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About Critical Mass

The way a customer experiences a brand has a profound impact on perception, purchase behavior and loyalty. That’s why our work begins and ends with our clients’ customers. We listen to them. Validate with them. We even include them in our experience-design process. We do this so we can make things simpler, more useful, more entertaining, more convenient. And hopefully, in some way, change their lives. 

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Empathy Technologies: Humanity At The Heart Of Emerging Tech

“Human design” is one of those phrases that seems to crop up everywhere these days. I often get the sense that the rise of the term mirrors the accelerating pace at which technology evolves and enters our lives. With more tech, we need to be more human. Technology should connect us, rather than divide or devalue us.

But the more I work in this field, the more I see humans as the true connector — even among technological devices. I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Think of a bank customer who opens a checking account on their laptop, pays a bill on their iPhone and gets a balance notification on their Apple Watch — that person is the focal point of a personal digital ecosystem. As a result, that ecosystem is totally unique — the customer’s preferences, goals, habits and unique story define it. If the designers who create this customer’s overall banking experience focus too much on the Phone, the Watch or the Laptop, then they need to stop and reorient their focus to where it belongs: the customer.

Don’t get me wrong; due diligence is necessary (data-driven research, heuristic analysis, journey maps, design stories, gap analyses, etc.). But there’s something more — a human element that separates “okay” from “fantastic.” When you push a little harder, care a little more and design for humans, not for devices, you simply get a better result. The customer wins and the brand wins.

That's why, at our agency, we’ve surrounded ourselves with tech-savvy people who believe that humans give purpose to technology, and not the other way around. It’s easy to forget how when computers first made their way on to the market, they were pretty useless for most people. They were the domain of a small number of technologically-inclined folks until companies like Microsoft came along and designed user interfaces that made it possible for everyday people to get involved. Overnight, the technology had a new purpose — making the lives of everyday people easier or more entertaining. It’s an old example of a persistent truth: Technology can do impressive things, but world-changing things can happen when humans create valuable user experiences for other humans.

We’ve come a long way since that time. Today, we have AR/VR, AI, voice and facial recognition — mind-blowing advances. My eyes still pop when I see a next-generation VR experience or when my phone correctly picks out all the pictures I’ve taken of my daughter.

As the head of a digital experience design agency, however, I believe I have a responsibility to ask, “What’s human about this?”

For example, facial recognition seems like an inherently human technology, but it makes me think of the devastating problem of losing the ability to recognize faces — especially of those we love. A little over two years ago, a few people in Tunisia, working for Samsung, used a technology as common as Bluetooth to help Alzheimer’s patients recognize friends and loved ones (by detecting nearby phones). The “Backup Memory” app really struck me and still does, because it took widely available bits of tech and did something important, beautiful and deeply human — giving the ability to recognize faces back to people who were losing it. That’s one way to improve life in a deeply human way. Now, with Apple’s iPhone X hitting the market, advanced facial recognition of a very different sort will be a functional part of our everyday lives. That phone will be an incredibly powerful agglomeration technology. And now that Apple has released it, I believe incredible good can be done with it if we design for humans, as humans. 

Read more at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/11/20/empathy-technologies-humanity-at-the-heart-of-emerging-tech/#417657752870 

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