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Connected home devices that work together as a team

Right now, today’s connected devices operate mostly independently from each other. 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. 

Tasked with exploring the deeper question of what might be possible if these individually ‘dumb’ devices actually worked together, 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.

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

I led our designers and researchers through 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. 

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. 

an illustration of a woman with a smart watch orchestrating her smart short-term rental
an illustration of a blind man using a smart ring to interact with the smart room
an illustration of a blind man using gestures to interact with smart appliances
a mockup of the strategic foresight deliverable book cover and another book open to an ethnographic insight
a mockup of the strategic foresight book open to an insights page
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a redacted concept sketch
a redacted page from the interaction guideline
a photograph of the interaction guideline book open to a page of devices on a marble countertop
a photo of the interaction guideline book open to an interaction page
a photo of two interaction guideline books on a marble countertop
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Our team took an exhaustive look at the market landscape, revealing a wealth of opportunities for ambient and ubiquitous computing usages of smart, connected devices. The market scan concluded with a selection of detailed speculative future scenarios, and provided our client with numerous IP (patentable) concepts and future product ideas to explore

Beyond the foresight, our team developed a comprehensive treatise on how to architect a device ecosystem which would enable humans to interact with teams of connected devices multi-modally, and seamlessly. The guideline included an entirely new interaction model which would guide intelligent device behaviours, and enable natural, ambient, and 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

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