Friday, August 31, 2007

Designing the Future 1b

Here's blogpost number 2 on the Philips sessions on Designing the Future. The first can be found here, where we started of with the Philips Design Probes and discussing the topic "The Future of Self-Expression." This second post will focus on the second brainstorm topic we discussed:

The Future of Packaging.

Philips themeselves are quite interested in new ways of food packaging

"We have been especially interested in the packaging of food. In fact food packaging is a large part of our waste."

But what do we need from packaging, and how will this evolve in the next 20 years? From a Philips point of view, packaging obiously is a new market in which they can put new gadgets. Instead of enthusiastically get involved with all sorts of gadgetted packaging stuff, I advocated less packaging. Here some ramblings:

"I'd be happy to go back 50 years in time to get rid of all this plastic waste.
I hate it to see my meat being packaged in foam, then ceiled, then bagged in a plastic bag.. I don't ask for it. Some stuff at the supermarket is triple packaged. So biodegradable and non-toxic packaging would help a lot."

"But what concerns you most - amount of stuff or possible danger to products?"

"We're getting too peculiar I'd say. Partly it's a self sustaining economy. We enhance our food, do tricks to keep our cows fat, thus more risk of all sorts of bacteria, thus need of more sterile packaging I think."

"Oh, I like this train of thought, that its not only packaging per ser, but in fact whole system."

"Packaging is at the end of the production chain, so logical to see where the need comes from. Is our plastic industry build upon the waste and need from oil companies? or does it serve purpose? ok, that sounded far too much conspiracy theory.... non intentionally. so if technology finds another source of energy rather then oil, we'd have less plastic?"

After the obligatory fit about our current society we got down to business though tinkering about new ways for packaging, amongst which RFID technology, the impact of Technology on our elderly people, Identity Management and what have you got. Too much to cut into decent bits at this time anyway, so here's the transcript:

[12:31]  Una Gackt: three things expression , cloth and package are same interests, I suppose.

[12:32]  Una Gackt: It reveal what it contains or at least It pretend what it contains

[12:32]  Centrasian Wise: and in every topic we are in fact interested in how people will interact with these new thingies

[12:33]  Una Gackt: I really love the show of Philips design probe : SKIN

[12:33]  Centrasian Wise: our next topic :)

[12:33]  Una Gackt: it gave us some messages of what people to express, and pretend.

[12:33]  Una Gackt: and the tool to attempt to the wills.

[12:34]  Centrasian Wise: in some sense, packaging can be compared to the skin of the product - but what do we expect from such skin?

[12:34]  Tara5 Oh: that is interestin point una because pretending is an important part of self expression!

[12:34]  Una Gackt: right...

[12:34]  Centrasian Wise: yes, I sense a dilemma here

[12:34]  Una Gackt: and it is also a good biz in SL

[12:34]  Una Gackt: SKIN production^^

[12:34]  Centrasian Wise: it all goes to the trust again

[12:34]  Eolus McMillan: the skin should know when we need medical attention

[12:35]  Tara5 Oh: i think it is not necessarily a dilemma

[12:35]  Centrasian Wise: if you trust me, I don't have to pretend, I can be myself...

[12:35]  Centrasian Wise: yes, right Tara, I was looking for a better word :)

[12:35]  Tara5 Oh: for instance sometimes self expression is just a way of making contack it doen't have to be scientifically accurate

[12:36]  Tara5 Oh: there are all those silly games on facebook for example like how alike are wee

[12:36]  Tara5 Oh: they are totally inaccurate but noone cares it is a way of breaking the ice

[12:36]  Una Gackt: haha, scientifically accrate,...that's impossible...people are people, and they are full of errors and they enjoy it.

[12:36]  Centrasian Wise: same as we say 'dress to impress' - packaging of today often works as a way of impressing, seducing even

[12:37]  Tara5 Oh: yes there is a lot of pleaure in mistaken identity games!

