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mind expanding examples of objects with meta layers

IoT, voice, predictive search, contextual search and so on. In “the future”, lots will happen very differently. Part of that lot, are very simple and mundane interactions and tasks. These two videos help not only expand ones view of how these simple things will be carried out in ways that might still seem magical, but also provide proof of how imminent this magic is.

Here’s interacting with a knob that isn’t there, but the interaction with that non-present knob is physically there. Get it?

Build further on ordering coffee instantaneously from the coffee maker with “pre-emtive orders” and/or voice. “Buy more coffee”. Beep.

I can definitely dig that future.

The internet of things – industrial internet

The incredibly smart people of BERG hacked a washer and proves a great deal of areas where connectivity help. I mean, the “find repair people” part alone is worth a lot. Some time, after 2 years of really not thinking about it. Postponing rinse takes care of the “shit, sorry I can’t because I’m doing the washing” problem. There are probably not many products that do not benefit from connectivity.

I talked aobut this and that (which is what interesets me most) with a very technically oriented ex-colleague who shared a conversation with interaction designers of a more visual background and nature, and how that hinders the thinking around connected products. “What’s a couch gonna say to me?”. Nada, but tracking the use of it provides input to material choices and manufacturing (something that today is a part of the manufacturing process, but pehaps could be combined and outsourced to “natural use situations”) as well as feedback to healthcare industries benefiting from understanding our couch-potato-behavior.

Cloudwash: the connected washing machine from BERG on Vimeo.

The invisible impacts of paying a premium price or not

Amazon in Rugeley for the Financial Times Magazine

Photograph by Ben Roberts
From Portrait of Amazon Fullfilment Center, in FastCo Design

When I pay a bit extra for organically grown tomatoes, I know why. When I pay a bit extra for a pair of Nudie jeans, It feels right. When I buy a pair of Crockett and Jones, in 2 years I’m reminded of why.

Many premium prices are strategically and purposefully explained and charged with answers to questions of “why” and “for what”. Quite simply premium brands. The tomatoes are better for me, that feels comforting. The jeans say something about me, which I feel I need for some reason I probably can’t explain very well.

“When you buy something from an independent retailer, you might pay more than Amazon, but that extra bit is an investment,” Roberts explains. “When you pay it, you’re investing in the quality of not only your own life but the life of the community around you.”

– Ben Roberts

But premium prices (can) also do something for others. All businesses impact greater society and hence our purchase decisions. This portrait of an Amazon Fullfilment Center so vividly shows the backside, if you will, of everything that I love with Amazon.

It would feel so much better knowing that only robots were hurt, while paying the lovely low prices, enjoying the frictionless delivery and follow-up of the many books that I buy.

I admit that I feel a bit better when I’m reminded every month of the village and child that I support. But the thing is, of course, that we support (or not) individuals, communities and society in every purchase decision but it’s all invisible.

In a world of increasingly quick and rich feedback loops, personal data, interconnected systems, transparency and information accessibility – I’m waiting for better ways of reminding me of the invisible back-end of the products I buy. In context. Not by way of bi-yearly reports on worker conditions in developing countries and/or what’s happening to our farmers seen as we’ve never payed less, proportionately, for food than today.

I want a friggin connected dashboard on the tomato cans I buy. How’s the farm doing?