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Brilliance@Work: Storytelling Juggernaut Stanley Hainsworth

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

Stanley Hainsworth

FUSE 2017 presenter Stanley Hainsworth is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Tether, a storytelling juggernaut creating branding, design and advertising for a diverse range of clients such as Google, BMW Motorrad, Pepsi, Microsoft, Amazon, Gatorade and many others. He has written books on branding, is an educator, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and is a sought after speaker on branding and design worldwide.

As a preview to his presentation, Stanley shares his insights on how design is the face of the brand:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in branding shape your character and career?
Stanley Hainsworth:
It was kind of the other way around. I was an actor before I fell into the world of design. I was a trained storyteller. I assumed different roles, always observing others and situations.

When I started my first job in design at Nike, I approached it in a very storytelling-centric way. And, of course, Nike had great stories to tell. When I started a project, I researched like it was a role I was going to play. I came up with the story, the backstory, the situations, the audience, all that was needed to bring a story to life, and most importantly, to make someone care about it.

PB: What role does design play in the performance of a brand?
SH:
Design is the face of a brand. It is many times the first thing that a consumer sees – the way a brand looks and speaks. Brands are born from the inside out and the outside in. Design strategy plays a role in the inside out and design meets it from the outside in. A well-designed product, brand or experience makes the person interacting with it feel uplifted and betters that moment in their day.

PB: How can you transform a brand into the role of a consumer’s “friend”?
SH:
When you think of a brand that you use regularly in your life – your beverage of choice, your shoes, clothes, car, phone, etc. – these are brands that you initially experimented with, and you liked the experience, so you eventually made those brands part of your life. You might spend as much or more time with those brands then you do your human friends. So, if the definition of a ‘friend’ is someone or something you choose to hang around with, then yes, those brand friends are part of your life.

PB: What are some of your most notable marketing projects?
SH:
The design projects that give me the most long-term satisfaction are those brand projects that have a resulting product or experience that I see being incorporated into someone’s life. When I see someone walking down the street drinking a beverage that we’ve designed, or eating something we’ve designed, that makes me smile as I remember all the time and effort that went into that end result, from strategy to concepts to design to production.

Awake is a fun one. This is a brand we were able to create from scratch and come up with the positioning, design the product, the packaging, the social media program, the website, the advertising, the events and the retail elements.

Also, another one is Tatcha. This prestige beauty brand is something that we named, created, and designed all of the products and experiences that people have when they use the products in their homes. And to be able to read and view the responses from the brand fans as they experience and use the products is very heartening.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
SH:
They will have fun seeing that brands are kind of like people, and people are kind of like brands. We all try on different exteriors and personalities to find what works for us. And sometimes we need to morph them as we and brands change.

Want to hear more from Stanley? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Blue Sky Innovator John Silva

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

John Silva

FUSE 2017 Co-Chair John Silva is President and Senior Creative Director at design innovation agency DuPuis Group, where he leads national campaigns for Hormel, Anheuser-Busch, Frito-Lay, Dole and WD-40.

John has been in design for 25 years. As an author, artist and diplomat, John brings design thinking to organizations as a culture shift toward more vibrant problem solving.

As a preview to his presentation, John shares his insights on how design thinking inspires new and meaningful propositions:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in design shape your character and career?
John Silva:
For me it came in a different order. I think the character I was born with is what compelled me to design, which then manifested as a profitable lifestyle (aka “career”). I’ve always been vastly optimistic and curious about how everything works and was that kid with “Yeah, but WHY?” Then that became, “Well, how about THIS?” But once I found that creativity and resourcefulness could make things in our world more beautiful, exciting and useful, I knew what I was going to do with my life.

PB: What role does design play in the performance of a brand?
JS:
Small d “design” is fundamental to how a brand looks, smells, feels and is the trigger and incentive for engagement. Big D “Design” is underneath and inside how a brand inspires, moves, relates and evolves. It is this higher purpose of design that forms strategies that win over time and triggers activation that provokes and disrupts.

PB: How can design thinking drive innovation?
JS:
Both of these terms have been beat to death, so I’ll rephrase as, “How can emotional intelligence spur new, meaningful propositions?” That new question answers itself.