[12:37]  Centrasian Wise: but at the same time informing, communicating

[12:37]  Centrasian Wise: :)

[12:37]  Tara5 Oh: hey my dress shows i am sad but i am really happy!

[12:37]  Una Gackt: true...SL itself is the joy of gap from the reality.

[12:38]  Tara5 Oh: sometimes and sometimes its p[ower comes from communicating reality in new ways

[12:38]  Tara5 Oh: it is both

[12:38]  Una Gackt: yes...

[12:38]  Centrasian Wise: i wonder of something similar will emerge in packaging.. with similar level of playfulness

[12:38]  Una Gackt: both...

[12:38]  Una Gackt: yes...the point is playfulness.

[12:38]  Tara5 Oh: if a doctor was talking to a patient in SL the patient might want to show their pain accurately

[12:39]  Tara5 Oh: or as accurately as possible

[12:39]  Una Gackt: SKIN makes people happy and feeling of satisfaction about their self esteem.

[12:40]  Centrasian Wise: why do you think it so, Tara?

[12:40]  You: however, if this all this info gets digitized, you might get serious privacy problems / issues

[12:40]  Tara5 Oh: but privacy has different meanings to different people

[12:41]  Una Gackt: haha....almost Zen philosophical...

[12:41]  Tara5 Oh: for example some people don't like the idea of companies knowing what products they like and use

[12:41]  Una Gackt: all depends on their intension.

[12:41]  Tara5 Oh: but peronally i like havinf relevant info pushed to me

[12:41]  Centrasian Wise: issue of trust?

[12:41]  Una Gackt: you're first person who said that loving the push info.

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: i don't watch TV etc anymore so i need to know what is out there

[12:42]  You: yes. but that would require a closed web. A single sign on. so you can adjust what you would like to share / receive

[12:42]  Centrasian Wise: if i trust my friend, i will share with her a lot, because i am sure she will be helping, not harming

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: i actually depend on it!

[12:42]  Una Gackt: I see.

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: but i like it to come from social networks best

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: but i still want to know about new products

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: in my areas of interest

[12:42]  You: social networks are too scattered, no interchangeability

[12:43]  You: for most people ;)

[12:43]  Una Gackt: other than the consumer info what is your SN source for?

[12:43]  Tara5 Oh: well I rely on for music

[12:43]  Dennis Slocombe is Offline

[12:43]  Centrasian Wise: do you think they will stay like this in the future, VeeJay?

[12:44]  You: no, I think the way we use the web will change. As I said to a short of single sign on. Desktop usage will be transferred to webbased Document Management and merging of private, social and professional networks

[12:44]  You: there will be huge leaps to be made with Identity Management / web 2.0 profiles

[12:44]  Una Gackt: if you googled, then it's already there.

[12:45]  You: Una, it's there, the basic outlines.

[12:45]  You: but not the whole deal.

[12:45]  Centrasian Wise: so if i project this vision to, say, packages - a lot of its current functions will done by the networks, right?

[12:45]  Una Gackt: it brings you everything to your personal top.

[12:46]  Una Gackt: you just logged in, and there ...go

[12:46]  Una Gackt: no more surfing.

[12:46]  Tara5 Oh: not just the generic info

[12:46]  You: yes cent.

[12:46]  Tara5 Oh: yes I would like packages to delive the information that i am interested in personally

[12:46]  Tara5 Oh: for example i am very fussy about how my food is produced

[12:46]  Tara5 Oh: but i don't care about the calories etc

[12:46]  You: so focuspoints would be unified communications and identitymanagement

[12:47]  Una Gackt: OK, Veejay might be in the area.

[12:47]  Una Gackt: security and privacy engineering

[12:47]  Centrasian Wise: but for us, desingers, it will also mean whole new way of interaction with products

[12:48]  Tara5 Oh: yes and i think that people want to bring environmental consciousness into all purchase

[12:48]  Centrasian Wise: or, designing for such inteactions

[12:48]  Una Gackt: now a days it is very hard to say designers design the product.

