STLUX: UX Design for Emerging Technology

by Luke Wroblewski March 13, 2014

At STLUX2014 in St.Louis MO 2014, Erik Dahl outlined the considerations designers need to work with the barrage of emerging technologies we face. Here's my notes from his talk UX Design for Emerging Technology:

  • How do we humanize technology especially new, forward thinking emerging concepts like robotics, genomics, connected environments, etc.?
  • Robotics, for example, has made amazing progress in technology but it needs to be humanized by designers to fit into our world comfortably.
  • A sensor network can illuminate previously hidden information in environments.
  • Emerging technologies are not built on top of an established framework or infrastructure. You need to make things up as you go along.
  • What's the designer's role in emerging technologies?
  • Pace layering: things at the center evolve slowly (nature, culture, governance) things on the outside change quickly (commerce, fashion).
  • The cost to produce hardware and software is dropping, so more is being created each day. Humans can only process so much due to our pace layers.
  • This is our job as designers and developers: to manage complexity for people. Not dumb things down, but solve complication on the design and dev side so end users do not need to.
  • We have to let go of fetishizing the objects we create and focus instead on people's lives.
  • Designers need to work from a place of empathy to help people engage with new technologies.
  • We need to aspire toward becoming comprehensive designers that understand (or at least experiment) with art, engineering, business, and more
  • Constantly learn, extend yourself, and collaborate with other people.
  • Each new device should reduce the complexity of a system. We are currently not using a macro-scope to make sense of things and design.
  • Experiments need to have a vision. How are our experiments getting us closer to that vision?
  • How are we creating meaning in people's live through story? Start with the meaning you are trying to create and work backward to the story. We need to understand how to both listen to and tell stories.