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Amber Case on calm technology

Why next gen devices should be as reliable and straightforward as washing machines

Amber Case explores how humans and technology interact, believing that technology can - and should - "amplify our humanness": that is, help us connect with each other in truly meaningful ways. Her insights help build devices that enable uninterrupted, human-to-human contact, such as tech that makes use of our peripheral attention - via sounds, touch, or light - which leaves us free to focus our attention on more meaningful things.

The researcher and entrepreneur shares her thoughts on what's next in the evolution of calm technology.

Calm Design is about making technology that's there when you need it, not when you don't.

It doesn't get in the way of your life, but seamlessly blends into it. We don't think twice about buying a washing machine or lawn mower. The next generation of technology needs to be as straightforward and as reliable as the long term devices we grew up with.

Technology that's used as a tool can allow for some amazing things to happen. Technology that's used primarily as a form of consumption can be addictive.

I think we can do and have genuinely meaningful exchanges online - think about the grandmother Skyping into Thanksgiving dinner from Hungary, or the people that meet their soulmates online. When landline telephone was first ... More

Do you see what I’m saying? The link between visual culture and empathy

Last month, it was revealed that emoji (picture messaging) is the fastest growing language in the UK, fuelled by the global adoption of smartphones and ... More

Empathy tech: solving problems through perspective

Lurking behind every technical product is a problem; a problem designers are attempting to solve through engineering. This fundamental principle has brought us everything from ... More

Intimate objects

When Durex launched their remote controlled vibrating device for couples in long distance relationships, the internet was amused. But they tapped into what designer and ... More

Plotting CityMapper’s global routes

I've long been an admirer of Citymapper's easy-to-use, stylish public transportation app for getting around London. Recently, the app seamlessly transitioned me from ... More

Mood-altering accessories

The wristband that can keep you calm - and get you going

In a bid to combat information overload, first came calm technology: smart, streamlined tech that limits notifications and interruptions. Think the Apple Watch (although some believe it's actually made things worse), or Kovert, the design house that makes unobtrusive wearables.

On top of eliminating external stimuli that might cause anxiety, we've now got tech that can physiologically change our mood. The recently launched Thync lets you do this using electrical stimulation by way of a headset. For something a bit less intrusive - and a little more discreet - there's doppel, a new wristband that uses your body's innate ability to synchronise with external beats to keep you calm or get your going.

We spoke to the team behind doppel about performance enhancing tech.

Tell us about the wristband.

Doppel harnesses your body’s natural response to rhythm similarly to upbeat or downbeat music​, b​ut it's a pulse you feel on your wrist rather than one you hear. It ​can be used to keep​ ​you going through a really long meeting​,​ ... More

An experimental crowd-sourced home

The pool of accumulated human knowledge continues to grow at an accelerated pace, but this knowledge is still for the most part proprietary and, for this reason, unavailable to most of the world’s population. Despite the rapid increase in overall production, efficiency, and the growing sophistication of machinery and life-saving solutions, millions still lack the means to sustain themselves and prosper.

The open source model - the practice of sharing software, designs and techniques under licenses that allow anyone to replicate, modify and redistribute the goods - could go a long way towards solving their most pressing needs.

Publicly available hardware designs and recipes for materials provides ... More

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