[12:48]  Tara5 Oh: i.e. what is the carbon footprint associated with the whole product life style

[12:48]  Una Gackt: customers or markets shaping its need until designers understand their need.

[12:49]  You: productinformation / production information / manuals from products streamed to your feedreader / document management system on purchase

[12:49]  Centrasian Wise: but it's interesting, that this consciousness is emerging from the relations *around* the product

[12:49]  You: guarantee and service notes stored

[12:49]  Una Gackt: now adays, designers task is the producing but watching or observing.

[12:50]  Centrasian Wise: not even manuals per se, even, but rather social distributed knowledge

[12:50]  Tara5 Oh: for example I would like to know my product was manufacutered in an energy monitored EOLUS faciltiy!!!

[12:50]  Yel Oh: Hi guys :-)

[12:50]  Una Gackt: but in the future they will spend more time for watcing

[12:50]  Centrasian Wise: Yes, very right Una

Then there was a short break, after which we continued:

[13:03]  Centrasian Wise: The interaction between the human body, apparel and the near environment is going to be one of the next big challenges

[13:04]  Una Gackt: aha wearabel computing...

[13:04]  Centrasian Wise: and we will be very happy to show you our ideas and concepts in this area at one of the next meetings

[13:04]  You: why is that a challenge for a technology company like philips?

[13:04]  Una Gackt: which sense your temperature...mood, health, and even your happiness.

[13:04]  Tara5 Oh: yes I like the ID of shirt that people can point and click their phone at to go to my blog

[13:04]  Una Gackt: hahahaha...

[13:04]  Tara5 Oh: he he

[13:04]  Centrasian Wise: ^_^

[13:04]  Una Gackt: clever.

[13:05]  Centrasian Wise: Is it available already, Tara? :)

[13:05]  Tara5 Oh: I wplus i think cards are very outdated!

[13:05]  Tara5 Oh: oh can you send me one1

[13:05]  Tara5 Oh: should be point , click and save1

[13:05]  Una Gackt: each name card has its own texutre...

[13:06]  Una Gackt: not just color and shape.

[13:06]  Una Gackt: that's why it should be a card.

[13:06]  Una Gackt: you can keep and bring the texture.

[13:06]  Tara5 Oh: no i mean in RL not SL this time

[13:06]  Tara5 Oh: i don't want RL cards

[13:06]  You: I like technology. I like information, but there are times I like to get away from it. And that'll be hard if you even wear communicative things ;)

[13:07]  Una Gackt: hehe...I mean fact.

[13:07]  Una Gackt: I love the physical products.

[13:07]  Una Gackt: it has a texture, weight and shape.

[13:07]  Tara5 Oh: no coc you could turn it on and off

[13:07]  Eolus McMillan: but if the thing is smart it would know that you are in a mood of not having any communication

[13:07]  Eolus McMillan: and it would act accordingly

[13:07]  Una Gackt: that's the part of its won attributes.

[13:07]  Tara5 Oh: yes eolus even better in case you forgot to turn it off!

[13:08]  Eolus McMillan: a simple thought would turn it on or off

[13:08]  Eolus McMillan: in the back of your mind

[13:08]  Tara5 Oh: but i think jewellry ismore appropriate cos my clothing wears out too fast!

[13:08]  You: ok. we're looking at it from the exciting vantage of new technology things. But surely, especially you Eolus and Tara would have to wonder if it is usefull and not waste. What purpose would it all serve?

[13:09]  Centrasian Wise: good question! :)

[13:09]  Eolus McMillan: it might be usefull for old people

[13:09]  Tara5 Oh: cards are waste they use non renewable resources

[13:09]  Eolus McMillan: people with disabilities

[13:09]  You: My mother would rather die or get lost before she wears self thinking boots

[13:09]  Tara5 Oh: anyway wallets are going out soon i guess

[13:09]  Una Gackt: what is the gesture cent...

[13:10]  Una Gackt: did you look at your watch?

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: it really depends

[13:10]  Una Gackt: how is it possible....

