The Raft Podcast

Let’s fix things

Hosts Joe and Guus explore how the world of new technology and connected devices effects the customer experience of brands.

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Episode 47

Juicero, we hardly knew ye

In todays episodes, we skim the surface of design research, specifically ethnographic research. We discuss common problems we've seem, how to avoid these, and why a lot of design research fails to lead to quality insights. We focus on design research being a separate discipline from design itself and why 'immersion', or understanding an industry, is not the same as research itself.

Episode 46

Immersion is not research

In todays episodes, we skim the surface of design research, specifically ethnographic research. We discuss common problems we've seem, how to avoid these, and why a lot of design research fails to lead to quality insights. We focus on design research being a separate discipline from design itself and why "immersion", or understanding an industry, is not the same as research itself.

Episode 45

Only 20% matters anyway

In todays episode we explore the bespoke nature of design consulting and what design managers, teams, and consultancies can learn from larger business consultancies in how they approach programs, clients, and services. We cover a little in our approach at Raft and how we've built our culture of close client partnerships while streamlining programs.

Episode 44

New customer journeys with Amazon and Whole Foods

Guus and Joe look at how designers must start to analyze components, primitives, and utilize design research to create a vision for new customer journeys. The duo use the recent Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods as an example showcasing 3 steps for focus.

  1. Drivers of latent needs – use a customer journey as a foundation for design research to uncover latent needs and drivers for users.
  2. Develop a vision – leveraging trends from business, economics, technology, and more, designers must have a vision for where a product or service can go.
  3. Breaking down primitives – Break down products and services into primitives to understand the building blocks to be leveraged. Then use those to build new customer journeys and create new product offerings.

Episode 43

WWDC & services are the new hub

The guys return with a view on two of the critical announcements from WWDC. The AR Tookit and the Homepod. They discuss four critical points stemming from these announcements.

  1. All hardware is a commodity, Services are now the differentiator
  2. Designers need to think about reversing the paradigm of the hub and spoke device model
  3. The Service is now the hub and hardware is endpoints
  4. Designers should see Service Design as the design of the service and not the abstraction or pure coordination of the service.

Episode 42

We can be optimistic about the future too!

This week Paul Skinner, Creative Director at Tellart, joins the show to discuss designing experiences in the future based on global macro-trends. Paul gives his view on designing experiences for the future and shares perspectives from his work with the Government of Dubai. The group discuss design in the broader context of climate change, government policy, and challenge designers to creates events that can generate a positive future.

Episode 41

Designing for the Terms of Service

Guus and Joe discuss designers ability to construct effective arguments and how design should be embedded with discussions on regulation, terms of service, and policy. They go through how designing scenarios is not always what it appears and context matters more than people realize. They then break down topics from Facebook policies, to emojis, to Twitter on how context, point of view, and diversity make a huge difference in create successful outcomes.

Episode 40

How a new industry came together through IKEA TRÅDFRI

For two years Joe led the digital efforts on the IKEA TRÅDFRI Smart Lighting product recently released world-wide. Guus and Joe look at IKEA's new smart lighting product from the view of selling stories, difficult problems in connected devices, and technology shifts. The opening features a quick overview and thoughts on the new Microsoft Fluid Design System

IKEA TRÅDFRI - www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/3/27/15071562/ikea-tradfri-smart-lights-gateway-ethernet-cheap-dimmer-remote

Microsoft

Episode 39

Squeezing design into juice

After a short hiatus Guus and Joe return to discuss Juicero, a connected juicer recently in global news, giving perspectives from multiple design angles explaining why news headlines don't always do the company justice. The duo cover how the changing nature of design is reflected in the product, looking at the beautiful physical design followed by the slightly lackluster service and business design aspects.

Starting the show off, is a point / counterpoint session about the Twitter and Bloomberg partnership, explaining why it's a great experience design idea, but perhaps a lousy business idea.

Episode 38

We got what we wanted and we're still not happy

Dave Benach joins the podcast to discuss what happens when the worst ethics results in the best user experience. Using Uber as an example, the group explore what’s good for the user, good for the industry, and good for company cultures. They share insights on why designers should pay attention and address conversations on these topics.

