Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino: designing the internet of things

The internet of things is just beginning - and it might not take the forms we expect. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino argues for "soft" design that reflects the way humans live their life

Warning: liveblogging. Prone to error, typos and odd sentence structure.

  • Big business has been investing in the internet of things
  • There’s also a healthy startup ecosystem
  • The conversation need to move through technology, data and then, finally design – the things themselves
  • This is the hard bit, but the interesting bit.
  • Screens on garbage bins are not the future – they’re not the place I’m looking
  • It’s probably not screen-dependent products, either. Objects that you need other devices to interact with.

Slow technology as an idea posits that we need to slow down and looks for moments of mental rest because technology is so pervasively around us. Her reaction? What a bunch of hippies. We don’t seem to want moments of mental rest, because we look at our phones and Facebook so often. So, ignore that bit and concentrate on the technology that’s around us. Nazbagtag was a connected rabbit that moved. It was launched in 2006, and was avery early example. She has her Good Night Lamp concept – house-shaped lamps that are networked, so that the master lamp going off or on, turns the smaller connected ones off or on too.

Molly was an idea from a London ad agency that gave you a sweet every time someone retweeted you. It didn’t get its funding.

Little Printer is a connected printer that fits into the home, and can push out reminders, to do lists or news.

#Flock is a Twitter linked cuckoo clock

Disney has a whole department devoted to things like this. Age compression is the problem of small children rapidly losing interest in physical toys when they discover devices like the iPhone. They need to repond to this.

What’s the problem with this? There’s no space for all of this in retail. In fact, retail is a broken model. John Lewis ran a competition looking for innovative ideas By innovative they meant pillows, shampoos or baby strollers. Online is no better. Amazon knows she likes romcoms – so suggests them. But it also suggests lab coats, after a one off order she made years ago.

Level39 is an incubator in Canary Wharf. There are a lot of banks in that area of London – but the development sons its own malls, so they can do whatever they want. That makes for a really interesting combination for post-retail…

Where does the internet of things exist on a spectrum between objects you really want and gadgets? We’re in a state of hysteresis – the condition wheer a system is dependent on both its current environment and the past. And that means we’re having to reboot manufacturing.

Unazukin is a Russian toy that will sometimes reply to you – and sometimes not. We’re going to get that a lot with the internet of things. Things are going to get more “soft” or fuzzy. These things will operate at times we don’t expect because life is like that. People come home from the pub at 3am and turn on lights.

These are probably not for technologists – but for ordinary people.

We’re at the wetting stage – where a liquid starts to maintain contact with a  solid surface. Large businesses – which were once small businesses – are learning to work with startups. Capital is key, but right now there’s not a lot of money for internet of things projects.