target is new

an exploration in the new

Design for timely interactions

On Medium I wrote a longer post on a model that describes the approach to timely interactions which are especially applicable for design for wearables.

The new category of devices we call wearables are entering the market for a couple of years now. Smart watches and Smart glasses are the most well-known. The interaction model for services on these devices have a different architecture than that of mobile phones and tablets. Looking into the setup and use of the Google Glass last year I developed a model to describe the new interactions. This model is also very applicable for the smartwatches that come to market. The Notifaction Model try to give insights in the changes.

Read the whole article on Medium.

Beme app as ultimate execution of the private live sharing era

A couple of months I wrote some thoughts on the role of Meerkat in the new drive for sharing the live moment privately. Ephemeral media with an extra touch of private. I still am a big fan of the principles of Taptalk where you share the moment without knowing what you shared giving it a much more real feel. And creates the ultimate private connection with the viewers.

Yesterday Casey Neistat revealed the details of the new app he is building with his team: Beme. And it looks like they take this same principle and add a very nice physical feel to it. The use of a different way to start the sharing with the proximity sensor have the same effect as Taptalk has even further: you don’t experience what you share and you are liberated from boundaries.

At the same time Snapchat is booming and people sharing more and more their little life stories. It is the ultimate context for the new app. A nice touch to that is the way the app is coming into the market thru the daily vlog Casey has set up. As follower of his daily vlog the last 114 days Casey established a real connection with his live. Maybe Beme is not meant for vlogging like Casey does, but much more for the little moments in life. At the same time the vlogs have the feel of a chain of those little moments. The vlog is like a directed version of Snapchat, telling a story every day that looks like a story that just happened.

I have not be able to test app yet (hope to receive a code soon :-). Curious if the new way of sharing will be something that get traction and if the holding of the phone to the chest will be a new gesture that triggers new behaviour in the end and become a new Snapchat.

Ephemeral as recipe for success

I wrote before on the new trend in using so-called ephemeral media. I stated that the live moment aspect mixed with a private feel drives the use. In an article on the real driver for the success of Slack some good points are mentioned. Continuous stream in combination with appealing to FOMOT (fear of missing out the team).

Interesting aspect Satya mentioned in the article is the ephemeral part: the messages in the stream are not stored endless, after 10k messages they disappear unless you pay. In bigger and active teams this could happen after a day. So just like the other popular services you need to keep track to be part of the team. And team pressure is huge.

I myself recognise this a lot. I’m part of 8 Slack groups. Some of them are easy to follow, others are very active and hard to keep up when loose the pace. It is all or nothing.

As this principle will get common we will see a this ephemeral more and more as design material in services. The tinderisation of the ephemeral as recipe for success…

Metcalfe’s Law for the Apple Watch

Unboxing an Apple Watch and having the first experiences using it did deliver an interesting insight: it triggers the Metcalfe Law with the new form of communication.

Metcalfe’s Law describes how the value of a networked product increases with the number of nodes in the network. This goes in extremes with complete new technologies. For instance, the first owner of the fax machine had a useless machine. And so had the first couple of hundred or even thousand. The essence of using a fax machine is to have someone else to be able to receive the message.

Within the Apple Watch the same is happening with the taptic communication. It is a rather interesting feature to be able to share messages with others via the tapping on your watch. Just like the heartbeat and the little drawings. I believe that it could be very powerful in setting a new way of sharing your nearness on a more serious level than for instance Yo.

Still with so little people in your network having a watch, that is typical for this moment in the roll-out, it is hard to find others to seriously use this function. Everyone knows someone to create a little demo, but the real value of the function will arise if you can use it with lots of people.

This also part of the strategy of course. If this function turns out to be so strong and wanted by people it could trigger the sales of the watches. You need to have one not to be left out.

How enthusiastic I am on haptic interactions like this taptic communication, I doubt that it will be strong enough to trigger the sales. Or more precise: the on boarding for new users is to high with 350 euro’s. But maybe Apple will integrate this system into other devices in the end translating the tapping into sound for instance on your phone. If certainly would help Apple Watch grow benefitting Metcalfe’s Law.

The pizza-buttom meme

I was looking for that famous pizza-button example for an article lately. The one I used some years ago in presentations on the Internet of Things. It was a marketing campaign by Red Tomato done in 2012.

ddw-goes-digital-iskander-smit-6-638
Presentation DDW Goes Digital

 

It turned out that this invention is done over and over again. I found this one from 2013 And the latest edition is a more complex version, with functions as choosing the taste. It was featured on Mashable in March this year. And it ‘s unclear if this is also a real button. Of course it has versions in the app-store.

