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Friday, November 01, 2013

Do women want more than pink?

Samsung is continuing to build awareness for wearables at the long tail of media, the Swedish speaking newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet. Circulation of about 45.000 per day.

Samsung Gear women


This spread appeared in the Saturday paper. I decided to conduct a family focus group. At the moment, there were 5 women, at nearly 9, two girls at 12, one 16 and one 43. The discussion was lively and vivid. They basically all hated it. The nearly 9 year old nailed it. Pink is Hello Kitty and Hello Kitty is uncool. Everyone laughed very hard.

I would love what other women think. I think there is more to designing for women than making stuff pink. Please let me know. 

11:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Designing Language - With Om's article The Intimate Computing era is here.

Who invents words, concepts describing things that do not exist or just taking form? It has been argued that Shakespeare alone added 2000 words to the English language. Late in my career at Fjord I had an insight about design. I realized that a very high form of design is to design language. There is a great passage at the end of Stephen Fry's talk at Apple about language invention, but not anything in his wonderful BBC documentary about language. Perhaps a challenge for you Stephen.

In my view the best language designers are journalists. They are observing the world as it unfolds, they are forced to act as translators between the inventors and the general public. They lack the creative freedom of Authors, who has lots of room to share their concepts. Journalist are trapped in short form and tight deadlines, the essentials of innovation. Innovation is an escape in a constrained situation. Journalist are forced simplifying for the benefit of their readers. Eventually some of these concepts end up in the common language.

A word and concept being crafted at the moment is Intimate Computing. My dear friend Om Malik pondered what one should call the next paradigm in computing. The moment when the computer meets the physical body full of curves and personality. Personal Computer has been used. As these computers will have skin contact, they will have sensors, they will driven by the individuals and their tastes, Intimate Computing sounded plausible.

So as a master designer of language, Om introduced this concept to the world in an article he knew would be widely read, 'At the intersection of fashion and technology, is retail chief Angela Ahrendts Apple's next CEO?' with a title like that his readership is wide accross both fashion and technology. Deep in the article he masterfully introduces his new design concept 'The rise of intimate computing... he explains what it is. I get a bit of credit, but the important thing we have a new concept of reference.

I am incredibly pleased as I now lean on Om and explain to others that this is the next paradigm in computing is Intimate Computing, why I think it will be huge, what I am doing to help it take shape. 

In the paradigm shift to Intimate Computing, wearables go mainstream, eventually displaying the phone, because the phone as we know it become a pad. In this paradigm shift I predict one category of wearables is going to be truly transformative and that is social jewelry. It is the category where the utility of communication meets the vanity of jewelry and fashion. This is what I would like to perfect the operating system and wearable experience we at Koru are designing. It is a long journey of transformation, dispuption and creation. It is a journey where we will meet luck and serendipity. I cannot imagine anything more exciting to work on.

What makes Language design so much complicated than other forms of design, is that we humans speak different languages, and important concepts need to be localised.

Few weeks ago I was doing an interview in Swedish national radio and we talked about wearables, and I said that they will be 'klädbara datorer', the journalist looked at me and said no. It is a conceptual translation, dolls are klädbara. So what should we call them I asked. I suggested this is your job to invent, if not I will have to stick to my word 'Klädbara'. It is not perfect word, but it fits well in the mouth and the word computer could be left out. In Finnish this is already happening, there we are already seeing Puettavat tietokoneet as the expression in media. Remember the car was called Motor Car at some point, Recent favorite of me was the battle between Pad and Tablet. Pad fits better in the mouth and this is something Apple knew. They are, I think the only company that I think deliberately designs language. Love to hear from you if you are designing language.

When working on something as fundamental as a paradigm shift, one needs to start at the fundamentals; language. One piece done: ‘Intimate Computing’ – Thank you Om.

 

10:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wearables pioneer Polar goes casual with Loop

I have to say I love that Polar decided to go into armbands with Loop. They are the pioneer of wearable sports instruments, respected, broad distribution globally. With its agressive price point and neutral styling I think it will win over many Polar fans and get them to wear it daily. The name is casual, gone are the geeky 'RCX5' type names, gone is the watch formfactor. Here is a great detailed review with picture. The fact that it is a 24/7 wearable is significant, making it watertight is key. 