Episode 37

Live from the ThingsCon Salon

Podcasting 'live' from the aftermath at the ThingsCon Salon in Amsterdam, Joe and Guus welcome Marcel Schouwenaar, one of the partners at The Incredible Machine. The trio discuss IoT ethics, persuasive design, utopian to dystopian futures, and the IoT community in Netherlands. They also look into autonomy in the connected world and how connected data is being used to make a better future.

https://www.the-incredible-machine.com/

Episode 36

Walking into the burning building of convenience

Hans Gerwitz again joins Joe and Guus on the podcast to dive into the philosophical side and fixation of designing for convenience. Through better usability, connectivity, and desirability, we are creating a world where people can't simply 'opt out'. They no longer need to leave their homes to socialize, work, or get food. Everything is a service, everything is delivered. The trio set out to discuss the implications of this on designers and society. What does this mean as designers if we aid this transformation toward the Matrix, and is it utopian or dystopian. Do we as designers have an ethical responsibility to let people know where they are going, and offer an opt out?

Episode 35

The Matrix was told from the wrong side

Guus returns from vacation and fights jetlag to stay awake. In the first half, the new (but retro) Nokia 3310 is discussed from marketing stunt, to company reliving glory days, to complete lack of ability to understand user behavior. The second half of the show focused around wearables and why people may be thinking about wearables completely wrong. Joe explains his theory on why wearables can lead us to the Matrix and why the Matrix was a story of convenience gone both right and wrong.

Episode 34

A conversation on design research (with Roberta Tassi)

Guus is on vacation. Joe leads a short supplement show talking to former colleague Roberta Tassi about design research. Tassi, a globally known Service Designer and Researcher, shares her thoughts on what makes a good design researcher and good research output.

Episode 33

We're still paranoid, but that’s ok (with Hans Gerwitz)

Hans Gerwitz, founder of the Artificial, an Amsterdam based boutique design consultancy, joins the show. With his background in technology and strategy he joins to re-discuss designers responsibility on user privacy and security when designing products.

This week has no news or follow up, instead heading immediately into the main topic. The trio reflect upon major company hacks over the last several years (Yahoo, Target, Sony), looking at the impact it made to users perception. They discuss how major companies can handle hacks much better than smaller companies who may not have the assets to survive the post-hacking storm. They discuss designers need to understand what information products are collecting, why, and how that is made clear the users. The discussion looks at how government regulation impacts how users may need to protect their privacy more, and what they can do to assist with that. Finally they discuss the idea of personalization of experience versus the information that is needed from users to make that happen.

Episode 32

Sharing stories from women in design

This week Joe and Guus are joined by Shannon Thomas (founder at the Artificial) and Lisa Anderson (UX Executive from Microsoft, RGA, Sears). The discussion is open ended sharing thoughts and stories on women in design and technology. The group look at different skills and styles between gender and industry as well as insights on hiring and coaching. The panel share personal experiences and reflect how the industry has grown over time.

Episode 31

Diversity stops designers from ruining things

Back in Amsterdam Guus and Joe kick off with wearables news. Right after they jump into the main topic of diversity in design consultancies. They discuss that having cultural diversity in an office, can help designers understand their own biases with user behavior, device usage, and living situations. Once designers can beginning to remove their own cultural biases, they can focus on tools and methods to help clients make their product stronger. They quickly touch on needing diversity in Design Research to skip over covering 'insights' that are embarrassingly basic and find what really improves clients products.

The duo also discuss the culture at Raft showcasing two key principles. First, clients know their users better, and second, never refer to a client as 'stupid' out of frustration. They end the show with covering cultural understanding on how design differs across countries, and highlights Guus and Joe learned in Singapore and Malaysia respectively.

Episode 30

Design is not always about the visuals

Guus and Joe return after a week or both being sick. Joe starts by sharing it's almost his last week in Malaysia and he'll soon be returning to Amsterdam. The pair discuss recent news including Nintendo Switch pricing, casual gamers, Swedish ambulances, Intel IoT retail design work, and the last of Verizon holding out on the Galaxy Note 7.

The main topic resolves around Joe's work in Malaysia. The past 3 months have been working as a designer purely in Excel developing Customer Journeys. Guus and Joe reflect on the strategic nature of Customers Journeys and their role in design. How development of proper customer journey work plays a role in feature decisions, strategic decisions, and development planning. While working in Excel for months may not appear to be 'designer' work , Joe explains it could easy by 6 months and it's one of the most critical traits designers can overlook. Planning how, and on what channels, customers will use your products. The very foundation of Service design - an important growing field in the field of design. Understanding this type of information should always come before touching a screen

Episode 29

Hello World - Trends we would like to see in 2017

Joined by a small live Skype audience, Joe and Guus open the first show of the new year recapping their Holiday adventures, and thanking listeners. Moving directly into the main topic, at the end of each year many design consultancies showcase their trends for the following year. Instead Guus and Joe look at Trends Raft would like to see in 2017. These are not predictions, but rather hopes based on the global trends we've observed at Raft in 2016. Stating from the position if our job as designers is to be aware of the status quo, and then work to raise it for customers, and society as a whole, Guus and Joe share their driving hopes for 2017.

