Calm Technology and Designing with Sound Workshops at PNCA on 11/12 and 11/18!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be hosting two workshops at Portland’s Pacific Northwest College of Art in November 2018! I just joined the school as a faculty researcher, and I’m looking forward to contributing to MAKE+THINK+CODE, a creative technology-focussed lab, institute, and incubator for creative experiments at the intersection of science, technology, design, art, and culture.

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Workshop Details

Designing Calm Technology

Mon, November 12, 2018
5:00 PM – 9:00 PM PST
Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/designing-calm-technology-cte542-tickets-49049799270

Description
Calm Technology is a framework for designing ubiquitous devices that engage our attention in an appropriate manner. The aim of Calm Technology is to provide principles that follow the human lifestyle and environment in mind, allowing technology to amplify humanness instead of taking it away.

The difference between an annoying technology and one that is helpful is how it engages our attention. This workshop will cover how to use principles of Calm Technology to design the next generation of connected devices. We’ll look at notification styles, compressing information into other senses, and designing for the least amount of cognitive overhead.

Structure and activities
Students will work in groups to solve a series of design challenges, including designing new products, ‘calming down’ a complex ones, communicating the principles of Calm Technology across an organization and team, and entering a product successfully into the marketplace.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Use principles of Calm Technology to design the next generation of connected devices.
  • Design appropriate notification systems into both physical and software products
  • Communicate the principles of Calm Technology to your across your organization and team
  • Use methods of Calm Technology to design technology for generations, not seasons.
  • Enter your product successfully into the marketplace.

This workshop is for anyone that actively builds or makes decisions about technology, especially user experience designers, product designers, managers, creative directors, developers and students interested in the future of technology and humanity.

Bringing a laptop is not required, as work will be done on paper and in groups.

We have a limited number of scholarships for our workshops. If you need an application, please send an email to mtc@pnca.edu with your complete name and contact information.


Designing with Sound

Sun, November 18, 2018
9:30 AM – 1:30 PM PST
Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/designing-products-with-sound-principles-and-patterns-for-mixed-environments-fab590-tickets-49056014861

Description
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 to sound elements, customers are frequently left with annoying and interruptive results. This practical workshop covers several methods that product designers and managers can use to improve everyday interactions through an understanding and application of sound design.

You’ll Learn How to:

  • 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

We have a limited number of scholarships for our workshops. If you need an application, please send an email to mtc@pnca.edu with your complete name and contact information.


If you know of anyone who’d enjoy these workshops, please let them know! These are aimed at user experience designers, students, artists and technologists. You do not have to be affiliated with PNCA to attend.

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Calm Tech UX & Inclusive Design Principles at Microsoft

Interruptions are inevitable. Some alerts are helpful and others distract during inopportune moments.

How do we design a system that empathizes with its users and adjusts the way it communicates?

 

Last year, Microsoft Design invited me to Redmond, Washington to consult on their accessibility and inclusivity initiatives.

Millions of users means hundreds of thousands of edge cases, and mobile products only increase temporary, situational and permanent frustrations. The team was interested in Calm Technology because it offered them a new way to address ongoing issues experienced by existing and future customers.

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After a number of interviews and workshops about attention and notification fatigue, I worked with Microsoft to help adapt some of Calm Tech principles into their organization and their inclusivity toolkit.

The guide introduces a reframing of the concept of disability, how user experience intersects with the goals of inclusivity, and an overview of permanent, temporary and situational exclusions.


How do you achieve focus? from Microsoft Design on Vimeo.

1. Increased Mobility of Technology equals Increased Moments of Disability:

Interactions with technology depend heavily on what we can see, hear, say, touch, learn, and remember. Mobile technologies can make situational limitations highly relevant to many people today. Mobile puts in focus questions like: Are we forced to adapt to technology, or is technology adapting to us?

2. Disability happens at the points of interaction between a person and society.

Physical, cognitive, and social exclusion is the result of mismatched interactions. As designers, it’s our responsibility to know how our designs affect these interactions and create mismatches. Points of exclusion help us generate new ideas and inclusive designs. They highlight opportunities to create solutions with utility and elegance for many people.

3. Sometimes exclusion is temporary or situational.

Even a short-term injury or context affects the way people interact with the world around them, if only for a short time. Think about trying to order a drink at a noisy bar, using your cell phone in direct sunlight, trying to write with a broken arm, or ordering dinner in a foreign country.

As people move through different environments, their abilities can also change dramatically. In a loud crowd, they can’t hear well. In a car, they’re visually impaired. New parents spend much of their day doing tasks one-handed. An overwhelming day can cause sensory overload. What’s possible, safe, and appropriate is constantly changing.

The toolkit also expands on some Microsoft Inclusive Design Considerations influenced by Principles of Calm Technology:

  • Understand urgency and medium: Can you be more mindful of the relative importance, and design appropriate levels of urgency? If everything looks urgent, nothing is.
  • Adapt to the customer’s behavior: If a customer consistently interacts with one type of notification, and ignores another, can your system react and adapt?
  • Adapt to context: Does your experience change if the sun’s out, or if there’s a crowded room? An isolated environment? Time of day? Can it respect and change in different types of environments or customer contexts?
  • Enable the customer to adapt: Can the customer personalize the experience, so it works better for their particular needs?
  • Reduce mental cost: How can you make your experiences simpler, clearer, and less costly to understand? Are there parts of the journey that are unnecessary or overly complicated?

I’d like to thank Microsoft for their ongoing efforts to make it easier for people to use their technologies, and for taking a step forward in trying to build Calm Technology for the future of our attention! You can read more about Microsoft’s Inclusivity efforts from Doug Kim.

If you want to start designing smarter, more empathetic systems, download the booklet for more questions to guide your thinking. Check out the Microsoft Inclusive Design site for more resources, toolkits and ideas.

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
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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.

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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!

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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!

September 

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.

 

October

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