Emotional intelligence forces non-linear, human qualities like empathy, desire and optimism into how we problem solve and build stuff. Innovation on the other hand is often dumbed and numbed too often to be only iterative change.

Meaning is what fuels the type of innovation that your original question is poking at. It’s a deeper vibration than simply “new” as it alters the relationship between people and products.

PB: What are some of your most notable marketing projects?
JS:
I’ve been fortunate and privileged to work on great, global brands, but the noteworthy programs (aka “meaningful”) are not always the most visible.

Working with PepsiCo, for instance, has allowed us to contribute on many brands with high-expression, yet a very notable initiative involved designing solutions that are behind the obvious. In this case we pulled together environmental scientists, logistics and supply chain experts to assess and rethink how PepsiCo could approach the PET plastic life cycle in more sustainable, less costly and even consumer-excitable ways. Recycling was the baseline, and we blew up the entire model from there to create new, non-waste streams and behaviors that not only could solve the problem but create fresh, inspiring drivers for their business.

Another example is our strategy and design work on a wearable technology for women by Cyrcadia Health that can detect pre-cancerous cellular activity as advance warning of breast cancer. Very human and very inspiring in purpose.

PB: What is the best part of being the Co-Chair of FUSE 2017?
JS:
It’s a privilege that gives me the chance to elevate the dialog around design as a driver of not only business, but more inspired living. I appreciate the opportunity to share what I can and meet others who have the same fire for fresh thinking and growth mindedness. FUSE to me is like opening day of Design Season.

Want to hear more from John? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Global Brand Marketing Leader Larry Logan

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

Larry Logan

Larry Logan

FUSE 2017 presenter Larry Logan has more than 30 years of success in developing brands that become the industry leaders in their respective markets. Among them were Larry’s roles at Immersive Media (the developer of Google Street View), Healtheon/WebMD, Verde Media, and Playboy’s Entertainment Group.

Currently, Larry is Chief Marketing Officer at Digimarc Corporation. He is the recipient of more than 100 Gold- and Platinum-certified records in entertainment marketing campaigns. The World Brand Congress also recently named him among the 100 Most Influential Global Marketing Leaders.

As a preview to his presentation, Larry shares his insights on the symbiosis between branding and design:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in marketing shape your character and career?
Larry Logan:
I was with PLAYBOY magazine and the company’s Entertainment Group for 17 years in various creative and marketing roles. Playboy is obviously a globally-recognized entertainment brand, and from my time there, I became acutely aware of the symbiosis between branding and design.

At the end of the day, Playboy isn’t selling a magazine, of course, but an entire lifestyle centered on a certain attitude toward life, a way of moving through the world—and the branding of everything at the Playboy Entertainment Group was very consciously cultivated in service of that brand impact.

PB: What role does marketing play in the performance of a brand?
LL:
Marketing is the driver with respect to articulating the attributes of the brand and providing the necessary vision and support tools to help fellow employees support that vision. These attributes must be authentic and consistent and also resonate with the ecosystem of customers, partners, vendors, the media and financial markets.

Marketing also serves as the ‘brand cop,’ with its antenna up, searching for any deviances from the attributes of the brand or lack of compliance by others in the organization, as well as with partners and vendors in the ecosystem.

PB: How can design thinking drive innovation?
LL:
It’s been well recognized for some time now that design itself is a competitive edge, and not just with an attractive logo or pretty collateral. And, more recently, this has been seen in relation to the concept of Consumer Experience (CX) at every touchpoint.

There is little doubt designers play a critical role as thinkers and innovators, for (hopefully) they ‘live’ among the people who consume the products they work on, and it matters little whether we’re talking about a B2C or B2B marketing context because knowing the consumer is essential. Designers are also natural innovators because they have specialized skills and talents in abstract thinking, which is a key element of innovation.

PB: What are some of your most notable marketing projects?
LL:
My career has been extraordinarily eclectic, ranging from VP Creative Director at Playboy to working on breakthrough agricultural technologies. One project that comes immediately to mind was at Healtheon/WebMD, where I was the VP of Marketing and Communications. We went from the #14 most visited healthcare site to #1 in less than a year. We did this by focusing on the highest level and quality of content, served up in a way that addressed the anxieties and concerns of our site visitors, and their desire for the same data their doctors might access.

