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Investigating the Internet of Things space and exploring its potential to shape our world in the near future

We Live In A World That Is Technologically More Connected Than Ever. What Does This Mean For Us As A SOCIETY? HOW DOES THE INTERNET OF THINGS EFFECT THE WAY WE LEAD OUR DAILY LIVES?

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Connected devices mapped on Thingful, a search engine for the Public Internet of Things. ­—

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ORIGINALITY STATEMENT _ I hereby declare that this submission is my own work and it contains no full or substantial copy of previously published material, or it does not even contain substantial proportions of material which have been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma of any other educational institution, except where due acknowledgment is made in this diploma project. Moreover I also declare that none of the concepts are borrowed or copied without due acknowledgment. I further declare that the intellectual content of this Diploma Project is the product of my own work, except to the extent that assistance from others in the project’s design and conception or in style, presentation and linguistic expression is acknowledged. This diploma project (or part of it) was not and will not be submitted as assessed work in any other academic course.

Akshan Ish


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COPYRIGHT STATEMENT _ I hereby grant the National Institute of Design the right to archive and to make available my diploma project/ thesis/dissertation in whole or in part in the Institute’s Knowledge Management Centre in all forms of media, now or hereafter known, subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act. I have either used no substantial portions of copyright material in my document or I have obtained permission to use copyright material.

Akshan Ish


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ASPIRATION _ By undertaking the internship at IDEO as a communication + interaction designer, I hope to be able to learn from design-thinkers and innovators with vast experience. There is an immense amount of knowledge to be gained from the environment and the work-ethic of the studio. As an extension of my studies at NID, which taught me to employ the method of learning by doing — I hope that my diploma project will give me the opportunity to apply the skills and thought process I have developed here, to solve complex problems in a real world scenario. I wish to be able to see the impact of design on everyday life. 8th January, 2014. Project Proposal.

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In Acknowledgment _ I am deeply grateful to the National Institute of Design for giving me the support and environment to develop an inquisitive mindset and a pro-active attitude, which helped me through the duration of the project, and will remain a valuable asset for my design practice in the years to come. My mentor, Mr. Rupesh Vyas who has played a pivotal role in shaping my thinking process, and has always been available whenever I’ve needed guidance and direction. Friends and family for bearing with the distance and giving me enough love, freedom and resources to pursue opportunities that I saw fit, often neglecting their own priorities in light of mine. Vanessa, Sebastian, Lorenzo and the IDEO family for accepting me as one of their own, making me feel at home 6,000 km away from home, and pushing me into uncharted territories on more than one occasion. Also, all the love.

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SYNOPSIS _ The great thing about design is that you’re creating the future. The project is a practical, design-based investigation into the Internet of Things. Using the traditional design process, which focuses heavily on creating solutions that emerge out of people’s needs—the potential of the Internet of Things in the future was explored. Personal emergencies in disconnected families was a theme that emerged out of the research, which was exciting and challenging enough to base this investigation upon. The outcome of the project was meant to be a documentation of the insights, opportunities and series of explorations and provocations that could be referenced, and guide further projects in this domain.

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CONTENTS _ Despite a sincere effort to structure this document in a manner that chronologically explains the process and experience of my diploma project, the very nature of the project and the experiences were such that linearity was next to impossible.

01. PROLOGUE _ 14_National Institute of Design 16_IDEO & The Culture of Human-Centeredness 18_Design + Travel 20_Drawing Parallels 22_Internship or Diploma Project 24_The Battle with the Conscience

02. KICKOFF _ 28_An IDEO Point of View? 30_What is the Internet of Things? 34_Early Conversations 36_Who do we design for? 38_Setup for Success 40_Timeline & Methodology

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03. PROCESS _ Research 46_Designing for Sacrifice 48_Preparing the Research 50_In People’s Homes 54_Download & Iterate Synthesis 56_Insight Generation 58_Redefined Brief 60_Secondary Research 62_Scenario Characters 64_How Might We? Design Development 66_Brainstorming 68_Emerging Directions 70_Concept Development 72_GRID 80_Now What? 90_Friendlies

04. DELIVERABLE _ 100_The Internet of People

05. EPILOGUE _ 108_Concluding Thoughts 110_References 111_Colophon 111_Contact

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01. PROLOGUE _ This section intends to set a background and context for the content that follows. It gives an overview of the organization, the influence of traveling and moving into a new culture on design practice, and a brief insight into the internal conflicts and thought-processes around a point of view on design, that ultimately might have affected the outcome of the project.

14_National Institute of Design 16_IDEO & The Culture of Human-Centeredness 18_Design & Travel 20_Drawing Parallels 22_Internship or Diploma Project 24_The Battle with the Conscience

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NID is internationally acclaimed as one of the foremost multidisciplinary institutions in the field of design education and research. The institute functions as an autonomous body under the department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. NID is recognized by the Dept. of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR) under Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India, as a scientific and industrial design research organization. In the early years following independence, rapid changes were taking place within the Indian environment, in economic and social objectives; in production processes and new technologies were beginning to enter the remotest corners of our

sub-continent. At that time, people were sufficiently aware that the process of development demanded a reinvestigation of the postulates and resources that determine the pattern and pace of growth envisioned for India. The Industrial Policy Resolution of 1953 articulated these concerns and indicated broad guidelines. It was in this setting that the Government of India invited the renowned design team of Charles and Ray Eames to recommend a programme of design to serve as an aid to small industry. On the basis of their remarkable document, ‘The India Report’, the Government of India set up the National Institute of Design in 1961 as an autonomous National Institution for research, service and training in Industrial Design and Visual Communication.

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IDEO Kitchen, Munich

IDEO is an award-winning global design firm that takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow.

IDEO Office, Munich

What makes IDEO all those things is that at the core, it is comprised of people across the globe who believe in the human-centered approach, and the environment of the organization is such that it epitomizes this core value. The organization as a whole respects and creates space for each person’s life beyond the workspace. A loose organization structure where hierarchy is created by the responsibility that an individual is entrusted with, removes fear and bureaucracy that allows each person to shine. Only given the freedom and the restraints of a family can people effectively make mistakes and learn from them — thus, the culture itself becomes an incubator for innovation. It is pretty evident that recognizing people for who they are and celebrating it, has a direct impact on their productivity and as a result, on the outcome of the work the organization does. IDEO’s founders have created an environment and a business where people can do what they love in a sustainable manner. The company does not make money to make money, but to provide the resources and lifestyle to its people so they can pursue challenges that they are interested in.

Pretzels—Bavarian specialty

Despite being one of the leading design and innovation companies of today, having a strong influence on design education, and setting a benchmark for the design profession with their work and philosophy, IDEO is nothing but a collection of passionate and fun-loving individuals. Every person has their own fallacies, and the organization

as a whole also has its shortcomings. They have been very successful in communicating their ideals and work-ethic to create an impression of absolute flawlessness in the design community, but the experience of being here and working with teams has been a monumental piece of learning in that nobody can escape failure. The high expectations that IDEO has set for themselves also create an immense amount of pressure on the teams to deliver their absolute best with every single project. There is no real recipe for repeated success. There is only a will to embrace failure, learn from it by experimenting and being open to doing things differently depending on the new situation. Every new client and every new project is an experiment in the way the conversations are held with the clients, teams are set up, the work spaces are arranged, the financial and administrative support is made accessible to project core teams, inspiration is shared, research is planned and strategy implemented. However, this continuous experimentation with the work process is not random. It takes place within a loosely designed framework of innovation and success that is implicitly agreed upon by IDEOers. Most individuals do not have an exceptional skill-set but putting different people with different skill-sets together and providing an environment for them to thrive and learn from each other is what creates exceptional work. This experience was rather different from academia where one is encouraged to develop an individual point of view and enhance one’s own skill-set. It became self-evident that such a training in design school is a strong foundation for an individual to be able to contribute to the team, and the success of the project.

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Herzogstandstr, Munich

There is a difference between traveling alone to some place as a tourist, studying in a different country, and living there for a substantial amount of time trying to feel at home in a new environment, immerse yourself into the culture, make new friends and beat the loneliness, unfamiliarity and craving for home-made food that eventually creeps up from time to time.