The duo go through 2 of the 5 hopeful trends for 2017.

  • The decline of the phone - a look into new forms of user interface and how 2016 was a pivotal change over year for introducing different types of user interface and interaction into the consumer space at large.
  • Privacy returns home - As personal information, privacy, and security become larger global trending topics, the duo look at protecting personal information. They discuss how companies support and use privacy as a competitive advantage to build new services in the coming years.

The full report from Raft on hopeful trends for 2017 will be available for download soon.

Episode 28

Abandon your ethics, this is design!

Losing no time, Guus goes right into the new of Nintendo filing VR patents driving a discussing around the Nintendo Switch, responsive hardware, and why [to Joe] the Switch is a great piece of design, but may not sell well. Guus shares a story on a Japanese anime personal assistant. Joe breaks down the idea of a personal companion, separating out the objectification issues the anime personal assistant brings.

The main topic revolves around a stream of consciousness discussion on design in the role of reduction of jobs, reinforcing the separation of social classes, and not enough designers thinking globally. Guus and Joe review Amazon Go and it's role in both creating an amazing shopping experience around convenience, while potentially hurting economic growth. There is a subtle conversation on the role of Service Design in revealing all the players in a design situation and how to consider the design from all sides - from user, to business, to employee.

The ending sees the duo connect the conversation back with the last several months of podcasts, creating an accidental year end summary. The end of the show summarizes that design must elevate itself, thinking outside of UI, and take roles in much larger situations to bring service thinking across industries and to better improve the human condition and society as a whole.

Episode 27

India, privacy, and world culture - a designers paradox

Joe opens recounting his recent time in India. He reflect on meeting a 12 year old girl three year ago, who was the only person to speak English in her colony, and how it changed his life. Joe shares how his encounter changed the way he approaches travel, and understanding of design. The story then comes to present day when Joe returned to the village to find her and continue his discussion from three years ago.

This leads into a second part of privacy and what it means for designers. The users will give up privacy and embrace customization as long as it means they receive a benefit. At the same time they push back against monitoring. Guus and Joe look at what privacy means in different countries, and how practices like deep packet inspection can be positive and negative.

Guus shares his views on net neutrality while Joe challenges what that means as everything moves online. The two raise a critical question that if you allow monitoring in younger generations for such situations are safety and parental controls, does the grow into an older generation that not only doesn't mind, but may even embrace monitoring.

Episode 26

Privacy lessons for designers

This week Lets Fix Things comes from India and Amsterdam. Joe opens with follow up from last week, discussing the ethical implications of designers and services. The duo give a short reminder that 'user' experience often encompasses more than a single type of user in a service situation - and designers should learn more on service design and the role of multiple players in new businesses.

Guus drives the main topic discussing his attendance at Thingscon the previous week. He brings up a critical moment for designers in the discussion of privacy versus customization. Referencing a talk from Ame Elliot from Simply Secure, Guus looks at the idea that creating a great user experience, customized to user, may conflict with user privacy. The duo discuss designers roles in understanding the implications they have on creating an experience and being transparent with what privacy implications that has for users. Referencing a second talk from Michelle Thorne from Mozilla's Open IoT lab, they touch on security and designers roles in both areas are much more than many realize.

Episode 25

Regulators need designers

Week two from Malaysia and Amsterdam. Guus brings Cozmo to play, but has to power him down after one too many attempts to jump off the table. The duo follow up on Cozmo, and have a short review of why Silicon Valley may think they are inventing the future of the Smart Home, but developing countries are more poised to deliver on that promise.

The main topic revolves around regulatory government bodies across the world needing designers to assist in policy and decision making. The look at three of the biggest players and topics, Uber, Airbnb, and Drones. Joe and Guus break down that regulation being put in place may strive to slow potential abuse of new business models or technology, but they completely ignore why people love them much more than what currently exists. People aren't using Uber because it's just another taxi. It has trust of the proper fare, it's on demand to your doorstep, it's automatic billing, it's continuous adding of new features. Regulating bodies ignore these [qualitative] facts. This can hold back growth, potential job creation, or simply technological innovation. Yes, the boogeyman exists in new [or any] services and devices enabled by new technology, but not as much as governments may want you to think.

