Monday, 29 December 2014

What is Smart Technology? (vs. Dumb Technology)

***** Note: Originally posted @ SmartWeek blog: ***** 

Ok. Today everything seems to be "Smart", from Smart Food to Smart Cars to Smart Phones, but what we really mean by Smart Devices?

(Smart Car -

I first heard the term used when working with RFID readers about 10 years ago. Smart RFID Readers were devices which a certain amount of logic could be added for filtering based on tag reads. (This was great as it helped us to lower overall 'noise' due to unwanted tag reads, etc. There might be hundreds of tags in a read range, but we often only wanted to myopically deal with a small handful of them.) This was in stark contrast to what we called "Dummy" readers which were older devices which could only simply read RFID tags and simply send that information along.

Today the term "Smart" is co-opted for anything that is a primary function "+"  (or plus) device. Basically it's better than it's non-Smart or Dummy predecessor. A phone that does more than just make phone calls, such as stores & plays music, run apps and gets email is a Smart Phone (as compared to a Feature Phone). A whiteboard that is touch sensitive and connected to a laptop and projector is suddenly a Smart Board (see SMART Technology's SMART Board). A fridge with a computer & LCD panel to tell you how much energy it consumes and what's inside is a Smart Fridge (see LG's SmartThinQ Fridge).

Therefore my humble definition is:
Smart Device -  next generation of multi-use/multi-functional device (or appliance), created through the addition of auxiliary complementary technologies to an existing previous device. 
These potentially simple changes or additions should not be underestimated as they can vastly improve the overall impact of the previous device. Take for instance the humble Fax Machine, which in it's basic functional components is part Optical Scanner, part Printer and part Telephone. When Xerox invented & patented the Long Distance Xerographer (LDX) in 1964, all 3x technologies were well established and none were invented specifically for the Fax Machine. However when put together, the sum is greater than the parts and more importantly there is power in having a single device that is integrated vs. simply just connected. (Note: In the case of the invention of the Fax Machine, it was created as a whole new device not just a Smart Scanner or Smart Printer.)

One of the easiest ways to make something "Smart" is to add Internet connectivity to it. