I agree with Fast Company that this may in fact be the most amazing flashlight ever designed. If not, it certainly is the coolest way to build anticipation for something as simple as a flashlight.
This may be 'Earcandy', but the new Jawbone Prime mixes great acoustical engineering with fantastic industrial design. That's the way I like it!
I agree with Fast Company that this may in fact be the most amazing flashlight ever designed. If not, it certainly is the coolest way to build anticipation for something as simple as a flashlight.
I don't know about other women, but I have always been bothered by the merchandising of technology to and for women. Bling and bright packaging don't displace comfort and value in my hierarchy of needs. Despite the value some women may see in discovering a mirror on the back of the Pre, it certainly isn't the "why to buy" feature for me.
"There’s a raging debate among the digerati on diversity in technology and if women get fair representation when it comes to opportunity to speak at conferences and other tech events. When it comes to consumer electronics, I can say, women are a misunderstood and neglected community.
Designing and creating products for real women shouldn’t be so difficult. Real women want stylish products. They want products that are fashionable, competitively priced and easy to use. And marketing tricks such as MSI’s ‘boys catching a laptop with their butt‘ isn’t going to help send the right message." [Wired]
Last year, over at GigaOm, Stacey Higginbotham lamented, "I’m always insulted by the assumption that woman who care about the features (other than color) on their mobile phones or how much memory their hard drives have are geeks. Maybe they simply recognize — much the same way as those with a Y chromosome — that an electronic device has a job to do, and then educate themselves about what a device needs in order to do that job."
Although women are still spending less on gadgets then men do, we are increasingly using our 'influence' to affect our guy's purchasing. Women are involved in over 80% of the buying decisions according to research by the Consumer Electronics Association. So what does that mean for product designers and product marketers?
Women care about the same things men do in products they buy - quality, durability, performance, comfort, ease of use. And like men, women have different style tastes. Every guy isn't the white socks and birkenstocks type, and every mom doesn't wear tennis shoes. Good product design - design that appeals to men AND women - transcends style and color. Synergistic form and function rule across gender.
The bias of a product development organization to pile on the features is difficult for most organizations tasked with customer acquistion to resist. More, better, faster innovation is often what marketing teams beg for. But "what consumers want from the products and services they buy is fundamentally changing. We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect. These changes run so deep and wide, they're actually altering what we mean when we describe a product as 'high-quality.'
In other words, companies that focus on traditional measures of quality—fidelity, resolution, features—can become myopic and fail to address other, now essential attributes like convenience and shareability. And that means someone else can come along and drink their milk shake." [read full article from Robert Capps at Wired.com]
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."
Don't be afraid to show the way. All of your answers aren't hidden in the data and the research - data may just point you to where your customers think the solutions are. Where you take them after that point, the journey you create for them, is the experience that matters most. I want to be surprised, delighted, tempted, and amazed. The products I can't wait to use are products 10 years ago I never knew I needed. A digital video recorder, an iPod, my Kindle. These products all meet needs I have, but not in a way I could have imagined before.
How does a great product design emerge, when the need you try to solve for doesn't fall off the tip of your customer's tongue? Associative thinking, also known as design thinking and hybrid thinking, is the key to making connections between customer needs and great solutions. Creative ideas aren't inventions derived from nothingness. They are the result, more often than not, of the juxtaposition of process, technology, and human interaction. The best creative minds can embrace boundaries and feel empathy for the customer's capacity or interest to solve most problem themselves. Associative thinkers then use those "constraints" to envision the components of a new solution that connects what is possible to what the user needs.
All creative ideas, however do not make business sense. And many spectacularly original ideas have failed because of bad forecasting, poor market positioning or faulty pricing strategies. Technical visionaries who don't deliver business results may find they become authors of white papers or "distinguished engineers". Linear, logical thinkers can design products that evolve, but likely will not find themselves able to move or leap over the "big" boulder that stands between them and the Next Big Thing.
Revolutionary products come from non-sequential thinkers. What hasn't been done before likely has no data to prove it can or should be done. So the hybrid thinker has to be willing to take a sensible business risk, create a new conversation with a customer, and enable new experiences that customer never thought possible. How are they able to do that, you ask? From a platform of trust called The Brand. Customers will take the leap of faith with you if they believe your brand has their interests at heart.
Ideas come in all sizes. The thermos persists as one of the great inventions - it keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Brilliantly service coal miners and campers and commuters for decades. Was it a big idea in it's time? Is it innovation by today's standards?
We've also come to embrace innovation as the new "standard". Simple 'one click' purchasing is part of the expected experience for any online shopper who frequents an ecommerce site. Not re-entering your personal data is a convenience, and provides the benefit of a faster shopping experience. But combine one click purchasing and the app store on an iPhone, and it's unlike any experience on cell phone you saw before.
From Dev Patnaik's Innovation Blog
In a business culture that likes to talk up big innovations, we may be lacking appreciation for the beauty of the small idea. Outsized ambitions can set you up for failure in a big way when you spend most of your time rejecting your own thinking. No one bats a thousand at coming up with big, disruptive innovations, so you need to explore all your ideas to find the great ones. Not only that, most really big ideas often look small to start. In their book The Granularity of Growth, strategy theorists Patrick Viguerie, Sven Smit, and Mehrdad Baghai note that most billion-dollar business ideas look like $200 million ideas at the outset. Big growth happens when a lot of little things catch fire together.
[via openforum by Matthew E. May ]
We all know what our customers want. We’re confident that we understand the problem. We look at reams of marketing reports. We conduct the focus groups. We survey them. We have plenty of data. Guess what? It’s not enough. Data can only indicate facts.
If we fail to descend into the field and take the long walk in the customer’s boots, if we don’t bother to look over their shoulder while they struggle with the problem, and if we take the customer’s word at face value, we can’t legitimately call our design strategy “customer centric.” Rarely do customers know what they need. So rarely can they tell you. So rarely does a great innovation come from arms-length market research.
The solution? Learn to see. Live the customer’s life. Watch the problem in the context and environment within which it occurs. View it from every conceivable angle like a good artist does when attempting to “render the truth.” If you don’t, you’ll fail to properly frame the problem. You’ll fail to empathize with your customers. There goes deep understanding. There goes innovation with impact.
The phrase in Japanese is genchi genbutsu (gen-chee-gen-boot-soo): go and see. Fully grasp the situation. See for yourself. Then, and only then, define the problem and design the appropriate solution.
You have to play police detective and FBI profiler all at once. To do that, you need a deep dip in the customer or user experience. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but there are at least three ways to gain real insight into the problem. And in today’s marketplace, all three are necessary.
1. Observe—watch the customer. Designers at Whirlpool know that customers can’t always articulate the problem that needs solving, so they study their products as they’re used in the home. In a usability session involving a new refrigerator design, three separate cameras captured the difficulties in finding and replacing the water filter. Stop-action and slow-motion review of customer movement lead designers to the solution. Not only do Whirlpool designers watch and video-record the action in the kitchen, but they accompany technicians on service calls to gain insight into quality and dependability.
2. Infiltrate—become the customer. When Harley-Davidson sales dropped in the mid-1980s, CEO Vaughn Beals directed his senior management team to attend biker rallies and go on all the big Harley rides. Vice president of design Willie Davidson, grandson of the founder, saw that every Harley had been customized. He took the modification ideas and adapted them to future designs—sculpting gas tanks, chopping the chassis, adding chrome, and painting flames.
3. Collaborate—involve the customer. Intuit’s “Follow Me Home” program allows software designers to sit with the first-time user in his or her home or office. Designers learn what other programs reside on the person’s hard drive, how navigation between those various applications works or doesn’t work, and what paper and electronic sources of data the user pulls from to input into Intuit’s software. But they don’t stop there. They “co-create” and ask the user to essentially play designer. Incorporating many of the resulting customer ideas and configuration suggestions leads to the development of various targeted versions of financial software.
[via Gizmodo By Rosa Golijan] Let's take a five minute break from Food Week to watch this compilation of some incredible moments in the history of visual effects, from silent films to recent blockbusters. Oh, and pay attention to the background track. The tune's nice.
The movies included in this clip span over 100 years of cinema history:
* 1900 - The Enchanted Drawing
* 1903 - The Great Train Robbery
* 1923 - The Ten Commandments (Silent)
* 1927 - Sunrise
* 1933 - King Kong
* 1939 - The Wizard of Oz
* 1940 - The Thief of Baghdad
* 1954 - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
* 1956 - Forbidden Planet
* 1963 - Jason and the Argonauts
* 1964 - Mary Poppins
* 1977 - Star Wars
* 1982 - Tron
* 1985 - Back to the Future
* 1988 - Who Framed Roger Rabbit
* 1989 - The Abyss
* 1991 - Terminator 2: Judgment Day
* 1992 - The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
* 1993 - Jurassic Park
* 2004 - Spider-Man 2
* 2005 - King Kong
* 2006 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
* 2007 - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
* 2007 - The Golden Compass
* 2008 - The Spiderwick Chronicles
* 2008 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
[update: leslieg - I was very fortunate to have worked on two of these films, "The Abyss" and "Terminator 2". My first exposure to innovation born from design and technology intersecting. Awesome...]
Amazing how good stuff is enduring, eh? The Twitterverse continues to discover this clip and the inspiration it provides.
