Technology should be more human September 24, 2010Posted by Cameron Shelley in : STV202 , trackback
At a TEDx event in Berlin, graduate student Fabian Hemmert presents a brief synopsis on how cell phones can be made better by dynamically changing their physical characteristics. For example, a cell phone could change its center of mass in order to indicate which way you should go while providing you with navigation directions. Also, a cell phone could change shape or become more animate, that is, a phone could have a “heart beat” that speeds up when an important call comes in.
These ideas are intriguing and worth exploration. And they raise interesting questions. When, I wonder, is it a good idea to make a device more animate, more like an animal than an inert blob? People do seem to like human voices emanating from their GPS navigation programs, provided that the right kind of voice is produced. However, people I’ve asked say that would dislike a GPS navigation system in the form of a robotic teddy bear that turns its head and gestures while giving directions (among other things).
So, what degree and kind of animation or humanness is appropriate in a given design? Are there any general principles? I would suggest, for starters, that a design should not give the impression that it is more intelligent than it is. GPS navigation systems, for example, give an exaggerated impression of confidence that their driving directions will work (and so must be followed). As a result, drivers may follow directions that they should not.
Perhaps we could look at the issue in another way: What sort of gear that you own would you like to see more animal or human-like? Why?