In the last 12 months, I’ve been lucky to speak in some events in Ukraine, in Portugal and in Spain and to participate in some very deep conversations with Golden, Pamela, Bruce, Ricardo, Marco and some of my friends from my alma mater, the Illinois Tech Institute of Design and from work (Javier, Sergio, Paola, Paula, Carlos, Rafa, David). After talking about food and travel (probably the topics I’m more curious about) we have been discussing about how technology affects our life; the tech mindset; the smart-everything fever and, what IoT means, beyond the billions of connected objects that most tech reports say will exist.
I just wanted to share some thoughts about how we can help technology have a positive impact in people’s lives:
On Sensing vs Making Sense
In this industry, many companies believe that this is all about sensors. Sensors everywhere, some connectivity and boom! The IoT is done. But hey, that’s just the sensing part. But what about the making sense part? And that’s data. We can’t connect objects without considering the data we get. What are we doing with the data we gather? How might we make people take action of their data? And more importantly, what kind of new services or solutions can we create to solve more human problems?
On Why we should connect objects to the internet
The other part of making sense is about what we connect. As in many of my previous posts, my natural question as a design researcher and strategist is WHY. Why should we connect or put a sensor of things? Many of the consumer products related with the internet of things are mostly created because it’s cool or because we can. As we are in the beginnings of this new era of connectivity, it’s great that we are testing and learning what's possible with this type of products. But I think, it’s time to start making sense of what and why we connect. Not only because we need to start solving real problems, but also because we have to start thinking of designing systems and platforms of connected objects that any company can build upon.
On the Nature and Purpose of products (or "let's let things be things")
It seems it's all about making sense. We’ve also been talking about how objects should not change their essence just because they are connected. I brought the example of the connected suitcase that will give you GPS location, a charger for your phone, and many tech features you can imagine but…it doesn’t leave too much room for your clothes!!! Let's ask ourselves, what is it for and how can we improve its benefits? Let's not forget what's the job-to-be-done that the object help us accomplish.
On making tech less intrusive
I believe that despite our attachment for certain objects, we can’t pretend to build human-like relationships with objects. More importantly, the objects we connect, should not become a distraction from our main tasks. Sometimes we tend to feel that the more we interact with our products/services the best, but what if we change the metric? Maybe, we are coming from the web industry where "active users" is a key metric of success. But should we keep the same metrics with the connected objects? What if not interacting with your product is a successful case? What can we, in the tech world, do to understand that if people don’t need to take any action is because everything is alright and working properly?
We are in the best moment to imagine and test new technologies for a better world. Let’s just keep in mind that we should aim at making technology more human instead of making humans more technological.
What if we start bringing different perspectives into the tech conversations?