Weeknotes 117; blurring digital and physical experiences

Last week was the week of DDW. This year also completely online. As I mentioned last week, they managed also in this format to create an overwhelming feeling with lots of different programs. I have been following only a couple of them (partly). CLICKNL DRIVE, Design United’s Upclose & Personal, Embassy of Health with Waag, and Manifestations. All good experiences. Without going into the details, one theme that returned in multiple fashions was the attention for the collective versus the individual interest. At DRIVE on Monday it was mentioned specifically as a response to the opening presented projects that still focused on the ‘traditional’ user centered design. Especially with mobility it deserves to have attention for the impact on societal levels and this should be a starting point, not an after thought. It came back at a couple of other sessions too, the most clearly in the health session on Thursday where the Coronamelder-app was one of the topics. The tension between an app that serves the individual in providing a ‘passport’ for acting in society, versus a collective goal to contribute locating the spread of the virus, which was the original setup.

We organised another round in our ThingsCon Salon series on Trust in Design and had a nice group of participants to discuss the cases. We had some nice pointers to take to the next session where we will discuss the toolkit.Ok, let’s dive into some of the news of last week. Let me give shout out (again) to Patrick Tanguay’s newsletter Sentiers, as I could have included almost all of it here…

Blurring digital and physical experiences

Tylko: The Perfect Shelf for Your Home

I’m not reaaly try to keep up with all the developments in retail and ecommerce. I still need to have a check of the predictions we did back in 2013 for Shopping2020 future touchpoints group. I feel that this might be a nice signal in the noise of fundamental changes that of hyper personalisation mixed with virtualisation of our life and mixing digital and physical world.

Might sound a bit as heavy lifting for ‘just’ a very nice furniture service that you can customize. But it is preluding on a situation next years where we have better AR to shape our future in the now, that will impact our perception of the now. And in the now.

Pay-per-use physics models for virtual fashion

I remember how Rob van Kranenburg used the example of connected t-shirts as framing of thinking how an all connected environment might lead to fluid prizing; the t-shirt is not bought but leased and payed based on the importance of the moment of wearing. I had to think about this while reading the interesting thoughts of Matt Webb on virtual fashion.

“How about skin tight t-shirts with tracking markers, especially made for rendering synthetic shirts with physics-model fabric for wearing on Zoom? And how would the virtual shirts be priced?”

Blurring intelligences (and robots)

The AI Economist: Improving Equality and Productivity with AI-Driven Tax Policies

Reinforcement learning for social good, that is the framing here. “Our vision for the AI Economist is to enable an objective study of policy impact on real-world economies, at a level of complexity that traditional economic research cannot easily address.

”Very nice fleshed out with animated graphics based on a scientific paper.

Introducing Descript Video & Screen Recorder | by Andrew Mason | Descript | Oct, 2020 | Medium

I have been using Descript a couple of times to capture spoken word, but this addition towards video is quite impressive. Most interesting though is how we see an application of Deep Fake technology for ‘good’ (or at least without a bad intention). Next up: GPT-3 as partner to fill in the blanks for you…

Photoshop: Now the world’s most advanced AI application for creatives

AI in Photoshop feels like no brainer. Still in general another iteration of the disconnect between reality and fiction….

AI-powered ‘mini-brains’ to help robots perceive pain, self-repair

A strategy to prevent robots as partners to become too distant of ourselves.

“For robots to work together with humans one day, one concern is how to ensure they will interact safely with us,” Basu, said. “For that reason, scientists around the world have been finding ways to bring a sense of awareness to robots, such as being able to ‘feel’ pain, to react to it, and to withstand harsh operating conditions,” he added.

Disassembly Required

The human-like robot as a Trojan Horse for the organisations behind the robots. Definitely in the current state of robotics this is the case: “The robot is not conscious, and does not preexist its creation as a tool (the zombie was never a friend). The robot we encounter today is a machine. Its anthropomorphic qualities are a wrapper placed around it in order to guide our behavior towards it, or to enable it to interact with the human world.

”Nevertheless I think we should aim for a design of robotic helpers that partner with us. And that is the challenge for the organisations that putting the robots in our lives, to shift focus.

Introducing Marsbot for AirPods

I’ve mentioned this experimental project of Foursquare before in this newsletter. Very interesting implementation of ambient AR, edge computing etc. Now only in the States and probably not so relevant here, but I need to try it.

“Today we’ve got a new experiment for you to play with: Marsbot for AirPods, a lightweight virtual assistant that proactively whispers local recommendations (and other fun snippets) into your headphones or earbuds as you’re walking around.”

MTA launches live new york subway map to show trains moving in real-time

Reallife representations of transit is one of the archetypical IoT usecases. This one looks very neat….

“the metropolitan transportation authority (MTA) has launched a live digital map that lets users navigate the new york subway system in real-time.”

Dealing with the blurring

Un-Fracking Futures

Nice train of thoughts by Peter on a serious topic “In this post, I’d like to explore the idea that we’ve been fracking the future at great expense to future generations.

”He uses the future-cone to show how possible and preferable futures will not have any overlap anymore.

How Apple Is Organized for Innovation

You might have seen this article already passing by as it was shared quite broadly in certain circles. A great track record in results and a bit of mystery of the behind the scenes triggers curiosity. No one will follow these insights exactly probably but it is much of inspiration for high tech companies.

“It’s about experts leading experts.” and it feels like maybe as an academic environment where politics and individual stage is replaced with product and collective stage.

Be aware of the consequences

A Tesla dealing with complex roads

“this Tesla SUV ran into a traffic barrier at 70mph while on Autopilot. how could this happen? there are 3 major contributing causes, and they’re *fascinating*

”It is an extensive analysis of what happens with this accident, concluding that we should be aware to overtrust level 2 autonomous driving…

Zoom Deleted Events Discussing Zoom “Censorship

How well Zoom is working for online meetings and sessions it remains necessary to follow them critically and be aware what you use it for…

Rathenau Manifesto: Set 10 design requirements for tomorrow’s digital society now

For those who keep track of all the manifestos around: a new one for the list :-)

“With the breakthrough of “immersive” technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and voice computers, the digital society is entering a new phase. The physical and digital worlds are becoming more interlinked than ever before, and this raises urgent social and political questions. In this manifesto, the Rathenau Instituut sets out ten design requirements for tomorrow’s digital society. The requirements were drawn up on the basis of three research reports from the past year.“

This week I will give a workshop on new interfaces for Media Perspectives, and try to attend some of the European SDG Summit and the Digital Twin seminar by Digital Society School. Preparing for ThingsCon GoodThingsFest will take an important part too. If you did not check it out, don’t wait!

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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