If we are to become superhumans – we need to emphasize our human ability – taking away restrictions  – focusing more on being humans than on operating on our devices.”

- Jody Medich, Director of Design XR Faculty at Singularity University

We touch our phones up to 2,600 times a day

The way we use technology today is very intense from a cognitive perspective. Every time we interact with our devices we are interrupting ourselves. It is a costly burden on humans since it disrupts our thought process. 2,600 times a day we touch our phone, sometimes only for a couple of seconds and sometimes for more than three minutes. We must train our devices to stop interrupting us. We need to create cognitive ergonomics to strengthen our abilities.


Cognitive Ergonomics

Cognitive ergonomics is a new area of ergonomics where we focus on providing a sustainable way of using our brains, without disturbances from the outside world. Some scientists say we need to start communicating with technology with our senses and body language, in order to eliminate the cognitive interruptions we experience today. By translating technology into our senses, we can amplify our human capabilities and teach technology to be human, whilst humans can spend less time monitoring technology.


Understanding behavior instead of  personas

Personas with segments in different age groups, civil status, work experience or similar will not help you understand how they will act in a specific context. Understanding different types of behavior is a much more accurate approach showing precisely how a person with certain attributes acts in a specific situation. This approach also opens up for understanding irrational behavior and what triggers a change of behavior in the same person.


We are killing our creativity

 Today we are killing our ability for deep creative thinking and solving complex tasks – something our brains are designed to do. We need to be able to communicate with technology and at the same time increase our own ability. We will see an increase of the precision in technology to help us translate the content in a much easier way. For instance, a navigator in a smart phone is nowhere near as effective as a navigator in the car glass with a more precise usage of data to show the way.


Today we often receive data from 2D screens. We then have to read this data and figure out how
to translate it into the real world (3D). This takes a lot of brain capacity, which hinder us to
do other things.


From 2D screens to 3D world

Michael Porter argues that due to the exponential amount of data available in the economy today – we need help accessing, processing and translating this amount of information into the real world. We need a bridge between the 2D world of information on our screens and the 3D world we live in - bridging the gaps between the digital and physical world. It takes a lot of cognitive distance to do this ourselves – which creates a lot of load on the brain and a lot of processing to figure out what the data on the screen mean for the real world. Lots of mental capacity gets soaked up in the process which makes it overwhelming when we have more and more powerful information available.


AR is one solution

The solution to this fundamental problem is among other technologies Augmented Reality – a technology that allows us to take real time digital information and the choices available and overlay them onto a humans view of the real physical world. AR can be used in all parts of a company’s value chain and can be applied on both customer interfaces and internal processes.

AR as the new interface enable precision and humans are able to use the senses instead of
interrupting the cognitive processes. It also helps us translate great amount of information and
apply it in the real (3D) world.

Designing for AI

Designers and engineers need to collaborate in future development of customer interfaces and design with AI. The designer needs to help the engineer understand what people need, how to design for needs knowing the constraints. Designers, on their hand, need to understand the potential of technologies – for instance, what kind of AI do we need to use? How do we cultivate a conversation around it? Designers are used to designing an on/off situation, whereas AI is more of a grey zone.


Ethics, business & design

The importance is to understand what AI holds, and the right balance between ethics and business. Will consumers accept e-commerce recommendations based on face recognition or is it enough with chatbots? Where do we draw the line between ethical aspects of integrity and business opportunities and design? Designers need to bring human ambiguity to the table and to be the voice of the consumer. They also need to point out what outcome we want from the data. What happens when your AI knows too much? How do people feel about the use of their data? It is a designer’s job to make sure that people know what is happening with their data, and the best way to make people feel comfortable.


Diversity is key

It is the designer’s role to foresee as many outcomes as possible. The group developing a new service or solution must be diverse to be able to see multiple outcomes. For example, today - hand tracking is trained on male hands - and leaves out women, colored people and all kinds of other human differences. It doesn’t match the real world with all its’ nuances.




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SXSW is one of the biggest digital conferences in the world, and a global meeting place for the world’s most innovative technology companies and people interested in how disruption can transform their business and everyday lives. The event takes place during during 10 days each year and this year Cartina had the chance to be part of it.

This series consists of 8 global mega trends that business leaders, experts, innovators and disruptors talked about during the days in Austin. If you want to read the full report, click the button above and we will email it to you.


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