CANNES, France—The internet of things (IoT), as a topic, has had marketers buzzing for a few years now. As it slowly becomes a reality in the lives of average people, some brands are getting out in front of the space more than others.
But there's an emerging concept within IoT known as calm design, explained Haydn Sweterlitsch, chief creative officer at HackerAgency, who spoke at Cannes Lions earlier this week. Calm design is all about creating technology that blends seamlessly with regular life, where consumers don't have to necessarily focus on a device or feature while using it. A teapot is an old-world tech example, where one doesn't have to be in the same room to know that the tea is ready thanks to the whistle.
According to Sweterlitsch, Amazon, Google, Telsa and Volvo are brands leading the calm-design movement. None of the brands are his clients, to be clear. In the video below, he explains why those companies already have a competitive advantage.
What other problems could calm design solve? This is a great question. The [internet of things] is going to fundamentally change how people relate to technology, so the tectonic shifts in marketing are really only the tip of the iceberg. The world of tech follows Darwinian principles. Only the platforms, devices and products that gain traction with users or industry segments survive. And beyond survival, for successful technologies to really thrive, they must continually adapt and evolve as user needs and the ecosystem changes. With the velocity of progress we're seeing in AI, robotics and data, we're on the threshold of an absolute explosion in connected, intelligent technology, right? We can only imagine what new strains and demands this will cause on the already frayed and frantic psycho-emotional state of the average user. As Mark Weiser predicted: The scarce resource of the 21st Century won't be technology, it will be attention. Calm design is an effective, elegant and empowering way to have meaningful, useful interaction that doesn't add to the noise and toxicity of our hyper connected world. Our prime functions, as humans, should be thinking, feeling, relating, deciding and acting—not computing. With the ubiquity of connected technology that we'll be immersed within, things may fast-forward from magic to manic to toxic. Calm design and the atmospheric approach to marketing will help allow humans to remain human, in a very real way. And that, in and of itself, is huge.
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