At Ambient Devices, I became increasingly interested in motivating behavioral changes with what Richard Thaler called “Nudges.” Novartis approached us to collaborate with Yves Behar to design a magical pill box to increase adherence to their blockbuster hypertension drug. They hoped to solve the problem that doctors were prescribing it, but people would only take it 50% of the time, resulting in poorer health, unnecessary hospitalizations, and the loss of hundreds of millions in revenue for this one drug in Europe alone. We learned that in America insurance companies lose $300B due to people not taking medications they are prescribed. I founded a new company, Vitality, to focus on this issue. The GlowCap is the first internet-connected medication package that has been proven in a randomized clinical control trial to increase adherence to over 90%. The GlowCap is distributed by Express Scripts, CVS and Walgreens specialty pharmacy for diabetes, transplant, HIV, and more. The company was sold to biotech maven Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Union Point is a new dense urban development rising 12 miles south of Boston. Its mission is to elevate the human experience through the ideals of sustainability, architectural beauty, education, creative arts, technology, culture and inclusivity. I am creating an innovation center within the old power plant at the heart of the future downtown. The center will feature a large LEGO tangible city model with data projection from above. Visitors can see multiple version of the future city using an agent-based dynamic simulation developed at the City Science group at MIT. The model shows realtime congestion, walkability, energy consumption, autonomous vehicle use, and even happiness scores. It’s part SimCity (except real) part WestWorld (without the gun fights and robots.) The goal is to create a place that maximizes diversity, access, vitality, and resiliency.
David Rose, the author of Enchanted Objects, sees a future where we can all live like wizards.
The world seems particularly enraptured with voice-based conversational interfaces: Siri, Cortana, Alex, etc. During a short stint as an futurist-in-residence I worked with an IDEO team to speculate: what will be the next wave in human-computer interaction? Our answer: Look to mimes, orchestra conductors, dancers, and sign-language experts. Gestures are faster, more expressive, easier to recall, and don’t sound as silly as speaking to a computer when your friends are around. Computer vision, depth-sensing cameras and neural nets make it possible to train your own gestural lexicon.
Read more on the IDEO Blog: Why Gesture is the Next Big Thing in Design
I invented this beautifully simple lamp that tunes into online information to help people track the thing that matters to them the most through subtly changing colors. It was the first product of many for my company Ambient Devices, funded by Nicholas Negroponte and Hiroshi Ishii of the MIT Media Lab. The product won awards, garnered an incredible amount of press, and found distribution in catalogs and at the MoMA store in NYC. We made the first batches in the U.S. with a $300 retail price, and eventually moved manufacturing to China, where we were able to reduce to price to $100. I’m proud that we realized early on that the data API should be open, to let people track anything. And they did: Chris Sacca (then at Google) tracked surf heights, Bloomberg tracked sales-team performance, Massachusetts General Hospital used it to help people with diabetics monitor blood sugar levels, NextBus used it to increase ridership, PR firms gave it away to their customers to track media hits, and Ned Johnson who started Fidelity has one on his desk to track the stock market.
Have you read the book Quiet by Susan Cain? When I did, I was stuck by the insight that the introverts and extroverts of an organization have the SAME amount of good ideas, but often the introverts’ ideas are drowned out and suppressed by the extroverts. A professional facilitator in meetings is effective but expensive, so why not embed a facilitator into furniture? The Balance Table hopes to subtly encourage more conversational mindfulness by illuminating a constellation of lights in front of the speakers using the most airtime. They glance down, see the imbalance on the table, and naturally encourage others to contribute.
The Balance Table was created for software company SalesForce with collaborators Gensler Architects and a fantastic team from the design firm Tellart.
Learn more at TheBalanceTable.com
We are now standing at the precipice of the next transformative development: the Internet of Things. Soon, connected technology will be embedded in hundreds of everyday objects we already care about and know how to use – our cars, cubicles, wallets, watches, umbrellas, even our trash cans -- objects that will respond to our needs, come to know us, and even learn to think ahead on our behalf. Rose calls these devices – which are just beginning to creep into the marketplace -- Enchanted Objects.
Some believe the future will look like more of the same—more smartphones, tablets, and other devices, with screens embedded in every conceivable surface. Rose calls this the Terminal World—and it won’t last forever. Instead, future technology will inevitably spread out, combining itself with the objects that make up the very fabric of daily living. Such technology, says Rose, can be woven into the background of our environment--enhancing human relationships, channeling desires for powers like omniscience, immortality and creative expression, and ushering the enchanted objects of fairy tales, scifi, and fantasies into real life.
Groundbreaking, timely, and provocative, David Rose has written a powerful manifesto about the way we live with technology—and a blueprint for a better future, where efficient solutions come hand in hand with technology that delights our senses. Enchanted Objects is essential reading for designers, professional and armchair technologists, entrepreneurs, and the business leaders looking to stay relevant in the Internet of Things.
Open office environments have been the bane of productivity. Sure they’re great for serendipitous chitchat, but if you’re trying to write or code then the chatty sales guy at the open table wreaks havoc on your flow state. Transform your desk from open to insulated with a simple wave of your hand. Inspired by the book Origins of architectural pleasure your Camouflage Desk makes you feel sheltered and concealed, like a big cat hidden by trees at the edge of the savanna peering out on the world. Deep anno-acoustic felt and subtle ambient brown noise insulate you from nearby office distractions. Hello flow.
Two of the fastest moving technology waves, the Internet of things and artificial intelligence are converging with the promise of redefining mobility, jobs, housing, food production and more. In this talk, I propose 12 AI and IOT interventions that will lead to more human-centric and sustainable urban environments.
