Saturday, August 29, 2009

Artefact's Blog: Contextual Interventions for Sustainable User Experiences

I recently came across a thoughtful blog post about contextual design and user experience, written by "Dave" at Artefact. In his post, Dave discusses the variety of monitors, interfaces, and devices that have recently been developed to help people monitor and save the energy that they use:

Contextual Interventions for Sustainable User Experiences

"There is a great opportunity to make contextual interventions during people’s behaviors. The intervention might be a change in affordances or simply information. It’s like a nudge but the key is to design influences that are tightly coupled with specific user behavior, making a feedback loop that takes advantage of the way we naturally learn. Thus, it isn’t helping analyze your utility bill, it’s suggesting that you turn off the faucet while you’re not using it."

I especially liked Dave's example of the Disappearing Pattern Tiles. If you stay in the shower too long, the pattern disappears. For people who daydream too much in the shower, this clue might really help them conserve water, in an unobtrusive way.

Disappearing Pattern Tiles


This might work for certain types of people, but some of us might do better with a timer that turns the water from hot to cold after so long. A wake-up call while you take your morning shower! I guess this wouldn't be considered contextual, but it might change long-shower taking behaviors among some of us pretty quickly!

The people who make up the Artefact group are 'big advocates of surface computing and natural user interfaces". Artifact is a research and design studio in Seattle, WA, that designs user-focused software and technology product and services. The Artefact blog posts are informative.

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