Posts about Design the Future


Speculative Tools for Learning about Politics

Cooper has just published the third in a series about Elections for UX Magazine. Below is an excerpt from the article "Speculative Tools for Learning about Politics" written by Joe Kappes. Read the full article on UX Magazine.

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With all the noise of an election cycle, it can be difficult to parse out what you really believe when it comes to key political issues and with whom you actually agree. 

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Concept Mapping for Designers of the Future

Photo by André M. Pennycook

Recently, Cooper and the Speculative Futures group teamed up to conduct a joint workshop introducing designers to Concept Mapping Together, a collaboration protocol based on the work of Joseph D. Novak (see The Origin and Development of Concept Maps) and his fellow cognitive and educational researchers. The protocol is an adaptation of their methods oriented to design facilitation practice. Cooperista Kaycee Collins, Phil Balagtas, and I led the workshop with ten expert design facilitators to teach attendees the protocol and explore it’s powerful application to futures design. 

Why Concept Mapping?

Designing for future scenarios is especially challenging given what designers must consider while speculating about what the world is today and may become tomorrow. Designers can best address this challenge by using a rich set of research and design practices. One such practice is concept mapping, which helps to organize and structure knowledge, thereby extending a designer’s ability to understand and be understood.

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Recently, Cooper and the Speculative Futures group teamed up to conduct a joint workshop introducing designers to Concept Mapping Together, a collaboration protocol based on the work of Joseph D. Novak (see The Origin and Development of Concept Maps) and his fellow cognitive and educational researchers. 

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Is Online Voting the Next Big Thing?

Cooper has just posted the first in a series of articles on Elections for UX Magazine. Below is an excerpt from the article "Is Online Voting the Next Big Thing" written by Chris Calabrese. Check it out and read the full article on UX Magazine

Even though we live in a digital age, in Election 2016, you won’t be voting for Clinton or Trump via your phone or the web. 

You’re probably reading this article from your mobile phone. And with the US primary elections in full swing, there’s a good chance you’re learning about issues and candidates on the web, and sharing your political opinions through social media. Even though we live in a digital age, in Election 2016, you won’t be voting for Clinton or Trump via your phone or the web. Instead, if you go (43% of eligible voters didn’t vote in 2008), you’ll wait on a long line of US citizens to cast your ballot in a number of antiquated ways:

  • Paper Ballot - 1856
  • Mechanical Lever Machine - 1892
  • Optical Scan Ballot - 1962
  • Punch Card - 1964
  • Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Machine - 1974

It’s amazing that the predominant ways we are using today to cast votes in our government elections have remained virtually unchanged through the whole digital age.

Think about this: NASA sent two people to walk on the moon in 1969, when the entire agency possessed less computing power than your mobile phone. We can do better!

So what’s the problem?

In a nutshell, the biggest hurdle to online voting is insufficient security. You may wonder, in a world where billions of dollars of financial transactions occur on a daily basis, why can’t I vote for my government officials online? Unlike a financial transaction, which requires a transparent and auditable process for its security, online voting needs to not only be auditable but also anonymous. These conditions, according to a report published by the Atlantic Council in 2014, are “largely incompatible with current technologies”.

Read all of Chris' article here on UX Magazine.

Even though we live in a digital age, in Election 2016, you won’t be voting for Clinton or Trump via your phone or the web.

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A message from Alan and Sue Cooper

User experience leaders,

It is our great pleasure to share with you the exciting news that Cooper has acquired Catalyst Group, a user experience design firm in New York City. Founded 17 years ago, Catalyst Group is an exceptional team of skilled designers, researchers, and strategists led by Nick Gould and Jon Mysel.

As the world of digital products explodes, the expectations of users climb apace, and there is simply no room in the marketplace for a product that can’t deliver a great experience. Cooper understands your need for a strategic partner with the wisdom, experience, tools, and perspective to help you stay on top in a crowded and competitive world.

This new union strengthens Cooper in many ways. We add fresh talents and capabilities in the fields of high quality user experience design, product strategy, design thinking, service design, product management, and user research, both pure and applied. We are infused with new experiences, new talent, and new character and, of course, we are geographically closer to our clients in New York, the Eastern US, and Europe.

At a time when many companies are building in-house design teams, Cooper believes that by remaining independent we play a critical role that internal teams cannot. Our independence gives us an outside point of view, and the perspective to make it work for you. As outsiders, we never shrink from the tough conversations that can move a business forward.  

Our brilliant new teammates, now also called “Cooper,” stand ready to serve from their office in Manhattan, giving you the same superb quality you have come to value from our San Francisco office.  

