• AI Personas reloaded — 2018/11

    (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

    Mike Shorter and I will be in Rotterdam for Thingscon Conference 2018, giving a workshop on our AI personas framework.

    This is the research framework that we used for during an internal workshop that led the emotional radio Solo, a project we are particularly proud of.

    As we spent some time last week to refresh the workshop structure that we used back then, it was also interesting to look at the write-ups we did on the back of that workshop. At the time the radio was not yet called Solo, but Timbre, and it was made of cardboard instead of wood and Formica. Here they are, still fresh: Designing with AI and Timbre: designing with AI part 2.

    The Thingscon conference website is not up yet, but here’s the description of our workshop session.

    Thanks to new machine learning advancements, we can now create connected objects which are able to carry out complex tasks autonomously, without requiring direct user inputs. But with increased autonomy, our ability to plan for all possible interactions users will have with the products diminishes, with the result that users expecting seamless experiences will be often frustrated and disappointed. As products become smarter with AI, we can no longer regard them as tools for people to use. This usual metaphor doesn’t work anymore for describing the complex interactions between users and AI-powered products. A better way to consider the new user-object relation is one of cooperating partners. By using the personification metaphor we can give users an intuitive way to manage their expectation when using products with autonomous, complex behaviours. The AI Personas is a simple framework that uses the characters of the Butler, the Police and the Buddy to illustrate three different ways for intelligent products to behave. By referring to these personas and their familiar traits, designers can have a higher level reference for guiding their process and users can intuitively know what the product would do in each situation. In this workshop, we will first introduce our AI Personas framework of the Butler, the Police and the Buddy. Afterwards, we’ll have a creative session where we’ll show you show you how to use the frameworks for ideating AI-powered products with clear goals and behaviours.

    Thingscon’s early bird tickets are still available until October 4th. Be sure to grab one before then here!

    Findings

    1. Spatial (2018)

    A truly impressive prototype of collaborative remote workplace using AR. Basically you see an avatar of your colleague through AR glasses (Hololens and Magic Leap One, on the demo video) and you organise documents, create a moodboard in mid air and so on.

    Video is great (although I’m not sure why the soundtrack needed to really be so so dramatic).

    here

    2. sociality.today (2018)

    A website collecting patents of technologies about social control, manipulation, and surveillance. Great effort to make this visible.

    Patent titles are frightening by themselves.

    For instance: “system and method for determining credit worthiness of a user” or “system and method for identifying persons having socially unacceptable behaviour” and around 400 more.

    Thanks Erika for finding this.

    here

    3. Smartians (2018)

    Dutch invention studio Frolic created a prototype of a kit of connected actuators to connect online switches, knobs, buttons, etc.

    My favourite thing is how thoroughly the kit was designed. A number of addons and a positioning system for the actuator to make the device suitable to smartify a huge variety of house interactions.

    here


  • Screen Time — 2018/10

    (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

    We are experimenting with a new three days workshop structure. We use it for tech-led, out-of-the-box solutions for concrete problems of the commercial sectors we work on and for exploring applications of longer-term research themes. Its initial structure and techniques have been inspired by the usual suspects: GV’s Design Sprint and Stanford d. School’s Design Thinking, plus our own past experiences in creating and planning workshops with all lengths and purposes.

    But the big difference from our previous workshops is that with this we are aiming to have a structure that is versatile enough to be used any time we need of an internal, accelerated process for creating a focused, insight-grounded solution.

    In the past, our workshops were planned out specifically depending on the purpose and the participant’s time. This is great for testing new techniques and experiment with the structure (and we’ll probably use them for this specific purpose in the future) but is also very energy demanding.

    The planning took always a considerable about of time and there have been occasions in which we had to change the structure or modify some creative techniques on the fly when things didn’t work out as expected.

    Choosing to focus on a single workshop structure, and especially being able to use it repeatedly, gives us the possibility to improve the process, refining timings, techniques and facilitation in an iterative fashion. This way we can make the workshop time more effective and pleasant to work, for both us running it and for the participants.

    After each workshop sessions, we examine what went well and what could be improved, amend the plan in a new document, bump the version number on the filename and repeat. We’ve run two workshops in this way and the steady pace through which we’re ironing out issues and improving aspects of our workshop plan which feels very, very satisfying.

