Technology and Design

In the final chapter of Don Norman's book, he provides various topics that relate to different sectors of the business world.


The topic that resonates the most with me would be the advancement of technology resulting in changes made by incremental and radical innovations. 

To exemplify, I would talk a bit about the history of Assistive Technology. It has been classified into 3 parts: foundation period (prior to 1900), establishment period (1900 to 1972) and empowerment period (1973 to current). In the early 1800s AT followed an incremental method of innovation, trying, testing and chalking out ideas that may help and support people with disabilities. The discovery of AT was made for the first time by the introduction of a 'cane' to support humans while walking. This era focused more on service delivery for individuals with disabilities, which also included the provision of special education for blind and deaf people. Furthermore, AT advanced to the incremental innovation of 'Braille' specially provided for blind people, braille typewriters, the introduction of wheelchairs; to name a few.

The establishment period focused on radical as well as incremental innovation. Braille typewriters further developed to braille embossers and new additions were made such as the voice pitch indicator.

Fast forwarding to the current era, we have products such as assistive keyboards and one step ahead- the eye recognition software or eye operated communication wherein typing can be done merely by looking at the keys on a digital keyboard. I feel this is a good example of the 'merger of devices and technologies' focused on helping the disabled people as much as possible.

Provision of large screens removed the need for a separate keyboard or even the provision of adaptive keyboard removed problems faced by disabled people while typing on them; we observe that adaptive technology has been trying, testing and incrementing since a very long time.

And I think this is what our project aims at doing as well. Observing the disabled people, understanding their problems and designing around the sole purpose of solving them.

After our recent conversation with Inglis and the disability office on campus, I observed they have been thinking of an existing idea and how can they take that design to the next level. Just like incremental innovation.

Let us take a simple example to understand this:

Inglis orders branded electronic wheelchairs but deconstruct the joystick and redesign it to suit the needs of the disabled people. I feel this is an example of taking an idea and revising it according to consumer needs. 

After a few brainstorming sessions with my team-mates, I began to relate to what Don Norman taught in this chapter. Technology will keep advancing, compelling us to cope up with it but fundamental requirements would remain unchanged. For our accessibility application, we are trying to combine various features like SOS, maps, speech detectors, voice assistance, a specially designed style guide and so on for disabled people but if you observe, these are all of the fundamental requirements that they demand at each step of their life. As designers, we are trying to bridge that gap by the use of advanced technology.

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