Designing Discreetness recap @ Thingscon

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I ran a two hour workshop on designing discreetness yesterday, and this is my attempt to recap the framing and what we did in 10 minutes or less. This is an edited version of the recap from second day at Thingscon — look for more precise blog post up at soon!

Transcript of Designing Discreetness recap @ Thingscon

  • @Nordkapp Designing Discreetness Thingscon Sami Niemel @samin / Hello, my name is Sami. I ran a two hour workshop on designing discreetness yesterday, and this is my attempt to recap the framing and what we did in 10 minutes or less.
  • @Nordkapp First, a bit of where Im coming from. In brief Ive done things on and for the web since 1996, mobile 2000. Ive been a freelancer, worked at Nokia Design with a team of brilliant 2005-07 and since 2007 Ive been the creative director of Nordkapp, a design rm I also co-founded. @Nordkapp
  • @Nordkapp Nordkapp is a design agency working in strategic consulting, design services and product and service development. We do the usual things like business strategy and product design, digital service design, UX, IxD, information design and so forth. For the past year or so weve also been guring out product development, mostly in the form of connecting ideas, corporations, people and money to each other. Its a work in progress and has been very interesting. At the office, we do mainly two things: ! 1 Consulting & Design Services ! 2 Product development
  • One of the reasons Im here is probably this piece of work on urban screens. First we did a piece of design ction for Helsinkis World Design Capital year 2012 called Urbanow Helsinki, then an actual prototype last summer running on the streets of Helsinki.
  • We also try to figure out internet of things. ! Lofi stuff like this we made w/ @teppo is quite useful on trying to get your head around on how people would actually react on physical things talking back at you? ! Slow WIP at #invisiblethings @NKLabs !
  • About discreetness by dictionary denition it is intentionally unobtrusive Not a smart puppy at all, but more the holy grail of digital service design the butler. The steward Alan talked about. I actually think smart puppy is not a good analogy at all. Puppies tend to be quite excited, and I am not sure if I want my tech to be excited all the time
  • We are here we all here are the innovators, and everything is very very early still.
  • There are a lot of things software, cars, anything talking back to us. ! A large majority of these seem like the design part just happened. They are accidental things, which are not really considered at all. This is a picture of a rental VW car which has nothing wrong really. But it is still shouting things at me, and I have no idea why.
  • We try to solve most problems by putting screens everywhere. ! Tesla seems to be one of the first well designed instances of big ass touch screens in places but Im still not convinced this should be the be-all-end-all of car UIs. ! There is more to this, we can do better.
  • At the same time, theres a lot of technology out there looking for its purpose. ! To riff on Alexandros (@iotwatch) point earlier today it seems to be mostly done by white males, for white males. ! Its still the because we can-tech.
  • A lot of wearables have a problem with battery life. ! I really loved my Pebble Steel for the first five weeks until I forgot my charger cable home. And here we are.
  • mobile first behaviour first So we need to approach things not mobile rst but behavior rst. Think how things behave and talk back to us. Mobile rst is just a technological lens to approach a tiny part of a problem which is really more about understanding how people behave and then design for that. !
  • Context & Simplicity over complexity. Things like context and simplicity matter more than even. Say what you say about Glass, but there is something quite magical about information hovering in front of your eyes. The hardware may not quite be there yet, but that is just a matter of time. ! UI example; Eaze (
  • Language matters speech recognition is getting pretty good already. But so far its a lot about predened pattern recognition and matching what we really need to do next is to design the software behind the magic.
  • Looks to me weve been here before havent we?
  • Behaviour matters This is what I mean by not smart puppies things seem quite easily way too excited like this example of my rst go with Nike Fuelband. This was the rst Facebook update on the rst day I used the thing. Best. Day. Ever, right?
  • @Nordkapp So heres the thing I believe the key on cracking this is do things for humans rst, then services, software and hardware. Not the other way around. This is pretty visible for example on how corporations approach #iot; they all look it at based on their own history because that is what they understand. But instead you should start from empathy and real problems, do the rest afterwards. Human factors Services Software Hardware
  • The best examples of discreetness out there tend to be startups & individual things. ! Corporations are just learning this. ! Things like Shine which resembles more jewelry than a wearable sensor !
  • Moves, a Finnish app recently bought by Facebook has near-magical algorithms figuring out what you do, where and so forth. ! !
  • iZettle, the Swedish payment terminal. I really like their card reader and how it is done. it is a very discreet, almost silent blank object. !
  • Aether Cone is an intelligent speaker which learns from how you use it. Theres a lovely physical interface and it also understands voice commands. ! !
  • Then theres this more conceptual side. Massimo Banzi of Arduino fame talked about hardware as poetry, and thats what I think things like this Twitter cuckoo clock by BERG are really are like. Beautiful, discreet things. ! ! v=Haq4oP3B4rE
  • The Good Night Lamp is a perfect example of discreet thing tapping into something that is everyday and turning it into a meaningful experience. !
  • Based on Android Wear, Google is also getting this. I havent used one yet but based on the video they seem to be the first ones who get the role of a wrist device with a screen in it. In the video theres this scene where a girl opens up a garage door with a simple voice command. Thats how things should work. ! !
  • So based on this, we had yesterday good 25-30 people discussing, sketching out and reframing a few familiar everyday experiences.
  • How could we make ______ more discreet? The question we asked was how could we make this (blank) more discreet?. We had six starting points where there are either screens or very in-your-face tech. Vending machines, atms, cars UI, public screens, merchants and wearables.
  • I like frameworks. I like em because they help you to focus your thinking and go past the blank paper syndrome really fast. For this, we had a this simple privacy framework weve used in our projects, few triggers on how it works and of course when is it for now or few years out. Reframing: ! What: private personal shared common public ! How: (haptics + screens + touch + voice + other) = 100% ! When: Now next year three five years or more !
  • And this is what happened in 60 mins or so, in ve groups. We got a merchant thing turned into a self cleaning nanotech clothing, a car UI to self driving car experience what do you do when theres barely any driving to be done? Do we need public screens when we can replace it with a smartphone and a sensor network? There was a vending machine turned into a 3D printing closet in your home or at a public place, and a public screen turned into a discreet transport ticketing being basically invisible unless you were cheating by not paying. ! Awesome stuff in such a short time. I really enjoyed thinking out loud and making sense of this with other people and then sketching out the experiences really quick and dirty through reframing. from a merchant thing to self cleaning clothing car UI to self driving car experience public screens to smartphone + sensor network vending machine to 3D printing closet public screen to discreet transport ticketing