Following on from our post The Internet of Things – creating a user guide for a fridge door, we came across other ways to create e-ink digital user guides that could be attached to the door of meeting rooms, providing information on room bookings, using the equipment in the room etc.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is, according to Wikipedia, the network of physical objects – devices, vehicles, buildings and other items – embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The popular example is the concept of a smart fridge that could warn you when it was out of milk.
Yesterday, we spotted a tweet mentioning SeeNote, a digital version of the sticky notes people use around the house and office.
This eink display is exactly what i want: https://t.co/C6xQ8R9U6t
Excited to get one! pic.twitter.com/6VC7FKP1J9
— harper (@harper) April 26, 2016
This got us wondering if it were possible to create a digital user guide that could be:
- Stuck on the wall (or the fridge door)
- Have a screen that was always on
- Automatically update itself
- Notify you when there was new information
- Run without mains power for approximately a month between charges.
The SeeNote is a little too small for that purpose, so could another e-ink device, such as an ebook reader, be configured to work in this way?
One of the emerging trends in the 2010-2020 decade is the emergence of the ‘Maker Generation’. According to The Economist:
The maker movement is both a response to and an outgrowth of digital culture, made possible by the convergence of several trends. New tools and electronic components let people integrate the physical and digital worlds simply and cheaply. Online services and design software make it easy to develop and share digital blueprints. And many people who spend all day manipulating bits on computer screens are rediscovering the pleasure of making physical objects and interacting with other enthusiasts in person, rather than online. Currently the preserve of hobbyists, the maker movement’s impact may be felt much farther afield.”
One could argue that this is the obverse side to the “It just works” closed ecosystem philosophy of Apple. In the world of making, hacking and bodging things together, people will want the ability to ‘open the box’ and adapt products for their own use.
According to Nokia’s Sondre Ager-Wick, large corporations will embrace this trend:
Take Microsoft. Within weeks of launching Kinect, someone had hacked it and there was open source code on the Internet. Instead of freaking out, they decided to run with it and create a software development kit. It’s thinking like this that will make personalization and co-creation a key driver for how brands and companies create closer relationships with their customers.
To be able to make, hack and adapt products, people need information on how and what to do. This information will come in part from puzzling things out for themselves and sharing knowledge with others, but a key part will also come from product information – the reference and user guides.
Again, from The Economist:
The parallel with the hobbyist computer movement of the 1970s is striking. In both cases enthusiastic tinkerers, many on America’s West Coast, began playing with new technologies that had huge potential to disrupt business and society
As in the early days of personal computing, the user documentation become very important. If this can be integrated with the community-based support forums, we might see new approaches to User Assistance that could ripple back into more traditional technology products.
Cherryleaf’s announced a new service today – Affective Assistance and marketing writing services .
With technology becoming part of everyday life, sometimes the traditional approach to writing user documentation just doesn’t meet users’ needs. It can be the case that the formal and succinct approach to writing User Assistance isn’t right for users of your product or service.
It’s often about adding an emotional factor, being more conversational and less formal. It’s something we call “Affective Writing” or “Affective Assistance”. You can see this approach being used in the online User Assistance for applications such Firefox, where they reported a 13% reduction in the number support calls as a result of adopting this approach.
Consumer technology today:
Consumer technology in previous decades: