• De-phubbing: Signals - 2018/8

    (signals)

    End of week notes and 3 (approx) interesting things, new or old, found (approx) this week. Also on Powered by Uniform Medium publication.

    Notes

    As anticipated last week, we did a quick 3 days hack on face-to-face scenarios and communication technologies.

    Our goal with the Shared Experience design theme is to develop an approach for designing digital products that especially considers the face-to-face surroundings of the user (the people around him in a specific moment and more in general the ones that he/she share spaces with through a house, a workplace, a neighbourhood etc.).

    Smartphones have transformed our social moments. We believe there is an untapped opportunity to use our devices to enrich the time we spend with people; but in most cases the effect that smartphones have, is to isolate us from each other and to damage social interactions.

    As a first step we decided to focus on the latter case, the negative scenario. The reason for that is that if we want to design products that are actually improving face-to-face situations, we needed to figure out also when we shouldn’t create a product. As designers working every day with technology, it’s easy to fall in solutionismtraps, that impulse to see in any issue a possible technological fix. And spending some time so identify the cases in which we need less, not more, tech, is an effective way to educate ourselves against those traps.

    During the course of the hack, we identified three motivations people have for phubbing, the action of snubbing someone in favour of a mobile phone, and came up with three simple ideas to address them, each solution specifically un-technological, as a reminder that this wasn’t a space for a new product, but for reflecting on our use of existing ones.

    We’re spending some more time to refine what we did and will soon share the result of the hack.

    Findings

    1. Wearspace (2018)

    A prototype by Panasonic. Basically it’s noise cancelling headphones attached to a fabric structure that covers the sides of you field of view. Ingenuous but effective solution for staying focused while at work, especially in open-space offices.

    here

    2. Anamorphic Playground (2018)

    London based Unit Lab and studio friends, create products “that bring science into everyday objects”. Their latest project is a playground where pieces are distorted in real life, but appear normal when looked through warped mirrors placed in the playground.

    here

    3. Smarter Homes (2018)

    If you have an interest on Design and the Internet of Things, chances are you’ve heard of Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino. She’ve been giving talks, organising conferences, writing and consulting about smart homes, connected objects and the likes since almost 10 years, always strongly working and advocating for ethical and human-centred values. She wrote a book on the topic that has just been released and I’m looking forward to start reading it. An introduction is available on her Medium.

    here