- Sue & Alan 

Cooper acquires New York based UX Design firm Catalyst Group.  

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Summoning the Next Interface: Agentive Tools & SAUNa Technology

Cooper’s new Design the Future series of posts opens the door to how we think about and create the future of design, and how design can influence changing technologies. Join us in this new series as we explore the ideas behind agentive technology, and summon a metaphor to help guide us to the next interface.

Part 1: Toward a New UX

If we consider the evolution of technology—from thigh-bones-as-clubs to the coming singularity (when artificial intelligence leaves us biological things behind)—there are four supercategories of tools that influence the nature of what’s to come:

  1. Manual tools are things like rocks, plows, and hammers; well-formed masses of atoms that shape the forces we apply to them. Manual tools were the earliest tools.
  2. Powered tools are systems—like windmills and electrical machines—that set things in motion and let us manipulate the forces present in the system. Powered tools came after manual tools, and took a quantum leap with the age of electricity. They kept becoming more and more complex until World War II, when the most advanced technology of the time, military aircraft, were so complex that even well trained people couldn’t manage them, and the entire field of interaction design was invented in response, as “human factors engineering.”
  3. Assistive tools do some of the low-level information work for us—like spell check in word processing software and proximity alerts in cars—harnessing algorithms, ubiquitous sensor networks, smart defaults, and machine learning. These tools came about decades after the silicon revolution.
  4. The fourth category is the emerging category, the new thing that bears some consideration and preparation. I have been thinking and presenting about this last category across the world: Agentive tools, which do more and more stuff on their own accord, like learning about their users, and are approaching the artificial intelligence that will ultimately, if you believe Vernor Vinge, eventually begin evolving beyond our ken.

"WIthin 30 years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended."

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Cooper’s new Design the Future series of posts opens the door to how we think about and create the future of design, and how design can influence changing technologies. Join us in this new series as we explore the ideas behind agentive technology, and summon a metaphor to help guide us to the next interface. Part 1: Toward a New [...]

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Make It Wearable

 

 

Recently I interviewed with the Vice/Intel collaboration The Creators Project, about sci-fi wearables and how Cooper approaches future design with its clients. And while my interview isn't live yet, the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge it will be a part of was announced at CES yesterday. If you have an inventor's mind, a love of wearable technology, and could use some of the US$1.3 million dollars to bring your idea to life, you're going to want to see this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwSpn7H7vKg

Recently I interviewed with the Vice/Intel collaboration The Creators Project, about sci-fi wearables and how Cooper approaches future design with its clients. And while my interview isn't live yet, the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge it will be a part of was announced at CES yesterday. If you have an inventor's mind, a love of wearable technology, and could use [...]

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Designing the Future: Cooper in Berlin

Most software projects are built around the question “What are we going to do next?” But occasionally we’re asked to think farther out. Projects focused on the 5-10 year range are more about “Where are we headed?” and “What’s going to inspire people?” These are different questions to ask, and answering them changes the usual process of interaction design.

 

I’ve been thinking about these things for a while, and while at the MobX conference in Berlin I conducted a workshop where a group of 16 designers and strategists took a look at how you answer these questions. 

 
So…how do you do it? The core of the matter is to understand what’s going to be different in the future you’re designing for.

These kinds of projects are less about “What’s next?” and more about “Where are we headed?” and “What’s going to inspire people?”

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Most software projects are built around the question “What are we going to do next?” But occasionally we’re asked to think farther out. Projects focused on the 5-10 year range are more about “Where are we headed?” and “What’s going to inspire people?” These are different questions to ask, and answering them changes the usual process of interaction design. I’ve [...]

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Augmented Experience

Photo via Reuters / Carlo Allegri

Let’s be honest: Google Glass looks pretty silly. Its appearance is out of time, futuristic, and obnoxiously so. And it's out of place in daily life—a strange accessory with mysterious purpose, as if someone were to walk around all day with a skateboard on a leash.

But Glass also points to an intriguing future, one in which the line between using a digital device and simply going about daily life is removed. Whereas traditional spectacles have a corrective purpose to see reality more clearly, Glass offers a new category of lenses that promise to augment the reality we see. It opens a vast new frontier for the practice of interaction design that, like the Wild West, is full of lawlessness and danger and promise. And it is the UX community that will shape this landscape; we will determine it’s character, and the impact it will have on people’s lives.

