#Cognition #Clash in the #IoT #SXSW

Thank you to everyone who attended our (Karl Smith and Thom Heslop) talk at SXSW, it’s the start of a long road into a really complex and contextual problem. But being silent in the crowd as the King walks by with no clothes on is not an option, peoples lives, futures and prosperity is at risk, not to mention the risk of multi-trillion dollar lawsuits that can follow by knowingly distracting people who are engaged in critical tasks.

Cognition Clash in the IoT at SXSW16
Cognition Clash in the IoT at SXSW16

The IoT – Internet of Things (Ubiquity) is the next great opportunity for commerce to engage with business enterprises and customers. However, there is no unified approach to the mental load between physical interaction, mental interaction and digital interaction. This cognitive landscape is inhabited by associated experiences that gel human behaviour and machine interfaces through, touch, mouse and keyboard. The usage of sight, voice and thought create new complexities and risks which have until recently been the subject of defence technologies (battlefield and strategic), where clear outcomes and prescribed mental models exist.

IoT clash girl dies
IoT clash girl dies

The diversification of these touch points and multi-point human logic models clash and derail human thinking patterns.

We are looking for people and their knowledge to help create an Ubiquity Open Standard. We are doing this because no one else has noticed this fundamental error in thinking, the hoping that product based companies will work together in creating common standards that are driven by an understanding of human thinking capabilities, cognitive models, relational thinking and machine interactions is unlikely.

While product manufactures continue with supremacy attitude to other ecosystem products and services,

“the human voice and our needs and desires are subjugated to simply another component”

albeit the one that is constantly paying for everything without any input on how it works.

Some Foundations (the rest will go in a technical paper)

Distributed Cognition studies the ways that memories, facts, or knowledge is embedded in the objects, individuals, and tools in our environment. According to Zhang & Norman (1994), the distributed cognition approach has three key components: Embodiment of information that is embedded in representations of interaction Coordination of enaction among embodied agents. Ecological contributions to a cognitive ecosystem.

In Embodied Interaction Dourish -everyday human interaction is embodied; non-rationalising, intersubjective and bodily active.  User, not designers, create and communicate meaning and manage coupling. Not just concerned with what people do, but also with what they mean by what they do and how that is meaningful to them. It reflects the sets of meanings that can be ascribed to objects and actions over those objects as part of a larger task or enterprise

Cognition the key to the mind, how people understand what they can do is by comparison a Diagnostic Methodology (goals, adaptations, conventions) with what they already know by accessing the Active Narrative patterns they have created in their own minds according to Smith (2005).

Cognition Patterns Cognition Clash in the IoT different people think differently
Cognition Patterns Cognition Clash in the IoT different people think differently

Cognition Groups create a communication paradigm, they carry intention, meaning, risks and benefits.

  • Some Cognition patterns are common, shopping basket etc.
  • Some Cognition Patterns are social by Family, Sports Team etc.
  • Some Cognition Patterns change without notice

Guided Interaction, existing websites offer guided interaction – simplified cognitive pattern encapsulating a plethora of interacting technology and data systems: Shopping Basket – This representation allows for distributed cognition > appropriation > cognitive pattern forming understand– once a user has used a shopping basket they will understand how to use them and generalize: transferable cognitive pattern

Some of the issues with the IoT

  • There is no standard of interactivity for humans in the IoT – not a problem if passive background machine-to-machine. A very big problem if actively interacting with humans, who are all different and can create their own meanings for example LOL.
  • How does a user form any cognitive patterns from an invisible system?
  • IoT combines known patterns as hidden machine-to-machine communications that can create mistrust and security fears
  • Detailed component view we have constructed around daily interactions is no longer valid

Some of our initial research

IoT Design Principals

  • What is device / service for?
  • Where will it be situated?
  • When will it be triggered?
  • What other devices will it be interacting with?
  • Where can it clash?
  • Security? – * Lack of security – Shodan
  • Design Principal: “Do No Harm

IoT Design Risks

Context is critical

  • Situational interaction problems for consideration

The following barriers reduce our ability to understand the situation

  • Perception based on faulty information processing
  • Excessive motivation – over motivated to the exclusion of context
  • Complacency
  • Overload
  • Fatigue
  • Poor communications

A possible solution

  • Avatar (can be visual, sound, texture, smell, taste or a combination) – smart use of Artificial intelligence (AI), where the users cognitive interface is patterned on their unique cognition pattern through a learning algorithm
  • This avatar should be directional and instructional like digital signage
  • This avatar should respond to the users behavioural interaction and should fall away gracefully as users behaviour becomes more ‘expert* In effect it should be a learning system – learns from the users rather than based on static rules
  • For example the AI that George Hotz has built into his self driving car while not the answer points to the kind of thinking required to find the answer, don’t tell the machine to watch and learn from a human and then carry out your task (from 3.33 to 5.04) “the point is to drive naturally like a human, not some engineer’s idea of safety“. For anyone who then thinks this is the final solution, please let us know why you think driving a car is like cooking dinner or navigating the street?

The Full SXSW Talk is on YouTube

Connect to the speakers on LinkedIn here Karl Smith and Thom Heslop

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Supporting #Users with #HCD principals

Human Centered design (HCD)

Human centered design (HCD) is a project approach that puts the intended users (audience) of a product or piece of technology at the centre of its research, design and development. It does this by talking directly to the user at key points in the project to make sure the product or piece of technology will deliver upon their perceived requirements and align the client with their users or consumers.

