Feb 5th, 2019: Workshop on Calm Technology at Interaction ’19 in Seattle

Smarter Humans, Not Smarter Devices: How to Design Calm Technology

Jonathan Brown and I are excited to announce a half day workshop during Interaction ’19 on Feb 5th, 2019, starting at 2pm!

Want to attend? Get tickets to Interaction ’19 here!

How can we design technologies that work alongside us, instead of against us?

The difference between an annoying technology and one that is helpful is how it engages our attention. Calm Technology is a framework for designing products and services 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.

Outline
Participants 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.

Workshop Organizers

Amber Case
Amber Case studies the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way cultures think, act, and understand their worlds. She is the author of “Calm Technology” and “Designing with Sound” from O’Reilly books. She was a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and a visiting researcher at the MIT Center for Civic Media. In 2019, Amber joined the Institute for the Future (IFTF) as a Research Fellow.

Jon Brown
Jon Brown is a Digital Architect with SDLC Partners in Pittsburgh, PA where he designs novel interactions to improve outcomes for patients with chronic conditions. He is a veteran of MAYA Design and holds a Master’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University.

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.

Haven’t encountered this before. This KLM flight to Warsaw has a bunch of these little machines at the gate. Scan your boarding pass and get a number. Apparently you’re supposed to board when your number shows on the screen. This bugs me for a couple of reasons. First, not everyone is going to get to the gate at the same time. Wha happens if you’re late! What if you miss the monitor showing your number? Second, this assumes people enjoy waiting in line with a number, constantly looking up at a screen to see if the number matches. I’d rather just wait for my cabin to be called. What do you think? Would this system calm you or annoy you when waiting for your flight? #experiencedesign #ux #calmtech #transit #airports #klm


Haven’t encountered this before. This KLM flight to Warsaw has a bunch of these little machines at the gate. Scan your boarding pass and get a number. Apparently you’re supposed to board when your number shows on the screen.
This bugs me for a couple of reasons. First, not everyone is going to get to the gate at the same time. Wha happens if you’re late! What if you miss the monitor showing your number? Second, this assumes people enjoy waiting in line with a number, constantly looking up at a screen to see if the number matches. I’d rather just wait for my cabin to be called.
What do you think? Would this system calm you or annoy you when waiting for your flight? #experiencedesign #ux #calmtech #transit #airports #klm