U-Bahn map, Munich

The flux created by not being a complete tourist but also not belonging to the new culture, not knowing the language and being distant from family and friends back home is often rather daunting to tackle and come to terms with. For someone who is experimenting with different career paths and fields of work—the added unsurity of being completely outside of one’s comfort zone, quite literally 5750 kilometers away from it, can prove useful if channelized in a proactive and introspective manner. By virtue of being in a creative and liberal field, living and working away from home adds perspective and clarity in some form or the other. It is almost equivalent to being an outsider to your own life to be able to see the big picture while dealing with the mundane but essential details of everyday life such as

food and shelter. One lesson learned has been the importance of family and friends in one’s life. Ignoring the social needs of a human being can be rather counter-productive to one’s professional and personal growth over a period of time. Having said that, there is a beautiful flip-side to living alone in a different country and having an inexhaustible amount of uncertainty and unfamiliarity—everything is brand new! Being as interconnected as it is, Europe is rather easy to move around in. Traveling between countries in Europe feels like traveling from one city to another in India. A lot of the European cities have an extremely rich design and architectural history which is well curated in museums, galleries and on the streets. Even if not a different city, walking around the streets of Munich itself was a great source of inspiration and an immediate mood-lifter. Discovering new alleys, corner stores, cafes, bars, rooftops, music, public swimming pools, discreet spots by the river and the occasional graffiti and event posters around the city always end up making one feel grateful for having the opportunity to experience life in a new country.

Meeting strangers in Berlin

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Mangfallplatz Station, Munich

In the course of my design education and internships, I have had the opportunity to travel to different countries and be inspired by design practices that have emerged in different cultures. With regard to designing systems that impact lives of people at scale, I often find myself drawing parallels and comparisons between similar services designed differently in India and other countries.

Hauptbahnhof Station, Munich

Check-In counters at the Munich Airport

One very prominent example of this is the contrast among public transportation systems in Munich, New York and Delhi. These cities have well connected transit systems in the forms of metro rail and buses. Munich also has a very effective tram rail apart from the underground and subterranean trains. The stark contrast is in the accessibility of these services, which sheds light on the mindset and values of the German, American and Indian societies. In both New York and Delhi, the commuters have to swipe their travel cards in order to enter and exit the platform area and this usually leads to long queues of people with monthly travel passes as well as single trip tickets, since the access points are the same. In contrast, most public services in Munich run on an honour based system where

the commuter with a travel pass does not have to swipe or go through any kind of scrutiny before entering the platform. This leads to a free flowing movement of commuters in and out of the stations and increases efficiency of the transit system as well as allows people to plan more effectively. However, one would realize that there is a huge element of trust that plays the pivotal role in these two scenarios. The service providers in Munich trust the people to have paid for the good quality service that they get in return. The same is not true of both New York and Delhi, where it is harder to contain the large numbers and to trust people to pay for the service they receive unless there is a fear of scrutiny implicitly embedded within the service. This phenomenon can be attributed to the collective fear that American and Indian societies have about security and fraud, simply because of the inability to control the diversity and the number of people who use the service, as well as their histories. Munich, on the other hand, being less cosmopolitan than New York, having much lesser population than Delhi, and a relatively peaceful history after the wars allows the city to trust its citizens to contribute to the development and maintenance of public infrastructure.

The project itself included research in Germany and India, which brought to light similarities and dissimilarities in the two countries in terms of people’s thinking, social systems and infrastructure—all of which informed the process.

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One of the major challenges I’ve had to face with this internship at IDEO is to manage the expectations and desired outcomes of a diploma project in the given time frame and somewhat predefined structure of an internship.

Greetings from fellow colleagues

IDEO’s internship programme is typically of six months, where students from different backgrounds join a particular location. Interns are fully part of cultural life at IDEO, and are included in all company-wide activities. This exposes the interns to a range of people and spaces at IDEO, and involves participation in brainstorms, prototyping, in-context observations, designing deliverables, client meetings and presentations. Since IDEO works on a consultancy model, the influx of projects and their timing is often adhoc. Moreover, the projects are largely confidential. This means that it is not defined as to what project one would be working on from the very beginning, and it is also difficult to talk about the projects unless the client goes public with them. This created some tension for the first couple of months for me, where I was trying to immerse myself in the IDEO culture, getting to know all the people in the office, being part of multiple project discussions, and figuring out a diploma project

at the same time. The opportunity to intern at IDEO was too valuable to lose out on due to this uncertainty, and I decided to take a leap of faith—hoping that I would be able to figure a way out meet the requirements and expectations of a diploma project, with the help of my colleagues and my guide at NID, Mr. Rupesh Vyas. I was able to take part in numerous business development conversations, helped design the new toolkit that IDEO, Munich now uses to communicate IDEO’s point of view on strategy and design, and build relationships with their clients. I also contributed to a couple of on-going projects by participating in brainstorms, and designing end deliverables. It was only in the fourth month of my internship that I was asked to join the team as a full time member for the project that serves as my diploma project. This lead to the extension of the duration of my internship period by two months, but the experience gained by working on a project full time has been invaluable—both in terms of getting the full IDEO experience and being able to present a diploma project that is expected out of a postgraduate design student from NID.

IDEO MUNICH Illustrations to welcome the new interns

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Tim Brown’s address to all of IDEO on the future of the company

Coming for a point of view that is largely based on the rather socialist pedagogy of the National Institute of Design, and having been mentored by faculty who were themselves practitioners of socially relevant design, it proved to be quite a battle for me to decide to do an internship at a largely corporate design & innovation consultancy. IDEO’s purpose is to create positive impact through design, and they have been able to do so with the formulation of IDEO.Org and OpenIDEO. However, I have often found myself wondering what positive impact really means. IDEO itself is a strategy consultancy that works for large corporates to help them innovate and stay relevant in the future. The approach is extremely humancentric but the end game to a certain extent is to make the offerings viable for the client. On the other hand, it is this rather corporate nature blended with a start-up like atmosphere of the company that allows the people at IDEO enough freedom to take up projects that they are interested in and gives them ample resources to do so. IDEO’s main goals are not to expand and grow in number or revenue, but to continue doing impactful

work. I heard in one of the many coffee & cake conversations that IDEO does not make money to make money, but to feed its people. All of this also puts IDEO in a funny position—on the intersection of a business strategy consultancy and that of a hipster design firm. This predicament is often voiced when clients approach IDEO with questions like, “We’re a company that manufactures tractor parts. How do we stay relevant in 2030? What is our future?” In order to answer such questions, IDEO has to be able to put together the best of both worlds. What differentiates IDEO however is the process and methodology. Strategy is the what that IDEO creates, design is how they do it. The battle with my conscience is still pretty much at its high point, and it does not look like that is going to change anytime in the near future. The internship has been insightful, and given me a glimpse into the working of a corporate company. The way the offices are setup, projects are undertaken and the extremely friendly atmosphere IDEO has managed to create however has successfully managed to still keep me in the grey.

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02. KICKOFF _ This section outlines the background for the content of the project and the context in which it was undertaken. Specifically, it focuses on the Internet of Things and the target groups we decided to design for. It also briefly explains the time line and design methodology.

28_An IDEO Point of View? 30_What is the Internet of Things? 34_Early Conversations 36_Who do we design for? 38_Setup for Success 40_Timeline & Methodology

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Building prototypes out of Lego blocks

Designs OnIDEO, in an attempt to drive thinking and discussion around design issues of every stripe and kind through provocation, publishes a semiannual review called Designs On—, part personal perspective, part collective manifesto. It addresses tricky, vexing issues of the day ranging from global warming to time, food, and birth. Designs On— is, at its core, a flexible forum that drives exploration, iterative thinking, early prototyping, and sharing, minus boundaries or constraints.

Playing around with the Makerbot

Offices around the globe participate in this exercise around a specific theme each time to create a point of view around the topic in a practical and provocative manner so as to spur debate and awareness. This project was done with a similar mandate in mind, in order to contribute to a growing set of themes that could be referenced to and inspired by, in the future.

Make-A-Thon Make-A-Thon’s are design driven collaborative events where IDEO offices invite people from the creative and tech industries to join IDEOers for a weekend design sprint around a specific theme. The objective is to get passionate designers, hackers, and digital community members in a room with no distractions, all working towards creating physical & digital prototypes for social good using a fast-paced design thinking and design making process. The outcome of the Make-A-Thon’s are usually exhibited to create an open space for discussion and collaboration. They also serve as a chance for creative professionals and students to meet other like-minded makers and hackers and exchange ideas, and possibly work together. Some of the ideas and prototypes that came out these events have turned into successful startups and lucrative business ventures.

