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Principles of Calm Technology

With the rise of IoT and ubiquitous computing, the sheer amount of technology around us calls for a different interaction paradigm. One that doesn't constantly scream for our attention - hence the principles of calm technology.

To learn more about calm technology I advise you to read Amber Case excellent book, Calm Technology, in which she describes the principles of calm technology in great depth. Also check out calmtech.com.

Source: Calm technology

The principles

  1. Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention
  2. Technology should inform and create calm
  3. Technology should make use of the periphery
  4. Technology should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity
  5. Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak
  6. Technology should work even when it fails
  7. The right amount of technology is the minimum needed to solve the problem
  8. Technology should respect social norms

  1. Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention

    a. Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak.

    b. Create ambient awareness through different senses.

    c. Communicate information without taking the wearer out of their environment or task.

  2. Technology should inform and create calm

    a. A person's primary task should not be computing, but being human.

    b. Give people what they need to solve their problem, and nothing more.

  3. Technology should make use of the periphery

    a. A calm technology will move easily from the periphery of our attention, to the center, and back.

    b. The periphery is informing without overburdening.

  4. Technology should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity

    a. Design for people first.

    b. Machines shouldn't act like humans.

    c. Humans shouldn't act like machines.

    d. Amplify the best part of each.

  5. Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak

    a. Does your product need to rely on voice, or can it use a different communication method?

    b. Consider how your technology communicates status.

  6. Technology should work even when it fails

    a. Think about what happens if your technology fails.

    b. Does it default to a usable state or does it break down completely?

  7. The right amount of technology is the minimum needed to solve the problem

    a. What is the minimum amount of technology needed to solve the problem?

    b. Slim the feature set down so that the product does what it needs to do and no more.

  8. Technology should respect social norms

    a. Technology takes time to introduce to humanity.

    b. What social norms exist that your technology might violate or cause stress on?

    c. Slowly introduce features so that people have time to get accustomed to the product.