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Case Study
How might connected devices work together autonomously as a group to determine their social context, and provide people with seamless, natural, and multimodal ways to interact with them?
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Connected devices should work together like a team

An illustration of a tired woman controlling a space with a smart watch, with exercise equipment in the foreground

Right now, existing connected devices operate mostly independently from each other, and as such their capabilities and the interactions they facilitate with users are relatively limited. Even getting them to connect to each other can often be a pain.

A redacted sketch of a flow chart project deliverable

Tasked with exploring the deeper question of what might be possible if these individually ‘dumb’ devices worked together more seamlessly, Humanistic built off of Bill Buxton’s ideas on Ubiety; collections of devices that communicate with each other in the background to sense and anticipate human user’s needs.

Our designers and researchers led an exploration into how our technology partner might leverage their extensive portfolio of smart, connected devices to enable both practical ubiquitous computing and next generation multimodal interaction. Such a web of compatible connected devices could be utilized to enable intelligent personalized user experiences anywhere, any time, even when constrained by relatively little computing power.

A redacted sketch of charts, writing and connecting lines

Humanistic conducted a broad ethnographic study of people from various economic backgrounds, walks of life, and lifestyles in order to construct models of how they built connected device ecosystems around their lives.

Combined with these insights, our team also performed an extensive horizon scan of existing and emergent IoT products and platforms, following with a foresight study to gather and analyze those signals, trends, and forces shaping the ubiquitous computing landscape - not to mention the changing nature of relationships, home and work.

A redacted sketch of multiple charts and graphs

The result of this engagement was a detailed treatise on how to architect a device ecosystem which enables humans to interact with teams of connected devices seamlessly, as well as an entirely new interaction model which guides intelligent device behaviours, and enables natural ambient, spatialized user experiences with users.

"Humanistic is like our external brain. They operate like no designers I’ve ever met, producing groundbreaking research for us that has influenced strategy and technical roadmaps. Not only do they understand the business and design aspects of the challenge, but the actual science underneath, reviewing hundreds of peer-reviewed papers to understand the technical nuance in the space."

Chief Scientist, HCI Research Group, Confidential Client

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