    Findings

    1. Future Agency (2018)

    Some due self-promotion for a start. This has been a long internal project here at Uniform that involved people from all disciplines and it turned out truly great. Well done team! From an It’s Nice That article.

    Packed with tools like the sinister-sounding “dream builder”, bioengineered brand influencers, automated office pets that force you to exercise, and a truly awful ”Client Cam” that offers absolute transparency into what we’re working on at all times, The Future Agency forces us to imagine what’s next, exaggerating our current moment into a evolving vision of the future. The app is on the App Store.

    here

    2. Baxter robot discontinued (2018)

    Truly bummed by this. Rodney Brook’s Baxter pioneered and made available the idea of a cobot, a robot that could work alongside humans. It has two arms and a different number of replaceable hands, and its main application was for using in assembly lines, without the risk it would crush its human co-worker’s bones.

    What I loved the most about it was its capability of being programmable by imitation: one could teach Baxter some action by physically moving its arms and the robot would replicate that action to carry out a specific task.

    here

    3. Follow JC Go (2018)

    It’s like Pokemon Go, but with Saints. Find a Saint, answer a question and add it to your team.

    The game was developed by Fundación Ramón Pané, a foundation dedicated to evangelization, in preparation for World Youth Day 2019, an international Catholic event focused on youth. According to Crux Now, a Catholic publication, Pope Francis reportedly commended the app when it was presented to him in Rome earlier this month.

    Fascinating to see that there’s somebody in the Catholic Church that proposed this app, somebody that signed it off and somebody developed it. Available on the App Store.

    here


  • Screen Time — 2018/9

    (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

    Last week main focus was to finalize documentation for the Shared Home project, ahead of some meetings where we wanted to introduce the idea. The project is called Roommate and a blog post about it is now live 🎉.

    But for of an exhibition that we’re preparing for this week’s Design Manchester event, I’ve also worked on some code for making a connected thermal printer prototype we use in the studio to also stream and print tweets and Instagram comments.

    Twitter has always been the poster-boy platform for IoT and internet experiments. Uniform’s Sweet Tweet, our first Creative Technology project from 7 years ago, was also listening for Twitter hashtags and doing something with it. There were actually some breaking changes on the Twitter API this year, but the ability to stream the public Twitter feed in search for a specific keyword, which is what I needed, is still perfectly available.

    But Instagram is where most people are now, so we also wanted to integrate it as well in our little in-person engagement tool. The problem is that Facebook has radically restricted all its APIs after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, making them only available to medium and big size businesses, and there’s not any official way (we’ll get to that later) to programmatically access the platform’s content if you’re not one of them. It feels like we’ve moved light years away from a time, 5–6 years ago, when integration was key for internet platforms and I used to browse websites like Programmable Web in search for interesting data and service to connect to. To summarize that lost spirit, that’s from an article I wrote a couple of years back.

    We think of APIs as just another material, and we love consuming RESTful interfaces as much as we love turning wood.

    But all is not lost. Apparently, there’s still a way to access Instagram public posts. You can search for comments that contain a specific keyword by accessing an URL constructed in this way: www.instagram.com/explore/tags/pizza/?a=1. Change pizza with anything else and you’re ready to go. As I said, it’s all undocumented, so a bit of JSON beautifying is necessary in order to use it. It also 404s often and I wouldn’t count on it for a long time, but for lack of alternatives (and for an application without critical requirements) it’s more than enough.

    Findings

    1. Facebook Portal (2018)

    Facebook announced its first hardware product. A camera+screen combo for video calling and watching videos. Nice feature: is that the camera can move to follow the user in the room and the video automatically zooms out to include all people in the frame. Curious feature: it uses Amazon Alexa as a voice assistant. Ironic feature: a clip-on camera cover is already included.

    here

    1b. Google Home Hub (2018)

    At about the same time as Facebook, also Google released a connected screen device. It uses the Google assistant, you can watch YouTube videos and play music. It doesn’t include a camera though: in privacy-conscious times they avoided to deal with the issue altogether?

    here

    2. How to Generate (almost) anything (2018)

    We are a bunch of scientists and artists that aim to test the limits of human-AI collaboration to generate (almost) anything the human mind can (and can’t) imagine.

