We’ve all experienced the frustration of running late in the morning. Despite best efforts, there are days when you simply can’t get yourself out of the house in time, and you leave knowing that the long commute will end with you walking into work fifteen minutes late.
Humans are built to process complexity. Indeed, we are faced with unprecedented levels of complexity practically every moment of every day. While this flow can be potentially overwhelming, humans are evolved to make sense of the deluge. Our capacity to process complexity is the result of the unified sum of our senses; each sense, working in harmony, pulls in loads of information that our brain pieces together to help us interpret the endlessly intricate narrative unfolding around us.
Data in the City
You have a front row seat. Unfortunately it is the driver’s seat of your family car and a multi-vehicle accident just unfolded before your eyes. People are almost certainly injured. Traffic is backing up in all directions. As you take out your smartphone to report an emergency, you notice that first responders are already on the scene. Small aerial drones have honed in on your location and incident information is being streamed to a control center. Traffic management and dashboard navigation systems across the city have been updated and rerouting has begun. Have the victim’s medical records been accessed using their personal digital identifiers?
In the Field
“Even when the computer starts using me as a human sensor for its research, in my mind, we’ll still be a team.”
— Hammans Stallings, frog Principal Strategist
The addition of sensing and connectivity to products is rapidly changing what we learn from them, how we perceive them, and how we use them. Those same technologies are also feeding backwards, changing how we design products.
We all know the facts. The US elderly population is huge, (relatively) wealthy, and growing. As this influential group expands, we face a basic question that is proving tough to answer: how and where can we best care for each other as we age?
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein
The human brain remains one of the least understood structures in the natural world. Yet over the past two decades, researchers have developed a growing kit of remarkable tools that are beginning to shed new light on the inner workings of our most complex organ.
As humans, we are driven to seek ever-deeper understandings of both the world around us and
the world within us.
A growing number of us do just that by tracking the hours we sleep, the calories we eat, the miles we run, and many other types of inputs, states, and measures of performance.
Sensors are inherently of their context: the physical context they sense and the human one they often infer, but also of the corporations that manufacture them, and the organizations that install them and base decisions on the supposedly objective data that they create.
They’re everywhere. We attach them to our wrists, embed them into our medical devices, and mount them onto the lampposts that dot every block of our city. Some sensing technologies capture our imagination and attract our constant attention. Yet many go unnoticed, their insides packed with unknowable electronic components, ceaselessly counting, measuring, and transmitting. For what purpose, or to whose gain, is often unclear.
The Oxygen Gap
Rwanda and Kenya experience an infant mortality rate that is eight to ten times greater than that of the U.S. The top six causes are all related to respiratory failure, and in many cases these deaths are avoidable if patients receive proper ventilation and oxygen. However, access to oxygen in east Africa is limited, expensive and unreliable.