ZenStorming

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Archive for the ‘The Senses’ Category

What do You See? – Are You Doing These Two Things to Improve Your Observational Skills?

Posted by Plish on October 6, 2015

We all know what one swinging pendulum looks like.  But what do multiple swinging pendulums (pendula 😉 ) look like?

I love the pendulum wave because it highlights two key aspects to improving observational skills (and observation is essential to design and innovation!).

  1. Pay attention to the angle of observation (i.e. perspective) – Are you seeing something in the only way possible?  Can you observe the phenomenon from other directions?  Is it the best angle?  From a particular angle, what’s moving and what’s standing still? What’s surrounding what you’re looking at? What’s in the foreground and background?
  2. Be cognizant of how much time you spend looking at something – Are you spending enough time observing something?  Do you feel confident that you’ve seen all there is to see in the time taken? Can you learn something by looking at it less? (Think a snapshot vs. a video)

If you didn’t spend enough time looking at the swinging balls, you could reach inaccurate conclusions as to what was happening.  At one moment they are swinging in a snake like motion.  At another, it looks random.  Look at it from a different direction and totally different conclusions might be reached.

I remember when I was learning to fly a glider, it became second nature to pay attention to other aircraft.  The above two points were especially important in determining if something was on a collision course.  Seeing aircraft moving on the horizon wasn’t  alarming.  It was seeing them NOT moving – and then getting bigger that signaled impending danger.

The angle of view, and the length of time I spent observing, were important to properly assessing the situation.  Look for too short of a time and the speck in the sky isn’t recognized as another aircraft.  Change the direction of the plane I was flying and now the approaching object’s shape and trajectory become more apparent.

This isn’t just about ‘hard’ objects, you can look in a ‘soft’ manner as well.  Is the scowl on the person’s face because of an emotion (short time frame) or a mood (longer time frame)?

Next time you’re looking at something, spend some time interiorizing these two questions.  Reflect on how you’re looking at something, and for how long. Try to look at things from different perspectives.  If everyone is looking at something from the top, try to see it from the bottom.  If people only glance at something, sit down and really look at it for minutes at a time.

If nothing else, you might be taken by the beauty of the world that surrounds us, and you might see something for the first time!

Posted in Best Practices, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, Service Design, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Design Better Products Using These Seven Tips From SongWriting

Posted by Plish on July 2, 2015

You know how much I like music. You also know how I like using parallels from other industries to supplement what I do.  I came across a great article from BMI (that happen to be the Performing Rights Organization that I belong to) that discusses 7 things to look for in improving one’s lyrics.  After all, a song has less than a few minutes to hook you and if the lyrics don’t work, the song doesn’t work.  It dawned on me that focusing on these 7 facets can also improve your products/services.

Here are the seven tips and how they apply to product design:

  1. Is everything you’re writing related to the hook/message of the song?  Is everything in the design related to the message/meaning of the product?    What message or vibe do you want your product to convey?  Are buttons, directions, colors, shapes, feel, smell all working together to convey the same message?
  2. Have you used details in your verses? Have you used details appropriately in the product?  Architect/Designer Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Details call attention to the various centers of a product.  They can work together or provide distraction.
  3. Have you already said it?  Are there unnecessary redundancies in the product?  Not only is excess information (excess detail) annoying it can be confusing and lead to errors in use.
  4. Have you said enough?  Just as saying too much is a problem, not saying enough is equally bad.  Designers can assume that a person using a product knows everything the designer knows about the product: the context of use, how it works, etc.  These assumptions can then covertly get built into the design resulting in frustration and product misuse.  As a designer ask yourself, “Does using this product require knowledge that only I have?  Will the person using this say, ‘I didn’t know I had to do x for y to work!'” If the answers are “Yes” or “Maybe” then find a way to overtly communicate that knowledge.
  5. Is your chorus lyric the main message of your song and is it memorable?  The chorus is the part of the song that most people remember and join in singing.   It sticks in our heads.  Is the main use of the product memorable – does it get stuck in your head?  Does the product create a type of obsession?  Do you want to go back for more?
  6. Do your words sound good sung?  Does the product communicate naturally?  Is the product communicating in ways that are congruent with the desired experience?    Is there a unified brand experience? Does something seemed forced about the product interaction?
  7. Are the little words like “and,” “but” & “’cause” used properly, or can they be removed altogether?  Every action leads to an action and/or reaction.    Do I have to press this and hold that to make something work?  If I swipe but don’t use four fingers will it cause something undesirable to happen?  Does everything in a product get straight to the point?  If it doesn’t, it should be by design, not by accident. Little words like “and” and “but” create connections that can lead to confusion and a lack of intelligibility.   If they can be removed, remove them.  If you can’t remove them, make sure that each “and” or “but” in the product design is important and essential.

