2016 has been a whirlwind so far, and February kept up the pace. Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve been doing.
As we did last year, OAUX made a trip to APAC again this year to meet partners, customers and Oracle people, show our Expo of goodies and talk simplicity-mobility-extensibility, Glance, Scan, Commit and our overall goal of increasing user participation.
This year, Noel (@noelportugal) and I made the trip to Australia and spent an awesome, warm week in beautiful Sydney. Noel showed the portable Smart Office demo, including the Smart Badge, that we debuted at OpenWorld in October, and I showed a couple visualizations and Glance on a handful of devices.
Don’t let the picture fool you. It was taken between the end of Jeremy’s (@jrwashley) talk, before the official start of the Expo, during lunch. Once people finished eating, the room filled up quickly with 80 or so partner attendees.
On the second day in the Sydney office, we got the chance to chat with local Oracle sales reps, consultants and architects, and I was lucky enough to meet Stuart Coggins (@ozcoggs) and Scott Newman (@lamdadsn) who read this blog.
It’s always invigorating to meet readers IRL. I’ve poured nine years into this blog, writing more than 2,000 posts, and sometimes the silence is deafening. I wonder who’s out there reading, so it’s always a treat.
Oh, and Stuart had a board with blicky lights, an IoT demo he’d shown a customer that day. So, I was immediately intrigued.
Turns out Stuart and Scott create demos similar to our own and share the same nerdy passions we do. To wit, check out the Anki car hack Stuart and some colleagues did for Pausefest 2016 in Melbourne earlier this month.
You’ll recall the Anki cars are one of latest favorite shiny toys to hack.
Overall, it was a great week. Special thanks to John P for hosting us and making the trip all the more fun.
While we were away, Thao (@thaobnguyen) and the HQ team hosted a group of analysts in the Cloud and Gadget Labs, including Vinnie Mirchandani (@dealarchitect), who posted a nice writeup, including the money quote:
A walkthrough of their UX lab was like that of Q’s workshop in Bond movies. An Amazon Echo, smart watches, several gestural devices point to further changes in interfaces. Our expectations are being shaped by rapidly evolving UX in our cars and homes.
Somewhere Noel feels warm and fuzzy because the Q-meets-Tony Stark aesthetic is exactly what he was hoping to capture in his initial designs for our Gadget Lab.
Anyway, given all the excitement lately, I’m only now getting a chance to encourage you to read a post by Sarah Smart over on VoX about stuff, “Wearables, IoT push Oracle’s emerging tech development.”
So yeah, a lot going on, and conference season is just beginning. Stay tuned for more.Possibly Related Posts:
- Put Glance on It
- OpenWorld 2015 Highlights
- Hot Oracle Applications User Experience News
- A Roadtrip to Amsterdam
- The Anki Overdrive Car Project
Because I live in Portland, I’m often asked if “Portlandia” is accurate.
Actually, Glance has grown beyond wearables to support cars and other devices, the latest of which is Noel’s (@noelportugal) gadget du jour, the LaMetric Time (@smartatoms).
Insert mildly amusing video here.
And of course Noel had to push Glance notifications to LaMetric, because Noel. Pics, it happened.
The text is truncated, and I tried to take a video of the scrolling notification, but it goes a bit fast for the camera. Beyond just the concept, we’ll have to break up the notification to fit LaMetric’s model better, but this was only a few minutes of effort from Noel. I know, because he was sitting next to me while he coded it.
In case you need a refresher, here’s Glance of a bunch of other things.
I didn’t have a separate camera so I couldn’t show the Android notification.
We haven’t updated the framework for them, but if you recall, Glance also worked on Google Glass and Pebble in its 1.0 version.
Possibly Related Posts:
- A Framework for Wearables, Glance
- The Glance Framework on Android Auto
- Are We Ready for the Apple Watch?
- More Apple Watch-ness from Oracle Social Network
- An Interaction Designer’s Perspective: Samsung Gear vs. Samsung Gear Live
In September 2014, Oracle Applications User Experience (@usableapps) opened a brand new lab that showcases Oracle’s Cloud Applications, specifically the many innovations that our organization has made to and around Cloud Applications in the past handful of year.