And now I read an article on the Internet of Things before it was called like that, from 1995. The internet had just entered the consumer area. And the pizza-button was there as concept too.

So maybe it is time to replace the Internet Fridge meme with the Pizza-button meme from now…

Invisible apps paving way for watch life

Product Hunt is an important trendwatcher for developments in digital services via the new apps that are becoming popular. Yesterday they marked ‘the invisible app’ as a clear new trend. Ryan Hoover of Product Hunt made a list that consists of embedded functionality like Katch that record Meerkat live streams to Youtube, Magic as a SMS Siri and bots like Blippybot finding GIFs for you, and Clara scheduling your appointments.

At the Hackbattle of The Next Web we saw also this happen in some of the most interesting concepts that were presented. This was mainly triggered by the use of one of the companies providing SMS and voice APIs: Nexmo.

I think it is an important trend too. Not new per se. We talk about bots as service for a longer time, but it will flourish with the introduction of the new generation smart watches and other wearables. I talked on the ‘Notifaction Model’ for the new apps that are build on the context and sensor driven notification layer as binder of the services. See the presentation below for instance.

 

We are just at te beginning of our automated and artificial intelligence driven service layer we will use for daytime tasks. These invisible apps are the first iteration with simple tasks, but will grow in much smarter enhancements that we will control via our wearable devices.

Melting of human and technology to helpful companion

[in Dutch]

Parallel aan het doorbreken van de wearable als nieuwe vorm van interactiemiddel verandert onze houding met technologie. Met het dichter op de huid kruipen (of soms zelf in de huid) van de devices krijgen we een hechtere relatie. Het device is niet meer het losse gereedschap dat we bij ons dragen en gebruiken als we het nodig hebben, het wordt een verlengstuk van ons lichaam. Daarin gaan we technologie ook anders inzetten, als hulpzaam maatje waar we een directe relatie mee hebben en samen optrekken.

Deze ontwikkeling was sterk terug te vinden op afgelopen SXSW conferentie, vaak een graadmeter van welke sluimerende trends op doorbreken staan. Zo doet Aduén Darriba Frederiks onderzoek naar sociale aanraking op afstand via de TaSST sleeve. In zijn onderzoek is fascinerend hoe je het gevoel van aanraking opvangt en omzet naar een simulatie van een menselijke interactie. In zijn presentatie bij de Firestarters Haptic Revolutions avond liet hij zien hoe deze versmelting wordt bereikt via het toevoegen van structuur en beweging. Je moet diep kijken naar de eigenschappen van de menselijke huid om het gevoel te benaderen.

Bij de Myo vertalen ze spierbewegingen naar computer interacties. Het levert een soort van samensmelting van mens en computer zonder dat we daarmee cyborgs worden, is de stellige overtuiging van Stephen Lake van Thalmic Labs, de maker van de band. Het is interessant dat de Myo een omgekeerd haptic interaction-principe hanteert. Het is niet de technologie die aanraking als communicatie gebruikt, maar haptisch gedrag is input voor de technologie geworden. Uiteraard geeft de band feedback waardoor een dialoog zou kunnen ontstaan, zeker als de band meer gedifferentieerde haptisch gevoel geeft.
De Myo is een magisch device maar blijkt het nog wel lastig te vinden om bij een mens goed aansluiting te vinden. Als je geluk hebt leert het je gedrag in een paar uur kennen, maar het kan ook langer duren. Je kunt er op wachten dat het leren van de technologie van ons persoonlijk fysieke karakter een belangrijk onderdeel wordt hoe we de technologie gebruiken.

 Het gebied dat zich bezig houdt met de verregaande versmelting tussen menselijke en technologische interacties heet social robotics. Bij die versmelting van mens en technologie wordt een partnership aangegaan met de technologie. Onze relatie is anders, en we zullen ons gedrag langzaam aanpassen aan de aanwezigheid van deze nieuwe hulpjes. Net zoals we dat bijvoorbeeld hebben gedaan met de telefoon.

Associate professor bij MIT Cynthia Breazeal gaat in haar onderzoek in op de mens-computer interactie en bekijkt de dialoog tussen mens en robot die daarbij ontstaat. Het is de persoonlijke kant van robots, sociale robots die ‘high-touch’ met ‘high-tech’ verbinden. Dit is interessant omdat via emotioneel contact de meest effectieve interacties tussen mensen plaatsvinden. Technologie heeft door het ontstaan van social interacties veel kracht gewonnen in het communiceren. Samen met het emotionele contact ontstaan devices die je kunt zien als een ‘hulpzame maatje’.