DesignsOn— Website

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WHAT IS THE INTERNET OF THINGS? _ India ranks third on the interest over time scale of Google Trends regarding the Internet of Things

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Data Person





The Internet of Things eco-system

We are already living within this web of sensors - in the hallways of our homes, at the sink in bathrooms, in changing rooms in stores, in the interiors of our cars. The world is full of technology that watches, learns, predicts, and responds. The ability of everyday objects and devices to share data among themselves, and with people—and then that data to be interpreted and leveraged in a meaningful manner is what constitutes the internet of things. We are moving towards a future that lives inside the internet of things. For most people today however, the internet is something they access when they look at a browser on their PC - it’s not something they think they access when they use their phone to check their emails or upload a photo. The terms ‘internet’ and ‘online’ have become antiquated rapidly and can probably be better associated with an earlier era of our digital lives. People do not often realize that the smart phones that they use have multiple sensors inside of them that are able to measure and share data when they are connected to the internet. Subsequently, it becomes even more hidden when the objects that they use everyday like their coffee cups and pillows are embedded with sensors and start to receive and share data. Kevin Ashton, co-founder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center, is credited with coining the term the Internet of Things. Ashton said he first used the term in a presentation in 1999 he made to Proctor

& Gamble on how to link the company’s RFID supply chain technology to the Internet. In the introduction of the Real World Web, by PSFK Labs, the founder Piers Fawkes states that, “As everything from home appliances and vehicles to entire city systems literally comes online, we’ll see an explosion of objects able to capture data about what’s happening in and around them, and report that information out to people and other systems in near real-time. Increasingly, these behaviors will be accompanied by some level of automated response, moving us towards a world that is both self-aware and self-regulating. Driven by a combination of low-cost sensor technologies, far-reaching Wi-Fi networks and cloud intelligence, this so-called ‘Internet of Things’ has far-reaching consequences for the lives of individuals and society, many of which we’re still trying to conceive of and understand.” To think about a highly connected future potentially raises questions about how we are going to live our lives, and if collectively we would alter the way the world functions by being able to deliver knowledge, safety and healthcare becoming predictive rather than reactive, and municipal and industrial systems gaining greater efficiency. Like most other technology, the rise in IoT also brings with itself a whole plethora of issues around autonomy, privacy, data ownership, and inclusive development.

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Examples of IoT Services

Drive Now


Mimo Baby Monitor

Drive Now is an Internet of Things enabled carsharing service provided by BMW and Sixt. Cars are spread out in the city and can be reserved using the app which gives the user a pin. On approaching the car, the user needs to place the Drive Now card close to the NFC enabled device on the car which unlocks the car if it was reserved using the same pin. People can pay per minute or buy hourly packages. The cars can be parked anywhere in the city, removing the hassle of returning the car to the original pickup location. The service is widely used in many cities across Germany.

Tado is a smart temperature control unit that can be attached to any heating system or air conditioner. The heater or AC can then be remotely controlled using the Tado app. It automatically turns the AC & heater on or off depending on the user’s location. It also helps in optimizing energy usage while making sure that homes are at comfortable temperatures when the Tado users arrive.

The Mimo baby monitor consists of a kimono that the baby wears, to which the turtle (with respiration and temperature sensors) is attached. The turtle transmits data about the baby to an app which parents can use to see their baby’s data in real time, set alerts if anything changes and view trends and analytics about their baby’s sleep.

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HereO Family



The hereO smart-watch is specifically designed for children with an app that allows the entire family to stay connected. The watch itself has a GPS tracking device , which is connected to the app that the parents can use to create virtual fences. They are then notified when their child enters or leaves that particular area like the school, playground or home.

Piper is a home security and automation device that is equipped with a motion sensor, microphone, siren, and camera. It is customizable in the sense that home owners can set their rules and get alerts or trigger the siren. It can also automate lights and appliances according to a schedule using a temperature and light intensity sensor. It can be connected with household devices to give the home owner a complete picture of their house even while they are away.

Tvilight has designed a system for cities that tracks vehicles and pedestrians, lighting up the nearest street lamp as they approach. Using motion sensors and predictive analytics, the sensors detect how fast cars, bicycles, and pedestrians are traveling and supply light as required, rather than simply reacting to stimuli. Tvilight’s sole function is responsive lighting, there has been speculation about how the technology could be used, such as traffic lights turning red if an ambulance is approaching.

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Sketching early ideas and thoughts

Health The effects of increased life expectancy and the resulting aging population with effects on individuals and society are at the core of this trend. Culture Rapid urbanization and shifts in economic balances impact people’s everyday lives and the way societies live together.

Environment Energy security concerns and pricing, growing food challenges and water scarcity, pollution and exploitation create new risks and opportunities.

It’s exciting to envision future scenarios where previously analog products becomes smarter, i.e. get connected to the cloud and are able to gather and share data with themselves, other devices and people. Cisco predicts that there will be 50 billion things connected to the Internet by 2020. Already, medicine boxes tell people when its time for them take their medication, children’s shoes tell their parents if their kids are in danger or any place they aren’t supposed to be, and unused cutlery in houses tell their owners that they want to leave. We live in the data-era where virtually anything is quantifiable. Soon, every object that we interact with in our daily lives will have sensors embedded in them. This promises an interesting future, one that can very easily lose meaning when everything is quantified if not designed with foresight.

Early Content Focus In order to focus the exploration and to find a viable, yet universal starting point in this broad field, IDEO assessed many trends that are relevant to today’s societies and to the topic of connected life. The Environment After years of forecasting, environmental impact is now showing up in emerging markets as pollution, and in developed markets as scarcity and cost. There is a strong link between environment and health. So, with limited resources, increased scarcity, and the quality of our core resources depleted, how can we be smarter about what we have, and what we use — and how do we use technology to ensure that less is healthier?

There are already a number of startups like Nest and Tado that have successfully released consumer products in the Internet of Things space, and a huge number of products gathering funding on Kickstarter. A lot of the big organizations are also starting to show interest in the potential that this space holds. Most of them come from a technology point of view, and while this is important—the human factor in this entire Internet of Things equation must be brought to the forefront. Keeping this in mind, IDEO wanted to explore this space and put together a human-centered point of view around the potential of leveraging these 50 billion connected devices to create a more meaningful and sustainable future.

richest potential for inspiration and future offers were seen at the intersection of these three areas— Environment, Health and Culture.

Health The effects of increased life expectancy and the resulting aging population are at the core of this trend, impacting both BRIC and DM. Advances in healthcare make us ask: How to improve quality of life at old age? Aging population creates new challenges and opportunities given this demographic’s self-perception and expectations of health, as well as loosening family units (people live in fewer and smaller cohesive groups).

Culture Rapid urbanization and shifts in economic balances impact people’s everyday lives and the way societies live together. Following the trends in work, cultures mix where workers move. Families shift and stretch across the globe, and foreign educated students bring experiences back to their home countries. Travel and distance create physical barriers between families, which has impacts on lifestyle, health and mindset.

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Initial Questions & Thoughts

MORE DATA­MORE TRUTH? Self-tracking gives the impression to be objective and accurate, but that’s not always true. Who would people trust with all their data & information and why? What are the appropriate times and places in people’s lives for the IoT to be integrated so as to enhance their lives, not hinder them?

My DATA MY RESPONSIBILITY? Knowing more about themselves gives users a new form of responsibility. How can we enable users to make better choices, more independently? When we have all this data, how does this change our responsibility for our own health? What are the motivations to take action? What prevents people from living healthy?

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MORE DATA足BETTER LIFE? Tracking systems provide more data and potential insights that need to made meaningful. How can these lead to actions that actually improve the lives of people? Which situations represent the best triggers or biggest opportunities for people to adopt a new mindset? How does a life-changing event look like?

MORE CONNECTION BETTER COMMUNICATION? New technologies make it easier for people to track their family and to stay in touch, but this does not necessarily mean that the quality of communication is better or worse. How can this improvement result in better quality communication and deeper connections? What does connected life mean for people? Who do they connect with and why? What are the existing solutions and workarounds that people use that we could get inspired by? / 37



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Blank slates & placeholders

Since the topic of the Internet of Things was extremely broad, and so were the mega trends that were identified, it was necessary to narrow the focus to a tangible area. This was done by limiting the target groups that the research would include, taking into consideration that both the developed and emerging countries were included.

The Lives and Needs of Disconnected Families With an increasing mobility of talent and shifts in the global economic powers, there is an acceleration in the migration of educated workforces around the globe. The implications of this global mobility on people’s everyday lives, needs and concerns held great opportunities to explore further to find inspiring directions and potential meaningful applications of the Internet of Things.

The Quality of Life in Aging Societies Developed societies are aging rapidly, with projections of a completely unbalanced distribution of a young workforce & aging population. In this context, how can we provide people with the right tools to stay physically and mentally healthy in an ever changing environment? How can we support people in caring for their aging parents when they are far away, given that they have their own responsibilities towards their families, individual goals in life and stress at work?

Potential Research Participants in Emerging Countries + Migrant workers (white collar) with medical conditions and treatment in their guest country. + Migrant workers with sick family members (such as diabetes, cancer, respiratory conditions or cardiovascular diseases) in their home country. + Parents of people who have migrated to another country for economic reasons. + Health Care Providers in these markets treating patients with chronic conditions. + Elder generation/parents with chronic health conditions whose children are living and working in another country.

