Researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is one of the world’s best known psychologists, and while trying to find out the reasons behind why certain people, especially artists, get so engrossed while performing their art that they lose sense of everything around them, he discovered an interesting phenomenon. He observed that when a person is voluntarily doing something that he (or she) is enjoying and finds just a bit challenging relative to his skillset, and when he continues to do that for stretched amount of time by his own standards, that person enters into a state of optimal experience, referred to as flow by Csikszentmihalyi. In this state of flow, the person becomes unaware of his surroundings, forgets about his worries or life’s basic necessities, and could effortlessly go on and on for hours with complete involvement and satisfaction.
“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen.“
While entering a state of flow is a rare phenomenon not experienced in everyday life, we regularly seek periods of increased concentration, during which we are able to focus on certain tasks which are important to us. These tasks may either be work related, entertainment oriented, or of any other nature whatsoever that we intend to give our attention to. Such distraction free sessions are milder versions of flow.
Products and services enable consumers to interact with elements of their world, and help decide the quality of various experiences that are formed in their daily lives. This gives great power to designers/makers of these products and services in being instrumental in whether they are helping their consumers move towards a state of flow or away from it. This is important because consumers are more drawn to repeatedly interact with products which support the drift of their experience towards flow as against products which hinder this drift. The lesser the friction the consumer experiences while interacting with a product or service, the more flow supportive it is.
In 2016, a new kind of cooking oven was introduced, called June Oven. It gave homemakers the freedom to be elsewhere while their dish was being cooked by eliminating the need to physically monitor the meal under preparation. The oven has an HD camera fitted on the inside which clicks work-in-progress photographs and shares it real time with the cook via a smartphone app using the oven’s wifi. It can also generate a time lapse which can be shared with co-cooks. Also, its self-learning technology, in coordination with the weight sensors, find out what type of food is being prepared and suggests a method that would be appropriate.
On demand television programming, though aimed at empowering the viewer to watch content at their own chosen time using delayed viewing, upsets the basic economics of broadcasting. Viewers, with the new found power to forward, rewind, and pause, choose to skip advertisements. This makes it difficult for broadcasters to keep advertisers investing in TV commercials. Brands lose TV as a medium of advertising, and broadcasters lose out on the money they make on ads.
In 2016, communication agency These Days came up with an interesting concept, which saw daylight as broadcaster SBS got interested in its novelty. The concept is Pause-Button-Advertising, or BREAKVERT||SING . Whenever a viewer would press the pause button, a still, animated or interactive advertising would display, and the frozen pause screen would transform into a targeted media space. The new revenue model immediately attracted 75 brands, increasing the advertising sales of SBS for the upcoming year.
Amazon Dash Button
On 31st March 2015 Amazon made a new product announcement, the timing of which sparked rumours if it was an early April Fool’s joke on consumers. It wasn’t, and the announced product, Amazon Dash Button, made reordering frequently bought items like washing detergent, disinfectant wipes, paper towels etc a lot easier by reducing the process of hopping on to Amazon website or app, choosing the product, confirming billing address and making the payment, down to a single step – pressing a button. Buyers just have to press around button on the tiny Dash device that they can stick or hang anywhere in their home of office, and reorder the product linked to the device in one single step.
Expect your consumers to be more inclined to embrace products & services in which they have less to deal with, and more so like never before.
Brands and governments are pledging products and services which are characterised by non intrusive interaction between humans, systems and machines. Anything apart from meaningful engagement is being considered redundant, and even meaningful engagement is expected to evolve and become leaner.
There always is a basic need of consumer underlying beneath consumer expectations, and it is this need that a trend and all the innovations depicting that trend attempt to satisfy. And since consumers are humans, changes in their basic needs are highly unlikely and very gradual, if any. Shown here are a few basic needs of consumers for illustrative purpose.
Now before you ask, the basic consumer need that our trend No Intrusion caters to is Freedom of choice to focus on what they want, when they want.
What caused this trend to
Have another glance at the few basic needs that we have listed. Almost all of these have been in existence ever since the evolution of human civilizations. So why is it that innovations come up when they do, and not earlier? The reason for this is – Change Factors. These are certain changes in the external environment that unlock new ways of meeting the same old needs, in the form of innovations that we witness. These factors could be slow and gradual changes (like penetration of internet or increasing life expectancy), or quick events (like Brexit poll outcome or MH370 plane mishap).
Let us understand the change factors that caused the trend No Intrusion to emerge.
