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.

amber-case-microsoft-design-user-experience-calm-technology

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.

I’m Joining Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society in Fall 2016!

berkman-klein-center-internet-society

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be join Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society as a Fellow, starting in September 2016!

As part of my fellowship, I’ll be spending most of my time in Cambridge, MA and part of my time in Portland, OR.

I’ll be researching the transition from the industrial society to the information society and its effect on creativity, connectivity, isolation and depression (along with a whole host of other topics that I’ve been working on – Calm Technology, Cyborg Anthropology and Data Ownership).

Looking forward to an intense and interesting year with some amazing people! And if you’re looking to visit Cambridge, please do! I’d love to see you!

berkman-klein-center-internet-society-amber-case

What is Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center?
Berkman Klein Center’s mission is to explore and understand cyberspace; to study its development, dynamics, norms, and standards; and to assess the need or lack thereof for laws and sanctions. Berkman Klein is a research center premised on the observation that what we seek to learn is not already recorded. Our method is to build out into cyberspace, record data as we go, self-study, and share. You can learn more about the Berkman Klein Center here!

I’ll be tweeting @caseorganic and posting short, unedited notes on notes.caseorganic.com during the fellowship. I’ll also be announcing a new book!

Physicist Tom DiMarco shows a scale model of the Fermi Accelerator Laboratory to visitors at Fermilab. The large ring in the model is the Tevatron Collider, one of the largest particle accelerators in the world! Physicist Tom DiMarco shows visitors a scale model of the Fermi Accelerator Laboratory at Fermilab. The large ring is the Tevatron Collider, one of the largest particle accelerators in the world. It has a circumference of 4 miles! Fermilab collaborates with more than 20 countries on physics experiments based in the United States and elsewhere. #physics #particlephysics #fermi #copper #equiptment #illinois #departmentofenergy #research #science #lab #protons #neutrons #quarks #subatomic #magnets


Physicist Tom DiMarco shows a scale model of the Fermi Accelerator Laboratory to visitors at Fermilab.
The large ring in the model is the Tevatron Collider, one of the largest particle accelerators in the world!
Physicist Tom DiMarco shows visitors a scale model of the Fermi Accelerator Laboratory at Fermilab. The large ring is the Tevatron Collider, one of the largest particle accelerators in the world. It has a circumference of 4 miles!
Fermilab collaborates with more than 20 countries on physics experiments based in the United States and elsewhere.

#physics #particlephysics #fermi #copper #equiptment #illinois #departmentofenergy #research #science #lab #protons #neutrons #quarks #subatomic #magnets

This is a Full Scale Model of a Tevatron Collider: FermiLab’s most powerful accelerator. Particle physics research is all about getting a very precise beam of particles to accelerate to a very high speed. Magnets keep the particle beam on track as it circles the particle tube. Particles go around the accelerator loop until they reach adequate speed, then are slammed into a six story high particle detector. This causes the particles to break apart and create trails in the detector. Physicists study the particle trails to understand more about our universe. This Tevatron is special because it accelerates particles to 99.9999954% the speed of light. A particle will circle 4 miles of particle accelerator 1 million times before crashing into the particle detector. The particle beam must be very accurate and focused to ensure particles can get to proper speeds for study. Particle speed and accuracy is managed by magnets. The blue sections of the accelerator are Dipole magnets used to steer the particle beam as it goes through the accelerator. The red sections are made up Quadrupole magnets used to focus then beam, ensuring it is small and keeping it from spreading. Finally, the yellow sections contain Hexapole magnets used for small corrections in the particle beam. #physics #particlephysics #fermi #copper #equiptment #illinois #departmentofenergy #research #science #lab #protons #neutrons #quarks #subatomic #magnets


This is a Full Scale Model of a Tevatron Collider: FermiLab’s most powerful accelerator.
Particle physics research is all about getting a very precise beam of particles to accelerate to a very high speed. Magnets keep the particle beam on track as it circles the particle tube. Particles go around the accelerator loop until they reach adequate speed, then are slammed into a six story high particle detector. This causes the particles to break apart and create trails in the detector. Physicists study the particle trails to understand more about our universe.
This Tevatron is special because it accelerates particles to 99.9999954% the speed of light. A particle will circle 4 miles of particle accelerator 1 million times before crashing into the particle detector.
The particle beam must be very accurate and focused to ensure particles can get to proper speeds for study. Particle speed and accuracy is managed by magnets. The blue sections of the accelerator are Dipole magnets used to steer the particle beam as it goes through the accelerator. The red sections are made up Quadrupole magnets used to focus then beam, ensuring it is small and keeping it from spreading. Finally, the yellow sections contain Hexapole magnets used for small corrections in the particle beam.
#physics #particlephysics #fermi #copper #equiptment #illinois #departmentofenergy #research #science #lab #protons #neutrons #quarks #subatomic #magnets

Looking through a copper tube at Fermi National Laboratory. These tubes are used to accelerate particles to precise and fast speeds while taking up minimal space. Particle accelerators can be used to do very precise radiation therapy for some forms of invasive and difficult to treat cancer rumors! #accelerator #fermi #research #science #particles #radiationtherapy


Looking through a copper tube at Fermi National Laboratory. These tubes are used to accelerate particles to precise and fast speeds while taking up minimal space. Particle accelerators can be used to do very precise radiation therapy for some forms of invasive and difficult to treat cancer rumors! #accelerator #fermi #research #science #particles #radiationtherapy