We call it the Cloud User Experience Lab, or affectionately, the Cloud Lab.
Our team has several projects featured in the Cloud Lab, and many of our team members have presented our work to customers, prospects, partners, analysts, internal groups, press, media and even schools and Girl and Boy Scout troops.
In 2015, the Cloud Lab hosted more than 200 such tours, actually quite a bit more, but I don’t have the exact number in front of me.
Beyond the numbers, Jeremy (@jrwashely), our group vice president, has been asked to replicate the Cloud Lab in other places, on the HQ campus and abroad at other Oracle campuses.
People really like it.
In October 2015, we opened an adjoining space to the Cloud Lab that extends the experience to include more hands-on projects. We call this new lab, the Gadget Lab, and it features many more of our projects, including several you’ve seen here.
In the Gadget Lab, we’re hoping to get people excited about the possible and give them a glimpse of what our team does because saying “we focus on emerging technologies” isn’t nearly as descriptive as showing our work.
So, the next time you’re at Oracle HQ, sign up for a tour of the Cloud and Gadget Labs and let us know what you think.Possibly Related Posts:
- Celebrating 5 Years in Oracle’s Mexico Development Center
- Oracle OpenWorld and JavaOne 2014 Cometh
- AppsLab Research in 2015
- Get a Look at the Future Oracle Cloud User Experience at Oracle OpenWorld 2015
- Find Us at Kscope14 Next Week in Seattle
Editor’s note: Here’s the first post from our new-ish researcher, Tawny. She joined us back in September, just in time for OpenWorld. After her trip to Disney World, she talked eagerly about the MagicBand experience, and if you read here, you know I’m a fan of Disney’s innovative spirit.
Planning a Disney World trip is no small feat. There are websites that display crowd calendars to help you find the best week to visit and the optimal parks to visit on each of those days so you can take advantage of those magic hours. Traveling with kids? Visiting during the high season? Not sure which FastPass+ to make reservations for?
There are annually updated guidebooks dedicated to providing you the most optimal attraction routes and FastPass+ reservations, based off of thousands of data points for each park. Beginning 2013, Disney introduced the MagicBand, a waterproof bracelet that acts as your entry ticket, FastPass+ holder, hotel key and credit card holder. The bands are part of The MyMagic+ platform, consisting of four main components: MagicBands, FastPass+, My Disney Experience, and PhotoPass Memory Maker. Passborterboard lists everything you can do with a MagicBand.
I got my chance to experience the MagicBand early this January.
These are both open edition bands. This means that they do not have customized lights or sounds at FP+ touchpoints. We bought them at the kiosk at Epcot after enviously looking on at other guests who were conveniently accessing park attractions without having to take out their tickets! It was raining, and the idea of having to take out anything from our bags under our ponchos was not appealing.
The transaction was quick and the cashier kindly linked our shiny new bands to our tickets. Freedom!!!
The band made it easy for us to download photos and souvenirs across all park attractions without having to crowd around the photo kiosk at the end of the day. It was great being able to go straight home to our hotel room while looking through our Disney photo book through their mobile app!
Test Track at Epcot made the most use of the personalization aspect of these bands. Before the rise, guests could build their own cars with the goal of outperforming other cars in 4 key areas: power, turn handling, environmental efficiency and responsiveness.
After test driving our car on the ride, there were still many things we could do with our car such as join a multiplayer team race…we lost
What was really interesting were guests were fortunate to show off personalized entry colors and sounds, a coveted status symbol amongst MagicBand collectors. The noise and colors was a mini attraction on its own! I wish our badge scanners said hi to us like this every morning…
When used in conjunction with My Disney Experience app, there can be a lot of potential:
- Order ahead food + scan to pick up or food delivery while waiting in a long line.
- Heart sensor + head facing camera to take pictures within an attractions to capture happy moments.
- Haptic feedback to tell you that your table is ready at a restaurant. Those pagers are bulky.
So what about MagicBands for the enterprise context?
Hospitals may benefit, but some argue that the MagicBand model works exclusively for Disney because of its unique ecosystem and the heavy cost it would take to implement it. The concept of the wearable is no different from the badges workers have now.
