The public life of machines
Creative Social’s original homie Marc Cridge founded the brilliant agency glue (aka glue isobar) 20 years ago and has since moved on to design consultancy BERG – originators of the friendliest printer on earth: Little Printer.
“The best way to predict the future”, he begins, “is to make it.”
It’s our choice: the internet can either turn into this creepy, privacy-robbing instrument of control, or be something that genuinely enriches and enhances our lives. And if we’re honest, we want to believe that the latter is true.
Kickstarter is one of those platforms that give us hope. The fact that playful ideas like Pebble, a customisable e-paper watch, could amass $10,000,000 of funding is incredible. That would never have been possible before.
The reason for its success, Marc says, is that Pebble does just enough. It’s not particularly fancy, but considering you look at your watch an average of 150 times a day, adding a few simple social media apps like Pebble does can easily increase this to 250 times a day.
Similarly, the success of intelligent heating regulator Nest. It’s a thermostat you can control via its corresponding mobile app. You can ask it to turn off the heating completely at the weekends because you’re only in London Monday to Friday. Or you could ask it to turn at midday on Saturdays, because that’s the time you’d usually get up after a night out. And the best thing about it: it learns. It’ll simply end up making the right decisions.
“The things is”, Marc explains, “the app is only a ruse. They just made a much much better and more accurate thermostat, and made it cool by adding the app.”
But there comes a point where technology becomes gimmicky rather than actually being useful. Take Hue: it provides you with light bulbs connected to an app, so you can switch them on and off with your phone. Fair enough, you can also change the light’s hue (geddit?), but how often do you really need a certain kind of ‘hue’, rather than just plain old light?
Marc explains that redesigns of firmly established products (like the light switch) need to be 500x better than their originals. As opposed to the digital realm, where perhaps 2x as good as the original will suffice.
Because why use a bloody app to turn off the lights when you’ve got a perfectly good light switch right there?! And best of all you can’t mislay that light switch either.
Marc ends his fascinating talk on an introduction of BERG’s new platform BERG Cloud, the aim of which is ‘to do for dumb products in the home what Apple did for the mobile phone’. The first product to come out of it is the much-talked about Little Printer.
We can’t wait to see what’ll come out of BERG Cloud next.
A ma-HOO-sive THANKS to our partner Microsoft for curating this event with us, bringing in some truly inspirational speakers and providing us with such a beautiful venue. None of this would’ve have been possible without you. We’re looking forward to more awesome collaborations like this!
Big thanks also to Directory and the IPA for all their on-going support.
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