Introducing Calm Tech

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When informations and alerts are too much invasive in every day life, leading to high cognitive loads. Having the right information at the right time in the right place is the key to be efficient and preserve stress free attitudes. Designing Calm Technology IOT devices are nowadays mandatory to integrate such logics at home, to stay comfortable.

In the 90’s Palo Alto Xerox research center has already anticipate a futur coming world where informations are too much invasive in every day’s life, leading and , as a consequence, and overattention triggering to properly , mindkindly, stay calm.

In a fundator article , Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown draw the evolution of technology and the ubuquity of informations, coming in every day’s life.

This trends seems to also going further and further thoses days, with smartphones, and even further in the next future, thenchology opening brains implants and biological compatible interfaces to human body.

Cognitive reseach and human perception understanding to the rescue of over triggering attention

Xerox stay a key reference Think Tank in Human Interface Design, and provided a lot of key materials for nowadays design principle for electronic devices or connected objects, to afford properly. These initiatives opens also a lot of research on this topic.

Calm Technology design principles

Some key principles and values has been extracted to better define a calm tech compliance. Accordingly to calmtech website :

  1. Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention
    1. Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak.
    2. Create ambient awareness through different senses.
    3. Communicate information without taking the wearer out of their environment or task.
  2. Technology should inform and create calm
    1. A person's primary task should not be computing, but being human.
    2. Give people what they need to solve their problem, and nothing more.
  3. Technology should make use of the periphery
    1. A calm technology will move easily from the periphery of our attention, to the center, and back.
    2. The periphery is informing without overburdening.
  4. Technology should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity
    1. Design for people first.
    2. Machines shouldn't act like humans.
    3. Humans shouldn't act like machines.
    4. Amplify the best part of each.
  5. Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak
    1. Does your product need to rely on voice, or can it use a different communication method?
    2. Consider how your technology communicates status.
  6. Technology should work even when it fails
    1. Think about what happens if your technology fails.
    2. Does it default to a usable state or does it break down completely?
  7. The right amount of technology is the minimum needed to solve the problem
    1. What is the minimum amount of technology needed to solve the problem?
    2. Slim the feature set down so that the product does what it needs to do and no more.
  8. Technology should respect social norms
    1. Technology takes time to introduce to humanity.
    2. What social norms exist that your technology might violate or cause stress on?
    3. Slowly introduce features so that people have time to get accustomed to the product.

Key References for digging into this area

The Design of Everyday Things (EAN / ISBN-13 : 9780465067107)

Case organic :