Depending on the permissions given to the badgeholder, she can badge into any building around the world.
What if we extend our badge capabilities to allow new/current employees to easily find team members to collaborate and ask questions?
What if the badge carried all of your desktop and environmental preferences from one flex office to the desk so you never have to set up or complain about the temperature ever again?
What if we could get a push notification that it’s our cafeteria cashier’s birthday as we’re paying and make their day with a “Happy Birthday?”
That’s something to think about.Possibly Related Posts:
- On Disney Parks, Data Science, Drones and Wearables
- Mobile Apps Taking Aim at Parking Tickets
- Google IO Sells out Like a Concert
- We Have Slap Bands
- OpenWorld Manifest: Days 0 and 1
Before IoT became ‘The’ buzzword, there was M2M (machine to machine). Some industries still refer to IoT as M2M, but overall the term Internet of Things has become the norm. I like the term M2M because it describes better what IoT is meant to do: Machines talking to other machines.
This year our team once again participated int he AT&T Developer Summit 2016 hackathon. With M2M in our minds, we created a platform to allow machines and humans report extraordinary events in their neighborhood. Whenever a new event was reported (by machine or human), devices and people (notified by an app) connected to the platform could react accordingly. We came with two possible use cases to showcase our idea.
Virtual Gated Community
Gated communities are a great commodity for those wanting to have privacy and security. The problem is that usually these communities come with a high price tag. So we came up with a turnkey solution for a virtual gate using M2M. We created a device using the Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c board with wifi and bluetooth capabilities. We used a common motion sensor and a camera to detect cars and people not belonging to the neighborhood. Then, we used Bluetooth beacons that could be placed in at the resident keychains. When a resident drove (or walked) by the virtual gate, it would not trigger the automated picture and report to the system, but if someone without the Bluetooth beacon drove by, the system will log and report it.
We also created an app, so residents could get notifications as well as report different events, which brings me to our second use case.
Devices reacting to events
We used AT&T Flow Designer and M2X platform to create event workflows with notifications. A user or a device could subscribe to receive only events that they care about such as lost dog/cat, water leaks etc. The real innovative idea here is that devices can also react to certain events. For example, a user could configure its porch lights to automatically turn on when someone nearby reported suspicious activity. If everyone in their street do the same, it could be a pretty good crime deterrent to effectively being able to turn all the porch lights in the street at once by reporting such event.
We called our project “Neighborhood”, and we are still amazed on how much we were able to accomplish in merely 20+ hours.
- AppsLab Events Widget
- MobileNotifier Makes iOS Notifications Useful
- 2014 AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon
- Rise of the Machines?
- Some Applications UX Nuggets
SafeDrop is a secure box for receiving a physical package delivery, without the need of recipient to be present. If you recall, it was my team’s project at the AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon earlier this month.
SafeDrop is implemented with Intel Edison board at its core, coordinating various peripheral devices to produce a secure receiving product, and it won second place in the “Best Use of Intel Edison” at the hackathon.
While many companies have focused on the online security of eCommerce, the current package delivery at the last mile is still very much insecure. ECommerce is ubiquitous, and somehow people need to receive the physical goods.
The delivery company would tell you the order will be delivered on a particular day. You can wait at home all day to receive the package, or let the package sit in front of your house and risk someone stealing it.
Every year there are reports of package theft during holiday season, but more importantly, the inconvenience of staying home to accept goods and the lack of peace of mind, really annoys many people.
With SafeDrop, your package is delivered, securely!
How SafeDrop works:
1. When a recipient is notified a package delivery with a tracking number, he puts that tracking number in a mobile app, which essentially registers it to SafeDrop box that it is expecting a package with that tracking number.
2. When delivery person arrives, he just scans the tracking number barcode on the SafeDrop box, and that barcode is the unique key to open the SafeDrop. Once the tracking number is verified, the SafeDrop will open.
3. When the SafeDrop is opened, a video is recorded for the entire duration when the door is open, as a security measure. If the SafeDrop is not closed, a loud buzz sound continues until it is closed properly.