I often reflect back on my ‘experiences,’ and there are some great memories, such as producing the first-ever live Internet video broadcast from Mt. Everest for the Everest Environmental Expedition. Similarly, I produced the first live 360-degree video stream from the 2010 Olympics and documented the International Space Station and Space Shuttle mock-ups in 360-degree video for astronaut training.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
LL:
Packaging and packaging designers are under pressure as never before. There’s contraction among companies, a race to cut costs, and timelines are not getting any easier. But a looming threat is today’s consumers, who expect and demand information and content right at their fingertips. Unlike any previous generation, this one cares deeply about the food they eat and the products they buy.

Yet, packaging real estate is exhausted; there is no longer any room left on the package to convey detailed information. The only viable means of content delivery, either in the store or later at home, is through The Connected Package.

We’ll explore the different types of connected packaging and how brands and designers can choose the right one for their product. And, we’ll look at how this new form of modern packaging can deliver benefits to the entire enterprise, such as streamlining the supply chain and reducing waste.

Today’s packaging is not complete without a real-time link to digital content, and this is an opportunity for designers to be heroes and deliver exciting new capabilities to the brand.

Want to hear more from Larry? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Consumer Brand Marketing Expert Karen Hershenson

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

Karen Hershenson

Karen Hershenson

FUSE 2017 presenter Karen Hershenson is the leader of the clay street project, one of Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) top innovation capabilities, which “strives to reveal the genius of P&G people to deliver more human-centric ideas and organizations.” Karen joined the clay street project in 2008 after a 15-year career in consumer brand marketing, building and managing some of the world’s most valuable brands including Coca-Cola, Barbie, and Disney.

As a preview to her presentation, Karen shares her insights on how creativity and innovation support sustainable business performance by building high-performing teams:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in consumer marketing shape your character and career?
Karen Hershenson:
Working on brands like Coca-Cola and Barbie early in my career gave me an appreciation for the sacred relationship that brands have with their consumers. I still get goose bumps when I remember how little girls’ eyes would light up at the sight of a new Barbie doll. When you realize the role your brand plays in another person’s life, you feel a sense of responsibility to make the best possible experience for them.

PB: What role does marketing play in the performance of a brand?
KH:
I see my role as a marketer to be both a steward and an integrator. As a steward, I guard the consumer-brand relationship, ensuring the brand stays true to its heritage, but evolves to meet the consumer’s own growing needs. As an integrator, I start with integrating human insight with business-building strategy. Then I continue by working with my cross-functional team to create and deliver a holistic experience that is consistent over time.

PB: What is an “innovation ecosystem” and how is it set up in an organization?
KH:
An innovation ecosystem is a way to look at your organization to identify the culture you need, to deliver the business results you want. For us, it means recognizing that work is a direct reflection of the teams that are doing that work, and the system in which they operate. So if you want to change your results, you must create the conditions for innovation in all three areas — the team, the system and the work.

Often, organizations have many separate efforts directed to change culture, work processes and team building, and the results become scattered. We have found that creating a series of experiences that are connected results in overall less effort and more synergistic results in the work and culture.

PB: What are some of your most notable projects?
KH:
In our early years, we touted new product launches like Ariel Gel or the creation of the consumer-facing P&G brand. But today, we assess our success on two things: 1) our ability to continually evolve and expand how we serve P&G businesses — moving from 3-month sessions at clay street to a series of short integrated experiences for an entire organization; 2) the speed of culture change we observe across the organizations where we work and the personal transformation we enable.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
KH:
A much-needed pause to help them connect their own creative dots! They will experience and learn about simple techniques they can weave into their busy days that can help make them more present and creative.

Want to hear more from Karen? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Jeremy Lindley, the Man Behind “The 10 Commandments of Brand Design”

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

Jeremy Lindley

FUSE 2017 presenter Jeremy Lindley is Global Design Director at Diageo, the world’s leading premium beverage business with an iconic collection of alcohol beverage brands across spirits and beer. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, J&B, Windsor, Buchanan’s and Talisker whiskies; Smirnoff, Ciroc and Ketel One vodkas; Baileys, Captain Morgan rum, Tanqueray gin, and Guinness beer.

