'Calm Design' Recommended For Internet Of Things Experiences

When designing experiences for the Internet of Things, one expert says more is not always better.

That is the general idea behind the so-called ‘calm’ approach to technology and how it interacts with humans, according to Amber Case, fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

In a presentation yesterday at the annual FutureM conference in Boston, Case laid out eight core principles of ‘Calm Technology.’

Generally, Case’s perspective is that the landscape of technology-enabled capabilities within everyday life is not only over-saturated, but also unnecessary.

“The scarcest resource isn’t technology, it’s our attention,” Case said at the two-day marketing conference.

“In the beginning, we had many people to one device and now we have many devices to one person, and how that affects our attention is very intense and very difficult to handle.”

The solution is to focus on designing products and services that can exist in the periphery of consumers’ lives when not needed and only require attention and seamlessly come into the foreground when in use, according to Case.

Some current IoT offerings are not designed with the calm approach in mind and don’t provide consumers with enough value, compared to the attention they demand, according to Case.

“This technology isn’t smart; it’s just giving us incessant amounts of information,” she said.

Moving into the future, Case said that the role of technology should:

  • Require the smallest possible amount of attention
  • Inform and create calm environments
  • Make use of the periphery and not always remain in the center of attention
  • Amplify the best of technology and best of humanity
  • Communicate, but technology does not need to speak
  • Work even when it fails
  • Only use the minimum amount of technology needed to solve a problem
  • Respect social norms

On the agency side, Haydn Sweterlitsch, global chief creative officer at HackerAgency, says the agency utilizes the calm approach when designing brand experiences enabled by the Internet of Things.  (Sweterlitsch will be presenting at the OMMA Bots & Chats Conference at Advertising Week next Thursday.)


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