Louisa Heinrich: design for people, not objects

Louisa Heinrich predict your home becoming a battle ground of connect objects, and has great ideas for superpowers in a bar. This is the internet of things - in the new normal.

WARNING: Liveblogging – prone to error and inaccuracy. Will be updated/improved over the next 48 hours.

I’ve noticed a trend. 18 years ago:

“I want a website!”
“He has one!”


“I want an app!”
“He has one!”

And now:

“I want to put the internet in that thing!”
“It’s in that thing!”

This was never a good idea.

Subsets of superpowers

Our phones should be giving us superpowers. To some degree they are. But do we need all of those superpowers with us all the time? Would we take all the objects a phone replaces with us on a Friday night out? No. There’s a reason ladies have different types of handbags. Could wearables start to give us just the bits we want?

When I’m in a bar on a Friday night I don’t need e-mail, I don’t need Twitter. I’m there, talking to my friends.

At the moment the quantified self thing is very tied up with benchmarks – with ways other people have decided we should live. Potentially, I could be wearing something that’s angry with me. I want to move from the quantified self to the clarified self, to make those decisions myself.

You also want to be in charge of your life at home. We have the Goodnight Lamp, and the Nest and the Roomba. And we start ascribing these things human quality. Most people call Siri “she”. But you get better results if you treat it as an algorithm, rather than a person. We trust these things, and we trust them to make our life better. We photograph them in pristine environments, yet life is much more messy than that.

The smart object war

We could end up with warring smart objects in your home. Your Nest wants the blinds down, to control the temperature, but the solar-powered dishwasher wants it up, for the energy. Who is going to moderate these fights? You? What a hell that will be… People won’t do it for the same reason that most video recorders had a flashing 00:00 for most of their lives.

Rosie the Robot was enough of a robot you didn’t have a hard time telling her to do unpleasant jobs, but clever enough to discipline children. She isn;t coming along any time soon. We should be aiming for something as smart as a puppy. But, again, who disciplines all these animals when we’re not at home?

Design for people. Love the shininess, but don’t get distracted by it. And make awesome shit.