRI machine that gives us new ways of seeing the body.
  27. 27. “Mediating technologies amplify specific aspects of reality while reducing other aspects.” —Don Ihde product | autonomy | adaptation Philosopher Don Ihde talks about this in terms of amplification and reduction, that “mediating technologies amplify specific aspects of reality while reducing other aspects.”
  28. 28. Architecture of control. product | autonomy | adaptation These mediating influences of products are not natural occurrences, they are inscribed by designers. There is an architecture of control built into product influences, delegated from designer to user.
  29. 29. Designers “materialize morality.” —Peter-Paul Verbeek product | autonomy | adaptation Philosopher Peter-Paul Verbeek believes that designers “materialize morality” in products, and should be held accountable for their influences. This is a challenging ethical position because products can be used in multiple ways, by unexpected people, and cause unforeseen influences.
  30. 30. Multistability: multiple product identities based on context. product | autonomy | adaptation Multistability is the concept that products can have multiple stable states – multiple identities depending on use and audience. This may be seen as a cause of the ethical problem, but it might also point to a solution.
  31. 31. Allow people to to edit a product’s script. product | autonomy | adaptation Typically designers try to anticipate and control how a product is used. What if they actually encouraged multistability? By allowing people to edit or rewrite a product’s script designers can give them more autonomy over how a it mediates their actions and perceptions in the world.
  32. 32. Designing for adaptation. How can designers give people the freedom to adapt products as need.
  33. 33. Scenario Planning Research Design Deploy Expected Use VS. Scenario Scenario Planning Scenario Design Deploy Scenario Scenario Research product | autonomy | adaptation One tool is scenario planning. Designers use scenarios all the time to demonstrate products features, but usually in an idealistic way. Instead, scenario planning asks “what if” at various points in an imaginary future. The product is treated as a strategy rather than a plan.
  34. 34. Layers of change Site slow Structure Skin Services Space Plan Stuff fast product | autonomy | adaptation Along with an evolutionary strategy the product itself must be flexible enough to allow for adaptation, yet formed enough to work “out of the box.” Stewart Brand has considered this and created the “layers of change” a way of looking at buildings, or in our case products, where dierent components change at dierent speeds without losing a cohesive whole. Here are Brand’s layers of change, from slowest to fastest: site, structure, services, skin, space plan stu. His list of layers originally applied to architecture but let’s see how they can map to a product.
  35. 35. Layers of change (iPod/iTunes) Site slow Computer integration, URL Structure Docking port, headphone jack, scroll wheel Skin Color, materials, headphones, GUI Services Cabling, song formats, software architecture Space Plan Menus, song information, display windows Stuff Music, photos, videos fast product | autonomy | adaptation Take for example the iPod/iTunes product-service system: Site: Computer integration, URL Structure: Docking port, headphone jack, scroll wheel Skin: Color, materials, headphones, GUI Services: Cabling, song formats, software architecture Space Plan: Navigational menus, song information, display windows Stu: Music, photos, videos This simple analysis shows that most products can be broken down into slower or faster layers – but it that alone doesn’t make it adaptable.
  36. 36. Slippage between layers. product | autonomy | adaptation The slower layers tend to constrain the faster ones, so there needs to be slippage between them. They need to be modular, so the faster ones can evolve without tearing apart the slower ones.
  37. 37. Visible seams. product | autonomy | adaptation This slippage happens at the “seams” between layers. These seams need to be visible so users know how they fit together. Also, good documentation of how layers fit together is invaluable.
  38. 38. Adaptation moves products from conventional to personal. product | autonomy | adaptation Adaptation tends to moves products from conventional to the personal because people make changes that are important or personally beneficial to them.
  39. 39. Sticky Information: people know what they need, but it’s hard for others to find that out. product | autonomy | adaptation Because people adapt products “scratch their own itch” they possess what MIT economist Eric Von Hipple calls “sticky information”. Meaning, they know what they need, but it’s hard for others to find that out.
  40. 40. “As information about what users want and need to do becomes more fine-grained . . . the incentives grow to shift the locus of innovation closer to them by empowering them.” —Eric Von Hipple product | autonomy | adaptation He notes that “as information about what users want and need to do becomes more fine-grained . . . the incentives grow to shift the locus of innovation closer to them by empowering them.”
  41. 41. Learning from users. Designers Users LEARN DESIGN ADAPT DEPLOY product | autonomy | adaptation Adaptive products don’t rely on knowing all possible needs ahead of time. Designers can empower people to adapt products and then learn from their changes to further evolve the “oficial” version of the product.
  42. 42. User communities. product | autonomy | adaptation One way to do this is by engaging with user communities where people share their adaptations and solution techniques. Designing adaptive products is a start, but an open business model that encourages user communities is what helps companies reap the benefits of user-led adaptation.
  43. 43. Useful, usable, desirable, today tomorrow. To conclude, design must look beyond creating products that are useful, usable, and desirable for today and consider how these qualities can be maintained long term. To do this, designers are still needed, but their role does shift, from inscribing only a particular use to facilitating many; from acting as delegators to being enablers.
  44. 44. Thank you. Adaptive Products: Designing for evolution through use http://www.currentform.com/thesis.pdf References: Stewart Brand How Buildings Learn: What happens after they’re built Eric Von Hippel Democratizing Innovation Peter-Paul Verbeek What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design Materializing Morality: Design Ethics and Technological Mediation Photo credits (flickr.com/photos): 13: /bgrohman/283134129/ 16: /sling_flickr/176124515/ 22: /thewildrover/202616133/ 28: /infinitejeff/45213431/ 37: /montanaraven/40596218/ 14: /jm999uk/182393032/ 17: /rieorie/337785670/ 25: /nikolaus-b/9402183/ 30: /statico/9364853/ 42: /jason_coleman/94310730/ 15: /andidfl/155723309/ 19: /infinitejeff/69254222/ 26: /clintjcl/225598357/ 36: /mundoo/143898873/

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