Ash at CIID

Ashwin Rajan's blog while at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

Posts Tagged ‘social interaction

Ezio Manzini on The New Design – 危机: crisis (危: danger; “机: chance)

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Leading design thinker Ezio Manzini spoke at CIID on the theme ‘Next Design – Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability’ in March this year. This is a snippet of his talk from the Service Design Synposium held in Copenhagen in 2008.

I found his views so interesting that I’ve added a full description of his March 2009 talk from the CIID website here, for the benefit of readers as well as my own future reference.

Ezio Manzini is a designer, engineer, architect, educator and author – he is one of the most important thinkers in design today.

危机: crisis (危: danger; “机: chance). In Chinese, as in several other languages, the term “crisis” has the double meaning of “danger and “chance”. Without doubt, we can say that today we are facing a worldwide, deep crisis. Many people are talking about the risks. But it is necessary and timely to talk about opportunities too. This is particularly true if we want to discuss the present and future role of design: by its nature, design has to consider opportunities and to become their active promoter.

However, facing the present crisis, to play this role, design itself must change. A change that could happen if the design community takes at least the following three steps:

  • To adopt an adequate economic model (the emerging idea of social economy)
  • To extend the definition of design (the central role of service design)
  • To generate a new design knowledge (visions, proposals and collaborative tools).

Manzini will present these three steps and introduce the concepts of next economy and next design.

The next economy is, mainly, a service-oriented, social economy. It “produces” services, knowledge and networks of meaningful interactions. Its main fields of action are the ecological re-orientation of the production system, the social production of a new generation of services, and regional eco-development programs: a cluster of activities that, considered as a whole, will be “the industry of the XXI century”.

The next design is, mainly, a design for social innovations and sustainability. It adopts design skills and capabilities to co-create original solutions for the next economy. That is, for the emerging social economy. It refers to socio-technical systems innovation, adopts a service-oriented approach and conceives and develops visions and solutions endowed with sustainable qualities.

Today design for social innovations is still at its early phase. But, around us, in all the region of the contemporary globalised world, the possibility to develop it moves in parallel with the growing wave of social innovation. To link design with social innovation is the main opportunity that we have to give design the role it could play in the transition towards the next economy. That is, also, towards a viable sustainable society.

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Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 16, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Intel Project – The Social Collective as an Agent of Behavioral Change

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Working with Intel design researcher Jay Mellican (of Intel’s Digital Home group) and CIID faculty Vinay Venkatraman, we explored the role of the social collective in achieving sustainable behaviors towards the effective management of energy.  Here I will discuss the context of the project, and go into our process and solutions in future posts.

The focus for Intel was the emerging “smart grid” – the efforts promoted by many governments and utilities to modernize, from the bottom up, the integrated system by which energy is collected and distributed. In bringing the energy grids of yesteryear into the digital age, many of the technologies and standards that will make up the “smart grid” are yet to be defined, and the implications they will have on our patterns of daily living, as well as their likely success, will depend heavily on how they are defined.

The idea of the “smart grid” is a really interesting one. Here is a really nice video that covers the main aspects of the concept well:

Its hard to discuss the “smart grid” for long today without running into GE’s efforts in that space. As part of GE’s ecomagination campaign, the company has created this engaging augmented reality web object, as shown in the video below:

The virtual energy farm object can be accessed here. Nice website too.

Amongst others, Google has been working to bring visibility of energy use to the notice of individual customers; check out its Power Meter tool.

Given all that, in trying to envision scenarios and solutions for behavioral change for this emerging and very complex space, my team (classmate Mimi and I) quickly realized that the problem of visibility of use was a crucial one. According to the Environment Change Institute, for instance, “most householders have only a vague idea of how much energy they are using for different purposes, hence the importance of making energy flows more visible and controllable. There is a lot of interest in the potential for better feedback using improved (‘smart’) metering, more informative billing and direct display panels.”

As my team’s interest was in understanding the behaviors and influence of the “social collective” – networks of people connected by social technologies – in the context of smart energy use, we decided to explore the space beyond the use of individual control devices such as energy meters, and look at “visibility of use” aspects for groups of people. More on our contextual research and enquiry in posts to come.

Screen-based solutions for eldercare – ‘PhotoCaring’ concept

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In my previous post ‘Screen-based solutions for eldercare – process and concepts’ I discussed the brief, process and concepts for the project that my team worked on in GUI class. Here are snapshots that present the rationale for the final concept we created and presented as a conclusion to the investigation. It is based on the field observations, interviews and user testing of the primary persona based on elderly resident Annie.

One of the main sources of inspiration was the many picture frames in the hallways of the elderly home, with photographic content supplied by the events from the daily lives of the residents, both from their time spent in the home as well as from before their admittance to the home.

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Picture frames in the elderly home hallway with photographic content provided by events in the daily lives of residents.

Annie was enthusiastic about showing us her pictures and postcards, but she had to look at the descriptions behind them to tell us exactly who they came from or when (the occasion) they were sent. The investigation also revealed that  she would value having such information on a need-to-know basis, a device or system that helped her share such information (and compare it with similar information) with that of other residents.

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Annie needed to look up descriptions behind her postcards and pictures to tell us more about their senders or content.

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Annie was comfortable discussing interactions via simple buttons and menu options on picture frames in the hallways of the elderly home.

The final concept is designed to promote social interaction between residents of the elderly home. It consists of individual picture frames that are networked with each other via interactive digital wallpaper.

Interactive picture wall facilitates social interaction between residents.

Interactive picture wall facilitates social interaction between residents.

The interface elements on each individual frame provides feedback by proximity, using RFID tags. It allows the user to view similar pictures of other residents by theme and alerts users to the presence of other users who are also near the wall, thus providing cues to spark meaningful and contextual conversations between residents (snapshot of  frame interface prototype below).

Interactive picture frame

Interactive picture frame