    A repository of Human-AI collaborating efforts, with a name directly inspired by Neil Gershenfeld’s How to Make (Almost) Anything MIT class, where the idea of Fab-Labs was created. Surely an homage, but also an apt picture of this past couple years’ tech zeitgeist: makers’ days are over, behold the human-AI centaur.

    here

    3. Fiberbots (2018)

    The FIBERBOTS are a swarm of robots designed to wind fiberglass filament around themselves to create high-strength tubular structures.

    Basically Neri Oxman group at MIT media lab is actually creating technologies for that kind of organic inspired, generative architecture that Archigram and Japanese Metabolists were dreaming of in the 60s and 70s. And the video is just stunning.

    here


  • 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


  • Signals - 2018/7

    (signals)

    We’ve decided to make more official the habit of writing weeknotes about the work I and Mike do at Uniform, creating a Medium publication and collaborating in writing duties. I still plan to keep writing my own notes in this blog, first because I find it useful and also because I like the idea of having my notes stored in a format (markdown) and in a place (my computer and a github repo) reasonably immune to the ups and downs of an company such as Medium. To avoid adding confusion, I’ll stop sharing link from this blog on social media, and if the current post is also present on the Medium publication, I’ll mark it below.

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

    Notes

    Our new research theme is finally starting to take shape and the temporary working title is “Shared Experience Design” (yes, it couldn’t be less catchy). We’ll be going into more detail on it (and change the name), but here’s the gist of our thinking.

    There’s a general tendency by popular communication technologies companies (Apple, Google and Facebook) to design products that are making us isolated from each other. This is not a deliberate choice of engineers and designers building those products, but something that is not good for people, avoidable, and that can be addressed. Our plan is to illustrate ideas of products to be used in social environments (we’re working on the scenarios of the home and of face-to-face meetings) that enable and even enrich the direct interactions between people.

    There’re quite a few things on the pipeline for this project. Next week we’ll have a 3 days hack to explore the concept in the context of face-to-face meetings and I’m planning to write something on the consequences that products focused on individual, personalized experiences will have on an increasingly software-mediated world (read AR).

    Findings

    1. Oculus Quest (2018)

    A new portable VR headset released by Oculus. The big news is that it uses cameras on the headset to map your surroundings so that you can move in the virtual space. This feature is already available in high end headset such as Vive and Oculus Rift, but both of them need 1. to be tethered to a computer and 2. sensors placed on the ceiling or table in front of the user for the tracking.

    here

    2. Snapchat Visual Search (2018)

    Simply point your Snapchat camera at a physical product or barcode, and press and hold on the camera screen to get started. When the item or barcode is recognized, an Amazon card will appear on-screen, surfacing a link for that product or similar ones available on Amazon.

    Shazam for things as a feature on a popular app such as Snapchat, although not available to everybody yet. Does that mean that we’ll see people start sneaking pics in train and public places? Will Facebook release the same functionality for Instagram a couple of months (we’ve seen that before… )?

    here

    3. solar.lowtechmagazine.com (2018)

    A radical experiments in sustainability. A self-hosted website, solar powered and off the grid. A good reminder that the internet is based on a very tangible infrastructure (of cables, data-centers, people, etc) and not an immaterial “cloud” as we are too often led to believe.

    I also love their tourist location sounding heading: “When is the best time to visit?”, warning about the risk of downtime during rain days.

    here


  • Signals - 2018/6

    (signals)

    End of week notes and 3 (approx) interesting things, new or old, found (approx) this week.

    Notes

    Our small Creative Technology team (it’s me and Mike Shorter in it), is undergoing a major rethinking of the purpose and working process of our department. Bulk of this particularly hectic week has then been spent going through notes, scribbling post-it, discussing presentations, meetings and various iteration of the previous activities.

    It’s a great opportunity to be able rethink our role within the company, especially looking back at past projects and the shape this department had over the years. This November Uniform marks its 20th anniversary, and the value that the company has seen, since its early years, in a team focussed on the longer-term timescale of research in design & tech, is something that we are deeply proud of.

    We’re very excited by the work what we’ve done so far, and we’ve had some good internal feedbacks already. But as there wasn’t any final sign-off of the new process yet, we’re still not able to go into the content of it. Hopefully we’ll be able to talk about it in the following week or soon after that.