Polar_loop-580x397
Polar loop


Technically Loop is not huge leap compared to the Fuelband, but I do not see that prohibiting sales. 

Its conversational experience of suggesting what to do, could set off a trend towards the soulmate, the device that knows more about you than you know yourself. The gadget that talks to you, because it cares about you.

I have been a fan of Nike Fuelband from the day it was launched and seeing Polar taking inspiration of it, just confirms the potential of the category. Armbands will be the main formfactor of wearables as they complement watches rather than tries to substitute them.

I can't wait to test one; Polar Loop welcome to the market, let the industry commence.

 

01:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Activity trackers need to evolve to experiences to avoid becoming applications.

Wearable activity tracker market got a new twist with the launch of Apple iPhone 5s featuring the M7 Motion sensing coprocessor. This sensor processing unit enables the main processor to sleep, while sophisticated motion detection can take place. This could be likened to a Graphics Processing Unit, which fuels the gaming experiences on modern mobiles. Similarly a sensor processing unit could be fuel a new health and wellness experiences. Apple’s M7 processor takes the phone one step closer to a SoulMate, the device that knows more about yourself then you do yourself, and when connected to the cloud it could become an augmented nervous system, helping us to live healthier and happier.

Two Finnish startups are going down the app only route, Moves being the pioneer and Fjuul following suit. Their accuracy and utility should be dramatically boosted by  the M7 sensor processing unit. The app route has many advantages, which the data shows, more than  2BN steps tracked daily, Moves is possibly tracking more daily steps than Fitbit, making it the leader in the field. Daily steps tracked seems like a good metric in this category. Another good one will be number of activities recorded. Here a long-time favourite one of mine Heia Heia is tracking about 450 activities, although doing it manually, where users put in the value. Imagine if Heia Heia would do their own app leveraging the M7and get the community to help correct the algorithms. Detecting the difference between walking and walking with the dog is not a trivial mathematical task, and for users this is relevant as walking with the dog is the 5th most done form of human motion, if we are to believe the Heia Heia community, representing about 5% of Finns.

 Where will this leave the wearable activity trackers?

 They have three routes: The jewelry route, the experience route and some combination.

The jewelry route was pioneered by Jawbone Up and the Experience route by Nike Fuelband. During the past 18 months most players have followed in the footsteps of Jawbone Up becoming or trying to become jewelry like. This is their only conceptual advantage compared to an app only solution. 

The Nike Fuelband is different because it offers an experience. It is rudimentary, but being able with a click check your daily progress and see in an animation how far you are from your goal is still a bit magical. I have been missing it, since my Fuelband decided to die a sudden death in the summer.

I was really looking forward to getting the Misfit wearables Shine tracker, it looked so amazing in the pictures, but when I learned that I had to go into settings, turn on either sleep or swim with the triple tap I was lost, too cumbersome.

My conclusion is simple: For tracker jewelry to have a chance to win consumers hearths they have to evolve to experiences. In the world of electronics an experience is derived from a user interface, and here only the Fuelband has one. If they also manage to do the jewelry route they will unlock greater financial potential.

 

 

10:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 05, 2013

HealthSPA gaining momentum: Clustering is powerful innovation fuel

SPA_logo2
When we embarked on creating Koru we selected a few themes that would underpin what we do. One of these themes is Clustering. There are big transformations around Health and Wellness industry driven by Internet and mobility. This means lots of startups emerge, solving part of the puzzle. By clustering and working together we can be much stronger. Last summer seeing that 4 of 9 startups from the Startup Sauna's Summer of Start-ups programme were in the Health and Wellness space, I decided to try to help them and bring them and other players into a health and wellness cluster; and so the idea of HealthSPA was born. With the entusiastic support of Marko Turpeinen EIT's ICT Lab Helsinki director, we arranged the first event in January. Next week on the 10th at 5PM we are holding the second event at Aalto University's Open Innovation House and the interest has been overwhelming. With the tireless effort of Sebastien Gianelli from Koru and John Sperry from Wellbring, we have over 90 people attending and more than 70 companies signed-up of which 20 will be doing demos. We even have one company selecting to launch at the event. This is really amazing. Thanks for supporting the idea of Clustering and empowering HealthSPA. Lets continue to reboot Finland together.

