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August 07, 2012

Speaking Engagements in 2012

I’m excited to announce a three new speaking engagements scheduled for me over the remainder of 2012, in London, Chicago and Delhi, respectively.

First off, I’ll be be speaking in London at the August ProductTank meetup on Wednesday, August 15. ProductTank is a group which produces a global series of collaborative, user organized “unconferences”, focused on Product Management and Marketing topics. London was the first and is the largest currently active group.

The topic for the night is Strategic UX, featuring me and two other speakers. Mike Atherton, Head of UX at Huddle, will talk about branding for start-ups from a strategic and UX perspective. Leisa Reichelt, UX Consultant, coordinates the London UX Bookclub, UX Bootcamp and UX Tuesday (accessible UX expertise for startups) will talk about Strategic User Experience. I am considering a redux of my 3 Myths of Customer Experience talk given I’ve had a load of positive feedback on it. Alternatively, I may share some thoughts on how Strategic UX relates to product portfolio planning. I’ll finalize this over this weekend. There will then be a short panel discussion and Q&A with all three speakers. If you haven’t signed up yet, it would seem you’re out of luck as all 120 spots are taken with a wait list of 148.

David modeling
Then-student David Kodinsky, modeling

Second, I’ve agreed to travel back to Chicago to teach Rapid Experience Modeling at the IIT Institute of Design this October as a one week intercession course. I’ve taught the class the past two years and my students’ feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Rapid XMOD is an immersion course focused on “Experience Modeling”. This critical part of the practice at the Institute of Design differentiates the school and is core to design-led innovation. The course is “Rapid” because there is an emphasis placed on developing a comfort with quickly creating different experience models–both heuristic and generative–to describe the world, problems and opportunities. Models are created each day on a particular “Aspect of the Experience” with heavy critique and discussion in class and in smaller group sessions. The ultimate goal is to push students to be more confident in describing and illustrating the “Experience” from all critical perspectives. To teach the course, I will be in Chicago for the week of October 15 - 19. Ping me if you’re in Chicago and are interested in meeting up.


Fellow IIT Institute of Design ProfessorAnijo Mathew speaking at CII-NID 2011

Finally, I will be keynoting India’s largest design conference, the 12th annual CII-NID Design Summit scheduled on December 13 & 14 December 2012 in New Delhi. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has been organizing the CII-NID Design Summit for the past 11 years with National Institute of Design (NID). It is a powerful platform that attracts participation from design houses, design institutes, policy makers, media, and industry from India and internationally. It looks to be an inspiring and stimulating global forum set in the Indian context. “Design Doing” is the central theme of the 2012 Summit. I plan on bridging the “Thinking” and “Doing” gap with a discussion of how different approaches, including Hybrid Agile, Test & Pilot and Lean Start-up can all be effective in managing risk and producing ground breaking results.

While in India, I am also excited to be a juror for the 2012 CII Indian Design Excellence Awards. It is only the second year of what will surely become an important recognition of design talent in the second most populous nation on planet Earth. Check out last year’s winners .

Posted by zacharyparadis at 12:23 PM | TrackBack

August 05, 2012

The Appification of Things: Smart Attributes

Last post, I outlined a series of product-app combinations introducing ubiquitous computing to our world: The Appification of Things. Further in the future, we can hope for embedded intelligence in environments or objects to be quiet, helping us along through subtle interactions. In the short term though, apps like those we now use everyday will mediate the fuzzy data and intelligence behind products.

There are two primary reasons apps are helpful in regards to our use of smart things. First, we just “get” apps. In fact, we’re so enamored with them on our phones and tablets that it was recently announced that 30 billion apps were downloaded through the Apple iTunes appstore alone. This works out to a remarkable 5 apps downloaded per person in the entire world, if everyone owned an iOS device. This doesn’t count the explosions of app downloads across the Android, Amazon and Windows mobile platforms. I don’t believe there is anyone who could argue that trends support more, not less, apps are coming.

Second, apps allow us introduce a set of “smart attributes” which help humans interact more successfully with products. These are the ways in which apps extend a smart product or, in the words of Mike Kunaviasky, provide “services” to “avatars”. When creating smart products and companion apps, be sure to consider and embed these five smart attributes.

Five Smart Attributes:
Measurement - Apps reveal Measurement of human behavior and activity tracked by smart objects. An example is how Nike’s FuelBand uses a series of accelerometers to measure movements which are then translated through “oxygen kinetics” to a variety of data. These include steps, calories and Fuel on the band itself but the band, as often with smart objects, has a limited display. A much larger and longitudinal data set is communicated through Nike’s various iOS and web apps than the device itself.

Visualization - Visualization is key to making the measurement of data really useful. The Nest Learning Thermostat’s iOS and Android apps are visual and informative, delivering energy use in a format that can make anyone a conservationist.

Optimization - Building on both Measurement and Visualization, apps should help us modify behavior and activity. By setting goals in context of longitudinal data, our app-enabled smart products help us Optimize outcomes and results. The VitaDock app and related smart object product line by Medisana is an especially interesting example as it rolls Measurement and Visualization of a suite of health measures into a single interface. These currently include blood pressure, weight, blood sugar and temperature monitoring with goal tracking a part of most. As Medisana says on their website, “By setting your own target values, (you’ll) receive helpful feedback with each measurement.”

Communication - Given the need for display of Measurement beyond limited displays, Visualization and assistance with Optimization, it should be apparent that it’s irrelevant to deliver “smarts” to an object without Communication. The reality is that we need our objects to send and receive messages. Apps can help us facilitate this communication. Twine is a fantastic example as the device itself has no display and isn’t automatically connected to anything. Instead, it achieves Communication through a web app called Spool, which allows you to put together rules to trigger messages with a palette of available conditions and actions. Sensors enable a range of Measurement while Communication is delivered through a suite of pre-built actions, firing off messages via:

  • Pebble E-Paper Watch
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Text messaging
  • Configurable HTTP Request

Distribution - Delivering Connection as an api with a single web app, as Twine does, might be enough for tinkerers. In reality though, the general population is looking for more fully developed offerings. Given customers and users own a wide variety of devices, this justifies Distribution of an app across a range of platforms. Withings Body Scale just does that as it monitors your entire family’s weight and then distributes the data across iOS and Android devices as well as the web.

These examples of smart objects and their related apps are by no means the final word in ubiquitous computing, but they do represent its first wave delivered at scale. Smart objects on their own are just too obscure and too opaque. Providing companion apps embedded with Smart Attributes helps mediate the fuzziness of the intelligence in things.

Posted by zacharyparadis at 12:22 PM | TrackBack