MIT energy measuring chip - http://phys.org/news/2016-11-power-onr-navy-curb-kilowatts.html

Episode 24

Malaysian smart homes & Robots ARE cute

This week the show goes on the road. After a week of downtime Guus and Joe return with Joe sitting in Malaysia while Guus holds down the office in Amsterdam. Joe opens apologizing for his air conditioning and moves into the news of the US presidential elections. Staying away from the political aspects Guus and Joe look at what Trumps investment in US infrastructure could mean for Smart Cities. The conversation then looks at what Joe has seen with connectivity and smart products in Malaysia. The group discuss the idea that while companies in Silicon Valley think they are delivering the home of the future, countries like China, Korea, and Malaysia may be better positioned as they are actively building their cities at the time of smart products beginning to come of age. Joe complains about the 14 light switches in his hotel room.

Moving to the main topic, Guus reflects on his first week playing with the Cozmo robot. The duo discuss it's SDK functions and dive into what this type of technology means for designers and how design will seriously change it's needs, skills, and approach in the next decade. They look at how these new types of functionalities like robots and AI embrace a new set of use cases from children to elderly. That new types of design and robots don't just bring new products, but meaningful products that can truly enrich users lives in ways impossible just 10 years ago.

Episode 23

Robots can be cute

Guus and Joe open on a rainy yet sunny day discussion follow up on Twitter and Vine - highlighting the usefulness of designers understanding business needs. The main news topic centers around Amazon Rapids, a new type of learning tool for children presented in the form of text messages. The two debate it's merits while discussing the need for new tools in the education space and how technology like this can make stories come alive and assist in education students at different levels.

Rolling into the main topic - a discussion on human robot interaction. After talking with Anki and Humatics in the last few weeks, the pair look at what type of interactions bring robots to life. Reviewing specifically the idea of motion can be a key aspect in robot human interaction. Robots should not always rely on faces to secure communicating their interactions and intentions, and can use a variety of hardware triggers and display triggers to create a comprehensive UI. The discussion looks at Cozmo, a small robot from Anki, and it's facial expressions, emotive sounds, and movement capabilities in how it works with communicating with people. The idea of supporting elderly or autistic children if briefly touched on as a key elements of what robots could do. They pivot to a project by a previous colleague, looking at how products (like a toaster) can make themselves addictive with certain human/robot interactions, supporting the Fight Club line 'the things you own end up owning you'. Lastly the pair look at a previous hack project Guus completed, called Wink, using the basics of animation movement in combination with response to sound to bring a simple camera to life.

Episode 22

The future of design talent (w/ Dave Benach of Spark Talent)

On this show, Dave Benach joins Guus and Joe. Dave runs Spark Talent, a scouting and recruitment agency. His team focuses on design talent, and Dave previously led recruiting at frog design. The trio discuss skills designers, especially students, should have entering the work force now, and in the next 5 years.

The group starts out recapping the Apple and Microsoft events from a design perspective, offering insights on Microsoft's unique interactions with the 'dial' device on Surface and what it could mean for physical and digital interaction. With Apple, the discussion turns to AI services and Apple being best positioned from a hardware POV and Service design POV to capture the market - although their service itself lacks muster.

The main topic looks at the discipline of digital design and how that has changed in the last 20-30 years. The discussion includes:

  • what students should be learning now to prepare them for a career in design
  • How school are educating future designers
  • What was important before, what is important now, what will be important in 5-10 years
  • Education of tools and methods - 'History is littered with the corpses of depreciated technologies.'
  • Execution in design becoming a commodity and design leveling itself up the organization
  • A framework for designer to find their interests and awareness on what makes them excited

Episode 21

Responsive hardware and making every space personal

Opening with news of the IoT DDOS attack, they discuss the need for security in IoT, and why designers should pay attention to how devices are set up. They discuss the new Kodak phone (nee camera) engaging in a short discussion that the entire premise appears backward facing.

Note: We recommend watching the Nintendo Switch video: First Look at Nintendo Switch - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5uik5fgIaI

In the main topic, Joe and Guus use the Nintendo switch to talk about a number of design trend topics. Starting with responsive hardware design, they look at modularisation of both HW and SW and how products should transform to fit different scenarios and contexts. Using the smart home as a proxy, they look at the idea that home spaces in the future should adapt and conform to users activities. Flipping to the opposite, designers should think about how the home, or the concept of home, travels with people and outside spaces to create a personal sense of home. People are beginning to make public spaces personal - think of someone sitting at a café, with their computer, books, and phone all on the table. In this trend, devices that travel with us should be able to turn public spaces into personal spaces. How do public spaces enable that type of transformation - areas like libraries, planes, trains, cafes, or parks… and much newer, self driving cars that provide a service.

