I am in love with the Social Web of Things
I am somewhat addicted to following trends in user behavior, and use it as a foundation when making my own decisions. I get all warm inside when I see a product that challenges current standards and brings about new ways of looking at the way we interact with people, things or services.
The User Experience Lab at Ericsson Research has come up with something that creates exactly that warm feeling of – oh my… I… love this. They call it the Social Web of Things and it is a social network for things and services that you use in your daily life. I stole a few minutes from Marcus Gårdman and Joakim Formo from the User Experience Lab to get answers to some of my questions.
It is a place for devices and services to connect online. Today, we connect to our friends through online networks, and we see that things and services can connect and exchange information in a very similar way.
For example, if the weather service reports that the temperature is about to drop while I am at work, my house heating system can read that information and turn up the heat preemptively to save energy. The calendar can also read from the road conditions service that the roads are getting slippery; it then sets my departure time a few minutes earlier.
Why don’t you create a normal interface, rather than a social network?
We have done user studies in Sweden, USA, Japan and China and the findings show that when using a regular interface, the user thinks of the objects as only having 1-1 connections. Networks to users are synonymous to cable, meaning that they would think that the things would be connected to only one object.
The social network metaphor gives the user an understanding that the network is connected to many things and services, and it also provides a user interface that people are familiar with. With the social network interface you also have the possibility to scale the interface, which is very important when you have hundreds of connected things and services.
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