Het onderzoek van Breazeal leert ons veel over de interacties met onze nieuwe partner. Centraal bij de interactie tussen partner robots en mens is het maken van adaptief gedrag. Daarvoor is een combinatie nodig van cognitief en emotioneel aspecten. Het onderzoek richt zich helemaal op de interactie tussen mens en robot, en de dialoog die daarbij ontstaat.
Een centraal thema is ‘humanized engagement’, hoe menselijk moeten robots zijn om bruikbaar te zijn?
Menselijk is niet hetzelfde als het zijn van een mens. Het ondersteunen van een menselijke ervaring gaat via een combinatie van sociale, emotionele, cognitieve en lichamelijke aspecten. De ervaring is meer menselijk als meer van deze dimensies worden ondersteund.

Een eerdere onderzoeksrobot genaamd Kismet communiceert niet in taal, maar in reactief gedrag en geluiden en bereikt daarmee een connectie bereikt.
De volgende stap is het laten leren van de robot door het spiegelen van gedrag. Het lijkt daarin heel erg op de manier waarop we zelf leren, wat veel beter werkt dat van te voren robots gedrag aan te leren.

De sociale robots bieden veel waarde als ze worden ingezet als partner van de mens, niet als vervanging. Sociale robots gaan over persoonlijke versterking, ze helpen om als mens beter te worden. De sociale robot is een hub tussen de digitale data en de professionele hulp.
Belangrijk daarbij is om sociale robots eerlijk te laten zijn in wat ze wel en niet kunnen.

We kennen dit lerend gedrag al in mindere mate van spraakgestuurde systemen. Nuance Communications ontwerpt deze interacties en hanteren een aantal eigenschappen. Naast het begrip van verwachtingen en de overwegingen wanneer spraak toe te passen in combinatie met andere interactievormen.  Adaptieve feedback is ook cruciaal;  gebruik ook ‘fouten’ in de communicatie als mogelijkheid om te leren

Een van de ultieme voorbeelden van een robot-maatje is Jibo, gemaakt door de startup van Breazeal. Het is een gezinsmaatje die probeert via de dialoog een intermediair probeert te zijn in allerlei gezinsdynamiek. Interessant is hoe via simpele gedragingen van de robot non-verbale communicatie wordt ondersteund.

De Jibo robot maakt nieuwsgierigg maar voelt ook over the top. Het is de vraag of we op deze manier een hulpje in huis zullen nemen. Hij is ook behoorlijk statisch. Een ander uiterste zagen we gevisualiseerd in de film Her waar het computersysteem letterlijk tot leven komt. Het onderzoek met Jibo leert ons het belang van het combineren van fysieke en digitale communicatie. Dit zullen we gaan merken in het haptisch gedrag van onze wearables.
Als conclusie van haar onderzoek stelt Breazeal dat er een nieuw gebied ontstaat in de interactie tussen mens en machine die veel weg heeft hoe we met onze huisdieren communiceren. Het is een mooie metafoor van het moment in de evolutie waar we nu staan. Slimme en draagbare technologie als partners van de mens, onzichtbaar maar altijd aanwezig, ongemerkt versmelten we met onze techno-assistenten en passen we ons leven aan. Het ontwerpen van digitale producten krijgt hiermee een nieuwe dimensie. Meer dan ooit is de psychologie van de mens nodig om zinvolle diensten te maken. Daarbij komt dat we ruimte moeten inbouwen voor een continue lerende dialoog tussen mens en techno-maatje.

The holy grail of the private and live moment

Last year I wrote a blog here on ‘the holy grail of the private moment‘. The thoughts were triggered by the smart decisions in the design of Taptalk. I see a similar thing happening with the new flow of live streaming apps that was hyped with Meerkat at SXSW and is now taking over by Periscope, the tool Twitter introduced yesterday earlier than planned (although it could be a smart strategy as well to let the hype grow via a new app and a quick overtake as soon as people start picking up the behaviour).

Both Live Experience tools are based on an integration with Twitter, and both work with the concept of sharing live streaming video on the very moment of happening. The trends is broader than those two (and there is a third one: Hang w/), Snapchat is having a comparable promise with their stories that remains visible for 24 hours. And also the ubiquitous dashcams in Russia that are spreading is part of the trend towards continuous close-by sharing.

The private and exclusive experience is as important to the love for these services as the live aspect of the video is. It is interesting that Meerkat and Periscope has a different approach in offering that private feel. With Periscope you can choose to share only to selected people. This has huge potential and could be well be the template for all other private messaging services to add video in the same manner. Think Whatsapp adding live sharing video.

Meerkat create the private feeling in much more subtle manner. And probably not even on purpose. By chosing to make the app very rudimental and embed it in your personal Twitter-graph is feels in all aspects as a private party you join as soon you enter the stream. By not showing active live streams outside your own group of contacts and also show only the streams as they are live, exclusivity is raised. And above all, the streams are just as private as the real thing. It is over as it is over. No life caching, just experiencing the moment.