Potential Research Participants in Developed Countries + Technologist or expert in connected devices in health care. + Extreme users in the field of sports, e.g. athletes who heavily use self tracking tools, or have used it and stopped doing so. + Extreme users in the field of health, e.g. patients or family members who are at the forefront of self tracking tool usage. + Migrant workers (white collar) with sick family members in their home country.

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Project Team

SETUP FOR SUCCESS _ Design Researcher

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Business Designer


Interaction Designer / Prototyping


Interaction Designer / Visual

Setup for Success Meeting Before the start of every project, the team gets together with a senior designer to list their individual project aspirations, and divide roles and responsibilities depending on the capabilities of each team member and what they would like to achieve or learn while working on the project. This helped to understand the contribution each team member would make and also allow for enough space to be given so they could improve their own craft and skill-set and use the project almost as a prototype to test new tools or methods. The desired outcome of the research was also discussed which helped in the later stages of the project to keep track of where we wanted to get and to distribute the time to the various tasks.

Sharing & Team Communication Tools In order to get inspired and share knowledge about existing products and services already out there, the team set up a Google+ community for the project. This served as an inspiration board, and a common platform for sharing relevant web links, videos, and articles with the entire team. Slack is a simple team communication tool that allows for themed conversations and eliminates the need for a flurry of emails among team members. It can also be integrated with Google Docs & cloud storage platforms like dropbox and box to easily share files. This was especially useful while traveling for field research.

Roles, Responsibilities & Aspirations

Slack — Team Communication Tool

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Project Timeline Internship Timeline



Early Conversations

Project Planning & Setup

Project Content Focus

Sacrificial Concept Generation

Desktop Research

Interviews in Germany & India

Define Opportunities

Content Download


Generate Insights




Design Refinement

Initial Value Propositions

Presentation of the selected concept and Point of View


Analogous Research




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Brief Description of Methodology Setting the Brief The project began with setting the brief which was to develop a practical point of view around the Internet of Things by designing an offer around health, environment and/or culture for aging societies and/or disconnected families. Research Phase The research began with designing sacrificial concepts based on our initial hypotheses, preparing discussion guides and recruiting research participants in parallel. This was followed by a week of research in Germany, and then a week of research in India (10-12 participants in each country). Content from the interviews was downloaded the same day and shared with the rest of the team. Analogous and secondary research was conducted simultaneously. Synthesis Phase All the content from the interviews and our learnings from secondary research were organized to identify recurring patterns and emerging

themes. These insights were then clustered into buckets, and used to define opportunity areas. These opportunity areas were populated with a set of How Might We questions and possible scenarios to spark brainstorm sessions for the next phase. In addition, frameworks were created to understand user segmentation, socio-cultural dynamics, behaviours and motivations. Design Phase This phase is mostly generative. Selected opportunities were brainstormed upon to come up with multiple concept ideas which were then sketched out in higher fidelity to communicate the functionality and nuances of each concept. Quick prototypes were developed to validate the concepts with users. Deliver Phase The selected concept was detailed and refined to bring it to life. A mock online presence was staged to communicate the idea, and the point of view.

Project Calendar

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03. PROCESS _ This section describes the process of the project in detail and highlights some of the important aspects and moments through the process—especially those that were new or highly insightful. Research 46_Designing for Sacrifice 48_Preparing the Research 50_In People’s Homes 54_Download & Iterate Synthesis 56_Insight Generation 58_Redefined Brief 60_Secondary Research 62_Scenario Characters 64_How Might We? Design Development 66_Brainstorming 68_Emerging Directions 70_Concept Development 72_GRID 80_Now What? 90_Friendlies

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Sacrificial Concepts

Daily Journey

Working in a limited time frame and on a budget implies having to extract the most out of the interviews that are scheduled. This requires due preparation and thinking before hand. From past experience, it has been evident that interviews can very easily go off track and it becomes hard to extract relevant insights from the interviews. In order to have meaningful conversations, low fidelity concepts are sketched out based on early assumptions of the team.

interviews. The discussion is focused around the idea itself and not its usability or functionality. Interview participants are provoked using these concepts to gauge their interest, and to trigger their imagination to get them to help the team understand what they would prefer, add, remove or could possibly see themselves needing or using. Sometimes the reactions are completely negative against a particular concept and this helps the team learn as well.

This process of coming up with concepts based on instinct and prior knowledge of the topic, is generally discouraged through out design education but designing in the dark has proven to be quite useful when done with a clear purpose— that of sacrificing it. A sacrificial concept is an idea or solution created to help understand the issue further. It is a concept that doesn’t have to be feasible, viable, or possible since its only purpose is deeper understanding. A good sacrificial concept would spark a conversation, prompt a participant to be more specific in their stories, and help check and challenge the team’s assumptions. Some of these ideas might evolve, and some may be completely discarded. Therefore, it is important not to be attached or fall in love with any single concept from the beginning.

An example of a sacrificial concept designed in this context is the daily journey which is a browser plug-in that shows the location, time-zone and activities of everyone in the family. People could set alerts for when it was someone’s time to take medicine, or to remind everyone of an important event that the entire family had to attend.

The reason for keeping them low in resolution is to be able to produce plenty of them in a very short amount of time, and be able to iterate on them based on the feedback received from the

An interesting insight that team received during the interviews was that people really wanted to be in the know of what their family members were upto but nobody wanted to share their own personal data with their family members. A set of 14 sacrificial concepts were taken into the field and a few of them were shown in each interview depending on the relevance of the concepts to the participant. The most promising ones were iterated upon and evolved in due course of time.

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Checklists, equipment, guides, and a bunch of other things required for research

Technology works best when it's invisible. Privacy does nOt matter to most people. Assumptions to test

Recruiting Since the research was meant to inspire new opportunities, it was useful to find people who represent extremes. Extreme participants help to unearth unarticulated behaviors, desires, and needs of the rest of the population, but are easier to observe and identify because they feel the effects more powerfully than others. By including both ends of the spectrum as well as some people in the middle, the full range of behaviors, beliefs, and perspectives was heard even with a small number of participants. A few of the extreme participants we spoke to were an elderly person with chronic diseases and children living in different continents, a photo-journalist who has traveled to more than 150 countries, and a young woman who had faced domestic violence in her marriage and had to go against the will of her parents to get a divorce. Provocations Before stepping into people’s homes, a list of provocations were framed based on early hypotheses that would be used to assess the general mindset of people when asked to think about the internet of things, smart systems, data sharing, privacy and control. These acted

as a basis to gauge the openness of people to the design solution that was proposed. People in the IDEO office were also shown these statements and their reactions were recorded. Provoking people in a certain direction lead to interesting conversations as people became more opinionated and got into the flow of the discussion. These also shaped and validated the way we thought about the topic. Discussion Guides The goal of the interviews was to go deep into the subject, and the participants were chosen in a manner that there was something striking about them that could be discussed at length. Each of the interviews was scheduled for about 90 minutes. This required a thoughtful structuring of the questions, and categorizing into buckets of family connections, aging, well being, health, safety, technology usage, take on privacy, willingness to adopt new services. However, the guides only served as a reference during the interviews to make sure that all the topics were covered but they were mostly casual conversations held at length lead by the participant and probed by the researcher.

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Interviewing + Translating

A total of 25 people from Germany and India were interviewed in their homes or work places in the course of two weeks. Typically, two team members would conduct one interview—one would lead the conversation while the other would take notes and handle the filming equipment.

Interview Participant

The interviews were qualitative since the research was meant to be generative—used to inspire imagination and think of new opportunities by uncovering people’s latent needs and aspirations. During the interview, it was important to document striking quotes from participants that could later be used as inspiration, or identify patterns. One such quote that came from a 71 year old lady with high blood pressure, whose daughter lives in another country was, “I could imagine wearing a device that connects me to a family member that lives far away, but I wouldn’t want physiological data shared. I don’t want anyone to worry about me. I would find that stressful.” The differences in socio-cultural norms and family dynamics between the two countries also became self-evident during the interviews. For example, people in Germany valued their autonomous

lifestyle and did not want to worry their family members with their health and everyday problems where as people in India expected and depended on their family members to care for them if something went wrong. Interviewing people in their homes was also helpful because it was easy to relate to people’s routines and objects that they interacted with on a daily basis. They could show how they currently went about taking care of themselves, or enact what they would do in a particular scenario. The elderly lady showed her medicine box which she organized by day of the week, and her diary where she recorded her blood pressure manually. During the research, the multiple dynamics of distant family connections, health issues and mental stress became very clear. People who were recruited to help the team understand how they deal with their health problems also spoke about their parents living in another country who were not used to modern forms of communication, so they would rely on the neighbours to set up a Skype call every week.

Ways of organizing medicine and recording blood pressure

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Traveling for Research We traveled to different parts of the Delhi to conduct research in order to cover a wide socio-economic demographic. We tracked our movement while doing so, and the subsequent visualization shows the distance covered and how far we moved from the center of the city.