The pair close with exciting ideas around the important of responsive products and how spaces can better enable personalisation.

Kodak phone - http://www.theverge.com/2016/10/20/13333632/kodak-phone-ektra-bullitt

Episode 20

Lessons from industrial design with Lily Kolle

Guus and Joe welcome their first guest, Lily Kolle, a fellow designer at Raft, to talk about he transition from the world of Industrial Design to screen based UI and UX design. Lily breaks down the idea that Industrial design, interface design, and other design verticals were mistakenly separated and need to be thought of as a whole. She moves back and fourth from design history and design principles to the application of industrial design lessons, such as sketching, and how that applies to current UI design.

Joe and Guus open the show with follow up on adventures in VR as Guus shares his current interactions with the PlayStation VR headset. Joe discusses VR and Facebook, and they both review the Amazon music service recently announced. Joe sets aside his desire to talk in depth about the Samsung purchase of Viv and how it leaves other phone makers out in the cold with lacking smart AI integration.

5 Lessons from Industrial Design for UXers - https://medium.com/@lilykolle/5-lessons-from-industrial-design-for-uxers-98b2da8d6271#.jkwfwh2uo

Episode 19

It's not Google IO

We have a new introduction! Guus orders a PlayStation VR. The duo discuss VR being used in industries that often appear less tech savvy suck as industrial tiles and banking. The group then breaks down the 'Made by Google' event. The discuss the strategic implications of Google home, it's service aspects, Googles revenue streams and how Google Home would be more powerful and terrifying if it knows all your search history and works across all Google devices. Joe gets angry at the Google pixel color names. Guus then moves to VR, discussing a variety of user cases and design aspects.

The discussion ends on the idea that design language have become more complex, including:

  • VR - on screen / in VR, gesture
  • AR - real world overlays and gesture, combination of physical device language
  • Voice - tone, personality, commands, natural language
  • Bot - tone, personality, commands, natural language, visual indications of interaction
  • Hardware - materials, textures, finish, color
  • Software - visual and interaction on screen language

The conclusion is a number of topics to follow up on in the future for designing against a growing set of design complexities.

Episode 18

The reintroduction of specification

Joe tackles why making connected devices from precious metals is always a bad idea before follow up. Guus and Joe review more on bots and discuss what would make a good retail bot, and how designers should think of handling bot design. They discuss Google Allo and it's current disappointment of bot integration. Guus get distracted with robots that assist the lonely. Joe discussed why everyone can copy snapchat but it still won't make a difference. Joe gets to finally announce exciting news that over the past years he worked on the IKEA Smart Lighting that was just released in several pilot markets.

The main topic tackles the trend of company taking more services and wearables on their own, forgoing service providers of bundled ecosystems. Utilizing the internet for mass distribution, companies are aiming to control their content and ecosystems to gain a stronger hold on their brand, revenue, and margin.

Guus and Joe discuss 3 potential outcomes of this trend of distribution and specification

  • 1. Payment aggregators (but not content aggregators - see: Apple store)
  • 2. A reverse back into standard service providers (see: Smart Home argument)
  • 3. More fighting over brands to build up companies niche products in users minds - since users will purchase less and be specific about what they need

They conclude with the take away that users should either buy from a single brand or a service provider to ensure their technology works with each other. However since that won't happen, companies should design their technology, HW, and SW considering an ecosystem of broader products and services side-by-side with theirs.

Episode 17

Easy to learn, hard to master

Starting with discussing the crumbling of project Ara, the modular phone from Google, the discussion starts with Nexpaq - a company working on a modular cell phone case with the same project lead from Ara.

News of the week looks at Twitter continuing to flail as it finds its spot among recent social media giants. Joe suggests it's relevance as a news application and its ability be a real-time source of information around the world. The bigger news centers around Spectacles. Snapchats new physical wearable to capture life moments raw and unfiltered.