RT @Jason_Pollock: Visual Effects: 100 Years of Inspiration = http://bit.ly/VisualEffects
[Or, Don't Make Commitments You Can't Keep, Write Checks You Can't Cash - leslieg]
BY Steve McCallionThu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:04 AM
"I promise." It's a simple statement. One uttered by children trying to convince their parents that they will be good, by husband and wife on their wedding day (and every week on trash day). A promise builds a strong emotional connection between two people. They are simple words, but when spoken from the heart (and delivered on), they form the foundation for meaningful relationships--and consumer experiences.
Meaningful consumer experiences are based on a relationship between brands and people. By clearly promising something to people that is authentic and relevant, brands can increase the value of their products and services and connect on an emotional level.
Companies that deliver great consumer experiences understand the importance of a promise. Beyond a communication device, a good promise defines what a brand is willing to do for its customers and delivers on that through a series of artifacts. A good promise is simple and clear. It's relevant to people, but if it's only relevant it remains empty. As we wind down the age of overabundance, people are exhausted by empty promises. An effective promise must also be an authentic expression of the brand--something that a company cares deeply and passionately about. A promise built on relevancy and authenticity forms the foundation of a relationship built on trust. Today, people are looking for that. Read the full article here
Up until a year ago, innovation was the toast of the business world. Companies around the world were investing heavily in design, launching new products, and even building virtual retail stores in Second Life. Then the financial crisis erupted, destroying shareholder value, corporate budgets, and family income alike. In the wake of that disaster, it's entirely legitimate to wonder: is innovation relevant anymore? Read the full article here.
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There was the U2 iPod. And there was the $99 Leather Case. And then, my personal favorite, was the iPod Hi Fi. None of them barely remembered, though we all know about the battery fires and recalls.
Battery Exchange Program iBook G4 and PowerBook G4
Apple has determined that certain lithium-ion batteries containing cells manufactured by Sony Corporation of Japan pose a safety risk that may result in overheating under rare circumstances.
What makes great brands survive a hiccup or pratfall? It's how they recover. It takes a strong stomach and a commitment to disruption if a brand is to stand for innovation. A brand that takes the time to distinguish the essence of a good idea from a failed execution is more likely to survive the bumps. It's the entirety of the customer's journey with your brand that defines your true equities, create loyalty, and which can help you weather the occasional, but inevitable, product or service failure.
Anyone who thinks that minimalist or clean product design begins and ends with Jonathan Ive would be well served to check out the latest exhibit on Dieter Rams. Unfortunately, the exhibit in question was already held at the Suntory Museum in Osaka, Japan but the contents of the retrospective have also been catalogued in a book, Less and More...
I have always wanted to be an artist, writer or designer. With no graphical talent, I took up film because it gave me the opportunity to use existing visuals to tell a story. By framing, lighting, editing out a close up or adding in a slow pan, and juxtaposing imagery with music I could evoke emotion and create an "experience". The selection of a cinematographer, a costume designer, and art director was as important to the process as the words in the screenplay. How you embrace a simple declarative sentence like, "he entered the room" could be the difference between creating fear or relief for your audience.
There are many great lessons I have taken away from my first career in Hollywood as I work today at the intersection of consumer and techonology, but one of the best learnings I have had is that it's often the business people, the film's producers and studio executives, who have to be the most creative when it comes to solving problems or getting results.
In technology, the same holds true for product developers and engineers. Thinking creatively, may mean thinking "like a designer", and I agree with Garr Reynolds who believes this can lead to innovative solutions. Here are his ten tips for anyone in product management to remember about what contributes to great design.
(1) Embrace constraints. Constraints and limitations are wonderful allies and lead to enhanced creativity and ingenious solutions that without constrains never would have been discovered or created. In the words of T.S. Eliot, "Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl." There's no point complaining about constraints such as time, money, tools, etc. Your problem is what it is. How can you solve it given the resources and time that you have?
(2) Practice restraint. Any fool can be complicated and add more, it takes discipline of mind and strength of will to make the hard choices about what to include and what to exclude. The genius is often in what you omit or leave on the editing room floor.
(3) Adopt the beginner's mind. As the old saying goes, in the expert's mind there are few possibilities, but for one with the beginner's mind, the world is wide open. Designers understand the need to take risks, especially during early explorations of the problem. They are not afraid to break with convention. Good designers are open minded and comfortable with ambiguity early on in the process, this is how discoveries are made.
(4) Check your ego at the door. This is not about you, it's about them (your audience, customer, patient, student, etc.). Look at the problem from their point of view -- put yourself in their shoes. This is not easy, it takes great amounts of empathy. Get in touch with your empathetic side. Empathy — an under valued "soft skill," can be a great differentiator and is key for truly understanding a problem.
(5) Focus on the experience of the design. It's not the thing, it's the experience of the thing. This is related to #4 above: Put yourself in their shoes. How do people interact with your solution? Remember that much of design has an emotional component, sometimes this is even the largest component (though users may be unaware of this). Do not neglect the emotional aspect of your solutions.