Tilak Nagar Janpath


Hauz Khas


Distance Traveled: 205Km Individual Steps Taken: 48997


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What We Heard

"The social network in Morocco is important. When our mother doesn't pick up the phone, we call the neighbors to check up on her."

"In the beginning I was more worried. But then I've realized I have to live with this my whole life, so I stopped worrying about it. I rather worry about work."

"People don't want to change, it takes too much energy."

"People ONLY come to me for a checkup when somebody in their social circle has been diagnosed with a severe illness."

"It's a struggle between wanting to be with the family and the safety of Europe."

"Thinking makes you more sick. Praying relieves tension. I don't want to have tension in my life."

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Post-Interview team download

Each interview was immediately followed by a download session where all the notes and footage were digitally stored and shared with entire team. This was done to minimize the loss of any relevant data from the interviews. The shared documents were discussed and interesting quotes and patterns highlighted, to identify emerging themes. After every few interviews, a mini synthesis session was held to put together everyone’s thoughts and document possible directions that looked promising. Feedback on the sacrificial concepts was used to inform the emerging themes as well as iterate on the existing concepts to have a revised version for the next interview. These would differ in resolution, depending on the content that was to be tested. Subsequent concepts were tested on the devices that they were designed for to mimic an actual use-case scenario.

Be Good — a service that gives travel & food recommendations based on the health conditions of the user

Box evolved from a sacrificial concept around allowing family members to share their interests in a personalized manner

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Identifying patterns and themes from the interviews


The Synthesis phase is about moving to ideas from inspiration, and strategic direction from stories. It is the act of making sense of everything that was seen and heard during the research. The aggregation and edition of the research into a meaningful set of patterns and opportunities is the goal of the synthesis phase. In other words, the end of this phase would be marked with the establishment of a concrete redefined brief, and a set of generative questions which would spur idea generation and allow the team to delve into the design phase. Insights extrapolate individual stories into underlying truths, by seeing the patterns, emerging themes and identifying relationships between the information gathered during the research. Insights come from aggregating observations and quotes. It also requires the edition of irrelevant details. This process requires a strong instinct and a vision for the project that makes some observations more interesting than the others, and would end up as the key insights for the project.

While researching about disconnected families, we heard that people use whatsapp, skype and existing tools quite extensively to keep in touch with their families living elsewhere. However, the frequency of this communication was much more amongst Indian families than their German counterparts. Finally, although communication was not an issue, people felt that they could not live experiences in real time, but were only able to document and share them later. This lead to the insight that, Most families have a working system in place to stay connected over a distance but there is a lack of lived experiences and everyday aspects of family life. This came from the quotes like the following, “My whatsapp groups are so active, it’s like living in the same village.” and “So rarely seeing the kids alienates us. I don’t know what they do, what moves them, who they meet.”




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One of the most interesting and challenging themes that emerged from the insights was that of personal emergencies. Many people disconnected from their families talked about their experiences of not being able to be there for their families when a health or safety emergency occurred at their homes. Further, in the context of aging parents— this became even more important as it was hard to predict what would happen in the near future and to be able to react to the situation in time. People who live outside of their home country usually support their families back home financially, but their inability to traverse the distance and be available in person in times of a crisis was a recurring concern. In addition, people did not want to think of the adversities that could happen in the future. The busy lives that people lead leaves them with no mental space to plan for their futures or for their loved-ones, although they did care significantly more for the well-being of their families than themselves. The situation for most people is one where they have to manage multiple responsibilities, at work, their spouse and children, and relatives in their home countries. A few stories about people losing members of their family and reaching home after it was too late also underlined the fragility and

unsurity of the unfortunate truths that everyone must deal with, at one point or another. Most people don’t prepare for an emergency case, in case something would happen to them or their loved ones. The lesser the preparation­—the more scarier and uncontrollable an emergency case becomes. Will the right people be contacted? Who will make what decision for me? Will they do what I want them to do? People desire more self-determination, peace of mind and control for these unforeseen moments. How can we help them prepare early and trigger the right emergency chain when the unforeseen happens? Combining these insights, the redefined brief was formulated to inquire the potential application of the internet of things to help people in supporting their family members in case of personal emergencies. This includes planning, and reacting to an unforeseen situation. Many IoT devices and sensors are employed across the world to predict natural disasters and send out warnings. The question for us was if we could make use of an always-connected world in the future to ward off potential emergencies, and if they were to occur— help people in coping with and reacting to them in a timely and resourceful manner.

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“You don’t want to think about the bad things that could happen.”


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Still from the video about emergencies and planning for them

01 / Preparing for emergencies mostly means connecting to people who can help & are in their social network. 02 / When it comes to emergencies, people prefer to think about control’rather than about risk. 03 / People don't usually think about or prepare for an emergency situation. Good triggers are missing. 04 / A service that helps in emergency situation needs to be embedded in peoples lives, NOT BE DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY.

To dive deeper into the redefined brief, and get a quick understanding of how people think of emergencies, the team asked various IDEO employees across the globe to talk about their experiences with emergency situations as well as how they planned for and reacted to them. This video was shot and edited in a duration of three days, thereby leveraging the IDEO community to quickly gather insight and experiences from across the world.

SF72 — A web platform to prepare San Francisco citizens for natural disasters and emergency situations

Apart from desktop research, the documentation of the vast experience that IDEO has with previous projects helped to quickly establish an understanding of the topic and design How Might We questions to generate ideas from the brainstorm sessions. The projects span a domain of kitchen and house planning, to helping young adults plan and save money for their future, and to helping a city prepare for natural disasters. The learnings from the research done for these projects made it easy to arrive at design principles to take the project forward.

A new digital platform that helps young customers save money towards their goals and dreams

05 / People feel more motivated caring and planning for others than themselves. 06 / People learn from and trust their friends and peers, not experts, to inform their decisions. / 61

3,748 miles


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The Characters


Laura & James live in Munich. Laura is a general physician, and James works for a bank and travels a lot for work. Both Laura & James have an extremely stressful life.


These characters were used to illustrate the scenarios and use-cases of the concepts that were created at a later stage. Creating these personas out of the research helped in putting into context the how might we questions that were used for the brainstorm session.

Their 20 year old son Lucas has just started college in Detroit. He grew up playing computer games and the internet is where he spends most of his time. Being a digital native, he is the technology enabler of the family. Anna is James’ sister who lives in New York. She is an architect, and lives a pretty exciting life that takes a toll on her health. Laura & James feel a little disconnected with their son—now more so, due to the distance. They are concerned about his well-being and want to make sure he is safe. Anna offers to keep in touch with Lucas and make sure he’s okay but its hard even for her since she lives in a different city.



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HOW MIGHT WE? Synthesis

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A research participant showing her whistle, that she uses in emergency situations







How Might We’s are a rearticulation of the problems identified during the research in a future-facing, generative way. They in themselves are not solutions, but suggest a multitude of solutions. The How Might We statement is used to create a mindset of possibility to move from needs and problems to ideas and solutions. This phase in the process aims at opening up the playing field once more with the redefined brief as the foundation.

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BRAINSTORMING _ Design Development

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The results of a rich brainstorm session conducted with 7 people

Brainstorms are super-charged limited duration co-creation sessions where participants who have not been involved with the project are invited to come up with multiple ideas for each How Might We question. Brainstorming gives permission to think expansively and without any organizational, operational, or technological constraints. A considerable amount of care and preparation goes into conducting a successful brainstorm session. After crafting the how might we questions so they are generative & can inform the imagination of people, the team has to make sure that there is enough critical mass in the room (6-8 people). IDEO has been using brainstorms ever since the company’s conception to come up with innovative ideas. These sessions work when there is a mixture of perspectives, experience and expertise in the participant group. All participants need to feel comfortable and free to say anything that comes to their mind, even if its the silliest idea. The practice of generating truly impractical solutions often

sparks ideas that are relevant and reasonable. Solutions are not taken directly from post-it to high fidelity prototype, but the core of the brainstorm session is on building on top of ideas of others. In this sense, brainstorm sessions are like playing with Lego blocks—putting one block on top of another, not necessarily knowing what the outcome will be—but trusting the flow of things. One idea inspiring the next. These sessions are by no means discussion oriented. Each how might we question is given about 15 minutes, and the limited time frame ensures that there is a continuous stream of ideas with no distractions. The result of the brainstorm session was a massive number of post-it notes, which had to be sorted and categorized into themes. Roughly 10 different directions seemed to emerge from the brainstorm. Each direction with its own ideas, and even different ways of doing the same thing.

