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Product Futures

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DESIGN FICTION DESCRIPTION
Inspired by real user experience research on emerging technologies, the Radiant Feel patch product requirements yielded an imaginary form factor and use case for a product that senses and autonomously transmits feelings to a paired patch worn by a second person up to 3000 terrestrial miles away and 5000 miles in altitude. 
 
To get around considering medical concerns we imagined there are no electrical components, although we also imagined that users can store it in a crib when the wearer is receiving a massage or soaking in a hot tub or whatever. When "cribbed" the other user understands that the Patch is not being worn, acting as a sort of 'do not disturb' message. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

This "product" was presented in a Speculative Futures talk at Pecha Kucha Night, hosted by Creative Santa Fe on 11/2/2023. The visuals and IRL Quick Start Guide were written + designed with Dre Labre.

Beyond screenless, I am intrigued by hands-free tech interactions, perhaps detecting biofeedback. This accomodates all kinds of ergonomic and a11y possibilities while also pushing us to venture into other and new ways of knowing.

FUTURES RESEARCH
During UX data collection and synthesis, the researcher was unaware of the technologies behind this inspiration and not asked for alternate product ideas derived from foundational research, which is evergreen and applies across a broad landscape. Who knows what other product ideas could have been dreamed up.

Shimoshi Radiant Feel 

Several multi-method generative and formative user experience studies in the development of other, non-fictional, prospective products resulted in this one implausible but intriguing product idea.

Such user experience studies, and even Futures research, can result in an array of potential product lines, business strategies, and policies. Plus, these activities enhance a culture of experimentation. Still, the ROI of this human enhancement over time is hard to quantify. 

The goal is to inspire dialogue and imagination, which (I hope) is immeasurable. 

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
Sensors woven into any normal commercial fabric by any manufacturer and attached Bluetooth dongle facilitate control of phone features e.g., texts, calls, listening to podcasts or music.

Jacquard was embedded in the Google-Levis Trucker Jacket sold in Levis stores for $300+.

Swipe you
r cuff one way and a text is read to you. Another way and a streaming song is skipped. Or whatever you want the gestures to execute.


FUTURES RESEARCH
Having completed UX research that resulted in product recommendations from the user's perspective, the team might have investigated externalities: the product in the real world. This could have returned multiple use cases and the contexts in which they played out, which might have led to other product ventures.

This was more of a Proof of (technical) Concept project than a serious product introduction. M
arket longevity was less of a priority than quickly laying tracks for future corporate support.

GOOGLE  Project JACQUARD 

The technology embedded in this real product was developed at Google ATAP, and executed and marketed in partnership with Levis. 

Google employees were participants in the full range of user experience research.

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
Presence/gesture recognition creates a touchless interface on Google smartphones. 

Turns out that applying this technology to this use case overlaps with privacy issues if not handled with care. Responsible tech is developed in alignment with the needs and expectations of real life: users and their contexts.

Here's the final paper on this technology's application through Google ATAP in 
Nature

FUTURES RESEARCH
The UX research resulted in a report of user concepts and a taxonomy based on users' conceptualizations. From there the team might have generated full Use Case Scenarios, beyond abstract data.

These might have been combined with external Signals from secondary research to feed a Futures Wheel exercise laying out foreseeable Direct and Indirect Consequences of a product introduction. 

From this work, the team has a basis for generating more informed Future Scenarios, with user/product research informed by realistic projections of potential futures. From there, the team might have selected from among the probable, possible, and plausible futures the most preferred, or desirable, futures.

These categories offer the entire team a vision, mission, and actionable strategies to make those preferred futures happen. In the meantime, morphing external conditions might have made one of these preferred futures more plausible than the others, and the team could more quickly respond accordingly.

GOOGLE
PROJECT SOLI

End-to-end behavioral studies were done among Google employees.

This research generated detailed conceptual frameworks for radar-embedded mobile interfaces. 

This touchless gesture tech was introduced on the Google Pixel 4.

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
Samsung Milk Music was a music radio service that
 began life as an independently-funded startup. The app was intended exclusively for Samsung mobile devices. 

UX Research conducted post-v1 launch strongly indicated that the interface nor backend functionalities supported Samsung's business strategy. Making the necessary changes was deemed prohibitive and outside Samsung's practical business scope. 

Years later Samsung is still in the business of promoting audio content, especially music, on its mobile devices.


FUTURES RESEARCH

Having begun user research after the launch of v1, and given Samsung's business objectives, Futures Research was never in the cards. Music business innovation and corporate accountability were simply not the point. 

SAMSUNG
MILK MUSIC

Shimoshi NM conducted the exploratory to late-stage formative research on music enthusiasts'  fundamental values and resulting behaviors to deliver useful, usable, and delightful music experiences.

There was close alignment with product management and design teams to ensure excellent FTUE + forever happiness. /s

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PRODUCT DEFINITION
The PlayTable, later dubbed Surface, was intended as the first horizontal natural user interface. It was envisioned as a toy or game device to enable non-productivity activities and all the visual dazzle and interactivity that comes with them. 

This was in the early 2000s, when we all had CRT monitors on our desks and had never seen a smartphone. 

Bill Gates wanted to exhibit this at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to demonstrate the Microsoft operating system's ability to do more than run SQL databases. The inner technology was being invented at Microsoft Research and university labs. worldwide.

The prototype was a repurposed IKEA coffee table.

The use cases were fever dreams that went from Direct to Consumer, to Enterprise in Consumer settings. TV weather, election maps, and museum exhibits use this technology today.


FUTURES RESEARCH
Though the Generative UX Research was useful for later product definition, a Speculative Futures process first might have resulted in an R&D strategy that focused such research more productively.

As it was, the team was in stealth mode, operating under the auspices of a CEO initiative that determined the high-level product definition from the start - namely, that this would be a consumer product defined by a figure for whom retail price for cutting-edge electronics was no object. An 'act first and learn as we go' sort of Big Bet for which deep-pocketed corporations are renowned. Sometimes that enthusiasm works out.

 

MICROSOFT PIXELSENSE  [PLaytable]

This was the first multiphase consumer ethnography to investigate US home adoption of a Natural User Interface entertainment device.


Data collection was comprised of household and 1:1 interviews, semantic testing, user's mapping their home activity patterns, home tours, lab product demo sessions streamed to the team, and dense foam form factor evaluation.

Research Outcomes

  • Led to a business model and product pivot - a win for generative research​​

  • Software and hardware development requirements and use cases applicable to the pivot product

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