I think Meerkat has with that deep connection to the actual thing a much better experience. I hope it will keep this strategy and will not be tempted to add extra functions that break that down. If Twitter and Periscope play it well they can extend the private video sharing into a more private messaging system.

SXSW2015 day 5; smart human failures

The closing day. I missed the first session slot and my first session at 11am was sold out session. After changing venue I ended up in a session on the role of our new tech in spiritual thinking, remembering our diseased.
The topic went a bit broader on the function collected data plays and how to value this. Not real new concepts if you followed series like Black Mirror. One question from the audience triggered an interesting thinking: is our brain the center of our universe or is it just the embassy of our digestive system. It made me think how this relates to systems of sensors and AI. The sensors can have a much more important role.

Funny enough it connected nicely to the panel on the smart home I attended afterwards. One of the points there is how we need to speak of a conscious home more than a smart home. The sensors are getting smarter but need to open up to make valuable combinations possible. Philips is investing in a open platform and Nest is active in connecting other services to there own, so there is hope. Still the question remains how much smartness we can handle in our personal space. Something that was present in earlier talks too. See also the tweets on Storify.

Astro Teller -a keynote speaker, leading GoogleX laboratory developing moonshots- showed us how experiment and smart failure is key for (Google’s) innovation. The role of design is not covered well in my opinion though. And failure should not be a self for-filling prophecy. Failure could however been build in as part of the market product in the form of adapting to the user and usage.

Bruce Sterling wrapped up SXSW as tradition with some good points to think about. It sums up this years SXSW for me. The marriage between the human and tech will lead to new types of products that remain adapting to the user. Looks like that the ‘impulse shaped services’ can now become reality. The coming week I will process all the impressions with other visions and share this with you on March 24.

SXSW2015 day 4; tech as material

Day 4 already. The Monday is always a bit different. Hard to pinpoint why, maybe because you feel you have passed half of the conference. Or because it seems a bit more quiet because some of the Americans have to go back to work after the weekend. I did not have to stand in line for the sessions I attended.

I had a day with some different types of talks and topics. Starting with a wearable/3D printing/new material, to biomaterials, via surveillance and trust, to sharing service Lyft, to sensorbased storytelling and finally on new models of the Internet.

The first panel was organised by the Carnegie Mellon University and showed four projects on expressive interactive interfaces. On flexible 3D printed clothes. And another on expressive and learning light. A plaster 3D printer was interesting for the way it followed and learned from human movements. The fourth showed two examples on 3D mapping of body shape and movement and the translation to materials. Tactum and Reverb projects, see the site of Madlab.

The merge of technology and human went a step further in the talk of Robert Langer. He showed how far we are by making implantable devices that fight diseases. In his talk he told about the long road it takes from research to approval and treatment. The developments are going rapidly though now and it has become a 3rd approach to treat cancer. See my photos in the Storify with some details.

The interesting thing on the session on surveillance was the pannelist that was a former NSA director, Stewart Baker. It delivers definitely good discussions on the role of government versus peoples literacy.
Privacy was discussed and how it has almost always been tied to your ability to pay. And how neutral is an algorithm? Every algorithm is editorial.
Trust was the key point of discussion, trust in governments. But it subject was to big for a good panel discussion.
Stewart Baker: The reason Silicon Valley is less sensitive to privacy is because they’re already living in the future.

One of the future routes was laid out in the last session on the ‘end of the internet’. Not literally, but it discussed the new forms of internet infrastructure with mesh networks between mobile phones. This will be especially interesting in developing countries, but it could also grow into the extra layer to the private social networks we all are using with our Whatsapp groups.

You could imagine that services like Uber and Lyft create their own mesh networks and provide the internet connection for clients as extra product. Something that was not discussed by the founder of Lyft – the American only Uber-x competitor. A smart guy that understands that the world is changing if our mobility changed. We use lots of land and energy to mobility, in LA it is half of the city space.

A panel on storytelling engines for smart environments learned us that those engines are more methods. The work from Meghan Athavale from Lumo Play showed how much playful design and storytelling are linked.

Making the story first is crucial for developing a model for the new sensor-based world, the technology is an augmentation on the real world as Lance Weiler said. Which is true but we saw earlier how those two concepts ‘human’ and ‘tech’ are integrating. Even in the physical space. Making stories and let people experience them is also a way to learn on the consequences. We need to have insight in the decisions the AI makes for us.

It seems that we are moving very fast to marriage of tech and human interactions, but the interfaces for understanding both sides are crucial to move ahead.

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