Tag Archives: technology

Designing for and Teaching Accessibility

To raise awareness and provide specific examples of ways to incorporate principles of accessibility into professional practice and design education, Design Incubation and AIGA/New York is inviting a group of scholars, practitioners and industry leaders to discuss accessible digital design and its relevance to the New York design community.

A morning panel discussion will provide a venue for experts to share their knowledge and an optional afternoon workshop will promote understanding of basic accessibility issues, concepts and best practices.

At a minimum, criteria for success of a designed product, service or experience should be its usability by everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Since digital access is a Civil Right covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the question of usability and access are now as important to digital and interactive designers as to those who produce products and physical artifacts.

“Inclusive design” theory and practice are becoming the norm with companies increasingly expecting employees to know the common standards and specifications for accessible interfaces which are used by people with disabilities (and meet legally mandated ADA compliance standards). Unfortunately, even as progress has been made in industry, teaching digital accessibility is rarely part of design curriculum or undergraduate course work.

For more information, see http://aigany.org/event/designing-teaching-accessibility/

All are welcome, but this workshop will be most useful for designers and educators who are less familiar with best practices around accessible design and want to learn more about how to practice and/or teach inclusive digital access and interactive design/graphic design/visual communications.

Saturday, 14 April 2018
10:00-4:00 pm
General Assembly, New York City

9:45AM-10:00AM Attendee check-in

10:00AM-12:00PM Panel Discussion
Bo Campbell is an Interaction Designer and Accessibility Design Lead at IBM.

Elizabeth Guffey teaches art and design history at SUNY Purchase. She is author of several books, including Designing Disability: Symbols, Spaces and Society

Liz Jackson is the founder of the Inclusive Fashion & Design Collective, a disability design organization that is focused on increasing the impact of beautiful, functional products in our everyday lives and in the global economy.

Neil Ward is currently an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Drake University.

1:00PM-4:00PM Workshop (limited space)
Integrating Accessibility Workshop:
Inclusive Design Methodologies and Practice
Bo Campbell, Accessibility Design Lead for IBM, will conduct a workshop on accessible design while focusing on disability as a design challenge.


Bio Design Call for Exhibition

Book by William Myers

If you or someone in your network has a biodesign or bioart project they would like to present, please see the attached Open Call.
The deadline is 15 March and the exhibition opening will be at the end of August. Some funds are available for production.
Projects of biodesign and bioart are welcome, as are proposals for workshops, debates, or other programming to spur engagement.
Exhibition: Biodesign: From Inspiration to Integration
Venue: Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Dates: 24 August – 27 September, 2018
Please spread the word. The guidelines are available here.
We are also seeking a Curatorial Assistant to help develop the show, the paid post is described here.
By William Myers –  curator, writer, and teacher based in Amsterdam.


Beyond Change with Design

Beyond Change:
Questioning the role of design in times of global transformations
Swiss Design Network Summit
March 8–10, 2018
FHNW Academy of Art and Design Basel

With keynotes by Benjamin Bratton, Cheryl Buckley, Beatriz Colomina, Kenny Cupers, Kjetil Fallan und Ramia Mazé and Mia Charlene White, among many other speakers, and debating platforms by Decolonising Design Group, Depatriarchise Design, and Precarity Pilot.

Current discourse in design research, art, cultural studies, media studies, philosophy, and the social sciences is dominated by the much-debated concept of the “Anthropocene,” which claims that we are entering a new geological age determined primarily by the effects of human activity on the planet. It has been used to increase awareness of the negative influence of our actions on climate and the environment, and thus on the terms and conditions of our long-term survival. Against the backdrop of ongoing catastrophe and normalised crisis, the image of designers as problem-solvers and shapers of material-visual culture is constantly evoked. Designers are expected to come to the rescue and to draft speculative scenarios, construct artificial worlds, and develop smart solutions. In short: design is wielded as a catalyst for global change.

But isn’t this image of the designer as an omnipotent problem-solver itself problematic?

What if design is not the solution, but very much complicit in the problems it wants to solve?

At this point, we feel compelled to ask: How can design truly contribute to a more just society and sustainable forms of living without compromising bottom-up initiatives and marginalising the voices of those who are most directly affected?

