Praise for Enchanted Objects
“Beyond the internet of things we find the internet of enchanted objects, a medium designed for pre-attentive cognition, conveying information subliminally and delightfully. I highly recommend this book. It is filled with evocative examples that will influence our imagination and help us move beyond our fixation on the screen.” John Seely Brown, former chief scientist, Xerox, and visiting scholar at the University of Southern California
“David Rose’s vision for enchanted objects and their platforms is spot on. With this book, he offers innovators and businesses a convincing guide for success in this space.” Glenn Lurie, President, Emerging Enterprises and Partnerships, AT&T Mobility
“David Rose does not predict. He extrapolates the future from personal experience and technical fluency. His balance between a romantic humanism and scientific destiny is unique. His storytelling is intellectually rich, laced with history and never pedantic. Enchanted Objects is a truly enlightening read.” Nicholas Negroponte, Professor and Co-Founder, MIT Media Lab; author of Being Digital; a founder of WiReD Magazine
“David Rose has written a spectacular book. While glass slabs have already entered every nook and cranny of our lives, Rose paints a much more compelling future where we are deeply engaged with enchanted objects. Rose’s vision of human computer interaction is more exciting and persuasive than the current norm and this brilliant book gives us a road map for how to get there. While I’ll continue to invest in many things that improve our glass slab world, I believe that the future is enchanted objects.” Brad Feld, Managing Director at Foundry Group
Absolutely enchanting. David Rose synthesizes a treasure trove of insights collected since at least the early noughties, when he started Ambient Devices.
The book’s argument is mesmerizing: Ordinary objects can be magically transformed by adding just the right amount of digital intelligence. The examples are beautiful (consider the umbrella on the cover, which lights up charmingly when rain is predicted). The vista described could only come from someone who’s been trained in both physics and design. The author has woven a path that gives him the sharpest informational feed via on-going research in the Tangible Media group at MIT’s Media Lab. Yet, instead of merely provocational demos, his ideas also kickstart into companies that hone his vision by competing to deliver delightful products (Ambient Devices being one example, and intelligent GlowCaps yet another).
No one has pulled together a better account of a path toward emotionally engaging experiences. The book’s framework organizes numerous instances where whimsy can be combined with deep digitial signal processing power by thinking deeply about human needs/desires. Each chapter builds out his alluring argument. First, that tech trends (ubiquitous glass screens; prosthetic/bionic support; socially endowed robotics) converge to grant us access to Enchanted Objects.
Few would argue that computational power offers us almost unlimited power. David Rose’s most valuable contribution is harnessing that power to a soaring imagination.
He maps out 6 human drives (Omniscience, Telepathy, Safekeeping, Immortality, Teleportation, Expression), often drawing inspiration from myths, fairy tales, fantasy, and super hero comics.
If you are an experience designer (and everyone today, from sales, services, and software really is), you owe it to yourself to dive into this delicious intellectual feast. If you’ve read Don Norman, Kevin Kelly or other design thinkers from IDEO/Media Lab, you will find that no one has done a better job weaving every strand together than Enchanted Objects.
Let me close with one caveat: This book focuses on glimpsing a better future, where designers respect our attention and show true consideration for the delicate balance between the worlds of work & home. Yet the author doesn’t wrangle with the less attractive/inspiring aspects of the gnarled hairball of human emotion. The 6 human drives inspired by fantasy fiction uplift our imagination, but many a reader will also wonder where we would put the 7 deadly sins (e.g., sloth, greed, lust). But, just as you might reread the Little Prince long after learning that avionics involves more than soaring high, you can return repeatedly to this work for inspiration.
Fantastic! As a professional product designer and software developer in the IOT industry, I was absolutely blown away by David’s vision for IOT and his ability to communicate his vision in a very accessible narrative. If you are interested in IOT, user interaction, or technology in general this is (IMO) a must read book.
This book was somewhat of a manifesto. The author, David Rose, did a truly great job of detailing this vision of the future. The pacing of the book was good as was the progression or development of the ideas. In this fast paced era of exponential development, the examples still felt relevant. In an overarching sense the book is broken into sections to help digest all of the ideas. One thing that I liked was that despite the fact that his topic was essentially creating magical items for a future that looks like a fantasy book, his statements and forecasts came off as measured, level-headed, and reasonable. Many of the other future technology, smart-(blank), and IoE books I’ve read come across as dystopian, unbelievable, or as preachy.
The first section is an introduction which quickly progresses to a discussion of the contrast to or context within which “Enchanted Objects” exist. I found this section particularly interesting as it dealt with four different design philosophies – glass slab or “Terminal World”, wearable tech, robots/digital assistants, and of course enchanted objects. I appreciated Rose’s recognition that the future shouldn’t be and likely won’t be based on a single one of these design philosophies but rather a blend of each. The point of this book isn’t so much to ban screens in favor of some steam-punk vision of the future, but rather to bring attention to the other possibilities beyond apps on screens.
The rest of the book talks about the motivations behind and benefits of enchanted objects as well as design advise for how to conceive of enchanted objects and how to make they more helpful or successful. One of the most fascinating topics that cropped up repeatedly was the concept of preattentive interfaces or ambient interfaces. He defines these as interfaces at the very bottom of the interactivity and information processing scale, being objects that communicate on the periphery of our attention or in an unused “channel” such as sound, smell, touch, etc. Again, this topic of the book was eye-opening as I’ve been aware of this type of interface but never truly thought about it’s potential, something that is definitely going to change after reading this book.
In summary, Rose does a great job of presenting a highly relevant topic that is approachable by anyone and especially relevant to those in any sort of design or user experience field. It certainly feels right now like designers creating enchanted objects, spaces, and systems are to be the new norm. For anyone wanting to make sure they’re on this ship when it sails, I’d say this is required reading.