4. Once the package is within SafeDrop, a notification is sent to recipient’s mobile app, indicating the expected package has been delivered. Also shows a link to the video recorded.
In the future, SafeDrop could be integrated with USPS, UPS and FedEx, to verify the package tracking number for the SafeDrop automatically. When delivery person scans tracking number on SafeDrop, it automatically update status to “delivered” into that tracking record in delivery company’s database too. That way, the entire delivery process is automated in a secure fashion.
This SafeDrop design highlights three advantages:
1. Tracking number barcode as the key to the SafeDrop.
That barcode is tracked during the entire delivery, and it is with the package always, and it is fitting to use that as “key” to open its destination. We do not introduce any “new” or “additional” thing for the process.
2. Accurate delivery, which eliminates human mistakes.
Human error sometimes causes deliveries to the wrong address. With SafeDrop integrated into the shipping system, the focus is on a package (with tracking number as package ID) going to a target (SafeDrop ID associated with an address).
In a sense, the package (package ID) has its intended target (SafeDrop ID). The package can only be deposited into one and only one SafeDrop, which eliminates the wrong delivery issue.
3. Non-disputable delivery.
This dispute could happen: delivery company says a package has been delivered, but the recipient says that it has not arrived. The possible reasons: a) delivery person didn’t really deliver it; b) delivery person dropped it to a wrong address; c) a thief came by and took it; d) the recipient got it but was making a false claim.
SafeDrop makes things clear! If it is really delivered to SafeDrop, it is being recorded, and delivery company has done its job. If it is in the SafeDrop, the recipient has it. Really there is no dispute.
I will be showing SafeDrop at Modern Supply Chain Experience in San Jose, January 26 and 27 in the Maker Zone in the Solutions Showcase. If you’re attending the show, come by and check out SafeDrop.Possibly Related Posts:
- 2016 AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon: SafeDrop
- Just Add Enterprise
- The Oracle People iPhone App is Here
- Checkin to Foursquare by Taking a Picture
- Listen to Steve Jobs Wordsmith
I love data, always have.
To feed this love and to compile data sets for my quantified self research, I recently added the Netatmo Weather Station to the other nifty devices that monitor and quantify my everyday life, including Fitbit Aria, Automatic and Nest.
Having so many data sets and visualizations, I’ve observed my interest peak and wane over time. On Day 1, I’ll check the app several times, just to see how it’s working. Between Day 2 and Week 2, I’ll look once a day, and by Week 3, I’ve all but forgotten the device is collecting data.
This probably isn’t ideal, and I’ve noticed that even something that I expected would work, like notifications, I tend to ignore, e.g. the Netatmo app can send notifications on carbon dioxide levels indoor, temperature outside and rain accumulation outside, if you have the rain gauge.
These seem useful, but I tend to ignore them, a very typical smartphone behavior.
Unexpectedly, I’ve come to love the monthly email many devices send me and find them much more valuable than shorter interval updates.
Initially, I thought I’d grow tired of these and unsubscribe, but turns out, they’re a happy reminder about those hard-working devices that are tirelessly quantifying my life for me and adding a dash of data visualization, another of my favorite things for many years.
Here are some examples.
Although it’s been a while, I did enjoy the weekly summary emails some of the fitness trackers would send. Seems weekly is better in some cases, at least for me.
A few years ago, Jetpack, the WordPress analytics plugin, began compiling a year in review report for this blog, which I also enjoy annually.
If I had to guess about my reasons, I’d suspect that I’m not interested enough to maintain a daily velocity, and a month (or a week for fitness trackers) is just about the right amount of data to form good and useful data visualizations.
Of course, my next step is dumping all these data into a thinking pot, stirring and seeing if any useful patterns emerge. I also need to reinvigorate myself about wearing fitness trackers again.
Stay tuned.Possibly Related Posts:
- The Enormous Potential of Interent of Things
- The Basis Peak: Take a #selfie. See How Exercise Changes You
- Four Weeks with Nothing on My Wrist
- Selfies. Social. And Style: Smartwatch UX Trends
- Little Data
With smartwatches, sometimes your fingers just aren’t good enough for the task at hand. Fortunately, some ingenious users have found a suitable alternative for when those digits just won’t do: their nose.
