Calm technology doesn't sound like something to get excited about, but it's a revolutionary idea -- particularly for the Myo gesture control armband. The term was coined in the 90's by PARC researchers, and was recently revived by Amber Case who sketched out a handful of basic principles that characterize a calm technology:
- Technology should require the smallest amount of our attention.
- Technology can communicate but it doesn't need to speak.
- Create ambient awareness through different senses.
- Communicate information without taking the wearer our of their environment or task.
- Technology should inform and encalm.
- A person’s primary task should not be computing, but being human.
- Give people what they need to solve their problem and nothing more.
- Technology should make use of the periphery.
- A calm technology will move easily from the periphery of our attention, to the center, and back.
- The periphery is informing without overburdening.
- Amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity.
- Design for people first.
- Machines shouldn’t act like humans.
- Humans shouldn’t act like machines.
- Amplify the best part of each.
We kept all of these principles in mind as we designed the Myo + Presentations experience.
Myo communicates with you, but never speaks: haptic feedback (vibrations) create an ambient, intuitive awareness of what Myo is doing. With some practice, the connection between the user and the device is so intuitive you register haptic cues unconsciously. We see this phenomenon in our users again and again.
Myo informs and encalms on stage. By allowing you to control your software with natural, intuitive hand gestures, Myo ensures that your primary task is not computing but communicating in a uniquely human way. Talk with your hands naturally, and Myo will take care of the rest.
Myo makes use of the periphery. Users often tell us that a magic moment happens when they take Myo on stage: they forget they're wearing the device at all. Using hand gestures to control information is so intuitive it feels like there isn't any barrier between them and the technology at all. They're just in control. As soon they don't need to change slides or highlight information, Myo falls into the background. Everyone at Thalmic Labs has experienced this at one time or another: technological control so effortless it feels like casting a spell.
Myo is sensitive to what's best about humanity, what's best about technology, and amplifies both. Human beings have used their hands to manipulate the world around them and communicate with one another for millions of years. The habit of interacting with the world through virtual inputs -- like buttons and touchscreens -- is brand new to our species. By giving us use of our hands in the virtual world, Myo lets us control technology in the most human way possible. Grab information with a fist, flick it away with your wrist, or slide it across the screen with the motion of your arm. We've worked hard on making the technology inside the device so sophisticated that you never have to think about it, and can instead do what comes naturally.
Enjoy Myo + Presentations, and let us know how your favorite technology could get a little bit calmer.