11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Dinner of a lifetime

During our annual family crayfish party I got an idea after drinking a blackcurrant wine made by a guy that my father used to work with. Let create a re-union of the advertising and graphic design gurus that shaped Finland in the decades of rapid growth, from the 60’s to the early 90’s. (I keep this post anonymous, in the spirit of this blog.)

During the dinner a single question was asked: What was the spark that got you into advertising and design. Amazing tales were told. At one point I was wiping tears from my eyes.

What was telling was all of them started out with no formal training. One of them got told that he should go into advertising by some priest’s wife when he was 10. At the age of 14 he moved away from home with no money no plan. In some ways these were the classic rags to richness stories. But as an avid fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, I saw a bunch of outliers, a bunch of geniuses. In Gladwells view; I saw support systems, I saw environments of creativity.

The clearest outliers in the groups and probably the ones making the biggest impact, had clearly started earlier. Initially by typesetting and decorating windows in shops. They had their 10.000 hours together in these supporting or fundamental topics way before others selecting an academic route had even started.

They all were of the opinion that they were not exceptional at art. They were of mixed success in school from poor grades to excellent grades. They were a mixed group of extroverts and introverts.

The support systems that stimulated these young men were competitions in typesetting, layouts and stuff like that. This enabled them to build their self-esteem and get awareness early on. This seemed crucial for their progress. There is thus a merit of competitions in design.

After a few years of working they got an opportunity to get a formal education at Ateneum, the premier art school. They had a day programme and an evening programme. These gents started in the evening programme, it was cheaper and they could not afford to be full-time students. Here they performed well as they had the empirical education to back them up. They went to school to get better, not to learn the basics.

Later they all aspired to work a one specific agency, where they all eventually worked. This was their growth platform. It was the epi-center of creativity, best jobs, biggest accounts were all there. They worked hard and prospered. When wanting to move on or when headhunted they were typically offered a double salary and perks. No-one stayed, but self-esteem was hurt and the feelings toward the past employer were destroyed. One of them had asked their employers how could my value suddenly double in two weeks.

My father was entry to the business was different. My grandfather had an academic education and was the head of marketing at one of the biggest ironworks in Finland, he and my grandmother were able to stretch and send my father to be educated in London, where he also met my Danish mother. As he then moved to Finland and set up his studio in our home, the place became a continental breath of fresh air in the local advertising community. They said it shaped the type of advertising that they made, and as advertising was something sexy and cool it collected artist, models.

On the other hand the big money and power was aggregated at the advertising agencies, but there the money men were ruled, so dynamic was somehow different. Eventually these all set up own agencies.

 In one of the closing speeches an anecdote of the power of advertising was told. My father wanted to build a library of ordinary people to use in picture depicting life, for example countless car adverts. For example my current wife, her sister and mother-in law were car models for Honda. Many of my friends featured in soda ads. A single add was crafted and placed in Helsingin Sanomat’s looking for people section. During the next three weeks there was a steady flow of people arriving at the studio. A total of 5000 people showed up, in a city with a population of 500.000, so this single ad mobilized 1% of the population. The creators of called it their most successful advert. It was a hilarious story as at some point they ran out of film, but the show had to go on. I guess those people never got a career as a model.

 It was interesting as these gents were the last pre-computer generation. Their relationship to Internet is very different from mine. For example some of them could write in Times, Helvetica or other classic typefaces.

We also touched on the future of advertising and graphic design. They seemed to all note that advertising needs to be close to the product and that advertising should be a bridge from the product to the consumer. With Internet this bridge is shorter or even non existent. They clearly acknowledged that that will change everything, but a challenge for the next generation to grapple with.

Lessons learned:

1. Once you discover a life-work passion pursue it relentlessly.

2. Raw talent can be compensated by hard work and persistence.

3. Get yourself into places where you can learn.

 

 

03:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

As world turn mobile everything changes and not all can follow.

