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Case Study
August
 
2018
What if our devices could be proactive? How might users interact with a fully autonomous future mobile OS, and its post-app software ecosystem?
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Flip today’s mobile OS paradigm on its head

An illustration of a woman sitting in an airport on her phone, with abstract slices of time behind her.

Imagine that your smartphone could proactively guide you through a busy day, like an intelligent personal assistant in a sci-fi movie. Such a system would need a very well considered user experience, as well as a model of secure data capture where an immense amount of personal information could be used privately to generate predictive insights for users — all without ever leaving the device.

A redacted sketch of notes and illustrations

Humanistic was approached by a large smartphone manufacturer to solve an app integration problem in their OS, and ended up proposing a new vision for how a modern mobile operating system could work. Our work helped inform approaches to interaction design, user experience, data collection and on-device computation for future market-ready versions of their popular mobile OS.

A redacted page of notes, interfaces and connective lines

To get there, our designers led a number of workshops to uncover and separate what was actually possible versus science fiction, enumerate the array of different sensor or data inputs which could be fused to make assumptions about a user’s context, and discover opportunities for where we could push the envelope with local on-device processing. Armed with these insights, various models of human behaviour, our team began to piece together a vision for how a mobile OS could automate a person’s life while keeping the human in the loop and in control.

A redacted image of interface elements lined up in rows

The final output of the project and the prototype was a huge success. So much so that aspects of the project have been integrated into subsequent generations of their mobile OS as banner features — part of a long-term strategy to help users offload some of the finicky interactions that have plagued mobile computing.

"It was lovely working with the team at Humanistic. With such a complex domain area, it wasn’t always clear on how to proceed forward. Matt & Shawn found a way to connect the dots for us and find the signal hidden in the noise. They have quite a unique understanding of technology and user experience, I look forward to working with them again soon."

SM
Senior Scientist, HCI Research Group, Confidential Client

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