Design cannot change anything before it changes itself. The conference “Beyond Change: Questioning the role of design in times of global transformation” is a critical response to the tendency of seeing global crisis first and foremost as a worldwide design competition.

How can we reimagine design as an unbounded, queer, and unfinished practice that approaches the world from within instead of claiming an elevated position?

How, for once, can we see design as a situated practice instead of turning it into the Global North’s escape and problem-solving strategy?

How can we think about one world without falling into planetary-scale thinking and the idea that resilience is our only hope?

Full Program: http://www.beyondchange.ch

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FIND THIS POST AT MY LINKEDIN (Designer Marcio Dupont)

10 Principles for Design in the age of AI

We’re on the cusp of a new era of design. Beyond the two-dimensional focus on graphics and the three-dimensional focus on products, we’re now in an era where designers are increasingly focusing on time and space, guided by technological advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and smart environments.

While great thinkers like Dieter Rams and George Nelson offered their own design principles in past eras, industrial designer Yves Béhar points out that there are no comparable manifestos or guidelines for designers working with AI, robotics, and connected technology today.

Lasst week, in a talk delivered at the inaugural A/D/O/ Design Festival in Brooklyn, Béhar presented his vision for what those guidelines should look like–in the form of 10 principles for design in the age of AI.

1. Design solves an important human problem.

What problem are you trying to solve with AI? Considering the multitude of “smart” products that are actually quite stupid, it’s a question worth asking.

“At CES there was a lot of mundane automation that is more part of what I would call gadgetry–versus automation that truly improves people’s lives or delivers considerable amounts of service or value,” Béhar says. “What is our intent in the world? For a company, for a product, for a service, I think it’s an important question to ask ourselves.”

He points to the smart crib he designed, called Snoo. The problem he was trying to solve was clear: The lack of sleep for parents with young children. It’s a problem that’s well-documented, both anecdotally and in research; Béhar would go so far to say it’s a national health issue (he’s also a parent himself, so he’s experienced the exhaustion of having a baby firsthand). The seriousness and specificity of this issue is what helped focus the design.

2. Design is context specific (it doesn’t follow historical cliches).

“If anyone has been at CES this year or seen reports, you’ve seen hundreds of little robots,” Béhar says. “They’re white, cutesy, with googly eyes; they’re there to entertain us and keep the dog company.”

But Béhar believes that the trend of anthropomorphizing robots is nothing more than a historical cliche–and should be avoided. “Why do we need to anthropomorphize these kinds of machines?” he asked. “Why do we need to replicate human interactions or emotions?”

Moving beyond these well-worn cultural cliches, to instead put context first, will be important for designers working on truly “smart” objects.

3. Design enhances human ability (without replacing the human).

Robots are coming for our jobs–right? Well, not if they’re designed to enhance our human abilities. This principle encourages designers to think about how products can thoughtfully augment people rather than replace them. “Can we design different services to complement humans and their lives instead of replicate them?” Béhar asks.

Béhar recently worked with the startup SuperFlex to design a supportive body suit that uses synthetic, electrical muscles to augment differing levels of mobility in elderly people, rather than replace their natural strength completely. Part of the London Design Museum exhibition New Old, the device looks a bit like a wetsuit and is meant to be worn underneath the user’s clothes (though Béhar thinks people will want to show it off).

It’s a prime example of how technology can be designed as a human aid. “By continuing to support movement I think we can make a big difference in people’s lives,” he says.

4. Good design works for everyone, everyday.

Béhar points out that not everyone in a household will necessarily love their new robotic housemates the way a tech-lover might; others may be less swayed by a newfangled gadget. “With home innovation, what’s typically happened is the person who installed it loves it, and everybody else in the home hates it.”

That’s the opposite of what a well-designed smart product should do. Béhar says he wants to design tech that isn’t just pleasing to one user, but is present and useful for everyone in a home. “Which means that technology can’t be something that’s hard to install, something that is hard to live with,” he says.

5. Good tech and design is discreet.

It should make your life easier, but it shouldn’t get in the way.