The change towards a mobile first tech world has been a revolution in front of our eyes. As Facebook correctly acknowledged in their IPO filings, they do not have a solution for monetising on mobiles.

Olof Schybergson most recent writing captures many of the issues brilliantly published on Fortune's site. The title is approriately labelled "The trend that terrifies Big Tech:" http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/08/21/mobile/ Do read it it should provide a wakeup call.

The complexities of a mobile first world are best illustrated by Facebook. Over two and half years ago I wrote an article on Bloomberg BusinessWeek predicting that Facebook should get into phones, as they have not other chance to play in the context awareness game, critical for proactive behaviour where Facebook comes to you with timely meaningful, locally relevant information that you are willing to pay for. If you are interested read my thoughts back then here Facebookphone . I think the core of the article is still relevant. They need to get into middleware, rather than just the app layer. Not easy to do with Google controlling the dominant platform.

Since then Google has made massive strides forward and they are now fantastically positioned to capitalise as the engine of perpetual life recording and discovery. With millions of pocket drones they are able to make a good sense of the real-time world and make the world universilly organised and accessible.

For a conceptual experience how this context machine should be presented to user I suggest getting familiar with Foursquare, they are continiously iterating themselves into the concext epi-center of mobile, if you are looking at it from a business point of view Foursquare is approaching a big goldmine, the verb Explore is critical, whoever owns the mindshare for Exploration is onto something very valubale. I am also cheering for GroupOn with their Now another word worth owning.

So my question is when you are around and about and you want inspiration where do you go? I do not think the answer is Facebook.

02:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Monday, August 20, 2012

A personal case of proactive health care leveraging the scalpel

I have been a researching the mobile health and digital health space while at Fjord and one of the clear trends is the drive towards proactive healthcare leveraging digital tools like pedometers like Fitbit, fitness platforms like Nike+ and wellness communities like HeiaHeia. These tools are generating data, which generates information and ultimate knowledge.

In my research I have developed a deeper interest in my own wellbeing. I log several factors using my Fuelband, my Withings scale and my  iPhone using platforms like HeiaHeia and Cyclemeter. I changed my diet towards lower carb intake, more vegetables and started jogging actively. Starting jogging was a real boost. I now do 2-3 times a week, I run typically about 10km and always listen to books while I run, I have not read as many books in years as I have while running. I have done acupuncture and tuina massage for a several years at my chinese doctor in London’s Chinatown, it works very well.

 The space I find fascinating is sleep. Sleep is something we know very little of. It was not until the emergence of the Zeo band that it was possible to monitor sleep at home. I do not suffer from sleep apne, all I know is, if I do not sleep well I become grumpy and underperforming, after longer periods of poor sleep my short term memory seems to deteriorate.

I have for a longtime been aware that I do not breathe through my nose when sleeping, something we are evolved to do.  This leads to a dry mouth, which leads to the need to drink during the night, which leads to waking up. None of this is scientifically validated.  I did some experiments and realized that my left nostril was almost blocked. I then read about and discussed about having an operation to open it up called Rhinoplasty, essentially plastic surgery in the nose. I went to the GP and discussed it and he sent me to the specialist and this week after waiting for 6 months I was on the operation table.

What I find so amazing is that I could have this as part of our healthcare system in Finland, one of the best in the world. This is a proof point that Finland is one of the best countries to live in. The surgery is not in this case a form of vanity, nor is it clinically needed, so it has to be a case of proactive medicine for a better life quality. Thus the state invests in its people. Thank you. The question who is the judge on this, who benefits and why should the state pay.

I think it is very good that the surgeons make a decision, should it be done, can it help. They did offer me drugs, I declined.

I think the state can benefit, as I will be more creative and productive, generate more output and as part of it of is taxed and put in circulation.

I had to wait for the operation for 6 months, two weeks before they changed the date, so one could argue that I was filling up a gap in the system. Giving state employed surgeons practice, yes they do need practice to perfect their skills. 

It will be incredibly interesting to follow is how does this affect my life and my sleeping and subsequently my energy level, my short term memory, my teeth and the sleeping patterns of my wife. I will let you know.