There you have it. Next time you hear a song that you’re singing along with, think about what makes that song work.   More importantly, think about ways to make your designs sing! 🙂

 

Posted in creativity, Design, Experience, innovation, Innovation Tools, Musical Creativity, Service Design, The Senses, User Interface | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Want to be More Creative? Change the Lighting

Posted by Plish on September 27, 2013

Posted in Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Creativity Videos, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Research, The Senses, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Never Underestimate the Power of Beauty

Posted by Plish on September 15, 2013

Think about this, next time you’re designing a product, a service – an experience…

Looks Like Cow Poop to Me

If a fly lands on your food, or your hand:

Wave your hand,

chase it away,

try to kill it!

flies are dirty

they land on manure and waste…
King of the Hill

If a butterfly lands on your food, or your hand:

pause,

don’t move,

gaze in wonder

it’s a sign…

it doesn’t matter where it’s been

it’s here now

and that’s all that matters…

Posted in Arts, Design, Experience, nature, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Many Dimensions of Beauty

Posted by Plish on May 11, 2013

Sustainable innovation occurs when the mind dwells in the many dimensions of beauty,

where like breeds like…

A friend shared the following video on Facebook.

It’s simple and profound.

One could say:

It’s beautiful.

Posted in Arts, Biology, Design, innovation, nature, Science, Sustainability, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sound, Remembering, and Sleeping – An Innovative way to Design Memorable Experiences

Posted by Plish on April 22, 2013

The idea of learning while we sleep has been around for almost a hundred years.  It turns out that getting information while we sleep doesn’t appear to be a terribly successful way of learning. But all is not lost.

If we learn something and sleep on it, we do in fact process information and thus can retain and categorize information more effectively.

Now, researchers have determined that if a sound is experienced along with something that we want to remember, hearing that sound again helped recall the original experience.  In addition, if that sound is heard while we sleep, it seems to cement the memory of the experience even more than simply re-hearing the sound in a waking state.

In other words, if you see a picture of a cow, and you hear a ticking clock, just hearing that ticking clock the next day will probably help you remember the cow.  However, it you hear that same ticking clock sound while you’re sleeping, your ability to remember the picture of the cow will be improved greatly when you hear the ticking.

So,  it appears that sonic branding, like I  discussed last week, can even have a more powerful impact if those sounds can be heard while people sleep.  This could create a powerful way to remember experiences if say, audio brands were interspersed in relaxing music that played while we slept.

It could also be used to design classroom experiences. Key points in a lecture could have musical notes or sounds as an accompaniment.  Those sounds could be given to students in MP3 form so they can listen to those sounds when they study and sleep.  They could replay those sounds later to help with recall.

I could see it used as well for training purposes.  People do a certain task to certain musical tones.  When they’re first learning, they can listen to those tones as they sleep.

What if operating rooms had musical sequences to help nurses, techs and surgeons remember pre-operative prepping procedures?

How could you see this research being used?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Brands, cognitive studies, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, innovation, Research, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sonic and Multi-Sensorial Branding

Posted by Plish on April 16, 2013

Over at FUSE 2013 , Scott Power, Senior Brand Strategist for Kaiser Permanente, discussed sonic branding vis-à-vis KP’s work with Audiobrain.

Power pointed out how sound is being used as a way to reinforce, not only the Kaiser Permanente brand, but their services, thus helping people get healthier.

Sonic branding is hardly new,  yet this powerful method is underused.

Many people think of a brand as represented by a visual trademark- a company saying: “This is us and what we represent.”  However, with regards to audio branding companies say, “This is what we are offering, and this is what we want it to sound like, and how we want it to impact your senses.”  But, it doesn’t need to stop there!

Walk into a McDonald’s. It has a certain smell.  Order a burger.  Nothing smells like a McDonald’s burger. Those smells are all part of the brand.  What about the colors? The feel of the cups?  The taste? The sounds that you hear when you wait in line?  Leave McDonald’s and imagine what it would be like if every car company had its own distinctive ‘new car’ smell.  What if each doctor’s office had its own smell that helped patients be more calm?

