Design of Future Things


That's right - it's me and Don Norman in the picture! I can't describe how excited I was to have a picture taken with the man who influenced the field of HCI so much. He changed the way we think about the design of everyday things. I remember after reading the example of poorly designed doors that trap people, I can't go through a door now without thinking about how usable are the doors I'm going through. Is it clear that I should push or pull?

Today, at UofT, he talked about The Design of Future Things, which is based on his third book that's coming out this fall. The key point he made in the talk is that "intelligent" devices aren't intelligent, the intelligence is in the head of designers not in devices. Many modern automobiles are designed to be intelligent and try to take control from users such as the "keeping in lane" feature. These intelligent devices can operate in simple situations, but often fail or even cause serious damages when the situation gets complex or unexpected. Don points out what we need are things that make us smart. For example, a good recommender system that helps us to make great choices on buying new things. Design of future things should leverage natural signals, to let users interact with machines in an unobtrusive and natural way. Overall, the talk was a great food for thought session.

Our own Bill Buxton from Microsoft Research was also in the audience. David and I got a picture with him as well. Bill will be giving a talk on "Sketching and Experience Design" at TorCHI meeting next Monday.