[13:10]  Tara5 Oh: but my mother loves this kind of technolofy

[13:10]  Centrasian Wise: :)

[13:10]  Tara5 Oh: she is frail and lives on herown

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: if thinking means taking over

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: then i agree

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: but if a thinking boot assists you in finding a place

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: or not stepping on something dangerous

[13:10]  Centrasian Wise: i better stand up, to stop confusing you, Una :)

[13:11]  Eolus McMillan: then it might not be so bad after all

[13:11]  Tara5 Oh: she relies a panic button for her asthma

[13:11]  Una Gackt: ^^

[13:11]  Eolus McMillan: there must be a right balance

[13:11]  Una Gackt: it is a wonderful session. and for it's time to go.

[13:11]  Una Gackt: it was great pleasure to meet you all.

[13:12]  Eolus McMillan: bye Una, was nice discussing with you

[13:12]  Una Gackt: bye everyone...

[13:12]  Eolus McMillan: bye

[13:12]  Centrasian Wise: Thank you, Una!

[13:12]  Una Gackt: thank you cent^^

[13:12]  Centrasian Wise: I hope you will join our next session!

[13:12]  Una Gackt: see you Tara5

[13:12]  You: I see many elderly growing more and more unhappy in this society we live in. Too much change. From moving from hard cash to virtual money to credit cards to mobile paying is too much for them (only one example)

[13:12]  Una Gackt: definately.

[13:12]  Eolus McMillan: yes , i agree

[13:12]  You: they don't understand society anymore

[13:12]  Tara5 Oh: yesnice to meet you!

[13:13]  Eolus McMillan: so that really means we must take all those facts into consideration when designing such things

[13:13]  You: what i mean is that technology can have a downside as well

[13:13]  Eolus McMillan: it is up to us to make it right

[13:14]  Centrasian Wise: but what's the choice, VeeJay? To stop? Or to offer them support in learning? or may be even 3rd way?

[13:14]  You: well, the issue I'm having with it is what the real business drivers are.

[13:14]  You: which are the motivators behind change and innovation.

[13:15]  You: technology can make life easier, but more complex as well

[13:15]  You: can bring people together, but devide as well

[13:15]  Centrasian Wise: well, even if we would reflect on what we do here

[13:15]  You: even wedge first and third world more

[13:16]  You: can help overcome environmental problems as well as create much more pollution and waste

[13:16]  Centrasian Wise: when we try to bring people INTO innovation - it is exactly to make sure that chances to produce useless technology are lesser

[13:16]  You: when money and profit is the motivator, you'd just have to hope the right choices are made

[13:17]  Centrasian Wise: Yes, all your words are very valid observaitons, Veejay

[13:18]  You: so, are what's the base we're designing our future from? Is that from the viewpoint that we can think up a whole lot of new gadgets? or

[13:18]  You: is it a viewpoint in say, let's see what life is about, forget everything we've got now and see what that live needs

[13:18]  Centrasian Wise: <-- quickly say 'NO'

[13:18]  Centrasian Wise: lol, the 'NO' was to your first question :)

[13:19]  Centrasian Wise: one of issues as we see it is that it's very diffult to say 'what live needs'

[13:19]  You: mmm, looking at my history I see I've been very sceptical today

[13:20]  Centrasian Wise: and how it evolves is through multiple probes and tryouts

[13:21]  You: actually, I'm pretty interested in seeing where it goes, looking forward to explore new technology, but it has to be balanced ;)

[13:21]  Centrasian Wise: If you remember, we call this program Probes - to exactly do that, see what reacion our concepts can trigger

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Designing the Future 1a

Last night I finally had time to slip into one of the Philips Design meetups. Due to scheduling issues I hadn't been able to attend before so I was glad I finally had the chance to meet up with the Philips Design Crew.

It was quite a session, over 2.5 hours of full-scale brainstorm on 3 topics, giving me over 14 pages of textlog to read back and condence. This will be a post in bits and pieces I think.

