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Sunday, March 16, 2014

UX innovation

This is a great article on experience innovation.  


Excerpts from the article:
  1. Look at new ways to delight customers. Don’t think of products in terms of just features. A really good example is what Delta has done at Concourse G at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport to create a unique travel experience for their passengers. Food can be ordered using interactive menus in the iPads inside the restaurants (the photograph on the right was taken by me while waiting at a Japanese restaurant at Concourse G). You can choose your dishes and swipe your credit card to make a payment and you are served within 15 minutes or less. This eliminates the need for a waiter to take your order and then to wait for your check. In addition to ordering food, you can also check the status of your flight, log into Facebook, and play games on the iPad. 
  2. Don’t ask customers what they need. They don’t always know what they need. This does not discredit the power of qualitative data or mean that users need to be eliminated from a product development process but instead implies that innovation should be user-focused and not user-led.
  3. Observe how customers behave and what makes them happy or sad (gets into emotional design and hedonomics).
  4. Assess what customers could do when a change is introduced.
  5. Think of a long term roadmap that balances smaller changes with long term investments that require more dramatic thinking. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quantifying myself…

This is the age of the quantitated self.  Everyone is doing it and I wanted to try it as well.



I got a new Jawbone.  Worn around the wrist, this quantifier talks to my cellphone via Bluetooth and displays the number of steps I moved and the number of hours I slept on any given day.

I have never been a quantifier. I just exercise and have not felt the urge to measure. Further, I do yoga and kick-boxing regularly – both of which are difficult to quantify via steps. Given that, I did not see a real incentive in wearing a Jawbone. But I tried it on just to see whether it creates any behavioral modifications.

I have to admit that I did climb the stairs more and walked more when I wore it. I somehow wanted to please my Jawbone and get at least the 10,000 steps in. This was interesting because I wanted to please a non-living object. But was it really me that I was trying to please?

I was a bit annoyed that I had to take it off before a shower – that was now one additional thing that I had to remember to do. Further, I don’t normally wear jewelry or even a watch every day and having something around my wrist was a hindrance at first. I am warming up to this.

I have to admit that I took off my Jawbone before going on a vacation outside the States. I did not want to carry one additional thing that I had to charge. 

Now that I am back in the US, I have given my Jawbone another chance.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Nest has done it again!

Nest has launched a smoke alarm that
  1. Talks to you about the impending danger and the location of the danger, rather than just beeping (Intelligent feedback)
  2. Stays connected to you via your phone and informs you when the system is low on battery or if the alarm goes off (Continuous feedback)
  3. Is gesture controlled and recognizes hand waves, eliminating the need to swing a towel (Takes in user input)
  4. Provides light at night (Nice to have; going with their theme of creating a superior "home experience")
  5. Coupled with the Nest thermostat, it can sense carbon monoxide poisoning and even shut down the furnace.
You can read more about the Nest smoke and carbon monoxide alarm here.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Handbags to your rescue?

How many times have you been in situations where your phone is low on battery or even dead, you have no means to charge it, and you have to make an urgent call or look up directions? This article describes just the solution for this.

Everpurse is a handbag that lets you charge your smartphone (iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S) via an in-built charging dock. You no longer need to carry around a charger or look for a power-outlet.

The concept is both functional and stylish. You can read more about Everpurse here.

Though I personally think this is cool, my friends who are 'handbag gurus' state that they are never going to pick up a handbag such as this one just because of the functionality. Style and branding are more important to them. 

For all the ladies out there – see here for the collection, which are available in both fabric and leather. 

Photocredit: TheLivingRoominKenmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Google Glass goes to the OR

Google Glass has the potential to transform healthcare. For example, Glass can be used in surgical training and remote consultation. This article describes how Dr. Grossmann used Glass to broadcast a Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy procedure via Google Glass and Google Hangout, without compromising patient confidentiality.  

Glass can also be used in public heath – For example, Dr. Assad has developed an app that can used to help perform CPR. The app helps to analyze the rate and adequacy of the compressions, try to find the nearest external defibrillator, and even contact 911 and the nearest hospital.

No doubt, we have the potential with the technology today to revolutionize health care. However, when designing such systems, taking into consideration the social, emotional, perceptual, and cognitive characteristics of users is key for creating a superior user experience and for improving patient outcomes.  

Photo Credit: Tedeytan, via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Does the presence of a virtual avatar affect your performance?


Social facilitation refers to the phenomenon of how the presence of another human can impair or improve one’s task performance. The effects of social facilitation is widely studied in the context of sports. For example, an ace tennis player may be able to play a better game in the presence of an audience.

There are various theoretical explanations for this effect.  For example, based on the activation theory, the arousal levels of people are elevated in the presence of others. This heightened arousal then increases performance in well-learned tasks. Conversely, there is also the evaluation apprehension theory, according to which, it is not the presence of others but the fear of being evaluated that increases arousal in performers.

Now, if human performance is affected by the presence of another human, does it mean that human performance is also affected by the presence of an anthropomorphic agent?

 According to this article, social facilitation effects holds true in the presence of an anthropomorphic agent as well. The researchers found that when participants were given an easy task to perform, their performance was better when they were in the company of a virtual human than when they were alone. Conversely, when participants were given a difficult task to perform, their performance was worse when they were in the company of a virtual human.

Think of this when designing interfaces with anthropomorphic agents!

Photo credit: Jupiter Firelyte (Berries & Latte) via Wikimedia Commons.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Interactive user manuals

Ever seen a’ tire pressure low’ warning come up in your car and did not know what it represented? Under such a scenario, if I am at the driver’s seat, I am going through the owner’s manual trying to decipher what the warning meant.

Audi has come up with a very interesting way in which Audi A1/A3 drivers can handle situations such as the one described above. The automobile manufacturer has launched an iOS App, which lets drivers point the camera in their smartphone to a part in the car. Image recognition occurs real-time and provides information on the car part to the driver. Read more about this here.


Photocredit: Nozilla via Wikimedia Comm ons.