After the launch of my book Enchanted Objects, I had the privilege of trying to explain the Internet of Things to John Stewart on The Daily Show. Yes, I was incredibly nervous, but I came with a couple of objects that make storytelling easier. And a even got a belly laugh out of Stewart. Phew.
A well-appointed library used to have a globe. Now your coffee table can host all of Google Earth with a gesture-based interface to fly around the world. No, your kids can’t play Minecraft or watch YouTube on your coffee table, but they can get a street view of every place that Google goes. This prototype was done in with master engineer Paul Franzosa.
San Diego Gas & Electric found us. They want to move to “demand management,” where the price of electricity changes based on the load on the energy grid. Like Uber’s peak-pricing, but for electricity. On a hot day when everyone cranks their AC at the same moment, the load surges. And so does the price. Energy companies need a way to communicate the change in price continuously throughout the day. They need an always-on, ambient display that people so people will notice and respond. Dozens of energy companies conducted multi-month pilot studies and came to the same conclusion: The Ambient Energy Joule motivates people to conserve 20% of their energy use when prices go up. Arnold Schwarzenegger, then governor of CA, called this program (don’t forget the accent) “smart shift and save.”
Living in cities has become incredibly expensive. A 1000’ apartment in dense city is now over a million dollars. Ori Systems applies robotics technology to this problem to make small spaces transform into any room you need. The space hogs of beds, tables, chairs and couches fly away or transform to make an ideal kitchen, then a living room, a walk-in closet, a study, workout room, or bedroom. I'm an advisor to this MIT Media Lab spinoff Ori systems, who is name is derived from “origami,” the Japanese art of folding paper to create beautiful and remarkable objects. Learn more: OriSystems.com
This conference room pendant lamp subtly tracks the passage of time and encourages different types of conversation over the course of a meeting. It starts by casting blue light upward for blue-sky generative energetic thinking, then gradually descends and shifts to warm downward light to subtly motivate more convergent, sequential thinking at the end of the hour. I collaborated with architecture student Sam Parsons for this work.
At Warby Parker, we design and sell hundreds of eyeglasses and sunglasses to fit a dynamic and diverse customer base. The amount of choice we provide is tremendous, so, how does a customer narrow what might seem like an overwhelming assortment? Where do you start?
Selecting the right frames is partially a style choice, but it also has to do with what physically fits your face. And fit is complex. How do we take some of the expertise and advice from the retail experience and embed it in the e-commerce app? It would require a very sensitive depth-sensing camera, which might be too expensive for a retail store and certainly not within the reach of most consumers.
The new Apple iPhone X introduced a technology that the Warby Parker Vision Tech and Research teams have been waiting for. The phone projects a grid of 30,000 points of infrared (IR) light, while a dedicated IR camera and neural network learn a depth map of your face. Apple calls the system TrueDepth. Using the TrueDepth camera, Warby Parker can now recommend a subset of glasses that are the most likely to fit your face.
What if we lived in a world with flying carpets, ruby slippers and magic mirrors? MIT Media Lab instructor David Rose believes these enchanted objects of fairy tales and science fiction are the future of the internet of things. In his vision of the future, technology atomizes, combining itself with the objects that make up the very fabric of daily living.
I’m intrigued by the idea of gardening at home, but I predictably kill almost any species of plant. Oh, and we don’t have a yard. All the same, I’m confident that if a very patient computer vision camera were tasked with taking care of single tomato plant, it might succeed. This patient camera would need to know precisely how to care for this variety of tomato: make sure it had the right amount of water, fertilizer, and the perfect frequency and amplitude of photons. I’m now an advisor to Jenny Boutin, who has launched just the thing to give even me a green thumb. SproutsIO is an indoor, soil-free gardening system that supplies salads for the family year-round and can save hundreds of dollars in produce that often goes uneaten in the bottom of the fridge. Sproutsio.com
What’s a natural way to keep tabs on your aging parents without the tinge of big-brother? This cabinetry embeds a one-to-one dedicated video-conferencing link between grandparents and their grandkids, so they can chat as often as they’d like, just by opening a door.
Inspired by the filmmaker Errol Morris’s interrotron, the video camera is concealed behind a half-silvered mirror, so you’re looking directly eye-to-eye. A light box provides perfect facial illumination, and the door even glows when the other person is nearby. Thanks to my collaborator Sean Salzberg, who is now a technologist in NYC.
I am honored to be featured in the Boston Museum of Science exhibit “Wicked Smart” about innovators and inventors. The display include many of my designs from the Ambient Orb, Umbrella, GlowCap, Google Earth coffee table, and Balance Table. As part of the show I was interviewed by WGBH on Innovation Hub. Here's the interview.
I was invited to speak at the GroupM conference called Illuminate in Copenhagen.
I’m an advisor to this smart-mirror pioneer focusing on retail stores. Their mirrors allow customers to see side-by-side comparisons of outfits, to spin around and take a short video to share with friends, and to dynamically change the color of a garment as they stand in front of the mirror. Memomi has deployed full-length versions of the platform for luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus, created smaller makeup counter versions for many beauty brands, and are working on a shoe department version for those high-margin heels. memorymirror.com
What’s the ideal environment for a perfect rest? Researchers at MIT Media Lab hope to find out. We experiment and measure how sleep is affected by music, temperature, bedtime stories read in other languages, scent, swaddling, motion, vibration, different hues of light and patterns, a gentle breeze—anything our students can think of. We feed the sleep-stage data into a machine-learning algorithm to determine your unique and perfect environmental sequence for sleep.