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EMERGING DIRECTIONS _ Design Development

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Emerging Directions Before an Emergency

During an Emergency

After an Emergency

01. Prediction — When is an emergency about to happen?

05. Alert — What are the different ways to alert people to get the necessary help quickly?

08. Crowd Pull — What can be done to mobilize crowds during emergencies to help out?

06. Communication — How do I communicate with the person who’s had an emergency when they’re in the hospital?

09. Domino Effect — What are the things that need to be set in motion when an emergency happens?

07. Training — How can we train people to handle emergency situations?

10. Wills & Wishes — How can we make sure people’s wills and wishes are followed when an emergency happens?

Toolkit A quick-access toolkit or manual for people to guide them through emergency situations.

Networks Enabling people to access their social networks to manage an emergency situation.

Crowd Pull Mobilizing crowds to help in an emergency by leveraging the numbers and varied experiences.

Why For most people, emergency situations are a first time experience. Knowing the most important things to do can greatly reduce the damage done and enable people to stay calm and collected.

Why Contacting their social networks is an existing behaviour for most people. Making this more efficient and purposeful can ensure that timely help is received.

Why People feel safer when surrounded by people. Effectively mobilizing crowds can reduce the risk of something happening to a large extent.

02. Insurance — How can insurances be more tailored towards emergencies? 03. Toolkit — What do I do when an emergency happens? 04. Networks — How do we create networks of people who are required during emergencies & make them accessible to people in need?

Selected Directions

The Toolkit cluster —varying ideas from emergency checklists to IFTTT platforms

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CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT _ Design Development

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Scenarios and possible use-cases were written down in concrete terms to then inform the design and information architecture of the service. The how of the service is as important as the what. It is usually the how that makes or breaks a particular idea. These use-cases and scenarios were the first step in creating a seamless experience.

Questions such as who are the target users, what is their context, what platform the service should be based on, is it mobile-first, and what is the required technology were discussed and put down in words. This complemented and gave way to early sketches of the concepts. The sketches then provided a shape and form to the said scenarios, and were used to then revert to the scenarios and improve them. It was easier to have discussions and get feedback on sketches which were put in the context of the scenarios. This back and forth process allowed for the idea to evolve beyond its initial conception. Several iterations later, the concepts were taken to the next stage, which was to create landing pages for each of the concepts as if they were consumer facing products.

Using a shared spreadsheet, scenarios for each concept were detailed. From discovery of the service to repeated engagement after a particular use-case and all possible evolutions of the service.

The format for the landing pages forced us to think about the people who would use the service, and helped us focus on the most important elements of the service that needed to be communicated.

Contrary to popular belief, the starting point for developing concepts and designing interactions was not sketching, but writing. Imagining a conversation or a behaviour by putting oneself in the scenario is easier than starting to draw on a blank canvas. Designing real-life interactions inspired by conversations becomes a good practice, since its less abstract.

Early sketches of GRID, which started off being called Emergency Network

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CONCEPT 1: GRID _ Design Development

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GRID is a mobile and web platform that connects people with those in close proximity, who can provide appropriate support in emergency situations.



Why? People with disconnected families often feel helpless when an emergency occurs and they cannot support their family because of the distance. In such cases, the local social networks act as a proxy. People usually reach out to someone who lives close to their family, or their relatives in the same city to check up on their family members.


However, increasingly in big cities, people who live in the same building have very bleak connections with each other. In contrast, due to globalization, it is said that each person is connected to someone else with a maximum of 5 degrees of separation. Online social networks like Linked-In make use of this phenomenon to create opportunities for people by connecting them to those who can help.

How? “Most social media is people you know, sure, but it’s not the people around you, living in your town. Being able to make that connection is a really powerful thing.” — Chuck Totten, user of Nextdoor The rise of social networks means many people have hundreds or even thousands of digital connections to old friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. But increasingly that wealth of online companionship corresponds with a loss of close relationships to the real-life human beings in our neighborhoods. GRID uses the power of social media to connect people to those around them, and their families. It can also be integrated with home automation & security systems, as well as automotives to notify people if there is an emergency. People can then search for a particular person close to where the emergency has happened, by their profession, expertise, or what they have volunteered for. GRID makes use of the people you have in common feature to create a connection between seemingly unknown people to give them the ability to ask for help by lowering the barrier of approaching without context or anything in common.

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Context James’ sister Anna who lives in LA, has a car accident. Anna’s car luckily has sensors which detect that there has been an accident and the car immediately notifies James. Since James lives in Munich, he initially feels a little helpless. He starts calling some people who work with Anna and her friends frantically. They inform him that Anna is losing a lot of blood and they require someone with her blood type quickly. 1. Find Someone James fires up GRID, and the home screen asks him who he’s looking for and near whom. When he says he’s specifically looking for a blood donor close to Anna, GRID tracks Anna’s location from her phone and car signal and all the available donors in her close proximity. 2. Near Anna GRID automatically pulls data from Anna’s medical records identifying that her blood type is A-. GRID then shows the best possible matches close-by.

1. Find Someone

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2. Near Anna

3. Donor Profile On the list, there is a match between Anna and Robert’s blood type. Robert actually lives in Anna’s building. From GRID, James sees that Robert and him actually have 3 mutual friends. This lowers the barrier for him to get in touch with Robert despite the fact that he has never spoken to Robert before. 4. Request James informs Robert about the situation through the app. Robert receives the request and Anna’s medical details. Her current location, existing conditions and allergies, emergency contacts, doctor information is shown so Robert is better equipped to handle the situation when he goes to donate blood to Anna.

3. Donor Profile

4. Request

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User Interface The interface for this concept was designed keeping in mind that people whilst using the service would be in a hassled state of mind. Therefore, it becomes imperative to make the experience as intuitive as possible, and all the information extremely easy to locate.

Subdued map in the background, since geographical position is not of utmost importance in this case

Swipe to switch among lists of relevant people

Clear typographic hierarchy of content

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Contrast between markers for donors / helpers and the person who is in the emergency

Subtle shadows to differentiate between sections Accent colours on important information like blood type & corresponding icon for quick comprehension

Colour Palette

Primary Colour — #4A90E2

Accent — #F00000

Body Text — #4A4A4A

Icons — #9B9B9B

Background — #FAFAFA


Aa Bb Cc Open Sans Light

Open Sans Light Italic

Open Sans Regular











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Landing Page The Landing Pages were designed to communicate the value proposition of the concept to the end user.

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Internet of Things Angle The service can be potentially connected to 3 different hardware elements that act as actuators to notify emergency contacts when an incident takes place.

A Wearable Device

Sensors in the Car

Medical Data

The wearable device can be used to monitor vitals of the individual, as well as proximity to potentially dangerous situations. A drastic change in the vitals, body temperature or stress levels can be communicated to family members.

When cars and other modes of transport are connected to the internet, they can communicate data about the people inside. For example, when the airbags are released during an accident, a notification can be immediately sent to the emergency contacts of the people in the car.

A device or card that contains information regarding the person’s identity and medical history. This data can be transmitted to the donors / helpers so they are better informed when they approach the affected individual.

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CONCEPT 2: NOW WHAT? _ Design Development

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Now What? is a quickreference, crowd-sourced manual for a variety of emergencies Why? For most people, being in an emergency situation is a first-time experience; one that they usually have a very little idea about how to handle. Emergencies come in all shapes and forms. From a leaking plumbing rendering the bathroom unusable to natural disasters that threaten to ruin hundreds of lives and damage property beyond measure. Emergencies are such that, in the moment, people find it difficult to stay collected as they have to process multiple things at the same time. Few of us take adequate measures to prepare for such situations. Human nature is such that one prefers to go on about her life, not having to think about the consequences of an emergency. Now What? aims to provide a handy resource that people can quickly refer to when something happens, and understand the few key steps to take in that moment.

How? Crowd-sourcing as an online phenomenon has been the rage for quite some time now. It’s also quite evident that mass social media platforms like twitter have been highly successful in bringing people together during crisis situations. Tweeting about missing persons, news from disaster prone areas, trying to grab people’s attention towards pressing issues in far corners of the world, has become a norm in the digital era. There is no bigger online crowd-sourced resource than Wikipedia, a free-access, free content Internet encyclopedia, supported and hosted by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation. By leveraging the vast experience and knowledge of people from across the world, Now What? is a vision to create an online encyclopedia of emergencies which is curated by people, focusing on giving people the most important information about the particular emergency that they are in and how to deal with it. The platform is envisioned as a web and mobile service that in addition to being populated by people’s experiences, works on the norms of social media to moderate content—voting and recommending by the users on the most relevant information. To make sure that the content is easy to digest and quickly comprehended in emergency situations, the instruction cards are limited to a maximum of 4 instructions of 160 characters each—supported by an appropriate icon that users can select from an existing database.