The main topic centers around Guus leading a discussion on voice and conversational UI, and top considerations for designers including:

  • Onboarding - how do you teach new types of UI to users
  • Recall - how do you assist users remember commands. What is the equivalent of shortcuts and file menus in voice
  • Discovery - is it possible for users to discover content with no screen based UI

Episode 16

Her is coming

Fresh back from vacation Joe and Guus hold a longer discussion on recent Apple events. This includes a breakdown between Apple and Amazon within their voice services for controlling connected devices. Joe goes over follow up from the last show looking at banking companies advertising 'smart' home features to assist in home sales and the idea of smart homes assisting the elderly. Guus reviews his updates on the Raft 'aio' bot, which is being created to control the Raft office including devices and simple tasks.

Joe discusses why removing the headphone jack in the new iPhone is fine, and a smart business move for Apple. This leads into the main topic of Apple and Amazon voice services. The discussion looks at four areas of comparison (Coverage, Commands, Clarity, Access) to assess how each company is progressing in handling control of connected devices and how each company is currently positioned in the question to reach the 'Her' event horizon.

Episode 15

Service providers will eat the Smart Home, part 3

The conclusion of the three part episode, Guus and Joe look at how service providers solve current Smart Home pain points. Through bundling and re-selling of services, they can increase distribution, which drives down cost. They can bundle multiple products, which gives a single point of billing. They can create differentiation through how they sell services and what product they provide, and finally, they can provide a platform that unifies technology. They conclude their case expressing that while we don't necessarily want service providers to handle our homes, it's needed to get the best of a broad set of products that truly facilitates better living situations. They draw examples from current service provider services and especially from cable TV bundling.

Joe ends on a rant explaining companies must sell these Smart Home bundled services with stories. While they are products, it is the complete scenario and story that sells a set of products and services and will bring it into people lives. Companies must always strive to express the problem they are solving, why they are relevant, and how they fit into users lives.

Episode 14

Service providers will eat the Smart Home, part 2

Guus and Joe continue their deep dive into service providers and the Smart Home by looking at the current problems with mass adoption. These center around 3 distinct areas.

  • High price - With connectivity parts included, the price of connected hardware is understandably increased from the non-connected counterpart. In addition, the hardware is priced higher to assist in offsetting the price of the companion software, which often generates no, or minimal, revenue.
  • Technology incompatibility - Multiple protocols and systems means interoperability issues that are difficult or impossible to solve.
  • Lack of a service model - Most current Smart Home products lack a compelling service model that continually generates revenue over time.

All of these issues, it is argued, can be solved with service provider intervention. Guus brings up a critical issue that while other services such as internet, cell service, or water are commodities that are indistinguishable, the Smart Home can be a unique service per provider that can drive differentiation, much like Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music.

The show ends when they are accidentally interrupted by an Amazon Echo in their room.

Episode 13

Service providers will eat the Smart Home, part 1

Guus and Joe do a deep dive on how service providers will save the Smart Home through bundled delivery of products and services.

Part one explores the importance of the Smart Home - currently seen as more of a novelty interest for geeks, the importance of the Smart Home goes far beyond novelty and can provide real functionality to improve users lives. Most marketing that is done for the Smart Home is done for devices that offer little improvement and are costly, thus causing a decrease in interest. They are often high priced, and take a slightly advanced amount of technological competence to install. Guus and Joe set fourth a set of compelling reasons why the Smart Home is critical as part of city migration, smaller living quarters, children, elderly, and living in developing markets.

The opening of the show briefly takes a tangent with weekly news into sympathetic robots and self driving cars that have drivers.

Episode 12

Here we go again on Echo and Philips

Guus opens with a position of bot script writer from booking.com while Joe recaps his comedic conversation with an AT&T sales rep he could only assume was a bot.

Joe finally got his Echo set up and decides to hijack half the show discussing topics from content discovery, and dealing with remembering voice commands, to hilarious situations from having friends use it.

'Alexa, why are you stupid'
'I'm sorry, I'm still learning'
'ohhhhhh, now I feel bad… ohhhh… why does it say that??'

Guus and Joe go over again why screens are still important and brush over the topic that voice, bot, and language commands are changing the way designers need to think about system UI.

They finally get to the main topic of discussing the Philips healthcare wearables release which got sidetracked from the previous week. They go over a few other wrist wearables discussing impacts for insurance companies, dealing with multiple wearables, and if they are actually useful.

Episode 11

Designers should speak two languages

Guus and Joe get Amazon Echo's and proceed to derail the show ignoring their main topic in favor of discussing how voice and natural language UI will change the way designers will need to design. They discuss how different languages have different grammar structures and why that makes a difference in voice commands. The more designers understand language the better they will do designing for voice controls, and tackling different voice platforms.