That thing sticking out from your face is enough like a fingertip to act as one in situations where your hands might be wet, dirty, or separated from your device by a layer of gloves.
Our own research, as well as that of Apple Watch research firm Wristly.co, has found users have occasionally resorted to their nose, and at reasonable numbers, too. Wristly found in one of their surveys that 46% of respondents had used their nose on their watch, and another 28% hadn’t, but were willing to try.
While users are probably not opting to use their nose when their fingers will do, this usage pattern fits into a larger question of how we interact with our devices: What’s the best way to interact with a device at any given time? When do we or should we use touch versus voice, gesture versus mouse, nose versus finger?
What I love about the nose tap is that it’s something that happened with users out in the real world, with real world situations. It’s doubtful this sort of usage would have been found in the lab, and may not have been considered when the Apple Watch was being designed. After all, with California’s beautiful weather, one might not consider what a glove-wearing population has to go through.
But now with this knowledge, designers should be asking themselves, “will my users ever need to nose tap? If so, how do I make sure it will work for them?” It sounds a little silly, but it could make an app or feature more useful to some users. And researchers should also be asking the same questions.
This goes for any novel, unexpected way users interact with any product, software or hardware: why are they doing it that way, and what is it telling us about their needs or underlying problems?
And the best way to find those novel, unexpected interactions? By seeing (or at least asking) how people use these products in the real world.Possibly Related Posts:
- Controlling NodeBox from an Apple Watch
- Dear Julia: SmartWatch Habits and Preferences
- My Weekend with Apple Watch
- On Apple’s Design Aesthetic: When Delight Turns Patronizing
- An Interaction Designer’s Perspective: Samsung Gear vs. Samsung Gear Live
Worn Out With Wearables
That well-worn maxim about keeping it simple, stupid (KISS) now applies as much to wearable tech (see what I did there?) user experience as it does to mobile or web apps.
The challenge is to keep on keeping “it” simple as product managers and nervous C-types push for more bells and whistles in a wearable tech market going ballistic. Simplicity is a relative term in the fast changing world of technology. Thankfully, the Xiaomi Mi Band has been kept simple and the UX relates to me.
I first heard about the Mi Band with a heads-up from OAUX AppsLab chief Jake Kuramoto (@jkuramot) last summer. It took me nearly six months to figure out a way to order this Chinese device in Europe: When it turned in up Amazon UK.
I’ve become jaded with the current deluge of wearable tech and the BS washing over it. Trying to make sense of wearable tech now makes my head hurt. The world and its mother are doing smartwatches and fitness trackers. Smartglasses are coming back. Add the wellness belts, selfie translators that can get you a date or get you arrested, and ingestibles into the mix; well it’s all too much to digest. There are signals the market is becoming tired too, as the launch of the Fitbit Blaze may indicate.
But after 7 days of wearing the Mi Band, I have to say: I like it.
Mi User Experience Es Tu User Experience
My Mi Band came in a neat little box, complete with Chinese language instructions.
Setup was straightforward. I figured out that the QR code in the little booklet was my gateway to installing the parent App (iOS and Android are supported) on my iPhone and creating an account. Account verification requires an SMS text code to be sent and entered. This made me wonder where my data was stored and its security. Whatever.
I entered the typical body data to get the Mi Band setup for recording my activity (by way of steps) and sleep automatically, reporting progress on the mobile app or by glance at the LEDs on the sensor (itself somewhat underwhelming in appearance. This ain’t no Swarovski Misfit Shine).
I charged up the sensor using yet another unique USB cable to add to my ever-growing pile of Kabelsalat, slipped the sensor into the little bracelet (black only, boo!), and began the tracking of step, sleep and weight progress (the latter requires the user to enter data manually).
I was impressed by simplicity of operation that was balanced by attention to detail and a friendly style of UX. The range of locale settings, the quality of the visualizations, and the very tone of the communications (telling me I was on a “streak”) was something I did not expect from a Chinese device. But then Xiaomi is one of the world’s biggest wearable tech players, so shame on me, I guess.
