SPACE10Writer

SPACE10 is a future living lab on a mission to design a better and more sustainable way of living. We do this by exploring projects and solutions that pertain to food, shared housing, digital interfaces and more.

I’m part of the Natural Interfaces lab. We explore how people can interact with technology in more natural and intuitive ways, resulting in applications that complement everyday human behaviour.

In particular, I focus on writing about new technologies and their social implications for our own channels, as well as crafting copy for our augmented reality apps such as IKEA Place and other fun stuff. I also host our series of lectures,
‘Designing for Natural Interfaces’.

Writer
February 2018 – present

Illustration by Inkee Wang

Beyond Borders

‘Beyond Borders' is our new series of articles where we explore how the world is changing from an inclusive perspective. Whether we’re looking into new technologies or sustainable practices, ‘Beyond Borders’ showcases innovations and cultural shifts happening across the world. With this series, we aim to challenge perspectives on how we go about tackling global challenges and invite cultural nuance and diversity into the conversation.

The first piece in the series is called 'Beyond Borders: Redefining Urban Mobility in South Africa'. We talk to mobility consultant Nigel Zhuwaki about putting accessibility first in the mobility conversation, rejecting the spectre of apartheid-era urban planning and leveraging smart technologies for good.

Read it here.

Designing for Natural Interfaces: Mobility – Lecture Notes

A research-driven piece about the corporate and governmental race to bring fully autonomous vehicles to market, and how a future full of self-driving cars could transform our lives for better and worse. Here's a small excerpt:

"Perhaps the most intriguing idea hovering around self-driving cars is the complete transformation of the very concept of a car. For if we don’t have to spend our time in cars actually driving, what could we be doing instead? Perhaps we could use these cars as hotel rooms when we travel and have them shuttle us to our destinations while we sleep or eat a meal, for example. If we stop thinking of cars as vehicles and instead view them as “driverless rooms sitting atop an all-electric drivetrain”, the opportunities start to seem endless—both for people experiencing these services, but also for brands providing them for us…

…Which brings us to the more troubling implications of a society full of autonomous vehicles. After all, these cars safely drive because of a combination of computer vision-enabled cameras, sensors and machine learning algorithms. Machine learning works by exposing these cars to mass amounts of data about roads and behavior so that they can learn to drive safely; computer vision lets them monitor and understand their surroundings so that they can react accordingly to situations. That combination begs the question: what kind of data do these cars absorb about the passenger and their surroundings—and who do they feed it to?"

Read the full piece here.

Designing for Natural Interfaces: Vision – Lecture Notes

A research-driven piece about computer vision and the implications of machines that can understand the world around them. Here's a small excerpt:

"Indeed, many diverse industries actively benefit from developments in computer vision, but the same yet-to-be-answered questions linger around all of them. Will computer vision live up to its supposed promise of making life safer for people all over the world? Will we develop systems for alleviating privacy concerns as computer vision develops—or will the speed of advancements in the field lead to ‘surveillance states’ and increasing eradication of individual agency? And more tangibly, will augmented reality offer us the option of playing with our daily experiences when we want to—or is it, as one researcher puts it, ‘the death of reality’?"

Read the full piece here.

Designing for Natural Interfaces: Voice – Lecture Notes

A research-driven piece about voice technology, digital assistants and how talking machines could enable brands to take much more intimate roles in our lives. Here's a small excerpt:

"It’s no coincidence that the planet’s biggest tech giants are the ones moving voice technology forward. On the base level, they have the financial and human resources available to push research into this field further than most; but in tandem with that, these brands are actively competing against each other to build the go-to voice platform that most people will use. The payoff of that is that the users will become increasingly loyal to the brand, but also more consistently exposed to services and products offered by them. For example, if you tell Alexa you need more soap rather than choosing a soap brand on a screen or in a shop, Amazon will make the decision for you. As in: Amazon will get to take a much more intimate role in your shopping habits, and also decide which of its soap suppliers it promotes and which it doesn’t, presumably based on how much these suppliers are willing to pay.

But perhaps more importantly, these tech giants recognise that voice technology is the future of brands from an emotional standpoint. Almost half (43 per cent) of regular voice technology users globally say that they love their voice assistant so much that they wish it were a real person—and bizarrely, almost 30 percent of global voice technology users have admitted to having had a sexual fantasy about their digital assistant. These statistics prove that voice technology’s potential to intimately integrate into our lives is quite staggering—which could give brands unprecedented opportunities to become an emotional and vital part of people’s lives. In light of that, a few questions become important."

Read the full piece here.

Pssst: turn the sound on

IKEA Place

Bridging the imagination gap with the help of augmented reality.

IKEA Place is an app that lets you place furniture in your own environment using your phone, all thanks to augmented reality. SPACE10 launched the app in September 2017; since then, we've added features such as visual search (snap a photo of any object and the app will find you the closest IKEA product) and magic flatpack—an easter egg where you can 'step' into a virtual wardrobe and enter a totally new environment from your phone.

Since joining SPACE10, I've written a large chunk of the copy for IKEA Place, mostly focusing on user flow. IKEA Place has been downloaded over 2 million times to date, enjoys a rating of 3.4 on average in the app store and has picked up awards at the Webby Awards, D&AD Pencil Awards and many more.

Photo: @victorstawicki

Oh, I also host events and do a bit of public speaking!

In particular, I host and moderate our ‘Designing for Natural Interfaces’ lecture series which – with the help of kick-ass speakers – focuses on exploring how technology is changing the human experience.

Photo: @jmvotography

I also hosted a talk about SPACE10's Natural Interfaces lab and the social complexities of designing with artificial intelligence in mind at Forward Festival, Vienna.

Keep your eyes peeled for more talks soon.