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Context Lucas who is 19, and a first year college student in Florida has never been in an emergency before. He gets a push notification from Now What? that there is a tornado approaching and he should prepare himself immediately. 1. What Happened? Opening the Now What? app that he downloaded, he already sees that the Tornado alert is the highest rated topic for people in his area. He checks the recommended ( most voted ) instruction card. 2.Instruction Cards Instruction Cards are created by people who have had prior experience with the specific situation. The card tells him the four most important things that he needs to know and do—in that order. They are accompanied by appropriate icons to make the comprehension easier.

1. What Happened?

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2. Instruction Cards

3. Instructions to help others Now What notifies people if something happens to their friends or family members and shows a checklist of things they can do to help even though they are far away. 4. Adding Instructions The Now What? instruction editor invites people to contribute on a wide range of topics. It is then voted and moderated upon by community managers. The editor itself is extremely structured and forces people to limit the instructions to 160 characters so the instructions are clear and concise.

3. Instructions to help others

4. Add Instructions

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User Interface The same interface guidelines were followed for this concept as GRID, since the scenarios are similar.

High contrast background to make the white text pop out at the user

Simple, clear icons to create an image of the instruction in the user’s mind

Buttons differentiated by other UI elements with a subtle shadow

Accent colour on additional information that has lesser relevance than the instructions

Updates at the bottom, to be kept in mind but not the main focus

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Colour Palette

Primary Colour — #E54B4B

Accent — #4F5F6F

Body Text — #4A4A4A

Icons — #9B9B9B

Background — #F8F8F8


Aa Bb Cc

Now What?


PT Sans Regular

Now What?


Add Instruction 125 characters left

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 1234567890!@#$%^&*


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dealing with emergency situations that we have never faced before.

Landing Page The Landing Pages were designed to communicate the value proposition of the concept to the end user.

NOW WHAT? A crowdsourced manual for emergencies

QUICK INPUT You can quickly write or say what happened on the home screen of Now What. It also shows you relevant emergencies that are affecting your area.

“Checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized.” — Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto

Simple icons to help with immediate comprehension

The collective knowledge & experience of people from across the world can help us in dealing with emergency situations that we have never faced before.

INSTURCTION CARDS See the most important things you need to do when something happens. These instructions are tailored to your emergency situation—crowdsourced and voted by a large community of people who have either had a similar experience before or are specialists in the respective fields.

The four things you need to know or do in an emergency

QUICK INPUT You can quickly write or say what happened on the home screen of Now What. It also 86 \ A Design Inquiry Into The IOT shows you relevant emergencies that are affecting your area.

Alerts from areas nearby

Most relevant instructions are recommended

large community of people who have either had a similar experience before or are specialists in the respective fields.

Clear questions to get the most relevant answers

Limited number of words to make sure the instructions are concise and clear

The four things you need to know or do in an emergency

Alerts from areas nearby

STRUCTURED & CONCISE EDITOR Most relevant instructions are recommended

A card for any situation can have only four main instructions, and each not longer than a tweet. Add a relevant icon to your instruction to make it comprehensive. Descriptions and other information can be added in the details section of the cards.

Been there, done that? Join in & lend a hand. Add your own instruction card for a situation that you’ve experienced, and help thousands of people across the world.

Clear questions to get the most relevant answers

Limited number of words to make sure the instructions are concise and clear

Connect Now What to your friends or family living far away and get notified when something happens, with a checklist of things you can do from far.

YOU CAN HELP EVEN FROM FAR STRUCTURED & CONCISE EDITOR A card for any situation can have only four main instructions, and each not longer than a tweet. Add a relevant icon to your instruction to make it comprehensive. Descriptions and other information can be added in the details section of the cards.

Now What notifies you when something has happened with your friends or family members and shows a checklist of things you can do to help them from far away. There’s nothing like being there, but its helpful to know what you can and need to do.

Access medical details of your friends & family to help them

Connect Now What to your friends or family living far away and get notified when something happens, with a checklist

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Internet of Things Angle Now What? is a platform that is essentially crowdsourced information, and hence, relies greatly on the participation of a large number of people. However, the Internet of Things could have two possible applications. One, in gathering information about possible emergencies in the vicinity. This could vary in scale窶馬atural disaster alerts that are aggregated by city-wide environmental sensors that are installed by the local councils or governments, and on a household scale where appliances could communicate data about their status to the owners. For example, electrical circuits in the house can alert people when they start to heat up, and give the owner enough time to replace them before the circuits cause a fire in the house.

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The second possible application is in being alerted about the emergency situation that a friend or family member is in. This works similar to the earlier concept, GRID, where a wearable device, a smart car, or home appliances with sensors can detect when there has been a major change in the vitals, or behaviour of an individual and communicate this information to their emergency contacts. The extended potential is seen when these devices can automatically call for help when something goes wrong—but most people want to remain autonomous, and to guarantee the accurate measurement of these devices to set an emergency procedure into action is highly unlikely without the approval of a person who is either a family member, or a professional.

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CONCEPT 3: FRIENDLIES _ Design Development

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Friendlies is a mobile app that shows anonymized location data of people from each other’s social & digital networks and their connections to create a safe environment and a higher probability of finding help when required. Why? Friendlies is based on the simple premise that if strangers knew how they were actually connected to each other, the likelihood of one helping another would greatly increase. Given the fact that globalization has decreased the degrees in separation, people now have extended digital connections all over the world. It would not be hard to find a friend of a friend of a friend in the other corner of the world. This phenomenon can be leveraged to make people feel safer, and get help quickly if and when required.

How? Crowds have an innate way to influence a particular situation, for better or worse. As far as safety is concerned, traveling in groups has always been advised. However, its important for crowds to have a common purpose in order for them to act in a resourceful manner. Friendlies aims to do that by using people’s digital networks to create connections between them. By anonymizing people’s identities, Friendlies gives them a non-intrusive way of becoming a part of a crowd. For example, when someone is in danger, all the people around them who have mutual connections are notified and re-routed towards the person who is in danger. The person can also walk in the direction of the friendlies to camouflage themselves in the group to avert potential danger. In case of an emergency, the identity of the person calling for help is disclosed to the friendlies nearby and they are shown the mutual connections so they can foster a relationship with the person and be motivated to help them.

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Context Laura is walking back home from an evening at the bar with her friends. She feels like someone is following her. She doesn’t want the person to know where she lives, or even worse, cause any immediate harm. 1. Where am I? The Friendlies app shows her where she is, and gives her an overview of the safe-zones around her. These are police stations, crowded spaces, open roads, hospitals, etc. 2.Who’s around? Switching to the Friendlies view, she sees that there are a group of people right ahead. She taps the call them here button to notify them.

1. Where am I?

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2. Who’s around?

3. Check Up The people around Laura get a notification, and are re-routed towards her. They are also shown how many others have received the notification. The person following Laura would be less likely to cause harm to Laura when there is a group of people around her. 4. Go To Help When Laura feels threatened, she uses Friendlies to broadcast an emergency. People who were notified are now shown her data, and mutual connections to motivate them to help her.

3. Check Up

4.Go To Help

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User Interface The interface relies heavily on GPS, and aims to create a sense of security for the user, while not alarming them.

Emphasizing on the number of people around to instill a sense of security

Different coloured bubbles to create a seperation between acquaintances and distant connections

Single touch navigation towards safe zones

Overlapping bubbles to depict groups

Buttons in high contrast against the background

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Colour Palette

Accent Colour — #00F00F

Accent — #4A90E2

Accent — #6DD470

Emphasis — #F00000


Aa Bb


Montserrat Bold

Montserrat Regular








Icons & Imagery


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one another through a trail of six people, can we not leverage this to create a safer, more altruistic planet?

Landing Page The Landing Pages were designed to communicate the value proposition of the concept to the end user.

Wouldn’t you help someone you knew?


fine. u are.

You’re going to be fine. No matter where you are.

Listen to Giorgi’s story

Listen to Giorgi’s story



Friendlies works on the principle of degrees of separation. If we live in a world where we are connected to one another through a trail of six people, can we not leverage this to create a safer, more altruistic planet?

Friendlies connects you with people from your social & digital networks, their friends, friends of friends…



+ +

You’ll see you have people you can connect with, anywhere you go. If you’re in a tight spot, just walk towards them and camouflage yourself.

Wouldn’t you help someone you knew?





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Listen to

Listen to

3 minutes away

And if you’re the one helping, know that you’re never alone. You’ll get a walking re-route so you pass the person who called for help. So will everyone else in the area. If there’s something going down, you’ve got a crew!


Internet of Things Angle


Friendlies connects you with people from your social & digital networks, their friends, friends of friends…



+ +

You’ll see you have people you can connect with, anywhere you go. If you’re in a tight spot, just walk towards them and camouflage yourself.



3 minutes away

And if you’re the one helping, know that you’re never alone.