Prior to joining Diageo, Jeremy was head of design for Tesco Stores Ltd., where he was responsible for design across the portfolio of 19,000 private label products and for leading the store formats and design teams. During his early career, Jeremy was a design consultant and university lecturer.

As a preview to his presentation, Jeremy shares his insights on how design is at the heart of brand thinking and activity:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in design shape your character and career?
Jeremy Lindley:
I fell in love with the idea of being a designer when I was 17 years old and had to switch tracks from a very academic focus at school. Task one was to learn how to draw!  Forcing my way into a profession that my early education choices did not obviously lead towards helped me recognize that great talent and ideas can come from many non-traditional places, and it’s not just the “creatives” that can be creative.

My art school training taught me the importance of empathy (to create great design you really have to understand the end user), openness (great ideas rarely come quick and often from unexpected sources) and humility (as a designer you are not always right, there is always much to learn). These skills have served me well throughout my career.

PB: What role does design play in the performance of a brand?
JL:
We operate in an era of multiple media channels where consumers are in control of whether to watch an advert or not. Each channel needs a unique solution – creating a 30-second advert and pushing it out to all platforms simply won’t work.

The reference point for brands used to be the advertising narrative. Today it’s the brand’s visual world – how the brand shows up across multiple applications. Design is the interface between the brand and the consumer, providing coherence and meaning throughout the whole consumer experience. If design is not at the heart of brand thinking and activity, the company will underperform.

PB: How can design connect on an emotional level with consumers?
JL:
The human brain is designed to understand images. We’re so good at this instinctive skill that we mostly don’t realize the meaning we take from visual stimulus. Consumers take implicit understanding from every visual output of a brand; these are influenced by existing memory structures, other brands and culture.

The question for brands is less “how can design connect emotionally” – it already does! Rather, the focus needs to be on understanding how the brand already connects, what the existing memory structures already are, and how these can be developed.

PB: What are some of your recent design projects?
JL:
As Diageo is the world’s leading premium spirits business with over 100 brands in our unrivaled portfolio (these include Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness), there are too many projects to mention!  One recent project of which I am very proud is the redesign of Buchanan’s whisky that won a Gold at the Design Business Association’s Design Effectiveness Awards in London. I value this award because it demonstrates the business impact of design; to win you have to prove conclusively the link between design and business performance.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
JL:
I’ve been working as a designer for over 25 years; seven of those freelance and the remaining leading design within client organizations. I’ve tried to distill the key things I’ve learned from working on some of the world’s most iconic brands into a “10 Commandments of Design.”

Want to hear more from Jeremy? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Human Factors Workplace Specialist Melissa Steach

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

FUSE 2017 presenter Melissa Steach was formally trained as a fine artist, bringing her understanding of aesthetics to the world of human factors and ergonomics. She has a bachelor’s degree in studio art and a master’s degree in I-O Psychology with a focus on human factors. Melissa currently works as a Human Factors and Ergonomics specialist at Herman Miller and is an I-O Psychology PhD candidate.

As a preview to her presentation, Melissa shares her insights on how work is a physical, cognitive and social experience:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in art shape your character and career?
Melissa Steach:
My mother is an artist. She taught me how to draw, how to mix colors, how to see more than what’s physically there. This last part is, I believe, the most important aspect of what I learned through making art.

Art is not all about what the eye sees, but what the mind, body, even soul experiences. Perhaps this is how I came to understand the built environment as a holistic experience. The path to my career has been paved with what at the time seemed like disparate choices. But I now understand that I’d been exploring different ways of work – leading me to Herman Miller.

PB: What effects do work environments have on the employee experience?
MS:
Oh wow! There are so many ways in which work environments affect the employee experience. Common ones of interest are collaboration/innovation and attraction/retention. Work environments can literally set the tone for the culture it contains. An organization’s floor plan can signal to employees what sorts of behaviors are expected and encouraged.