A key question all this raises is: what “reality” is Glass augmenting? At the moment, being a Google product, the augmentation is designed to primarily target the urban economic and social spheres. Looking down the street through Glass, you may see restaurant store-fronts adorned with floating metadata describing the cuisine type and star-ratings by previous diners. Turning your head, an indicator points in the direction of the location of your next calendar appointment. Peering at a product on the shelf, prices for similar products are displayed for easy comparison. You’ll always know where you are, where you need to be, and what you’re looking at. The reality that Glass augments is a realm of people, objects, places of business, and locations. In other words, what can be expressed in a database and efficiently searched.

Toward a better future

At this point in the conversation, the story usually veers into the realm of exasperation and despair. Google Glass represents the death of spontaneity! It will systematize and computerize our lives! Organic experience will be lost! (And, most insidious of all) Google will monitor and monetize every saccade of our eyeball, every step we take!

“Big brother” from the film adaptation of Orwell’s 1984

Given the penchant for technologists to base business models on advertising and “big data” about their customers, it is not surprising that Google Glass can be seen as a kind of portable panopticon. But I think the truth that this device foreshadows is something potentially more benign, and almost certainly beneficial.

The dystopian narrative that depicts a society dominated by machines and ubiquitous surveillance is common, expressed through fiction, film, and even journalism, which tends to draw on the same sinister rhetoric. George Orwell’s 1984 describes the homogenization and suppression of culture through rules, systems, and constant surveillance. In a more recent popular expression, Pixar’s Wall-E imagines a future humanity composed of zombie-like innocents, shuttled along by automated chairs, staring feebly into digital screens, mobilized—and controlled—by machines. The plausibility of these futures is made even more vivid by the unfolding story of the depth of NSA surveillance.

To paraphrase a recent piece by Don Norman, it all depends on how we design and develop augmented reality applications. If we manage to create useful and utility-producing applications with wearable technologies like Google Glass, people will benefit. This seems at first more like a truism than truth. But the obviousness of the statement belies the underlying premise, which is that Google Glass and its future iterations are simply a canvas on which we can write the future of our “augmented” everyday experience. So let’s not leave it all up to Google, shall we?

Big ideas

Ideas for the positive future of augmented reality abound. Augmedix, for example, is a small company with a vision of Google Glass re-shaping the doctor-patient relationship. Increasingly, the burden of the new and fraught world of digital medical records is damaging this interaction. Doctors stare at screens instead of faces, they spend as much time clicking checkboxes and radio buttons as they do examining the bodies and listening to the voices of the people under their care. Augmented reality could turn this scenario on its head by allowing doctors to look at and converse with their patient while simultaneously accessing and transmitting important information through Glass. This will almost certainly lead to fewer errors, an increase in trust, and ultimately better health outcomes.

A doctor wears Glass with the Augmedix app.

Or consider William Gibson’s Spook Country, a novel in which a central character creates “locative art,” what you might call augmented reality sculpture. Imagine looking at a city fountain with your augmentation goggles and seeing a bloom of light and color where others see only water. That we could transform our physical landscape in a way that enhances its beauty—rather than simply enhancing its economic potential—is a stunning notion. Unlike 3D movie glasses or straight-up “virtual reality,” the idea of a physical/virtual mashup offers us a chance to experiment and play in realms previously only available to the world of screens and displays, without losing the notion of being present in a place, something virtual reality cannot avoid. We remain in the real world.

The design of augmented reality

The first attempts to harness the power of Glass-like technology will be “ports,” shoe-horning old functionality into a new form factor. Text and email messages will appear, caller ID will notify you of a phone call, the front-facing camera will take a picture or video on command. But none of these use cases address new goals. They simply make achieving old goals incrementally faster or more convenient. I don’t have to lift my phone and look at the screen to see a text message or know who’s calling. I don’t have to lift my camera and press a button to take a picture. The difference in my experience enabled by porting functionality from my phone to Glass is a difference of degree, not a difference in kind.

More interesting will be the forays into using augmented reality tech to solve previously unmet goals. Augmedix is a good example, because it bucks a trend toward less personal medicine and solves both a doctor and a patient goal. Locative art is similarly interesting, because it provides an entirely new artistic medium and way of experiencing that art. Mapping and orientation in a visually augmented world represents another fundamental change, because it bridges the gap between the abstract 2D map and the immediately actionable—a translation that currently happens in the human brain.

Go get ‘em

Augmented reality is in its infancy. Google Glass still faces some serious challenges, especially on the hardware front—miniaturizing the device and making it less obtrusive is necessary to make it less like pulling a skateboard on a leash everywhere you go. But the frontier for experience design this device opens up is huge, and doesn’t have to remain within the boundaries Google sets. Part of our challenge and calling as a UX community is to think deeply about what an augmented experience feels like, and how it shapes people’s lives. As you would with any user experience, let unmet user goals guide your design.