1. Hyper Connectivity
People are able to get through to other people very easily nowadays. They calibrate the expected revert times of their callouts for a response according to their chosen channel. For an email its a day, for a whatsapp like chat service its an hour, for an SMS its 5 minutes and for a phone call its few seconds. Patience levels are decreasing and people are getting used to instant gratifications.
This creates frequent, unwanted but unavoidable distractions and makes difficult for people to take out time for their things. And while its tough to cut down on interruptive social interactions, consumers are appreciating brands which acknowledge their paucity of productive time and make efforts to bring out products and services that allow them the space they need.
2. Internet of Things
Technology was keeping quite occupied till a decade back and was mainly focussed on addressing the necessities and curiosities of science and society – agendas like communications, medical advancements, battle props, space exploration, construction, transportation were on top of its list. The wave of consumerism sweeping high since the dawn of the 21st century has given technology a breather and led to its adoption in applications for addressing the relatively fancier human desires.
Internet of Things is one such pillar of this transition. The myriad number of permutations of the kind of things that can now talk and exchange information among themselves has created several opportunities that are just beginning to be explored by brands for presenting smarter offering to consumers. Infusion of decision making intelligence into connected mini ecosystems has reduced the need for human interference, and consumers are loving it.
3. Privacy Paradox
Passengers at airports loathe an intimate physical pat down. And after privacy groups taking up the issue of a vaguely nudish image scan of the head of US Transport Security Administration’s research lab from a hands free full body airport security scanner, these scanners, costing approximately 175000 USD each disappeared from the airports. Yet passengers expect unbeatable surveillance and security at public transit systems.
Similarly users of social networking sites do not wish to be tracked personally, but expect friend addition recommendations without having to explicitly list them. This complex consumer expectation poses a challenge for brands and governments alike and presses them to provide customised and intuitive experiences in subtle yet efficient manners while interacting with their offerings.
Which other businesses
are adopting this trend?
An emerging trend will usually have more than a single innovation depicting it, which can be spotted in unrelated industries. Innovations coming in from diversified industries signify a stronger trend current, and more the count of innovations that are spotted means other businesses are already adopting it. If there’s a trend that only a handful of innovations are depicting, it means you have uncovered a trend that has just begun to emerge, and you are therefore in a position to become one of its earliest adopters.
DermaTrax is a new “smart dressing” that has the ability to monitor the patient’s wounds wirelessly without the need for regular visual inspections. It has temperature, moisture and pH sensors inside the dressing, which can work automatically to monitor the condition of the wound. It can also monitor the condition of the dressing as well. The information is relayed to the nurses’ station wirelessly enabling remote monitoring.
Bruno is an evolved dustbin. You don’t have to struggle with getting the tiniest bits of your home dirt up on a dustpan and emptying them in the bin. Bruno has a small opening on its base, where all the dust can be pushed towards with the broom. This opening has an integrated vacuum cleaner, so all the collected dust is very smoothly sucked in and ‘automatically collected in the bin’s trash bag. Apart from this avoid-the-dustpan feature, the bin also intimates you when it’s running low on trash bags, so that you can pre-order those without having manually check the inventory.
Built out of the persistent problem of sexual harassment on the streets of Egypt (ranked the worst Arab country for women, with 99% reporting sexual harassment), Harass Map is a tool which enables suppressed women to anonymously share and report sexual harassment incidents along with the exact location and description of the incident. It provides them with a virtual alternative to approaching police authorities for bringing to light their story and avoids all the shame and stigma that women in Egypt have to bear while reporting such incidents. All the incidents collectively populate a graphical interactive heat map of the country with real time statistics. Each victim receives help in the form of information to avail free legal services and psychological counselling.
Law enforcement agencies in many regions in the world monitor alcohol consumption by habitual DUI (drinking under influence) offenders and alcohol addicts. Apart from the regular finger prick and breath analyser devices, SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring) systems are being widely used for monitoring individuals under probation or parole. SCRAM devices are clamped to subject’s lower leg, above the ankle, and are normally designed to take transdermal measurements of samples from the person’s sweat every 30 minutes to one hour. These readings are then sent to the manufacturer or agency’s server where his or her sobriety behaviour is continuously monitored. Any violation is reported to the court or the probationary officer for further action.
A temporary tattoo attached to a tiny portable electronic circuit has been developed at University of California, San Diego, USA, which offers a new non-intrusive way to track and monitor alcohol levels in an individual. The tattoo emits a formulation that gets the skin to release sweat, which is then tested by the circuit. The result can be wirelessly sent to a smartphone, laptop or any other device thus enabling anyone apart from just law enforcement agencies to keep a check on their loved ones. As a further application it can be linked to the person’s automobile ignition lock thus preventing drinking driving.
