Enchanted Objects: Innovation, Design, and The Future of Technology

tags: tech

This is a book about making physical things…do stuff. In a digital world, we tend to think about tech in terms of bits and bytes, but there’s a bunch of physical things that are “smart” as well.

How do we move from smart things to “enchanted” things.

The author explains:

This book is about how to strategically design and develop products that are engaging and essential, that resonate with the latent needs of those who use them, and that create an emotional connection with us human beings.

The concept smells like the stuff from Harry Potter novels – things which seem to have a personality, beyond just being technical.

He begins by explaining three possible futures:

And he sets this all against “enchantment.” Objects that are just…sort of smart.

He says that we basically want six things:

  1. Omniscience
  2. Telepathy
  3. Safekeeping
  4. Immortality
  5. Teleportation
  6. Expression

And enchanted objects can offer seven abilities:

  1. Glanceability
  2. Gestureability
  3. Affordability
  4. Wearability
  5. Indestructibility
  6. Usability
  7. Loveability

The gist I got from the whole thing is that “enchanted” objects do very narrow things, very well. And they do them in such a way that they abandon the ability to do other things.

Example: an umbrella which is connected to the National Weather Service. If it’s raining or rain is coming, the handle glows blue so that you will notice it on the way out of the house and remember to take it. (A combination of “safekeeping,” “omniscience,” and “glanceability.”)

This umbrella can’t do anything else. It just does this one thing really, really well.

And that’s the essence of enchantment.

The book is targeted to designers, I think? And maybe product managers? People who come up with ideas for products for a living, and need a new perspective on what humans are looking for.

Not a bad book. Glad I read it.

Book Info

303
2014
David Rose

Here are some notes I took on the acquisition of this book:

Bought it on recommendation from Kyle Matthews while we were talking about “physical CMSs” at CMS Experts in San Francisco

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