    Findings

    1. AR Quick Look (2018)

    Soon after the public launch of iOS 12, supporting the new augmented reality framework ARKit 2, Shopify and Opendesk have both released preview function that use AR Quick Look, that allows users to access AR 3D models just by tapping on a image in the Safari browser, without needing to install an new app. Shopify even made a service around it, offering to its users the service to 3D model for them the item they want to show in their digital shops through AR. It’s just a first step, as the interactivity of AR Quick Look is limited to move the 3D model around in the physical space, but I believe that access to AR experiences without the burden of downloading a new app every time, will definitely be key to Augmented Reality into a mainstream experience.

    here

    2. Amazon Smart Products (2018)

    Amazon has updated its Echo line and launched a whole new set of voice-controlled Alexa powered products. Many are just variations on the smart speaker theme, mostly aimed to give Alexa higher-end audio quality (thus offer cheaper alternatives to Apple HomePod or Sonos) but there are some more interesting stuff too. One it’s Microwave, and it’s an connected, you guess, microwave. It’s inexpensive ($59.99) and you can control it through voice with Amazon Echo and enable it to reorder pop-corn when you run out using the Dash Replenishment service. More than an innovative product (Alexa would not put that mug in the microwave, would it?) it’s interesting to see it as the first experiment of integrating frictionless shopping functionalities of the Dash Replenishment service at scale (there are other non-Amazon products that also utilizes that function, but all of them with a niche audience and in general expensive). Another product is a bluetooth connected clock, its main function to display the timers you’ve set with Alexa. With these devices Amazon has become the first company with a whole smart home vision you can buy right now. Just that its vision is a rather underwhelming one. Ian Bogost sums it up nicely with the term “Micro-Convenience”.

    This is how Amazon has infiltrated the home with its voice-activated devices and service. Not through genuine utility, but by scratching the smallest itches of ordinary life—even when Amazon itself is the cause of the initial irritation. The results might be convenient, but they also facilitate a new depth of corporate surveillance.

    here

    2b. Amazon Scout (2018)

    Jeff has been signing off project like crazy (from Brad Stone account how controlling the Amazon CEO is, I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a say on every single product has been released in these past days), because Amazon have also launched, in the word of somebody in ProductHunt “A machine learning Pinterest competitor. Shop with 👍or 👎.”. Amazon is not new in releasing products that explore new ways to discover products to buy. One other from a while ago was Spark, that an Instagram style social media where you can tap on objects displayed on the photos to access its page on Amazon. What I find especially interesting about those minor projects by GAFA companies is how they give an insight into their culture and how they want to be perceived. For instance Google’s collaborations with artists and small studios in creative projects and Apple not launching anything until is a final release and without some loud media fanfare.

    here

    3. Aurora

    This week Uniform Creative Technology went to the opening of Aurora, an immersive installation by Invisible Flock studio and produced by Liverpool Art & Design institution FACT. The project was developed in collaboration with a number of international partners among which our studio friend Babitha from Quicksand. The installation, hosted inside the tunnel-like space of the Toxteth Reservoir in Liverpool, is an hour long very intense experience light and sound experience, recounting a geological ages long story about water. The piece was actually so engaging that I’ve even managed not to think too much at engineering aspect of it all during the duration, despite it being especially impressive in scale and complexity: not something that I’m able to do very often. Very special and and well worth a visit.

    here


  • Signals - 2018/5

    (signals)

    End of week notes and 3 (approx) interesting things, new or old, found (approx) this week.

    Notes

    Again on the Smart Home project I’ve mentioned about last time. To get a bit more into details, our aim with the project is to create a living environment specifically designed for shared-living situations. This is our response to a common trend in technologies (for instance AR, VR, smart headphones) to isolating people from each other, and to the increasingly common scenario of people sharing apartments due to raising cost of living, especially in major cities. As part of the project, some time this week was spent in synthesizing our thinking into a theme, a single expression that would represent our approach.

    This is something we’ve done in the past as well. Sweet Tweet, Uniform’s first Creative Technology project, was developed under the theme of Physical Apps. More recently, the project Solo, came out of a workshop in which we explored an interaction design framework we called AI personas. And many of our favourite people in design and tech make large use of names and expressions to guide their work. To mention some of my favourite, Berg’s B.A.S.A.A.P and Mark Wieser’s Calm Technology.

    Our intention going forward is to try being more explicit in creating a theme for each of our R&D work exploring a specific technology. As we noticed that having a well thought name makes a great starting point for ideation, a useful reference during development and a clear focus when talking about our work, both internally and externally.