Don't predict the future, design it!

The sessions are titled "Designing the Future" and today's introduction was given by Centrasian Wise, one of Philips Design's inworld evangelists.

"We plan to have a series of interesting discussions with you and these discussions will be about …. the future! As we say in the panels at the top there, we don’t want to predict the future, we want to design it, or rather co-design it with people, with you.

In the next few months we will be holding a series of meetings here in SL to share our ideas and our work but also to learn what you think about them. The meeting today is an introduction to this new series."

Design Probes

Philips themselves have been thinking about the future themselves for some time now;

"Already for some years now Philips Design is carrying a design research program called Design Probes. It is an in-house future research program that explores what new lifestyles and people behaviors might emerge in the future and under 'future' we mean 2020 for these discussions. This program was set up to identify long term social changes and to anticipate changes in future lifestyles. It's far enough to already expect changes, but still foreseable.
So, we study new and emerging technology, socio-cultural trends and possible effects of political, economic and environmental changes.
Based on this knowledge, we then design a number of ‘probes’, or visionary concepts we call 'Probes'.
They reflect our understanding of potential futures, but also provoke and challenge existing assumptions. For example, our Design Probe Program wants to challenges the notion that our lives are automatically better because they are more digital.So, In the coming weeks we will present some of the results of this program."

Since Philips is a technology and digital gadgetting firm, that last remark shouts profit driven motivation. Or is there a more social spark driving the Probes?

"You'll have to see in the coming weeks whether it is technology-drive or people-driven :)."

Just like any good traditional sermon, this brainstorm session came in three topics:

  1. The future of self-expression
  2. The future of packaging
  3. The future of clothing

Where does it all lead to? Is Philips going into virtual clothing business in Second Life, or are we up to new and exciting adventures with self-thinking or self-guiding boots?

The Future of Self-Expression

After the the introduction the group split into three smaller groups for some severe brainstorming, almost good enough to call it a MindBlizzard. My little group saw Centrasian himself als moderator and also consisted of Ugotrade blogger Tara5 Oh and Implenia / EOLUS founder and thoughtleader Eolus McMillan and several other residents with backgrounds in Design and Technology as well. This made up for the producing end of the chain, it would have been good to see some from the receiving end (i.e. consumers) in there, so I went a little into skeptical mode.

The question at hand is how technology can augment our senses and the senses of those we communicate and interact with.

The discussion spiraled down to sensor technologies, or as Tara put it:

"I am particularly interested about how sensor/actuator networkscan enhance self expression in hyper connected eletronic environment s in new ways. By that I mean how can the kind of emotional bandwidth these kind of sensor technologies bring to communication be integrated into an immersive social networking environment like SL..... phew that is a bit long winded! But reall what are the interesting ways biometric sensors can be introduced into networked virtual environments?"

Now we don't have to get all creepy about Matrix-like plugins or neuropods from Tad William's Otherland series, or Neil Stephenson's Snowcrash visors. Here's some of the discussion:

[12:11] Tara5 Oh: but id i can't say it here where can I!
[12:11] Centrasian Wise: But would happen if we would add ‘sensing technology’ to our bodies?
[12:12] Centrasian Wise: Enhance it? Amplify?
[12:12] Una Gackt: I hope it would not be our body, but thinking things.
[12:12] Tara5 Oh: well I like the idea of the mutual enhancement of virtual and real environment through biometric sensors could be quite simple
[12:13] Tara5 Oh: like communicating the way you are feeling to a group on online friends
[12:13] Tara5 Oh: could be quite complex and move into the extreme life logging area
[12:13] Centrasian Wise: Like, to show your emotional state?
[12:13] Eolus McMillan: hehe to apply the expression in RL to your avatar in sL
[12:13] Tara5 Oh: yes!
[12:14] Tara5 Oh: and then combine that with some of the special communicative qualities of this eletronice environment

Well that's all folks for today. I'll have to find some time to put up the other two topics, which partly intertwine with the above discussion.

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