Your role in this revolution is just beginning.

Photo via Reuters / Carlo AllegriLet’s be honest: Google Glass looks pretty silly. Its appearance is out of time, futuristic, and obnoxiously so. And it's out of place in daily life—a strange accessory with mysterious purpose, as if someone were to walk around all day with a skateboard on a leash.But Glass also points to an intriguing future, one in [...]

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Cooper Parlor: The Future of Television Meets the Future of Design

During our October Parlor, a packed room enjoyed presentations by Richard Bullwinkle, Head of US Television Innovation at Samsung, and Jeremy Toeman, CEO of the startup Dijit Media. In this edited, hour-long video, you will be guided through trends in media consumption, technological advances, and the evolution of show content and format, towards predictions of what is coming next in the realm of television and design.

“TV in the future will be any screen any location, holographic, 3D.” -- Jeremy Toeman

From Richard Bullwinkle, you’ll find out what the highest rated TV episode in history is, and hear about “a seminal moment in television for nerds.” Jeremy Toeman shares what the viewing habits of children can tell us about our future, and ponders the pros and cons of “binge viewing,” now that downloaded series are available.

During the highlights from the brainstorming workshop that follows the two presentations, you’ll see brief excerpts from the teams’ presentations as they approach design problems in the TV domain such as accommodating family viewing with different needs and customizing cable services to individual desires and habits.

For more on this Parlor event visit our Storify page here

Find Out:

  • The #1 device for watching Netflix (not what you’d expect)
  • Why over 90 percent of all TV viewers use a second screen while watching TV
  • The lifecycle of a TV
  • What we’ll be viewing shows on in 3 years

 

What is the Cooper Parlor?
The Cooper Parlor is a gathering of designers and design-minded people to exchange ideas around a specific topic. We aim to cultivate conversation that instigates, surprises, entertains, and most importantly, broadens our community’s collective knowledge and perspective about the potential for design.

 

Join us for the next Cooper Parlor - Thursday, November 14 for a workshop on how to design your professional relationships. More details and registration here.

 

During our October Parlor, a packed room enjoyed presentations by Richard Bullwinkle, Head of US Television Innovation at Samsung, and Jeremy Toeman, CEO of the startup Dijit Media. In this edited, hour-long video, you will be guided through trends in media consumption, technological advances, and the evolution of show content and format, towards predictions of what is coming next in [...]

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Television is dead. Or is it?

How the Internet, devices, and a new generation of viewers are redefining the “boob tube” of the future

Announcing the next Cooper Parlor: The Future of TV

When: Thursday, October 24th (Networking at 6, event starts at 6:30)
Moderated by: Richard Bullwinkle, Head of US Television Innovation at Samsung and Jeremy Toeman, CEO of the startup Dijit Media
Where: Cooper's Studio, 85 2nd Street, 8th Floor, San Francisco
Cost: $10
Tickets

Once, television was simple. Families gathered religiously around a glowing box to watch the latest episode of “I love Lucy”. Fast-forward to today: the Internet enables a multitude of new viewing devices, and wildly different viewing habits have turned “television” on its head. In this Cooper Parlor, Richard Bullwinkle, Head of US Television Innovation at Samsung and Jeremy Toeman, CEO of the startup Dijit Media will share some curious trends in media consumption, technological advances, and the evolution of show content and format. Then, they’ll lead a brainstorming session to rethink the “television of the future” together.

Here are just a few curious factoids we’ll explore:

  •  What is the #1 device for watching Netflix? The iPad? A laptop? It turns out it’s the Sony Playstation 3. Why do viewers flock to this device rather than the connected TV or an iPad?
  • Over 90% of all TV viewers use a second screen while watching TV.  How might this impact the way we design the television experience and programming?
  • Can you guess why 70% of connected TVs in the US actually get connected to the internet, but only 30% do in Europe?

Join us as we discuss where TV is headed, and generate new ideas for what television can be!

What is the Cooper Parlor?

The Cooper Parlor is a gathering of designers and design-minded people to exchange ideas around a specific topic. We aim to cultivate conversation that instigates, surprises, entertains, and most importantly, broadens our community’s collective knowledge and perspective about the potential for design

How the Internet, devices, and a new generation of viewers are redefining the “boob tube” of the futureAnnouncing the next Cooper Parlor: The Future of TVWhen: Thursday, October 24th (Networking at 6, event starts at 6:30) Moderated by: Richard Bullwinkle, Head of US Television Innovation at Samsung and Jeremy Toeman, CEO of the startup Dijit Media Where: Cooper's Studio, 85 [...]

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