 

 

02:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Nokia struggles as phones become emotional commodities

My heart was bleeding blue yesterday as the Salo R&D site is closed. This was the epicenter of the business for twenty years. Many of the iconic phones were developed there, many of the heroes of Nokia walked the halls of the center. This is where I started my Nokia career. The place is a small sleepy town en route to Turku, the second most important city in Finland. The highway 1 compared to its importance was a winding road through the Finnish forest. Once in Salo it was heaven of technology, the sheer knowledge of the sandal wearing engineers was amazing. I have memories for life. Thanks to everyone for the time, if I only can help you now, I will!

 Nokia is saying that the market has changed faster than anticipated. It is mindblowing to think that the founders of GSM are 'out of business', Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia.

I really like the last batches of phones and particularly the Lumia 800, I really thought it was a stunning design. Others also liked it, it was different and fresh. Yet, like Stephen Elop says it is now a war of Ecosystems, rather than a battle of devices.

There is so much truth in that statement, but yet this is maybe where the problem lies. Consumers do not care about eco-system they care about getting stuff done, and communicating. For those tasks all eco-systems work well enough, and when things are good enough the consumers lose interest. The phone has become an emotional commodity.

The phone is absolutely not a commodity, the entry barriers are high, the technical sophistication is high, yet consumers take all of this for granted. The phone is just a natural part of digital life, like a hammer. A tool every household has, but no one gets excited about.

 All the conversations are about apps, all the sex appeal is in apps and all transformation takes place in apps, and this space is a jungle. In this some make magic and create billions in wealth, others fall into the sediment of long lists.

Recently a friend asked what phone she should buy, a question I have answered a thousand times before, and there has always been a good answer. Now there is not, it depends, do you use Mac, or do you want to store your stuff in the cloud? Do you use PC, will you use lots of apps, do you want local apps, will you buy content, do you have content, do you want to??? Remember she asked what phone she should buy. . . In the end, I said it doesn't matter they are all great, pick the one you like most.

When you get this kind of answer, then thoughts gets focused on price and that is a signal of commodity.

The emotional commodity state of phones is rather worrying, and as you can get a brick with mostly screen from €100 to €600 then you start wondering what is the real difference is, and as Manufacturers panic, they go down the rabbit hole of gigahertz, gigabytes and other commodity jargon.

This leads me to believe we are in the calm before a new emotional gadget storm, discovering the gadget that we all want to talk about, show off and rave about. Perhaps the era of wearables and intimate electronics?

 

10:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Back to building own experiences

A new era in my partnership with Fjord starts as I move from an operational role of Chief Innovation Officer to become a part-time member of the board and advisor to the management business. This is an important transition for me because I believe in the business and want to help it grow to the next level.

On a very personal level I’ve always been inspired all that is new and by change. One of my guiding principles is to hire people smarter than me and make myself redundant. This then allows me to go on and explore what's new.

I’ve been creating things all my life. It's a deep passion of mine. When I was very young I made things with lego, as I crew older I made bikes which I sold to my friends, and then I built radio controlled miniature sailing boats and sold them around Europe. Professionally, I’ve created mobile UI's that have been sold in every corner of the world and now I yearn to go back to creation.

I’d like to thank my fellow Fjordians for teaching me so much and for pushing me out of my comfort zone. My sense of design is wider and deeper than ever before. When I look around Fjord, I see what I believe to be the smartest team in service design. When I joined in 2007 we were a team of 27, today, Fjord has grown to become the definitive service design consultancy with a team of over 200, operating from eight offices around the world. 

I’m very proud of this Fjord creation and I’m looking forward to nuking from the outside.’

So what's next? Firstly, I am going to continue to build the touch and force sensor business, Tech21 Sensor, that I helped to found a few years ago. The business is in Berlin. What makes Tech21 so interesting for me is that it sits in the emerging space between technology and biology, making man-machine interfaces analogue. It is a fantastic enabler opportunity. I will also help a couple of start-ups grow and internationalise and then I want to build something on my own.  But more on that later…

 

 

 

 

02:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)

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My iPad is on its way. Thanks Prash

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