All posts by Wilbert Baan

The morality of the designer

Last thursday we organized the 4th Behavior Design meetup. A gathering in Amsterdam where we connect designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to share ideas and lessons about behavior design.

Who’s in control?
We touched the discussion about the implications of designing behavior without people noticing it several times. Overal people are confused about this topic.

Nir Eyal – one of the speakers – said behavior design will have a wear out effect. The same effect you notice when you look at old commercials. “Did people really believe this?”.

Behavior Design Amsterdam 4 BDAMS

Attention as a business goal
In the digital landscape the design of a digital service that forces itself into your lifestyle can be an important business goal. Digital services are often focussed on attention and engagement.

Behavior design helps these services to succeed their goals. The addictive design elements in Facebook are an important part of it’s success (“you’re tagged in a photo, want to know what’s on the picture, come and visit”).

Is this right or wrong? It’s an interesting question because you usually don’t notice behavior design. The idea is to influence your behavior without you noticing. The result is that it changes something real. It changes the choices you make or it changes how you spend your time.

Making choices
A designer has always given meaning to a product or service by it’s design. Even if it’s not intentionally. Design is about making choices and choices are as much about what you do as what you don’t.

In the end behavior design is just like any other design tool. You can use it for good or bad. Designers can have a role in pointing out where it’s being used and what for. Since if you design this stuff, you’re likely better in noticing it.

The other thing that came up in the discussion is that effect or addiction in digital products is measurable. Facebook knows what group of people is unhealthy addicted to their service. You can design behavior for this group as well.

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The merging principles of designing software and hardware

Joi Ito is being interviewed and talks about how methods for creating hardware and software are merging. We’re entering a prototyping era, where we can prototype just about anything.

Understanding manufacturing is going to be key to design, just like understanding the Internet has become key to running a company.

The interview is promotion for the Solid Conference. It pushes you to think again about the future of designing products.

Via O’Reilly Radar

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The 4th behavior design meetup with Nir Eyal, Kars Alfrink and Dariu Gavrila

This month we’re organizing the 4th Behavior Design Meetup Amsterdam. A mix of technologists, designers and researchers talking about influencing behavior by design. And we have only 7 5 spots left.

For this meetup we have a diverse range of speakers. Bay Area investor, author and consultant Nir will talk about how to build habit-forming products. Game designer Kars wil talk about how playful interactions can trigger intrinsic behavior and intelligent perception systems professor David will talk about how technology sees and acts for us.

BDAMS2

Photo by Dervin Sno

Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. He is the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Nir founded two tech companies since 2003 and has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford.

Nir is also an advisor to several Bay Area start-ups , venture capitalists, and incubators. Nir’s last company received venture funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and was acquired in 2011. In addition to blogging at NirAndFar.com, Nir is a contributing writer for Forbes, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today.

Nir will be in Amsterdam for a few more days. He will be at the Hooked workshop and Habbit Summit.

Kars Alfrink
Kars Alfrink (MA, Utrecht School of the Arts) is a designer active in the area of games, play, technology and society. Currently, he is principal designer at Hubbub, a Dutch/German design studio focussed on inventing games and forms of play that open up possibilities in existing contexts and create new ways for people to have fun and do things together.

Kars initiated and co-curated the Dutch offshoot of This happened, a series of events about the stories behind interaction design. He has worked as an educator and researcher at the Utrecht School of the Arts, and before that as an interaction designer at a couple of web agencies.

Dariu Gavrila
Dariu M. Gavrila received the PhD degree in computer science from the University of Maryland at College Park, USA, in 1996. Since 1997, he has been with Daimler R&D in Ulm, Germany, where he is currently a Senior Research Scientist. In 2003, he was further appointed professor at the University of Amsterdam, chairing the area of Intelligent Perception Systems (part time).

Over the past 15 years, Prof. Gavrila has focused on visual systems for detecting humans and their activity, with application to intelligent vehicles, smart surveillance and social robotics. He led the multi-year pedestrian detection research effort at Daimler, which materialized in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class models (2013).

He is frequently cited in the scientific literature and he received the I/O 2007 Award from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as well as several conference paper awards.

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The current state of Glass, 2nd Google Glass meetup in Amsterdam

This friday I attended the 2nd Dutch Google Glass meetup. At the event Glass wearers shared insights and products they are developing.

I presented about a service for remote healthcare we are developing and what we have learned. Layar did an augmented reality demo, Raimo talked about the context of Glass services and Ronald van der Lingen brought 3D-printed Glass cases.

