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design themes in 2017

Trends, living conditions and innovations inspire designers to reflect and potentially reconsider what the job is about. Hereafter comes a compilation of themes to address and act upon, looking back at the year ending and looking forward to 2017. As always bound, being an amplifier for our clients, with hope for exciting opportunities and challenges to support:

  • Human interaction — Since the beginning of the machine age men have been forced into unnatural, sometimes dangerous interactions. Recent advances in cognitive technology and artificial reasoning may improve the level and quality of men-machine interaction. In terms of the user experience, the benefit of machine reasoning or learning is really to bring the dialog on a level suitable for most humans.

  • Social patterns — Probably the biggest challenge for machine based cognition is to understand social behaviour. Social is the way beings build trust, negotiate and become part of a community. As there will be increasingly artificial reasoning, social behaviour will deliver the patterns for autonomous machines to communicate, to reach their objectives and to get along in a human society. Social will become the ground for all reasoning beings to interact, including artificial ones.

  • Almost twins — The value of Virtual Reality won’t be about being more real than reality. A „digital twin“ may be identical for defined functions, acting as a part of the internet of things, but not as slavish twin in every recognisable aspect. The value will rather come linking imaginary objects with captured or modelled ones. The design challenge is to increase cognition to unknown territory, to provide connected enlightening insights. It’s not a race to make virtual worlds „real“, but to provide insights so far unimagined.

  • Who owns the dialogue — There’re a growing number of Smart environments, like interiors of cars and homes, defined by cognitive technology and machine reasoning. And there are embedded and mobile interfaces, using text, visual and/or audio, claiming conversation with habitants and passengers. Users will become annoyed if these systems only support in a repetitive way and don’t learn to suppress known/obvious interactions. In addition the question arises what entity will own which conversation and what entity will consolidate/maintain the resulting info base? Potentially in a way, so infos might be shareable to comparable environments like rental cars and hotels.

  • Machine worlds — Automation and digitalisation will stimulate virtual worlds for machines. Mostly following the rules of the real world, these worlds are build either to develop, to test, to certify or to provide digital services. Autonomous cars will drive millions of kilometres in virtual before getting into the real, same for drones and mobile robots. Signaling for traffic control will happen in virtual as will the currency flows necessary to make these worlds a business. Planning, monitoring and control of production flows already happens in virtual. As design is intended for humans, why care about virtual (black box) worlds for machine? Because men will need to enter, to verify, to maintain and to enhance these worlds.

  • Coding stories — 3D animated movies are, next to entertainment and marketing, used in product development to understand the implication of innovations in usage scenarios and to get an impression of the resulting user experience. So far modelling and animation are based on pre-defined storylines resulting in fixed movie flows and viewpoints. Turning things around, per-modelled worlds will be build, incorporating 360 and viewer interactions. Storylines will be coded for these worlds, either for conventional movie consumption or providing the consumer freedom to interact.

  • Digital shield — Following the old design rule that you can’t replicate the same experience in other systems, advances in technology will go along with exciting new experiences. One of these advances are guiding systems or digital shields. For instance humans will be free to enjoy experiences without being forced in armour or fixed by a belt in a specific position. Which is a foundation for autonomous systems, and the same time humanising experiences. Men does not have to look or act like machine, but can enjoy experiences, protected by machine, as a human. Developments will likely start with a modest appeal to „don’t let me look stupid“.

  • Semantic depth — For designers, composers and directors to deal with data results of simple analytics and reasoning won’t be sufficient. To develop and produce stories for men, a semantic structure is paramount and the foundation for future formats like for example in education. Next to relationships, semantic meta data can be used to calculate and use semantic depth, means assurance that there’s enough depth for story telling. In addition semantic depth is a criteria for the value of data, also something which needs more emphasis talking about gathering, tagging, licensing and so forth.

  • Creative support — Creating innovative products and reviving business models require creative tools as well for internal productivity. To support innovate functions specifically and to keep an organisation lean is crucial for developments and time to market. In addition tools with a quality equivalent of consumer UX are increasingly important to stay in focus, to inspire staff and keep satisfaction high. These adaptive systems and methods for the innovation flow in companies are a task for design as well.

2017/01/02 by Eberhard Frank

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