The data recorded seemed to be fairly accurate. The step count seemed to be a little high for my kind of exertion and my sleep stats seemed reasonable. The Mi Band is not for the 100 miles-a-week runners like me or serious quantified self types who will stick with Garmin, Suunto, Basis, and good old Microsoft Excel.
For a more in-depth view of my activity stats, I connected the Mi Band to Apple Health and liked what I saw on my iPhone (Google Fit is also supported). And of course, the Mi Band app is now enabled for social. You can share those bragging rights like the rest of them.
But, you guessed it. I hated the color of the wristband. Only black was available, despite Xiaomi illustrations showing other colors. WTF? I retaliated by ordering a Hello Kitty version from a third party.
The Mi Band seems ideal for the casual to committed fitness type and budding gym bunnies embarking on New Year resolutions to improve their fitness and need the encouragement to keep going. At a cost of about 15 US dollars, the Mi Band takes some beating. Its most easily compared with the Fitbit Flex, and that costs a lot more.
Beyond Getting Up To Your Own Devices
I continue to enjoy the simple, glanceable UX and reporting of my Mi Band. It seems to me that its low price is hinting at an emergent business model that is tailor-made for the cloud: Make the devices cheap or even free, and use the data in the cloud for whatever personal or enterprise objectives are needed. That leaves the fanatics and fanbois to their more expensive and complex choices and to, well, get up to their own devices.
So, for most, keeping things simple wins out again. But the question remains: how can tech players keep on keeping it simple?
Mi Band Review at a Glance
- Crafted, personal UX
- Mobile app visualizations and Apple and Google integration
- Lack of colored bands
- Personal data security
- Unique USB charging cable
- Underwhelming #fashtech experience
Your thoughts are welcome in the comments.Possibly Related Posts:
- Is the Mi Band the Harbinger of Affordable #fashtech?
- Some Wearable Tech Glances Beat Others
- Selfies. Social. And Style: Smartwatch UX Trends
- My Joyful Consumption of Data
- The Fitbit Surge: Watching Where the Super Watch Puck Goes
It has become tradition now for us, AppsLab, the OAUX emerging technologies team, that the first thing in a New Year is to fly to Las Vegas, not solely testing our luck on the casino floor (though some guys did get lucky), but also attending to the real business–participating in the AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon to build something meaningful, useful, and future-oriented, and hopefully get lucky and win some prizes.
Noel (@noelportugal), who participated in 2013, 2014 and last year, and his team were playing a grand VR trick–casting a virtual gate on a Real neighborhood–not exactly the VR as you know it, but rather, several steps deep into the future. Okay, I will just stop here and not spoil that story.
On the other side of desk, literately, David, Osvaldo (@vaini11a), Juan Pablo and I (@yuhuaxie) set our sights on countering Mr. Grinch with the Christmas package theft reports still fresh in people’s minds. We were team SafeDrop, and we forged carefully a safe box for receiving Christmas gift package. Unsurprisingly, we called it SafeDrop! And of course, you can use it to receive package deliveries other time of the year too, not just at Christmas time.
In terms of the details of how the SafeDrop was built, and how you would use it, I will explain each in future posts, so stay tuned. Or shall I really explain the inner mechanism of SafeDrop and let Mr. Grinch have an upper hand?
By the way, team SafeDrop won the 2nd place of “Best Use of Intel Edison.” Considering the large scale of the AT&T Hackathon with over 1,400 participants forming 200+ teams, we felt that we were pretty lucky to win prizes. Each team member received a Basis Peak, a fitness watch you’ve read about here, and a Bluetooth headset, the SMS In-Ear Wireless Sport.
We know there are other approaches to prevent Mr. Grinch from stealing gifts, such as this video story shows: Dog poop decoy to trick holiday package thief. Maybe after many tries, Mr. Grinch would just get fed up with the smell and quit.
But we think SafeDrop would do the job by just the first try.
Stay tuned for more details of what we built.Possibly Related Posts:
- SafeDrop – Part 2: Function and Benefits
- David’s Excellent Adventure
- Good Idea: Walking Meetings
- Here Are Your First Links of 2015
- Speaking at Kscope 12