    That’s why it’s worth to give it some time. And why despite the great amount of scrap paper with names scribbled on it, the decision on what the name for our new theme is postponed to next week.

    Findings

    1. Rollable Display (2018)

    I haven’t stumbled in a new concept for a physical media device in a while. And if the idea of a rollable display is not new, it might be now actually possible to manufacture such a thing (and with high resolution) using Flexible Organic LED (FOLED) displays (via @gnat)

    here

    2. Anatomy Of AI (2018)

    On my radar for a while, but it took some days before a got a chance to read it. It’s a dense reading dissecting the resources, human labour and technologies involved in the functioning of a smart speaker, specifically an Amazon Echo. Plenty of glorious quotable bits.

    But in this fleeting moment of interaction, a vast matrix of capacities is invoked: interlaced chains of resource extraction, human labor and algorithmic processing across networks of mining, logistics, distribution, prediction and optimization.

    The scale of resources required is many magnitudes greater than the energy and labor it would take a human to operate a household appliance or flick a switch.

    By researchers Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler (who in the past did a similar in-depth analysis of Facebook with his Share Lab)

    here

    3. Colour Calendar (2018)

    Friend Jonathan Chomko has launched a Kickstarter of a weird, brilliant product. It’s a calendar looking thing that you hang on the wall like a calendar and turn pages like a calendar, except that there’s no dates and no place for writing anything. Each spread of the book is two full pages of carefully selected colours you can change when you want a new mood in the room. Hard to explain by words, you can get a better idea by looking at it on the Kickstarter page.

    here


  • Signals - 2018/4

    (signals)

    End of week notes and 3 (approx) interesting things, new or old, found (approx) this week.

    Notes

    We’ve just finished doing a film for a Smart Home project. For the first time, instead of creating a fully working demo product, we decided to prototype it it just enough to make a concept video (my favourite work of this kind is one that Superflux’s Anab Jain and others did during their student years, I believe, Sketch-a-move). That didn’t stop it from being an IoT apocalypse, though. For mysterious reasons the WiFi of house where we were filming seemed unable to connect to any of our devices (a Particle Photon and a LIFX lightbulb) and after some attempts, we opted to using my iPhone as a hotspot to connect both. So for the scenes illustrating our concept: I was sitting in the room with two iPhones on my lap, one of them connected to the other’s hotspot, while controlling the LIFX lamp with one hand and interacting with the web interface of our prototype with the other, often times having to restart things as it seemed that my phone couldn’t handle that well three devices all connected to its WiFi. While juggling among this interconnectedness entanglement I was thinking about the concept Thingsclash, that Futurist consultancy Changeist was using for referring to these kind of people and machines messes, and I felt less alone.

    Findings

    1. Air Max 1 was inspired by the Pompidou Center

    This was new to me. Tinker Hatfield, the man behind the first Nike Air design, is an architect. And his successful idea of having a visible air cushion on the sole was taken from the Pompidou Center in Paris, whose pipes, cabling and technical equipment are exposed to the outside of the building. I so much love that.

    here

    2. Brand New Roman (2018)

    A typeface using brand logos as letters.

    here

    3. Prosthetic Knowledge is no more (2018)

    And I’m just devastated about it. I loved the Tumblr snappy way of presenting obscure creative tech projects from all over the world through a gif and a few words. I’ve discovered it when it featured our Hacking Households project and I’ve been using it as a trustful source of tech and design news ever since.

    here


  • Signals - 2018/3

    (signals)

    I’m figuring out what this blog is and should be. From its original intention it was meant to be “a place where to put scattered thoughts or notes about half-backed experiments not worth of making a whole project or a whole article”. It has been like that sometimes, sometimes it hasn’t. What surely wasn’t, is consistent. The goal is to make it into a habit, so here I am again. At week 3 of this new course, my plan is to use it also for week-notes, in the sense of Matt Webb (Matt Webb’s Interconnected was actually the main source of inspiration when I started this, it all comes together… ). So, without further ado, let’s get started.

    End of week notes and 3 (approx) interesting projects things, new or old, found (approx) this week.

    Notes

    Two main things this week.