“We’ve adapted ourselves over thousands of years to receive information and act on that information,” Béhar explains. “If the wind starts coming from my right, if the temperature drops, I will naturally interpret that as the fact that there may be a storm coming, that there is a weather change. Why can’t we do that with products as well? Why can’t we create subtle signals that allow us to both be informed and control the environments that we’re in?”

Take August, a company that he cofounded, which designed a smart lock that opens your door when it senses you’re there so you don’t have to root around in your bag for your keys. It doesn’t require you to take out your phone, but instead causes your phone to vibrate and the lock to sound, indicating that the door has been successfully unlocked. “Those are what I call invisible interfaces, and continuing to look for this is really key,” he says.

Ultimately, great design means discreet design that doesn’t distract from more meaningful experiences: “You have to decide which [products] allow you to focus on other things that are maybe more important, or which ones take you away from interacting with the environment in a way that’s enriching.”

6. Good design is a platform that grows with needs and opportunities.

When you’re designing with AI, you’re designing a system that learns and grows, with functionality that may change over time thanks to software updates. Béhar says that with every single product he’s launched over the past eight years, he’s found he likes it even more six months to a year after it launched. Products are no longer immutable–they should be designed to allow room for development and change.

“Because things can be modified fairly easily, you improve on it,” he says.

7. Good design brings about products and services that build long-term relationships (but don’t create emotional dependency).

Building on principle number six, products should be designed for a much longer term use. Béhar describes a conceptual project he did in the late ’90s for SFMOMA. The museum asked him to design a prototype for the future of the shoe. He ended up designing a shoe that wasn’t based on seasons or styles, but that captured data about how you walk, your pronation, and any weight changes. Then, the manufacturer could replace your current set of shoes with ones designed specifically for your feet. The idea? A product should create loyalty by improving over time, sowing the seeds for a lifelong relationship with a user.

8. Good technology design learns and predicts human behavior.

As machine learning and AI slowly infiltrate our tech, products not only have the ability to learn–they can also predict human behavior in a way that better serves the user.

Béhar illustrates this idea with a social companion robot for the elderly, ElliQ, that he designed for Intuition Robots. It’s meant to help aging adults stay connected to the world when their cognitive functions are diminishing. Instead of waiting for a prompt from its elderly user, the robot proactively suggests personalized activities in order to keep the user engaged. It’s a prime example of how AI can improve a specific aspect of a person’s life based on their behavior.

9. Good design accelerates new ideas.

Béhar thinks that true innovation can be pushed forward faster in the hands of a great designer. For instance, take Ori, an MIT startup that’s designing urban micro apartments. The company’s solution to the housing crunch in cities is to use robotics to make smaller spaces “act” bigger, utilizing connected furniture that transforms a single-room apartment from a bedroom to a living room at the press of a button.

Ori, only conceived several years ago, is slated to hit the market this year–an example of a deeply futuristic (and perhaps potentially dystopian) idea that great design has pulled into reality very quickly.

10. Good design removes complexity from life.

To illustrate this final principle, Béhar showed a video of a rather primitive robot trying to feed a woman breakfast–and failing miserably. There are plenty of menial everyday tasks at which people are still much more adept than robots. But there are also tasks that computers are simply much better at, and these are the areas that designers should be focusing on. The question designers must ask: What is a mundane experience, and what is a meaningful one, and what role should AI play in either?

“I think in general you don’t want to replace behavior or human-led functionality,” Béhar says. Instead, AI can remove some of the pain points of life by reducing complexity and freeing up people’s cognitive space so they can focus on more important endeavors.

Ultimate, Béhar believes that the real question lies in how we imbue artificial intelligence with values. “That’s how I believe we make the world a little less dystopian and more utopian,” he says. But he also neglects to point out ways that design could serve as a buffer against AI’s dark side; when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella laid out his principles for designing AI responsibly in 2016, he cited transparency, accountability, and protection of privacy as critical components.

While Béhar believes that designers have a responsibility to build products morally, he also believes that a “self-correcting environment” will ultimately act as an ethical safety net–even in the case of Facebook and its fake news crisis. “Businesses are putting these algorithms out there, they are seeing what they do, like increasing traffic, and then they [are] realizing it’s not good if it’s all fake or has a nefarious impact on our lives,” he says. “I do think that there’s a self-correcting mechanism.”

