Welcome to 2018!

2017 was a long and unpredictable year. It started with the death of my father, a hero of mine and an electronics and audio pioneer. He was only 56, and it will be difficult to move on without his voice. He started his decline in mid-2016, followed by many hurried visits last year between trips.

I’m glad I got to spend so much time with him before he left this planet.

Dad and I

This year was enormous for Calm Technology. I was on tour for more time than expected. The 100,000 miles I traveled led me to new places, people and ideas, and I’m excited to explore more of them in the next year.

Calm Technology Book Tour 2017

This year’s Calm Technology Book Tour: 103,281 miles travelled!

What’s Next?
I continue to be an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and a fellow at MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media. I look forward to returning to Boston this January to participate more fully in efforts around AI, ethics, IoT and calm design.

amber case speaking at mind the product london

An enormous audience for Mind the Product London!

New Year’s Resolutions

1. Write more. Write one short essay a month on topics related to AI, ethics, IoT and Calm Tech.

2. Release Designing Products with Sound. I’m working with my editor to improve my writing skills, and I’m making incremental progress. My second O’Reilly book, Designing Products with Sound will come out by the end of 2018, and I’m looking forward to that.

3. Prepare to write a trade paperback. I’ve had many requests for a trade paperback book that provides a wider look at how technology is affecting culture.

beaverton high school audience

Audience at Beaverton High School in Oregon.


Getting my cousins hooked on synthesizers and sound-making apps during a family visit in August.

4. Visit family more often.

Family is incredibly important. I feel that a lot of my life after college was spend in survival mode after graduating in the recession. This year I plan on spending more time with my cousins, my Aunts and my dad’s brother. My family is fairly small, and every moment counts.

5. Read more books!

My favorite book this year was Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay. It followed the author through the origins of many different colors, and I encourage anyone from any background to take a look at it.

My second favorite was Writing Tools, a book I’m still working through.

divine maloney amber case

Researcher Divine Maloney and I this summer in Portland, Oregon before he left to pursue a PhD in HCI!

6. Finish a research paper on the phenomenology of AR and VR.

I’ve been a big fan of VR for some time. I’ve been researching the history of it as a hobby for the last 8 years. I worked on this paper with Divine Maloney this summer and am looking forward to publishing it by the end of next year!

divine maloney amber case summer interns

Divine and I with the 2017 Harvard Berkman Klein Center Summer Interns in Cambridge, MA.

7. Participate more in the local community and help others.

Although I was fearful to do it, one thing I’ve done this year is to sign up as a Blood Marrow Donor at Be the Match.

The process is not as difficult as one would expect, and you’d be seriously saving someone’s life if you are a match. All you need is a cheek swab from a kit provided in the mail, and then you wait for a call.

Sign up to be a Blood Marrow Donor!

Sign up to be a Blood Marrow Donor!

Squicky about needles? Consider that matches are rare. Every donor has around a 1 in 500 chance of matching with someone in the US. And “only thirty percent of donations involve actual bone marrow. (The ones that do are mostly for children, who seem to do better with traditional bone marrow transplantation.) Seventy percent of the time, being a “bone marrow donor” is only a tad more complicated than donating blood.” Most of the time, the process can be completed in three hours.

If you want to learn more about the process, there’s some good information here: https://io9.gizmodo.com/bone-marrow-donation-is-nothing-like-i-thought-it-was-1676114500 There’s also a neat (and tear-inducing) Radiolab episode about this you can listen to right now!

I’m definitely fearful to do this, but if I end up being a match, then I’m willing to deal with a tiny bit of pain to help someone else out.

Thank you
I’d like to thank everyone for their support and comfort during this difficult year. I couldn’t have done it without you. Many of you were proactive in helping me reorganize and help with my family. My family is small and I cherish everyone in it.

Thanks also to new friends and faces, art groups and music, and all of the creative things that help to balance out the seriousness. These are crucial and necessary, and we’ll need more of them as we head into the information age.

vice media crew at xhurch

Vice Media crew filmed part of a new show with me at Xhurch in Portland, Oregon.

What are your goals for 2018? Best of luck to everyone in this new year!


A glacier climb during an AI retreat in Norway this September.

September and October 2017 Book Tour Dates and Locations

Hi everyone! It’s been a big year for Calm Technology: Principles and Patterns for Non-Intrusive Design. I’ve been working with sound designer Aaron Day on a semi-sequel to it called Designing Products with Sound: Principles and Patterns for Mixed Environments that should be out in October. I’ve also been spending a lot of time in Boston, MA at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society researching the intersection of technology and humans.

Here’s my book tour schedule for the next couple of months. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people!


4-5: Keynote on Calm Technology. IFA+Summit. Berlin, Germany.

7: Keynote on Calm Technology. 67th International Retail Summit. Zurich, Switzerland.

8: Keynote at Mind the Product. London, UK.

8-11: Free time in London, England.

13: World 50 Conference. NYC, NY.

14: Keynote on Calm Technology. Waterloo Innovation Summit. Waterloo, Canada.

26-29: Conference on the future of AI. Juvet Landscape Hotel, Norway.



2-3: Foresight and Trends. Home Studios, New York, NY.

4-5: Fedex Security Awareness (internal event). Memphis, TN.