    I’ve worked on user experience design for an AR application. It is an internal project, therefore a good opportunity to try push it a little bit further with what the medium could do and to test out more outside-the-box ideas. Storyboards are often our to-go tool to develop an idea into a concept and for a previous AR app, as a reference for graphic designers and developers, we used a detailed wire-flow (in the sense of Nielsen Norman). But in this case the core of the concept was already decided - show content when pointing the camera of the app to a poster - and details of the app content was still to be worked on, so we needed some intermediate approach between a storyboard and a wire-flow. What we used, that proved successful, was to sketch down a detailed user task flow for the whole experience, identify what points of the experience could be interesting to rethink and then sketch out single vignettes for each of those point to illustrate the idea. That worked well to start thinking about the app experience as a whole and to present our ideas to the team.

    The rest of the week we worked on a 3 days sprint. Often in those, especially when there are people from different teams like in this case, we use card based ideation sessions. It’s a technique I’ve learned few years ago while an Interaction Designer at Fabrica, and consists in preparing cards each with a different technological items, picking two cards at random and spending a short amount of time (we found that eight minutes is a good amount) to sketch out as many ideas as possible mashing up the technologies in the cards. Obviously many ideas are wonky, weird or impossible, but its fast paced and structured rhythm gives plenty of opportunities to inspire ideas that are actually good. Except that this time it didn’t. We had six different HMW statements and the initial plan was for each of them, to pick two cards and spend those eight minutes for ideas. Well, it turned out that trying to mesh together three different things in an extremely short amount of time was too way more our mind could handle. The cards were not inspiring, the HMW brief was out of focus and in turn the whole session was just plain frustrating. After a couple of rounds we gave up with this approach and instead laid out all tech cards, visible to all members of the workshop, and used them just as references while we were just focussing on the HMW questions pinned on the wall. The session started running more productively after that, and at the end we had some promising ideas we could develop and eventually prototype. Note for the self: don’t over constrain it.

    Findings

    1. Responsible IoT

    Many great people on from the Thingscon network collaborated on this document.

    I’m still going through it all but I’ve already very much enjoyed one article by Simon Höher on the need to identify and block increasingly sophisticated and automated manipulations from the technology we use.

    we might want to behave just like we learned to behave when playing strategic games — just now, our opponent might happen to be a thing. Strategies like attentiveness (asking us regularly What did I just do?), reflection (asking us Why did I just do that?) and smart tactics to engage in a playful strategic game with our opponents, in order to get the other part to do what we want from them

    here

    2. Gartner hype curve 2018

    Behold. It’s out. With all the (new) buzz around Mastodon I imagined that Decentralized Networks was going to make in the old curve, but It didn’t. You got me, Twitter bubble.

    Up-and-coming personal favs: Exoskeletons, Self-Healing System Technology. Augmented Reality’s in the Trough of Disillusionment. Well, it had to be somewhere.

    here

    3. Olaf Stapledon

    I’ve just knew about Olaf Stapledon, a science fiction author originally from across the Mersey river from Liverpool (where I live), in West Kirby. He was active in 1930s and his two most popular books, ‘Last and First Men’ and ‘Star Maker’ are ambitious description of the future of mankind and of the whole universe. I’ve just started ‘Last and First Men’ and a visit to his places is now in my todo list. Love to celebrate local heroes (especially if it’s about sci-fi).

    here


  • Signals - 2018/2

    (signals)

    3 (approx) interesting projects, new or old, found (approx) this week.

    1. (author)rise (2018)

    Start writing on a whiteboard. A text recognition system recognises what you are writing and using a neural network system completes the sentence for you and, using a magnet under the whiteboard, actually moves the pen to continue the sentence as you keep holding the pen.

    here

    2. Cowly Owl relaunch as a company for collaborative games (2018)

    Whilst you could sit next to your child when they were playing with my apps, they were designed as single player experiences, so often it would be difficult to join in. Recently my own children have reached the video game playing age. I have been rediscovering the fun from my childhood, of playing and exploring these worlds together.

    I love this and I think it’s important. I wish more tech had the same attitude, so that in 10 years we won’t find ourselves in flashy bubbles of AR and VR, alone.

    here

    3. Evolving Floorplans (2018)

    Evolving Floor Plans is an experimental research project exploring speculative, optimized floor plan layouts. The rooms and expected flow of people are given to a genetic algorithm which attempts to optimize the layout to minimize walking time, the use of hallways, etc.

    I’m very much into genetic algorithms at the moment.

    here