The Connected Home Pt 6: Designing Out Disruption

26 June 2017


Smaller homes and an increased number of smart home devices means consumers are finding it hard to avoid information overload. Media and telecoms regulator Ofcom found that 34% of adult internet users have sought a period of time offline. Consequently, consumers look to brands designing smart home products and services which reduce information overload – only giving notifications or data when most important.

Amber Case, a Cyborg anthropologist, user experience designer and public speaker recently published her book ‘Calm Technology: Designing for the Next Generation of Devices’. The book explores the concept of ‘Calm Technology’, a method of designing tech that respects the user’s attention, only engaging them when truly necessary.

“A calm technology is there when you need it and not when you don’t, it respects your attention so that it doesn’t take all of it and distract you. It allows you to be a smarter human, not have a smarter device.”- Amber Case

Our recent Future Insight report Cramped Living explores how the spaces we inhabit are getting smaller. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly important for brands and designers to create devices that operate quietly within our homes. Time Well Spent, a non-profit movement lead by Tristan Harris looks to transform the race for attention by revealing how technology hijacks our minds. They also demonstrate how better incentives and design practices will create a world that helps us spend our time well.

‘Low-friction systems’ are integral to the connected home, giving you information only when you need it. Context aware technology needs to be created to amplify humanness and retain human choice.

From left to right: Essential Home, Essential Ph-1, Andy Rubin founder and CEO of Essential

Playground Studios a company founded by Andy Rubin has recently revealed their new company Essential. Essential’s PH-1 and Home devices run an operating system the company is calling Ambient OS. The devices are designed to give users flexibility to decide what it does and how it works. As a result, Ambient OS does not try to make your home smart by anticipating what you need. Instead as the system learns from the user it suggests ‘behaviours’ and lets you decide whether to use them.

“The goal of Ambient OS is to ‘activate’ your home. People should be able to express what they want to do and the home should be able to choreograph its resources to meet people’s requirements. It is not about a point-to-point interaction with individual devices but a choreographed experience that takes into account ambient resources, people preferences, and relevant context.” Manuel Roman Head of Engineering: Home Products

Consumers aware of the affect digital distraction is having on their lives is changing how they use and purchase products. It is important for brands and designers to react to this by designing out disruptions in consumers’ homes.

Click here to read the previous instalment of our Connected Home series where we explored why brands must consider collaborating with one another to establish an agreed standard for the smart home.

Cramped Living 2019 is now also available to buy from our online shop. This Future Insight Report explores the challenges of living in smaller homes. Receive a free edit of Cramped Living 2019 by clicking ‘download now’ to the right of this post. 

Overall a great day which involved getting everyone's thoughts, ideas and reservations down on paper. I am looking forward to seeing how this information will be overlaid with the vital trend insights we need to drive new product development and long-term business growth.

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