I really like these early meetups of new technology. Everyone is open to new ideas and sharing learnings.

The current state of Glass
The general consensus amongst Glass users at the event seemed to be that although Glass is magic in a way it still lacks the urgency to wear it. The ‘contextual’ services are disappointing.

Using Gartners Hype Cyle, I would say most beta users are in the “Through of Disillusionment“.

Glass users are looking how to make Glass work for business purposes. It’s easier to develop a viable product in this area.

Glass. Weird, exciting, promising, ridiculous. An anomaly for sure.

2nd Google Glass Meetup in Amsterdam
2nd Google Glass Meetup in Amsterdam
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Using iBeacons to connect things to people

Yesterday we received Gimbal proximity beacons. These beacons – or iBeacons as Apple calls the technology – have a small battery and submit a low energy bluetooth signal. This signal can be used within apps to detect if someone (a smartphone) is close (proximity) to a beacon. The app can trigger actions based on the signal.

Currently these beacons are used at the SXSW conference to connect the audience during a presentation. You can also find them being used in Apple stores and at stadiums.

The most exciting part is that it connects you to objects and places. And it’s opt in. Beacons can only be reached if you use a pre-designed app. You won’t be a walking target for unwanted messages.

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Why WhatsApp is the new Excel

No, this is not to make fun of Excel or WhatsApp. Excel is this piece of software people either love or hate. What’s important is that Excel is software that has given people in companies a lot of freedom and possibilities to create little pieces of custom software.

For my work as product designer I visit all types of companies and I have interviewed a lot of employees in different fields and with different backgrounds.

The spreadsheet on the shared server
One thing you can find in almost every company is that some part of the business is build on Excel. There’s always this spreadsheet on a shared server that is used for schedules, orders, forms, or anything else quite critical.

The reason for this is simple. Excel is powerful and easy to use. I gives every employee the power to create little pieces of software and thus create or support a business proces.

The last year we’ve seen WhatsApp groups being used in almost every major company as well. Employees setup a small social network where they share private and work related information.

Easy private social networks
We’ve seen it everywhere from people working in hospitals, department stores to higher management in office workspaces. WhatsApp is this easy to use tool to create private social networks. No regulation, no control from the IT-department, no hassle.

Is this good or bad?
It’s bad if you want to control business process, it’s good if you trust your employees, they just want to get things done and for now WhatsApp is doing what Excel has done for years

If you didn’t read it yet, Facebook bought WhatsApp for 19 billion dollar.

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A vision on wearable technology by Intel and PSFK

This week we’ve seen a lot of new technology being launched at CES. I’m interested in wearable technology. Wearing technology is making it really personal. It also has to be very useful in terms of technology and user interaction. We’re very critical in what we’re dragging along.

Intel is launching a ‘Make it Wearable‘ competition for the best ideas for wearable technology.

PSFK released a report about the near future of wearables.

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What I as a designer learned from Google Glass so far

Recently I was invited by Google to become a Glass explorer (which means you are invited – after signing up – to buy a pair of quite expensive Glasses from Google). As an interaction designer I love to design things for new interfaces and devices.

Always on
Google Glass did not disappoint. They great thing about Glass is that’s it is designed from an always-on-in-front-of-your-face perspective. This makes a big difference. If you want to design for a device that has the control to take over your attention in the real world, at any time, it better be really useful.

OK Glass

Context
From a design perspective the Glass technology is best when you’re moving. A mobile phone is a mobile computer, you can use it to “compute” everywhere you want. You just stop, start a program (app) run it and figure out what to do next.

Glass is designed to be used in the moment. It’s always on, like a service. Glass is at it’s best when it’s about what’s happening right now, or what’s going to happen with the next minutes or seconds.

These type of wearables are like a companion. They have to know who you are, where you are and what you’re up to. These devices invade your privacy like no other technology. The only way to serve you is by knowing you. And this makes all the difference. It’s the most personal computer device on the market.

And yes, Glass is really awkward, wearing it makes you look silly (major understatement), and using it with the godlike voice commands makes it even worse.

When I just got it my 4 year old son asked me why I was calling him and his brother “Glass”.

“OK Glass, take a picture”, “OK Glass, record a video”.

This awkwardness is something we’ll have to overcome, probably by design, or a killer-app. I’m sure we will. Will Glass make it? I don’t know. In the short run it can really have a purpose in a B2B environment where you need both hands.

Using contextual technology is really exciting and designing for it feels like adding another dimension to design. It’s like a complex game of variables you have to solve.

Google Glass in the car

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