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Designing the enchanted future

David Rose on the IoT’s impact on our relationship with technology.

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I recently sat down with David Rose, entrepreneur, instructor, and researcher at MIT Media Lab, and author of Enchanted Objects. Rose refers to everyday objects with embedded sensors and cloud connectivity as “enchanted objects.” These objects tap into one of our basic desires, which Rose identifies as omniscience, telepathy, safekeeping, immortality, teleportation, expression. (He created a poster identifying some of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices organized by the human desire each addresses.) While there is plenty of experimentation taking place in this space, the products that will thrive will add value to our lives by tapping into one or more of these desires.

When looking at technology and its implications, Rose starts by focusing on user needs. Read more…

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Solid 2015: submit your proposal

O'Reilly's Solid Conference, on IoT and the intersection between real and virtual, will return to San Francisco on June 23-25, 2015.

Last May, we engaged in something of an experiment when Joi Ito and I presented Solid, our conference about the intersection between software and the physical world. We drew the program as widely as possible and invited demos from a broad group of large and small companies, academic researchers, and artists. The crowd that came — more than 1,400 people — was similarly broad: a new interdisciplinary community that’s equally comfortable in the real and virtual worlds started to, well, solidify.

I’m delighted to announce that Solid is returning. The next Solid will take place on June 23-25, 2015, at Fort Mason in San Francisco. It’ll be bigger, with more space and a program spread across three days instead of two, but we’re taking care to maintain and nourish the spirit of the original event. That begins with our call for proposals, which opens today. Some of our best presentations in May came from community members we hadn’t yet met who blew away our program committee with intriguing proposals. We’re committed to discovering new luminaries and giving them a chance to speak to the community. If you’re working on interesting things, I hope you’ll submit a proposal.

We’re expecting a full house at this year’s event, so we’ve opened up ticket reservations today as well — you can reserve your ticket here, and we’ll hold your spot for seven days once registration opens early next year. Read more…

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The complexity of the IoT requires experience design solutions

Claire Rowland on interoperability, networks, and latency.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is challenging designers to rethink their craft. I recently sat down with Claire Rowland, independent designer and author of the forthcoming book Designing Connected Products to talk about the changing design landscape.

During our interview, Rowland brought up three points that resonated with me.

Interoperability and the Internet of Things

This is an IoT issue that affects everyone — engineers, designers, and consumers alike. Rowland recalled a fitting quote she’d once heard to describe the standards landscape: “Standards are like toothbrushes, everyone knows you need one, but nobody wants to use anybody else’s.”

Designers, like everyone else involved with the Internet of Things, will need equal amounts of patience and agility as the standards issue works itself out. Read more…

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How is UX for IoT different?

Even if you are familiar with embedded device and networking tech, you might not have considered the way it shapes UX.

Editor’s note: this is an excerpt from our forthcoming book Designing Connected Products; it is part of a free curated collection of chapters from the O’Reilly Design library — download a free copy of the Experience Design ebook here.

Designing for IoT comes with a bunch of challenges that will be new to designers accustomed to pure digital services. How tricky these challenges prove will depend on:

  • The maturity of the technology you’re working with
  • The context of use or expectations your users have of the system
  • The complexity of your service (e.g. how many devices the user has to interact with).

Below is a summary of the key differences between UX for IoT and UX for digital services. Some of these are a direct result of the technology of embedded devices and networking. But even if you are already familiar with embedded device and networking technology, you might not have considered the way it shapes the UX. Read more…

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Saul Griffith: build soft, not solid

Soft, or compliant, robots can be safer, lighter, more efficient, and easier to control.

As we get ready to launch the 2015 version of Solid, our conference about the intersection between software and the physical world, I’ve been revisiting some lessons from Solid 2014.

For instance, Saul Griffith, founder and principal scientist at Other Lab, advises that many machines would do well to skip solidity altogether. Soft, or compliant, robots can be safer, lighter, more efficient, and easier to control. In his work with compliant robots, Griffith has managed to substitute intelligent controls for mass—replacing atoms with bits.

Watch Griffith’s entire Solid 2014 talk below. If you’d like to be notified when the Solid 2015 call for proposals goes up and when tickets become available, be sure to sign up for the O’Reilly IoT+ newsletter.

For more videos from Solid 2014, visit our Solid YouTube playlist.

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From factory to data center: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Nate Oostendorp on manufacturing and the industrial Internet, and Tim O'Reilly and Rod Smith discuss emerging tech.

Editor’s note: you can subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunes,SoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

The Industrial Revolution had a profound effect on manufacturing — will the industrial Internet’s effect be as significant? In this podcast episode, Nate Oostendorp, co-founder and CTO of Sight Machine, says yes — where mechanization ruled the Industrial Revolution, data-driven automation will rule this next revolution:

“I think that when you think about manufacturing 20 years from now, the computer and the network is going to be much more fundamental. Your factories are going to look a lot more like data centers do, where there’s a much greater degree of automation that’s driven by the fact that you have good data feeds off of it. You have a lot of your administration of the factory that will be done remotely or in a back office. You don’t necessarily need to have engineers on a floor watching a machine in order to know what’s going on. I think fundamentally, the number of players in a factory will be much smaller. You’ll have much more technical expertise but a fewer number of people overall in a factory setting.”

According to Oostendorp, we’re already seeing the early effects today in an increased focus on quality and efficiency. Read more…

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