They then try to introduce Philips new line of personal wearables, but end up in the topics of driverless cars and the insurance industry.

Episode 10

Disney, privacy, and having fun spending money

Guus and Joe start the conversation discussing their recent trips to the US. Guus got Amazon Echo devices for both of them, although Joe has yet to hook it up since he lacks an adaptor. After 2 weeks there is a lot of news topics to discuss, and the pair go down the rabit hole on conversations around privacy, security, and what the Disney Magic Band experience is like. Joe brings up an article on Jeep's being hacked, Osram security holes and what IoT and the Smart Home means for criminals having deeper access into your homes. Guus talks about a device he made to steal Mac users keychain files. Joe gets excited discussing Disney World, the Magic Band experience, and why messaging is so important. The team goes over the idea that 10 years ago if you told people you get devices that track your every movement, purchase, and meal, consumers would have revolted. However now it's common place with phones, wearables, and Magic Band in particular.

Customers will trade privacy for convenience and companies stand to gain a lot from the data they can collect. From sales, service models, logistics, and advertising, data collection is still big business. The pair then discuss and brainstorm service and data methods of connected coffee machines and how even something of seemingly marginal value can provide unique value to companies.

Episode 9

Brainstorming and creating a better connected device UX

Starting with updates from last week Joe and Guus open by revisiting Pokemon Go and Amsterdam planning to roll out free wifi. The main topic revolves around 3 methods used at Raft to brainstorm on interaction with connected devices. Guus and Joe discuss how we use these options to open up ideas on how companies may find unique and stronger ways of users interacting with their devices as well as how companies can find seeds of potential business models.

  1. User interacting with the device (through a middleware such as an application)
  2. The device interacting with a service or company
  3. The user interacting directly with the device through it’s HW
    Guus brings up the idea of “Aura UI”, which is using sensor to interact with the device from close distances, which sat somewhere between the first and third method. Joe reviews examples from each section and discusses how they can be used to brainstorm.

Joe briefly gets distracted on companies taking an application first strategy with IoT, expressing that companies need to look at a multi-platform and multi-channel strategy. There is also more discussion on Apple Home and OS level integration of 3rd party aggregate apps

More on these topics will arrive next week as the discussion will continue on using these topics to brainstorm and assist companies in better IoT and Smart Home experiences.

Episode 8

The Kobayashi Maru and ethics of connected devices

This week Guus and Joe ramble and discuss Pokemon Go more than they should, looking at how consumers will trade off privacy and security for convenience and fun - although should companies encourage this trade off, or assist in protecting consumer privacy? Joe discusses the first Tesla automatic driver death and the challenge of devices that make life and death decisions. Linking the ethical challenge of connected devices to the Kobayashi Maru - a concept introduced in Star Trek which placed star fleet officers in unwinnable situations to understand how they react under stress.

The conversations then bounced between connected devices and wearables, and their often lackluster security. Guus looks at potential issues with data from wearables being used by insurance companies to exploit and incent users, while Joe argues that people will continue over time to give up data as long as they get a personally beneficial return. The duo look high level and who is responsible when data leaks or is used against consumers, and if everything is forgiven if companies are up front in explaining their technology is new and problems may occur, especially providing a 'user at your own risk'.

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Episode 7

Will your kids pay for connectivity?

Looking forward 10 years, Joe and Guus discuss how and why paying for connectivity, both users and devices, may change.

Guus and Joe then look at how connectivity will change over time. Spurred by a conversation with the VP of Cognizent's Digital Transformation team, the show discusses if connectivity will be free in the future, and if so, at what cost. It covers new rollouts of LoRa and IoT infrastructure, as well as new 4G and 5G infrastructure becoming more privatized and how that may impact the user experience.

Joe talks about time in Helsinki with 4G and MiFi devices - Guus argues for Net Neutrality while Joe debates it's potential decline as a positive - Joe talks about advertising propping up free connectivity as a business model and what that would look like for the user experience - Guus presents the idea that free connectivity would mean giving up privacy or security - Guus wants more privacy as we're going towards less and less - Joe rants on current free connectivity spots and their poor quality and information collection.