The brand is more than a logo, trademark or tagline.  The brand is tied intimately to the experience of a product or service.  It speaks through the languages of touch, sight, taste, sound and smell.    It’s creates the greatest impact when, not only does it speak for the company and its offerings, but you and I actually understand the language and it resonates with what we expect the brand to be saying. There needs to be consistency, or paraphrasing Sartre: pink cake needs to taste pink!

The exciting part of this, is that Audio branding is only the beginning…

Posted in Brands, Co-Creation, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, Healthcare, innovation, Musical Creativity, Service Design, The Senses, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Designing the Future? Check out these 5 Websites for Innovative and Inspiring Materials

Posted by Plish on March 20, 2013

soft, hard

glowing, shiny

smooth, rough

warm, cool

sharp, dull

touch, see, taste, hear(?!)

 

Reflect for a moment on where you are now:

Probably sitting somewhere….Wearing something (if not, I hope you are not in public)…Your feet are resting upon something…You’re looking at a screen, touching it perhaps..you are smelling and feeling the hot cup of coffee in your hand…the rings on your fingers…

Your experience of now is mediated through materials of all types, shapes and sizes.  The clothes, upholstery, floor, cup, tablet screen, coffee cup, the coffee, even the air, your skin…all materials…

Materials are so foundational to our experience of life that we often just take them for granted.

But, these are exciting times.

New materials are being created daily, materials that respond to temperature, to vibration, to light…materials that change shape in magnetic/electric fields, materials that don’t pollute the environment…

What we can make in the world is limited more so by materials than by our dreams…

Here are some really cool websites, some free, some not free, but all display a dizzying array of materials of all types.

OpenMaterials.org This site is all about ways to DIY amazing materials.  It’s about sharing material experiences.  Check this out.

Materials for Designers – Great site from the Materials Information Society.  Great database.

Transmaterial – Materials that redefine our physical environment.  Amazing stuff here.

Material ConneXion – This is a great site.  It is also a subscription based site. However, these folks offer more than just materials, they can be innovation partners. And, if you live in the areas where they have their display rooms you can actually see and touch the materials in their database. It’s worth a subscription to these folks.

Materia – Similar to Material ConneXion but this database is free.  There tagline is “Materialize the Future.”  Their website is a great place to start.

This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you have any other sites, please share them.

Henry David Thoreau said, “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.”

Please don’t settle and let your dreams become woodsheds.  Learn about, and experience new materials.

~The more we know materials, the more we can make dreams reality~

 

 

 

 

Posted in Architectural Design, culture of innovation, Design, Experience, Fashion, innovation, Nanotechnology, Open Source, Sustainability, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Color is Your….

Posted by Plish on January 18, 2013

coloursa

What color is your brand?

No, not the colors in the logo, but what color is your brand?  What is the color that authentically speaks and shares of its essence?

What color is your product?

No, not the color of the housing, but what color do people see when they look at your product? When they touch it? When they hear it? What color are the support services you offer? What colors emanate from your customers?

Do all those colors harmonize?

Pay attention…

Colors always speak their minds

~

What colors do you live and breathe?

Posted in Authenticity, Brands, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Emotions, Experience, innovation, Service Design, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Innovation (and Living!) Starts with Seeing

Posted by Plish on November 3, 2012

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

At the end of August I was watching a bumble bee go from flower to flower.

“Hmmm…” I said out loud.  I went inside and grabbed a camera.  You see, these bees didn’t go inside the flower.  They landed on the outside of the flower, did something with their mouths, went off to the next flower, and did the same thing.

Today I mentioned this to a neighbor who used to raise honey bees.

She had no idea what they were doing. She had never seen, nor heard of that happening before.

Now, I grew up around hostas and bumble bees my entire life, and I’d be willing to bet  that this particular species of bumble bee is not only doing this behavior in my yard, this year.  Yet, it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever seen this.

I have been looking at flowers and bees all my life! But, what had I seen? What do I see?

How much do we really see when we look at things?

If we’re not seeing, how can we ever know – really know?  What opportunities for enrichment have we missed?

Spend some time consciously seeing.  Not only will innovation opportunities become apparent, your life will become richer.

 

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, Design, innovation, nature, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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