For instance, a company culture that values innovation through collaboration will have many settings designed to support interaction; by allowing for planned and spontaneous collaborations or meetings, sight lines for eye contact, and opportunities for changes in scenery to suit changes in work task which in turn, will have accompanying changes in individual employee behavior for completing those tasks.

Such a floor plan is in a sense alive in that it supports a diverse population of people by providing an environment that allows for them to engage, create and collaborate in ways that are more natural to them.

PB: What role does compassion play in business and design?
MS:
If we think of culture, communication, collaboration, and creativity as separate legs of a table, then compassion is the work surface upon which innumerable amazing things can be made. Compassion is integral to business and design because without it, the other “c’s” have no place to come together. There’s a reason why we all want a proverbial “seat at the table.” We want to be seen, heard, even constructively challenged in a space where we feel safe to share. Compassion is the key to such space.

PB: What do you see as the next phase of ergonomics and human design in the global marketplace?
MS:
The more we understand about the way environments impact our cognitive, social and physical well-being, the more connected we become, the more we will demand that ergonomics be a component of all goods simply through our purchase choices. The great thing about a competitive marketplace is that it allows people to vote by purchase. Those interested in significant Return on Investment (ROI) and Value on Investment (VOI) will vote in favor of products that support them to do and be their best.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
MS:
Not only is it part of our innate state as humans to feel compassion, it also impacts our business bottom lines. This presentation will help to inform and inspire compassion as part of regular business practice within our organizations. The audience will learn three main take-aways regarding the impact compassion has on business, design and profitability.

Want to hear more from Melissa? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.

 


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Brilliance@Work: Brand Catalyst Brian Singer

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

Brian Singer

Brian Singer

FUSE 2017 presenter Brian Singer is a San Francisco-based artist and designer who has received international attention for his provocative social projects such as TWIT Spotting (Texting while in Traffic) and The 1000 Journals Project. Previously, Brian was the Design Manager for Brand Creative at Pinterest and managed design teams at Facebook.

As a preview to his presentation, Brian shares his insights on how design is about problem solving:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in design shape your character and career?
Brian Singer:
I think my character might have shaped my design career, actually. I think I pursued design out of a love and interest in art, which, if you boil it all down might have just been a way for me to get attention/positive reinforcement as a child. Design has taught me a lot about people and has led me on a long (sometimes frustrating) path towards finding meaning in my work and career. As for affecting my character, I’m still kind of a jerk, but the nicest jerk you’ll ever meet.

PB: What role does design play in the performance of a brand?
BS:
Design has always, in my mind, been problem solving. How well the brand performs depends on how well the problem has been solved. This can be the functional side (does it work, is it simple) or on the emotional side (how does driving a VW Beetle feel compared to a Ford Focus). If you do both well, the brand should succeed. Of course, if you’re not solving a need, then all the design in the world won’t help.

PB: How can design thinking drive innovation?
BS:
Design thinking is really just a process for problem solving. Personally, I think ideas are easy. They’re a dime a dozen. The real work is in making the ideas a reality. That might require money, or courage, or influence inside a company. You might need consensus, the right talent, or the green light to even pursue it. It requires building a prototype, proving it works, testing it in market, and even then, the numbers all have to work out. That’s a lot. I’m still a fan of one good idea, well executed.

PB: What are some of your most notable design projects?
BS:
I’ve worked on projects for everyone from Apple to Facebook to Pinterest to Adidas to Microsoft to Levi’s.

The most notable thing I’ve done though has probably been on my own and an attempt at solving distracted driving. After noticing how often drivers in stop-and-go traffic on a freeway were using their phones, I began taking photos of them (always while I was a passenger, not while I was driving because that would be stupid). I then put the photos on billboards.

The project received a massive amount of attention in the press from television to radio to online. I’m willing to bet it was more effective than the $8 million the government spent on their distracted driving campaign that year. The point is, I think it’s notable because it had an outsized impact for the investment, and it was driven by a simple idea. It’s too bad I didn’t have that $8 million to work with.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
BS:
Why, they’ll know how to get rich, of course. They’ll also walk away with renewed purpose and outlook on their pursuits. I hate to say I’ll inspire people, but I might, even if I inspire them to quit their jobs.