You’ll get a walking re-route so you pass the person who called for help. So will everyone else in the area. If there’s something going down, you’ve got a crew!




17 others with you

Friendlies relies heavily on GPS data, to pinpoint the location of people in an area. Moreover, it connects people via their social networks. A possible application of the internet of things in this scenario is replacing the smart-phone with a wearable device that can communicate location and be used to call for help. However, during the research, interview participants expressed their concerns against wearing such a device which is strictly used to communicate their data. One, because having it on would give them a feeling of being unsafe at all times. People don’t want to think about the bad things that could happen. Second, the focus of the wearable needs to cater to people’s personal priorities, not one-off situations that might take place. It also raises ethical concerns of putting a wearable device on people that communicates their location, similar to that used for prisoners. The positioning of the device needs to be thought through carefully, keeping in mind that people do not want to be monitored and tracked even though they want to be connected to the internet at all times—understandably so.

Crowds can be friends. In case of an emergency, the friendlies nearby will be notified and your data will be shared with them so they can rush to help you out!

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04. DELIVERABLE _ The deliverable for this project was anything but final. Instead, it is a provocation—a mere argument to add to the debate that has been all the rage for the design and technology industry in recent times.

100_The Internet of People

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Is the IoT a gimmick?




Data Person





The term Internet of Things, has been around for a while now. Design and technology blogs have covered it extensively and for as much potential that it does seem to have, the example one comes down to is of a smart refrigerator telling the owner that she’s out of milk. Scaling things up, one can learn how energy efficient their appliances are, how well they drive, or what is their sleeping pattern. Granted, this is an exciting proposition—there have been reports about IoT overtaking Big Data as the most over-hyped term in the technology industry. The consumer market has only seen gadgetry come out of the IoT so far. The phenomenon is in its nascency, but the boom in the number of kickstarter projects that garner attention for a few months and vanish is something one can’t ignore for too long. Designers and technology experts have found little meaningful use for it in the mainstream consumer market. However, it is

not the technology itself that is a gimmick. The result of previously non-communicating devices being connected to the internet and gaining the ability to send and receive data, is that a majority of the input can be taken from these devices instead of the users, to trigger specific actions. For example, the fridge can tell the supermarket that the user has run out of milk instead of the user having to do it by herself. The scenario breaks when the system cannot get the milk delivered to her fridge. The real benefit to the user is when she does not have to bother about the milk at all, because she has other more important things to attend to. The system telling her that she ran out of milk, when she is late from work and tired, is close to annoying. The potential of the IoT can be fully realized when there are services designed on top of the technology, which align with people’s needs and deliver real value to them. The sensors are only an input and output stream—a how, not a what.


Technology, sometimes takes prevalence over the needs of people. Identifying their latent needs and creating services around them is a way to deliver real value.

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The Internet of Things is only valuable when it facilitates the Internet of People The reason for conducting a design inquiry into IoT and following the classic design process was to uncover people’s needs, and understand their point of view on health, emergencies and living in disconnected families. Conducting research in Germany and India, given the difference in cultures and people’s values, brought to light, two different extreme behaviours—autonomy and interdependency. People in Germany are extremely autonomous. They would not want to worry their family members, and hence would not share their medical or safety data. People in India, on the other hand have a high level of interdependency among family members, and hence do not need a digital mechanism to share data. However, in both cases, it was found that during emergencies, local social networks become extremely important. People rely on their

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neighbours, friends and distant family to make sure that everything is okay. The concepts that emerged out of the research heavily focused on leveraging these social networks to get people the help they needed. They tried to bridge the divide between social and digital networks—attempting to make use of people’s vast digital networks in the real world. They also created a way to leverage people’s vast experiences and expertise to help one another during emergency situations. Therefore, it was not that the IoT was disregarded, but when designing for people’s needs and behaviours, social networks became much more important than the Internet of Things. People require people to get them out of a fix— technology can only facilitate the process. The IoT serves its purpose as an informant—the services on top of the technology, still very much rely on the motivations, behaviours and experiences of people in the real world.

The deliverable was a presentation of the content to be included in the designs-on website with the research findings, overview of the concepts, learnings and a discussion space. Since the idea of the explorations was to give shape to an on-going debate, the website will serve as a platform for more explorations and experiments within the IoT space. The hope is that by presenting these provocations and perspective around IoT in the context of emergencies, a global discussion in the creative community can be advanced.

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Individual concepts are presented on the DesignsOn website with a short description. Research and scenario videos showing the concept in action, can also be accessed here.

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IDEO offices across the globe usually hold an open house to showcase the concepts that are designed for Designs On. People from other design practices, technology experts, clients and friends join this event to have a discussion around the theme and the concepts are used as triggers for conversation and debate.

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05. EPILOGUE _ This section consists of impressions from traveling to a different continent to work on the diploma project, reflections and thoughts on the project in hindsight, references and contact information for the future.

108_Concluding Thoughts 110_References 111_Colophon 111_Contact

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It has been quite a journey—from preparing for the Skype interview with IDEO, in Tarun’s cabin, when my website decided to temporarily shut down for exactly those few hours, to today—writing the conclusion of my diploma document on the couch of my temporary one-room apartment in Munich. The experience of traveling abroad was rich in more ways than one. Above all, it taught me to live independently—a skill and a mindset most of us who grow up in urban India with our parents in a upper middle-class family, fail to pick up as young adults. There were times when the ambiguity of what I was doing combined with the loneliness of being in a foreign country took its toll on me—but it showed me how vulnerable I am. IDEO was always a design practice that I as a design student, aspired to. The design process, design thinking, the scale of projects and the impact they created have always been an inspiration and guiding light during my post-graduate studies at NID. To be given the chance to work here—I literally do not have words to describe the feeling. Being around a group of extremely talented individuals for the past 8 months has made me humble. It has made me realize how little I know, but it has given me the reassurance that there are people willing to teach. In that sense, the joy of

academia will never leave me. What I value most about the time spent at IDEO, Munich is being part of a culture that values individual expression, while doing business as a corporate consultancy. In terms of work, I learned the value of being proactive. I made it a point to contribute to the projects in any manner I could. It let me work with different people in the office, and develop a relationship with them. Working on a project, in a team felt like having a temporary family—and the project space, a temporary home. The variety of content and clients that a consultancy like IDEO deals with, and the scale at which projects are undertaken, was quite astounding. To see the value of design go beyond ornamentation and presentation, to systems, services, and future ventures, pleasantly surprised me. The content and the structure of the project itself was a bridge between academia and the industry. It gave me complete first-hand exposure to the IDEO design process that I tried to follow in my classroom projects. It feels fitting to have concluded my years at NID as a part of IDEO. It’s a present from me to the faculty and friends at NID, for taking me in as an unknowing wanderer, mentoring me for over the course of two years and instilling in me, an undying spirit of inquiry and creative discovery.

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References P. Fawkes, S. Lachut, P. Surrena, T. Ryan, Real World Web. PSFK Labs, 2014 R. Adler, R. Mehta, Catalyzing Technology to Support Family Caregiving. National Alliance for Caregiving, 2014 S. Schuermans, M. Vakulenko, IOT: Breaking Free from Internet and Things. Vision Mobile, 2014 Vodafone, Vodafone Group Plc, Connected Worker. Berkshire, 2013 IDEO, HCD Toolkit (2.ed), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Palo Alto, 2013 T. Amabile, C. Fisher, J.Pillemmer, IDEO’s Culture of Helping. Harvard Business Review, 2014 J. Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2005 H. Rheingold, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. Basic Books, 2007

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B. Popper, ‘The anti-Facebook: one in four American neighborhoods are now using this private social network’, 18 August 2014, http://www.theverge. com/2014/8/18/6030393/nextdoor-private-socialnetwork-40000-neighborhoods A. Pacheco, ‘The Emergence of Social Emergency’, 12 August 2014, andrecpacheco/the-emergence-of-socialemergency-be2d67dccd87 J. Quain, ‘Here’s When Crowdsourcing Actually Works’, 18 September 2013, http://www.foxnews. com/tech/2013/09/18/when-crowdsourcingactually-works/ M. Freelen, ‘Smart Salon: The Agony and Ecstasy of Connected Devices’, 9 December 2013, http:// G. Hui, ‘Should Your Product Connect to The Internet of Things?’, 28 October 2013, http://



Document set in 9pt Soho Gothic Pro Titles in Rex

Akshan Ish


A-4, Tower 1 New Moti Bagh New Delhi - 110021

Kellerstrasse 27 Munich 81667 Germany

Photographs from IDEO Archives, and self 24th August, 2014

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A Design Inquiry into the Internet of Things  
A Design Inquiry into the Internet of Things  

Masters Thesis exploring IoT and social networks during emergency situations