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Amber Case on calm technology

Why next gen devices should be as reliable and straightforward as washing machines

Amber Case explores how humans and technology interact, believing that technology can - and should - "amplify our humanness": that is, help us connect with each other in truly meaningful ways. Her insights help build devices that enable uninterrupted, human-to-human contact, such as tech that makes use of our peripheral attention - via sounds, touch, or light - which leaves us free to focus our attention on more meaningful things.

The researcher and entrepreneur shares her thoughts on what's next in the evolution of calm technology.
Calm Design is about making technology that's there when you need it, not when you don't.
It doesn't get in the way of your life, but seamlessly blends into it. We don't think twice about buying a washing machine or lawn mower. The next generation of technology needs to be as straightforward and as reliable as the long term devices we grew up with.
Technology that's used as a tool can allow for some amazing things to happen. Technology that's used primarily as a form of consumption can be addictive.
I think we can do and have genuinely meaningful exchanges online - think about the grandmother Skyping into Thanksgiving dinner from Hungary, or the people that meet their soulmates online. When landline telephone was first introduced, people were worried that we'd turn away from each other and ...

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Stripping down self-help

Can't stomach loud and showy self-help culture? Some apps are now offering us more discreet and intimate forms of personal development

I have a theory that personal development and the English psyche are not the most natural of bedfellows. That’s not to say we don’t want to live fully, investigate our motivations and seek clarity in life; it’s just that we want to do it discreetly, in our own sweet time. It's a stark contrast to the ravenous US appetite for personal development, a market whose tone is traditionally upbeat, solution-based and affirmative. In business terms, at least, it works: celebrity gurus and international bestsellers have propelled the US market to a worth of billions of dollars.

The UK’s appetite for self-knowledge and growth is certainly there, but Anglo-Saxon habits die hard. We're not about stadium-sized conventions, affirmations and the devouring of books ...

Mood-altering accessories

In a bid to combat information overload, first came calm technology: smart, streamlined tech that limits notifications and interruptions. Think the Apple Watch (although some believe it's actually made things worse), or Kovert, the design house that makes unobtrusive wearables.

On top of eliminating external stimuli that might cause anxiety, we've now got tech that can physiologically change our mood. The recently launched Thync lets you do this using electrical stimulation by way of a headset. For something a bit less intrusive - and ...

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