But ultimately it is the role of designers in the age of AI to act as a bulwark against irresponsible, unethical use of technology. After all, the robots are here to stay.

Follow Yves Behar at LinkedIn
10 Principles For Design In The Age Of AI (Original article)

Is Generative Design killing Creativity?

Generative design is software that allows the designer to input goals and any specifications like materials, budget or manufacturing methods, the software then explores all possible solutions and gives the designer several designs to choose from.

This advanced technology is splitting people into two camps: The first camp feel that a computer cannot replace them, their skills are unique and specialised and not something that can be improved by a computer. The second camp disagrees. The people here feel that generative design makes us more efficient and even more creative. So, what camp are you in?

On 8 September 2017, we attended the Autodesk University South Africa event where generative design was a huge topic of conversation. And, back in May, we pinpointed generative design as one of the trends that’s leading advances in architecture. But, is generative design going to strip creativity away from us humans? We discuss how generative design is changing the role of the designer and whether that change is impacting creativity.

From creator to curator

A creator can be defined as a person or thing that brings something into existence. Whereas, a curator can be described as a keeper or guardian of something. If a designer is using a computer to select the best design option for them, they shift into more of a guardian role, overseeing the software that’s doing the creating and carefully selecting the final product. The designer is no longer a creator, but does that make them any less creative?

Earlier this year, Deezen published an article titled ‘Generative design software will give designers “superpowers”’. This is from a quote by Jeff Kowalski, the chief technology officer of Autodesk. He makes it clear that while generative design is a departure from the way we have traditionally done design, it’s not a threat to designers, instead it’s more like having superpowers.

And, in a way superpowers is an accurate word for what generative design can do for our creativity. Traditionally, an individual designer or small group of designers will come up with one solution based on a brief and, understandably, what they know, have experienced, their culture and upbringing. Whereas, a machine doesn’t have this kind of context, and can develop solutions based purely on the brief, free of environmental influencers.

The designer therefore becomes solely responsible for inputting the right requirements in answer to a brief, and then going through the various designs that the software has chosen and selecting the right one. This process may also help to redefine the problem and the requirements.

With the computer taking care of selecting a number of possible solutions, designers can channel their energy into ensuring that they understand the right requirements and that the right solution is selected. The designer has more responsibility – they are the overseer, the guardian and the keeper of the design. The computer may do the execution but the designers are the creative curators.

Bringing us closer to nature

Feroza Mobara, one of the BIM Specialists here at Baker Baynes, says generative design actually makes us more creative. Since the beginning of time human design has been full of straight, solid lines and geometric curves, which is unusual when you think about the shapes in nature – our original inspiration. Straight lines are certainly easier to design and make, which is perhaps why they make up most of our man made constructions. But, they are limiting, using more material and space than necessary, which is expensive and ineffective.

With 3D printing and additive design, we no longer need to be limited by straightness. In fact 3D printing favours this as it requires less material. As we covered earlier, human designers naturally design based on what they know. Whereas, generative design doesn’t have that context, which means it comes back with solutions that mimic nature’s curves, holes and lack of symmetry because it wants to give us the most functional yet lightweight solution available.

With this in mind, generative design is not killing our creativity, instead it’s exposing us to more creative solutions. We’re not going to be seeing just straight lines anymore but instead a whole range of new shapes specifically chosen because of their effectiveness rather than subjectivity.

Efficient creativity

Thabelo Netshivhungululu, the Head of BIM Services here at Baker Baynes, believes that generative design is the future because it’s a combination of human design and computer design: “AI can get to certain solutions quicker than a human mind can, so combine that with our insight and design capabilities then we can achieve better solutions faster”. Generative design offers greater design alternatives, easier design iterations, which will save time, money and ultimately boost creativity.

With generative design now featuring in several CAD programmes and Autodesk’s launch of its own generative design platform Dreamcatcher, this new trend is here to stay. So, will it be the death of creativity? We think not. It’s redefining the role of the designer into more of a curator role and widening our design options. Surely, this makes us more creative?

From http://bakerbaynes.com/architecture/generative-design-killing-creativity/