Episode 6

Bundling services in IoT

In this shorter segment, Joe and Guus quickly look at what it would mean for IoT services to be bundled and sold by larger brands. Larger companies are developing all encompassing platforms while smaller start-ups are pushing out more specific or niche products. Connected products currently have problems that are limiting mass adoption, which include:

  • Technology components are out of date before the device should be replaced
  • Hardware price is high due to not subsidy or service model
  • Set-up can be difficult and confusing
  • Most products lack a service model beyond selling cloud storage

Guus discusses the Apple store allowing for companies to handle subscription based pricing, while Joe opines that subscriptions for individual services will leave a feeling of disconnection and give users more chances to stop a service. IoT and connected device companies should look into a bundling service where HW prices can be offset by recurring service revenue and that a set of products together, with a replacement program can be more successful in leading to mass connected device and home adoption.

Episode 5

How connected devices help and hurt brands

Dedicated to how brands can capitalize on connected devices and becoming more connected brands. Joe starts off discussing Kintsugi, the idea of repairing broken ceramics with gold to make the new product more valuable applies to IoT. Guus and Joe debate about progressive enhancement versus graceful degradation.

The conversation then looks at how connected devices bring companies more touchpoints and data that can be used to build customer loyalty. At the same time with companies offering middleware services, brands can find themselves in a white label situation if they aren't careful. The large players like Google and Amazon push smaller services through a non-visual interface. Even smaller products like Nuimo, Knocki, and Flic provide controllers that push services to not be seen by users. Joe discusses what brands can do to help avoid or capitalize on being a white label. Guus questions if companies can accept or should care if their brand name is marginalized if they are getting more revenue. The discussion then turns to the merit of audio branding as a new form of visual design that customers can associate with a company even if they can not see a service - for example with voice services.

Episode 4

Only when it's real, do you understand why it's bad

This week, Guus and Joe talk about building connected tables, and why connected furniture as we’re seeing it might not be the best idea. Also an involved discussion about why building prototypes is so important to find out how products connect to user behavior.

  • Joe starts at the top ranting further about Siri and WWDC. The discussion looks at Apples drive to incorporate Siri into current devices, which offers limitations while at home.
  • Guus and Joe briefly look at Amazon and Google offering their solutions to connected home automation and better natural language processing – and why those may be stronger in-home devices.
  • Guus talks about building a connected table with particle.io photon micro-controller and an accelerometer. These components allow the table to record tapping or knocking and control devices around it – including playing mysic and turning on the lights
  • Guus talks about signal filtering, why it’s useful, hooking up the table to our resident bot (aio) to handle natural language commands, and why companies should look more into middle services for user needs - ’The state of messaging’
  • Joe and Guus discuss why the table, and connected furniture that has activation purposes is a bad ideas and why builders need to understand user behavior or risk ending up on the Internet of sh*t.
  • Take a look at our connected on our instagram
  • Guus discusses functions that could be useful based on context and how that might work.
  • A short discussion ensues about a 1984 future where sensors can tack productivity and desk time

Episode 3

People can’t wait to not use your app

Joe and Guus discuss customer journeys for connected devices, why apps are not the answer, and what building bots has taught us in the IoT space. Guus discussed building a bot named aio. Joe shares thoughts around companies losing direct touch points with customers due to 3rd party tools and what a customer journey could look like for a connect device. Looking at moving from the previous 3 screen (laptop, tablet, mobile) and 5 screen (+TV, watch) strategies to a no-screen strategy with voice, chat, and sensors as the main UI users may interact with.

Episode 2

Reacting to WWDC and Apple Home

Following on the heals of WWDC, Apple announced Apple Home and Siri in the SDK. Joe and Guus explore the UI aspects of the Apple Home app and what we’d like to see in a UI from a smart home application – hint, it’s not an application. We discuss the need for portability of information within a hub, and if an Apple TV is the best hub available. What is means to be trapped in a closed system, and the frustration the Siri isn’t a single brain across devices. We also discuss why OS level integration is the real winning UI of the current phone application and how this may set Apple up to control their own ecosystem better than other 3rd party aggregation applications.

Episode 1

Everything isn't alright

Raft’s inaugural podcast, exploring the question that if we have the right technology, why can’t companies create meaningful and useful IoT products in the consumer space.

We believe everything should be magical – that devices and technology should fade into the background and everything should just work. For anyone who is an early adopter of IoT consumer technology, they are painfully aware this is not the case. We discuss what it means to have a magical experience, such as the small details of Chromecast, or the broad details of the Disney Magic band.

We then break down several reasons why even well meaning companies, create friction in their products. These include:

  • Proprietary technology
  • Too many technology choices
  • The belief that everything needs an application
  • Abandoned products
  • Unsustainability technology in long term usage products
  • Lack of meaningful solutions
  • Factorial and exponential complexity of connected devices