Fugro Rail Survey
After European Railway authorities had laid down strict rules and regulations that prohibited accessing the tracks for survey related operations, Fugro, a geotechnical survey and consultancy company was commissioned by ProRail to collect exhaustive data of an entire railway corridor, mapping each and every asset like switches and platforms with 15 mm accuracy. All this had to be done without any trackside surveying, aimed towards minimum disruption of normal train services. In a short span of time, Fugro used innovative remote sensing technologies, including airborne and train-mounted sensors, and delivered 2000 kilometres of accurate and reusable 3D information with mapping of every infrastructure asset on the way.
Under its Technology Transfer Program, NASA is sharing an innovative technology that will determine faults in electric wires, while the circuit is still on and in use. The system will detect the exact fault type (short/open/intermittent) and its exact location in the wiring mesh, thus eliminating the need for the current intrusive method of testing various parts of the circuit and zeroing in on the faulty section. Not only this, as soon as the faulty wire is identified, the electrical power and data connectivity is automatically rerouted to an alternate path. NASA believes this has huge potential in Aerospace, Marine, Automotive, Industrial and Smart grid wiring, and hence is seeking partners interested in commercial application of this technology, called In Situ Wire Damage Detection and Rerouting System.
X Ray Vision
Scientists at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have created a system that can penetrate through walls and track people’s movement by beaming out radio waves that bounce off human body, and processing the reflected back waves using a computer algorithm to map movement in real time. Since inanimate objects can also reflect radio waves, it starts by scanning the area for fixed objects and eliminate them for processing. Then it focuses on objects which vary over time by taking a series of snapshots, this represents moving body parts. To further simplify the process of detecting a moving body in a wide space, the team uses a concept of military radar systems, that can lock and track objects, which improves the overall power consumption as well as image quality. This can provide for non intrusive ways to detect perimeter breaches, movement of troops in warfare, and search & rescue operations.
Home Occupancy Monitoring
Knowledge of occupancy levels of homes and offices at different times of a day can have wide applications like:
Determining the best time of delivery of various doorstep services
Optimization of timing of community services like transportation, grocery stores and clinics by analysing overall occupancy patterns in the locality
Efficient need based electricity distribution by smart grids
Monitoring by local police for safety purposes
A team at University of Massachusetts Amherst, Vanderbilt University has developed a method of monitoring occupancy of homes in a non-intrusive way without the need for deployment of sensors like motion, acoustic, CO2 etc. It does this by leveraging the high correlation between electricity consumption pattern and occupancy level changes in a home. A smart meter is installed instead of a regular electricity meter, and changes in statistical metrics of the smart meter data, such as power’s mean and variance over short intervals are analysed to represent occupancy level of the home.
What it means
Alright, you get it! Interaction that is non intrusive in nature is an important cornerstone in many of the examples shown. But what does it mean for you?
Learn from the above examples and see how this trend can be applied to your offering. Discuss with teammates, bring it up in your next townhall, or give cue from competitors.
Head down for few strategies for adoption on how to make your offering non intrusive.
Pointers for Trend Adoption
Find ways to let your product talk back for giving feedback, state vital performance parameters, provide snapshots of work in progress, or signal any fault.
Multi Sensory Interaction
Use voice, gesture and touch as various modes to enable your customers to interact with the product.
Learn & Evolve
Capture data when a consumer interacts with your product or service, and use it to make repeat interactions less intrusive.
Eliminate or automate some of the actions that are unproductive yet need to be undertaken by your consumer in order to complete his interaction with your product or service.
Developing ATM cards that could display the current balance of their customers’ bank accounts, resulting in fewer visits to the ATM or logging on to internet banking.
A luxury home developer
Using the home’s biometric lock, identify the household member that enters the house and switch on the lights/ AC/ fans etc of the rooms which are usually accessed by the member immediately after entering. The concerned rooms can be identified by keeping a silent track of the member’s past few usage patterns upon entering.
Learn & Evolve
A youthful public cafe
Allowing diners to gesture their rating of their dining experience while on their way out instead of scribbling in the guest register or selecting their rating on iPads.
Multi Sensory Interaction
A consumer electronics manufacturer of office use printers
Integrating their high end printers with Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service which enables it to automatically instruct its Amazon dash to order the next set of cartridges as soon as its toner ink runs into reserve.