Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design book cover

Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design

The world of smart shoes, appliances, and phones is already here, but the practice of user experience (UX) design for ubiquitous computing is still relatively new. Design companies like IDEO and frogdesign are regularly asked to design products that unify software interaction, device design and service design -- which are all the key components of ubiquitous computing UX -- and practicing designers need a way to tackle practical challenges of design. Theory is not enough for them -- luckily the industry is now mature enough to have tried and tested best practices and case studies from the field.

Smart Things presents a problem-solving approach to addressing designers' needs and concentrates on process, rather than technological detail, to keep from being quickly outdated. It pays close attention to the capabilities and limitations of the medium in question and discusses the tradeoffs and challenges of design in a commercial environment. Divided into two sections,  frameworks and techniques, the book discusses broad design methods and case studies that reflect key aspects of these approaches. The book then presents a set of techniques highly valuable to a practicing designer. It is intentionally not a comprehensive tutorial of user-centered design'as that is covered in many other books'but it is a handful of techniques useful when designing ubiquitous computing user experiences.

In short, Smart Things gives its readers both the "why" of this kind of design and the "how," in well-defined chunks.

Industrial designers, Software or Web Interaction/Interface designers, Ubiquitous computing designers, Mobile application designers, Developers working in mobile media, Project/Product managers.

Paperback, 336 Pages

Published: August 2010

Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann

ISBN: 978-0-12-374899-7


  • Finally a book about ubiquitous computing that covers the broad challenges of designing for user experiences over a vast range of devices, device sizes from micro to meso to macro, and crucially, ecologies of devices. An evocative tour thru past design efforts and devices/systems that beautifully sets the stage for the design challenges we are quickly marching into. -- John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist, Xerox Corporation; Former Director, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC); author The Social Life of Information and The Power of Pull

    "This book explains in no-nonsense language why you should care that computing has become ubiquitous and what the implications are for people who design things. Even better, it lays out suggestions as to how to use this knowledge to make better things. If you've ever wondered how interface, interaction, information, and industrial design overlap, what they have to do with user experience, and how it's all affecting your life, you should read this book." -- Tom Igoe, Associate Professor, NYU, Interactive Telecommunications, author of Physical Computing and Making Things Talk

    "Smart Things is a rare artifact from the future that packs immediate practical value. I predict its coverage of multi-scale design will change user experience practice forever. It is the most useful book about the future of design I've read and has changed the way I work. Mike Kuniavsky doesn't just write about the future, he lives there... and now so can you." -- Peter Morville, President, Semantic Studios, author, Ambient Findability

    "Provocative and pragmatic, Smart Things describes an important new approach to the design of consumer electronics. Its chapters explain why the design of digital products is different than other kinds of design and provide valuable techniques that unify the disciplines of interaction and industrial design." - Charles L Jones, Vice President, Global Consumer Design, Whirlpool

    "Web designer Mike Kuniavsky, who has spent his career dissecting people's relationship to digital technology, hangs out at Four Barrel Coffee precisely because he can disconnect from the Internet and concentrate on his thoughts. That's where he wrote his upcoming book on consumer electronics design: ‘Smart Things.’"--The Los Angeles Times


  • Part I: F rameworks 1
    Chapter 1: Introduction: The Middle of Moore's Law
    Chapter 2: W hat Is User Experience Design and Who Creates It?
    Chapter 3: Interaction Metaphors
    Chapter 4: Information Is a Material
    Chapter 5: The Whirlpool centralpark™ Refrigerator: The Design of an Accessory Port
    Chapter 6: Information Shadows
    Chapter 7: Clickables: Toys and Information Shadows
    Chapter 8: Devices Are Service Avatars
    Chapter 9: The iPod: A Service Avatar
    Chapter 10: Applianceness
    Chapter 11: RoomWizard: An Appliance for Office Society
    Chapter 12: Scales of Experience
    Chapter 13: Plasma Poster: Unifying Work Cultures with a Digital Poster

    Part II T echniques
    Chapter 14: Observation and Ideation
    Chapter 15: Simulation and Sketching
    Chapter 16: Nabaztag, an Ambiguous Avatar
    Chapter 17: Augmentations and Mashups
    Chapter 18: Common Design Challenges
    Chapter 19: From Invisible Computing to Everyware


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