Want to hear more from Brian? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.


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Brilliance@Work: Cyborg Anthropologist Amber Case

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar professionals and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”

Amber Case

Amber Case

FUSE 2017 presenter Amber Case, author of Calm Technology: Designing for the Next Generation of Devices, studies the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way cultures think, act and understand their worlds.

As a preview to her presentation, Amber shares her insights on the how calm technology helps us to be more human.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What is calm technology, and from where did this term originate?
Amber Case:
We live in an era of interruptive technology. The world beeps at us incessantly. We are asked to update the software on our Apple TVs before we watch a show, not right before we turn the device off. There are ways to deal with this technology overload. We need a calm technology, not an interruptive one.

A Calm Technology describes products that are there when we need it, not when we don’t, where our devices recede into the background and allow us to be human.

The terms “calm technology” were coined in 1995 by PARC Researchers Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown in reaction to the increasing complexities that information technologies were creating. They felt that the promise of computing systems was that they might “simplify complexities, not introduce new ones.”

PB: What is the importance of calm technology in the global marketplace?
AC:
Calm Technology can help us understand what we need to implement to handle the increasing complexity of the world.

Humans do things that technology is bad at: customer service, warm embraces, and problem solving when something goes wrong with technology. Humans are natural curators. They understand context. No matter what, all loops should have a human at the end to check for accuracy. Otherwise we can get stuck in very unfortunate circumstances of automation. Need we bring back the movie WarGames?

PB: How do consumers and brands benefit by calm technology?
AC:
A great technology gets out of the way and lets us live our lives. It recedes into the background when unneeded and appears when it does. It’s important to bring this concept back in an era that will have an estimated 50 billion devices by 2020.

The first principle is this: Technology shouldn’t require all of our attention, just some of it, and only when necessary.

Old systems and bad interfaces will plague us if we don’t learn how to design for the long term. By writing code that’s small instead of large, and making simple systems rather than complex ones, we can begin to design technology that gets out of our way.

How many times have you been on hold with an automated phone tree? This kind of behavior turns humans into machines. A similar thing happens when we try to put humanness into technology. We end up with products that get us stuck in places, look and act creepy, or have other unwanted characteristics.

PB: What are some great examples of companies using calm technology to enhance our lives?
AC:
Google is clever because it connects human information to other humans. Invisible search engine bots index billions of pages made by hand. It does a great job managing search results, but it doesn’t make the final decision for us. Instead, it gives us a sheet of possible results. It is up to us as humans to make our choices. We are the ones with the context. This is why Google removed the “I’m feeling lucky” button. Humans choose from a small list. Machines cull down a large list. This is a good human-machine symbiosis.

The Roomba vacuum cleaner communicates only in melodies and chirps. The cleaner emits a happy chirp when it is done cleaning, and a sad chirp when it is stuck. Because it is small and cute and doesn’t continue to do work when it is stuck, it is a non-scary device. It waits for human help rather than trying to do everything itself. The chirp is easy to understand. It doesn’t need to be translated into many languages. It conveys the information with a light and a tone, and it is approachable enough that cats enjoy riding on it in YouTube videos!

The LUMOBack Smart Posture Sensor is a device you wear around your waist. It monitors the angle of your back and buzzes you when you exhibit poor posture.

PB: What do you see as the next phase in the interaction of humans and computers?
AC:
We have a very large capacity for attention, but often times we design products that only work with our visual sense, and these require us to pay all of our attention to them. As you move away from the sense right in front of you, you can get other senses. Touch, peripheral vision, and sound! We can do so much when we make use of these additional senses. It’s a way to get the same amount of information across with the least amount of attention. Think of it as compressing information into another sense!

Computing at this point will have reached a resource limitation as well. Bandwidth will be an issue, as more and more applications rely on the far vs. the near. Video streaming applications like Netflix will see their bandwidth costs soar and consider various solutions. Connectivity is not built like electricity. It’s not as reliable, and that’s going to become a larger problem!

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
AC: Attendees will learn how our devices take advantage of location, proximity and haptics to help improve our lives instead of get in the way. They’ll also learn how to determine the minimum amount of technology to solve the problem.

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