Industrial design and ubiquitous computing

Are designers ready for ubiquitous computing?: a formative study is a very interesting short paper by Sara Ljungblad, Tobias Skog and Lalya Gaye that deals with the challenges industrial designers will face with ubiquitous technologies. The paper report a workshop they ran with designers, in which they presented their ubicomp prototyping platform and collected people's impressions. Although it's hard to generalize, what is relevant here is to look at what they learn in this context:

"A Designer is not A Researcher: The designers tended to have a goal-oriented, problem-solving approach to the context-aware technology, rather than the more exploratory approach that is common in research. The idea of developing applications for already existing objects by augmenting them post-hoc was not considered very appealing. (...) We feel that there is a significant difference between researchers and product designers when approaching context-aware technology. The designers were interested, but viewed Smart-Its as a collection of sensors belonging to an end-product, rather than something that could be used as a material during the design process, to explore and learn about “smart” products. This suggests that these designers were only interested in a conceptual understanding of the technology, not a hands-on understanding of it. The question is whether such conceptual knowledge really is enough when designing “smart” products."

Why do I blog this? because this sort of issues is very common and interesting to investigate. Of course this is very contextualized to their platform but there are interesting elements here.