Supporting general interactive behaviours

New systems must comply with but not limited to the following provisions;

Provide context and orientation information

Provide context and orientation information to help users understand;

  • Where they are
  • What it’s for
  • How to use

the complex pages or elements that they are viewing.

Provide location indication that consistent across all interfaces, which is not part of navigation. This is to help users know explicitly where they are and what data is shown so that they can be confident about their activities.

Grouping elements and providing contextual information about the relationships between elements can be useful for all users. Complex relationships between parts of a page may be difficult for people with any type of cognitive disability and people with visual disabilities to interpret.  Regardless of the working environment no two people think exactly the same way this divergence is based upon the various inputs and experience they have. Recognising variance and synergy in knowledge is a key finding from pilot studies that support the creation of personas and user scenarios.

Provide clear navigation mechanisms

Provide clear and consistent navigation mechanisms;

  • Orientation information
  • Navigation schema
    • Sub navigation
    • In app/widget controls
  • Site map
  • Help
    • Glossaries
  • Comparable experiences (to their other business or outside work experiences)

Interactive behaviours to increase the likelihood that a person will find what they are looking for and be able to interact with it.

Clear and consistent navigation mechanisms are important to people with cognitive disabilities or blindness, but fundamentally benefit all users and enable rapid adoption, reuse and buy-in.

Provide explicit interactive behaviours

Users require an absolute learning environment in order to quickly review and adopt new technologies.

The interactive behaviours of any system they use should make logical and emotional sense.

Interactive logic is driven by expectation, in that if a user clicks on text that is underlined they expect to go to another page related to that text (a hyperlink) therefore if text is blue and underlined but does not take the user to a new page, a user will doubt the technology and themselves as it creates insecurities. Other considerations related to interactive logic are about an expectation of delivery in that if a user clicks on a chart they expect to see the data behind it.

Interactive emotion was touched on in the previous point and is related to confusion, insecurities, doubt and conflicting emotions driven by unexpected interactions. Users when arriving at the wrong location in software expect the back button (if web service) to take them to the previous screen. In software they expect a link or return to last page. If the developer had locked pages or not considered a user wanting to go backwards or sideways in a planned pathway, the user will feel trapped, this is an interactive emotion. The users invested (time, knowledge) activity (purpose, task) has been trapped (voided, considered worthless) in a process and their perception is that they are unimportant.

The more users’ expectations prove right, the more users will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it. And the more the system breaks users’ expectations, the more they will feel insecure.

Ensure that text is clear and simple

Ensure that text is clear and simple so they may be more easily understood. Consistent title location, page layout, recognisable icons and easy to understand language benefit all users. However where users require subject specific language based upon their activities a glossary is advised to support the constant churn in user involvement.

Opening New Windows

Opening up new window is like a polluting a user screen it creates a loss of focus and no matter how great a mind a user has they will still lose their place when checking where they are in a process or task across multiple partially visible or hidden screens.

Designers open new windows on the theory that it keeps users focused on their system or it delineates separate activity. This creates a user hostile message and is self defeating since it breaks any trust in the delivery of technology that make users life better.

Non-Standard use of GUI Widgets

Consistency is one of the most powerful best practice principles. When things always behave the same, users don’t have to worry about what will happen. Instead, they know what will happen base upon their earlier experience.

The worst consistency violations in technology are found in the use of GUI widgets such as radio buttons and checkboxes. The appropriate behaviour of these design elements is defined in the Windows Vista User Experience standard, the Macintosh human interface standard, and the Java UI standard. Which of these standards to follow depends on the platform used by the majority of your users, but it hardly matters for the most basic widgets since all the standards have close-to-identical rules.

Slow Server Response Times

Slow response times are the worst offender against user expectations.

Users don’t care why response times are slow. All they know is that the technology doesn’t offer good service. Slow response times often translate directly into a reduced level of trust and they always cause a loss of use and adoption as users find a work around.

Use of colour

Ensure that text and graphics are understandable when viewed without colour. If colour alone is used to convey information, people who cannot differentiate between certain colours and users with devices that have non-colour or non-visual displays will not receive the information.

When foreground and background colours are too close to the same hue, they may not provide sufficient contrast when viewed using monochrome displays or by people with different types of colour deficits.

Ensure user control of time sensitive content changes

Ensure that content that changes does so in a manner that is obvious or had a secondary advisory so that users are made aware of that change.

Design for device independence

Use features that enable activation of page elements via a variety of input devices.

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Usability and Accessibility Standards

United States of America

The American National Standard Institute (NSSN, http://www.nssn.org ) provides a national resource for national and international standards. ANSI/HFES-200 is focused on design requirements and recommendations to increase effective usability of software interfaces.


International Standards Organisation (http://www.iso.ch/) ISO/TS 16071:2003, Ergonomics of human-system interaction covers issues associated with designing accessible software for people with the widest range of visual, hearing, motor and cognitive abilities, including those who are elderly and temporarily disabled.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) documents explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities. Web “content” generally refers to the information in a Web page or Web application, including text, images, forms, sounds, and such http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php

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