16-20: SIBOS. Financial Security and Calm Technology. Toronto, ONT.

18: World 50 Conference, NY, NY.

24-25: Media Insights Conf. Rosen Shingle Creek,
Orlando, FL.

26-28: Northern User Experience. Manchester, England.

29-31: London, England.

Thanks so much for all of your support over these last few years. Here’s to the future!

Introducing Designing with Sound from O’Reilly Books (Oct 2018)

designing-products-with-sound-oreilly-amber-case-aaron-dayI’m excited to announce that sound designer Aaron Day and I have joined forces to produce a book on sound design for products called Designing With Sound. Why write a book about sound? Sound is part of everyday life, but it is often overlooked. Sound can make or break an experience, but we don’t think about it enough. There are many opportunities for brands and makers to consider sound as a crucial part of experience design. In this book, we explore sound from a number of perspectives, from the buzz of a phone, the distraction of an open office, architectural acoustics, sound and health, and the unexplored opportunities of employing more senses in our lives.

I released Calm Technology: Principles and Patterns for Non-Intrusive Design in Fall of 2015. Since then, I was approached by a number of different companies looking for ways for products to fit better into a user’s soundscape. I realized that sound was just one part of the equation for experience design, but it deserved a much closer look.

That’s why I was so excited when my colleague Aaron Day asked me what to do with his 18 years of experience designing sound for brands, retail electronics, films, environments, automobiles, healthcare and museums. I told him that I was running into the same kinds of questions. There were designers, product owners and developers out there that needed answers to questions for a new class of connected products. How can we make products that work alongside us, instead of against us? How can we improve the sonic environment? First, we realized we needed to show people how sound affected them, how they could fix it, and then how they could make it better. The outline of a book quickly formed, and we pitched it to O’Reilly. O’Reilly was excited because it’s difficult to find a book that introduced more advanced sound design concepts without getting too technical. This world doesn’t need perfect sound, it just needs “better” sound, and through case studies, patterns and principles, we aim to show you how!

Designing with Sound will hit the shelves Oct 2018. Until then, you’re free to pro-order them. I’ll be starting to speak about various aspects of sound design starting May 2017 at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam.

Thanks so much for your support and feedback while we work on this book! It’s been great to be able to reach out to so many people already with their stories and relationship with sound. See you in October!

Designing Products with Sound: Principles and Patterns for Mixed Environments

designing-products-with-sound-oreilly-amber-case-aaron-dayOrder from Amazon | Order from O’Reilly

By Amber Case and Aaron Day. O’Reilly Books, October 2018 (est.). 300 pages.

Sound is one of the most commonly overlooked components in product design, even though it’s often the first way people interact with many products. When designers don’t pay enough attention sound elements, customers are frequently left with annoying and interruptive results. This practical book covers several methods that product designers and managers can use to improve everyday interactions through an understanding and application of sound design.

  • Understand the place of sound in design, and how it can make a difference in your product
  • Learn key concepts in sound design, with patterns and principles you can use to improve user experience
  • Learn how to integrate sound design into a project
  • Use exercises to help evaluate sound design

Portland Immersive Media Group Show 26-28 May 2017!

houseguest-portland-immersive-media-group-vr-pioneer-square-may-2017Friday 26 May 2017: If you’re in Portland, Oregon on Friday May 26, 27th or 28th, consider coming down to Pioneer Courthouse Square for an collection of VR demos, art and lectures!

Houseguest is a residency program that brings artists to the square to enliven local culture and community. This month’s Houseguest is the Portland Immersive Media Group, a VR and AR art collective and research group. I’ll be speaking at the event on Sunday from 2-3pm! See you there!

Tickets and more information


4PM-6PM – TGIF “VR Spa” treatments for Portland’s hard working folk

8PM-9PM – Commencement ceremony featuring music by Golden Retriever and movement artists exploring ‘motion capture.’

8-10PM – Pioneer Courthouse Square in High Fidelity


3PM-4PM – Tech Talk: Kent Bye – “The Ultimate Potential of Virtual Reality”

4PM-5PM – Workshop: “Metafesto: Refiguring Social Media, Preparing for the Metaverse” w/ Matt Henderson

6PM-7PM – Performance: EMA + EMS with movement artists exploring motion capture.

7PM-8PM – Live DJs + VR lounge

8PM-10PM – Google Earth VR + Pioneer Courthouse Square in High Fidelity


1PM-4PM – Pioneer Courthouse Square in High Fidelity

2PM-3PM – Tech Talk: “Calm Technology” with cyborg anthropologist Amber Case

3PM-4PM – Workshop: “Adventures in Anyland”

7PM-8PM – Down tempo dance party in virtual & real Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Keynote Speech on Calm Technology at The Next Web Amsterdam!

The Next Web Summit 2017

I look forward to speaking at The Next Web Conference from May 18th & 19th, 2017 in Amsterdam.

What is TNW Conference?
TNW Conference is a 2-day technology festival that brings together international technology executives, top-tier investors and promising startups for two days of business, knowledge sharing and the best time you’ve ever had. Over the past 11 editions TNW Conference has grown from a 200-person event to one of the leading technology events, bringing together 15,000 attendees a day and 3,500 companies from all over the world.