Category Archives: Product Design

parallel parked car

What Is The Automation Doing? Mode Awareness Problems Catch Tesla By Surprise

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One of the most compelling arguments for introducing autonomous driving vehicles is the potential reduction in injuries and fatalities caused primarily by human error. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, human error accounts for 94% of fatal crashes, and advanced safety technologies can be expected to reduce these numbers substantially.

However, at the end of April this year, there was an incident in which a Tesla Model S, from a parked position, collided with a trailer parked in front of it after the “Summon” autopark feature was activated. With Summon, the driver can exit the car and make it roll slowly forward or backward into a tight parking space using the key or an app. The incident caused only about $700 in damage to the luxury car’s windshield, but this incident might be a symptom of a greater problem.

princess bride

You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

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One of my all time favorite films – Rob Reiner’s timeless Princess Bride (1987) – has many memorable lines. One of my favorites is the title of this blog post. The group’s leader, Vizzini (Played by Wallace Shawn) is a the self proclaimed ‘brilliant’ Sicilian. He keeps exclaiming “inconceivable” whenever something happens that he didn’t expect. Finally master swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) says “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” The same thing can be said of many descriptions of consumer products as “ergonomic.”

Man on tablet

Marketing Technology

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Gartner, the IT research company, published its 2016 list of predictions for marketing technology a few weeks ago. As I was reading it, I was struck with how easily the list could be aligned with the user experience of the typical purchase process. Not the complete buyer’s journey; but at least the transactions steps in the middle.

In less than three years, advances in marketing technology will move beyond human intervention to streamlining and scaling activities that currently require manual interactions with audiences. Intelligent technologies will do more than automate repetitive operations — they will investigate, evaluate and make decisions on behalf of both marketers and customers.Marketing technology will soon become so intelligent that it will perform tasks that have always required direct human involvement.

lottie doll

Identity Resonance

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By what I think is coincidence, I came across many examples of design that have as part of their missions to help users either develop a stronger self-identity or display and reinforce the identity they have. I am a huge proponent of using identity resonance as a design tool, so I really enjoyed selecting a few good examples for this article.

That’s why the Lottie Doll looks, well, just like a typical nine-year-old girl. She doesn’t wear makeup, high heels or jewellery, she’s ethnically diverse with tactile hair and clothes, and she can stand on her own two feet. Lottie is feisty. She occasionally makes mistakes. She loves adventure and the outdoors. She has a wild imagination – just like a real child. Even her clothes are made to get dirty.

robot doctor

Intelligence Amplification

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Everyone’s excited and/or scared about artificial intelligence but should we be excited and/or scared about Intelligence Amplification instead?

I have been interested in this dichotomy for a long time, especially in health care . Socio-culturally, there are many reasons why we don’t accept fully autonomous systems, even when they are safer, faster, and more effective. The DTNS hosts use the example of elevators where a human operator was necessary for several years before we were willing to accept automation, even when they weren’t really doing anything except hitting buttons. We see it now with cars and drones.

old digital clock

A Tale of Two Clock Radios

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I recently had to retire my tried and trusty alarm clock radio. I never thought it was anything special. I didn’t keep it around because it had superior functionality, a great experience, great audio quality . . . . it was just the clock I had.

But in making a change to a new clock, I realized how good I had it before. It seems that attention to simple human factors principles was not a priority.

little girl in bed

Bedtime Math Stories

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So here is the set up. Too many parents have a phobia when they talk about math with their kids. They get visibly anxious and uncomfortable. They describe their interest in and ability with math negatively. “Math is hard.” “I am not good at math.” This leads their kids to think about math the same way. Plus, it reduces the child’s willingness to ask their parents for help with homework. They don’t share their interest in math with their parents over the dinner table. In the long run, it reduces our societal capabilities in math by slowing it down right from the start.

Even children who used the app with their parents as little as once a week saw gains in math achievement by the end of the school year. The app’s effect was especially strong for children whose parents tend to be anxious or uncomfortable with math.

lightbulb

Social Strategies for Creativity

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My Take This article has a few great topics for us. I think the primary message is the first one. One of the best ways to be creative is to be open to all kinds of ideas and experiences (the Openness to Experience trait of the Five Factor model) and to frequently expose yourself to new and novel ones. It is possible to do this by following a diverse group of thought leaders who post intelligent content. Of course, it is also possible for social…

miltary tank

User Experience for a Volatile World

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Every year, it seems that the “experts” say that there is a new normal. Things are different this time. The world has fundamentally changed. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed. The increasing velocity of change. Eric McNulty has a good summary of what I mean in a recent Strategy+Business.

From regular triple-digits swings in the market to the rapid rise of often profit-free unicorns valued at US$1 billion or more, a possible exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the devolution of the once-hopeful Arab Spring into the chaos of the Syrian civil war, and turmoil from Libya to the Ukraine, this isn’t just a VUCA world anymore; it’s becoming ever more VUCA.

man with hat

Black Hat Storytelling

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I came across this design case by Edward Wilson from Aymmetrica Labs and it got me thinking. He makes a convincing pitch about how to craft an engaging and convincing narrative around a product design. But the description is clearly of a deceptive approach, what seems to me like an example of black hat design.

In the past I spent far too long trying to sell people on excellent, but complicated, unintuitive, unfamiliar narratives. I competed with others who offered the same stuff I did but they dumbed it down, they made it less effective, but they made it easier to understand. The other guys always won. It took a while (15 years) but now I get it. My job is to take the excellent content I am working with and try to make it intuitive, obvious, and familiar. If I don’t make it intuitive, obvious, and familiar, I won’t have an audience.