(6) Become a master storyteller. Often it's not only the design — i.e., the solution to a problem — that is important, but the story of it. This is related to #5 above. What's the meaning of the solution? Practice illustrating the significance of solutions both verbally and visually. Start with the general, zoom in to the detail, pull out again to remind us of the theme or key concept, then zoom back in to illuminate more of the detail.
(7) Think communication not decoration. Design — even graphic design — is not about beautification. Design is not just about aesthetics, though aesthetics are important. More than anything, design is about solving problems or making the current situation a little better than before. Design is not art, though there is art in design.
(8) Obsess about ideas not tools. Tools are important and necessary, but they come and go as better tools come along. Obsess instead about ideas. Though most tools are ephemeral, some of your best tools are a simple pencil and sketch pad. These are often the most useful — especially in the early stages of thinking — because they are the most direct. Good advice is to go analog in the beginning with the simplest tools possible.
(9) Clarify your intention. Design is about choices and intentions, it is not accidental. Design is about process. The end user will usually not notice "the design of it." It may seem like it just works, assuming they think about it at all, but this ease-of-use (or ease-of-understanding) is not by accident, it's a result of your careful choices and decisions.
(10) Sharpen your vision & curiosity and learn from the lessons around you. Good designers are skilled at noticing and observing. They are able to see both the big picture and the details of the world around them. Humans are natural pattern seekers; be mindful of this skill in yourself and in others. Design is a "whole brain" process. You are creative, practical, rational, analytic, empathetic, and passionate. Foster these aptitudes.
(11) Learn all the "rules" and know when and why to break them. Over the centuries, those who came before us have established useful and necessary guidelines — these are often called rules or laws and it's important to know them.
More and more, I am finding myself attracted to books and articles and podcasts on simplicity. I was a huge fan of John Maeda's work at MIT, and his book "The Laws of Simplicity" is one I pick up and re-read when the clutter in my personal life gets too much to handle. I recently - and serendiptiously - received our neighbor's copy of Real Simple magazine, which I had never read before. And now I am magnetized by Matthew May's book, "In Pursuit of Elegance." Mr. May also recently posted an article to the MIT Sloan Management Review site entitled, "Elegance by Design, The Art of Less." In both works, he maintains that "Everything elegant is simple; not everything simple is elegant."
The idea is a powerful one, and it has at its essence the age-old design belief that less is more. White space is good. However, what I find most intriguing about the exploration of "elegance" versus "simplicity" is the notion that one can maximize the effect of many things by minimizing the means. Saying no is extremely difficult for innovators and business people. The attainment of righteous goals through any series of trade-offs incites fear in the most passionate manager. Saying no to something means actively leaving behind a good idea or a potential opportunity. In our world of plenty, Americans feel compelled to say yes, I want more. No one ever won having the least toys. So how could doing more with less ever feel fulfilling or satisfying?
Mr May writes: "For today’s manager, the key to understanding its relevance lies in realizing that value, for customers and employees alike, may best be added, paradoxically, through a primarily subtractive process. As Jim Collins wrote in 2003, 'A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit—to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort—that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company, or most important of all, a life.'"
Read on for more of his thought-provoking perspective, as well as the contributions of the great data visualization expert, Edward Tufte, and user experience guru, Don Norman. These guys are the trifecta of design thinking.
As we head into the Back to School shopping season, consumer electronics manufacturers gear up for the holiday with a preview of their best stuff to come. Here is the beginning of a list of the things I don't have yet, but may by December become objects of my desire.
Zeal's Confidant Bluetooth Sunglasses. The convergence of these two technologies seems a little much at first - why don't I just duct tape my headphone to the frames of my glasses? - but I have to admit for those gadget lovers that are prescription eyeglass wearers this seems like the ultimate gadget. For my eyeglass frames, I always choose the most premium polycarbonate lenses. However they don't always rest well on my ear when I place the bluetooth earpiece in its proper position. That makes me also love the fact the polarized technology Zeal uses in their progressive glasses is the same top-notch stuff high performance athletes demand. Seems like I don't have to sacrifice optics quality, comfort or convenience - with no tradeoffs I can like converged gadgets like these even more.
The Bose Soundlink Wireless USB Speaker streams audio from your computer (PC or Mac) with Bose sound quality and a Bose price tag. From the press release, the simplicity of the USB dongle should make set up take only a matter of minutes. Setting up the wireless adapter for my Tivo required it run on my wireless home network, and took a solid hour. The Soundlink sends a long range wireless signal directly to the speaker, which will be the key to making this a must-have purchase. I look forward to be able to stream audio directly to the rechargeable battery powered speaker - and not through a networked audio system - to enjoy a high quality audio signal on the back patio or upstairs porch.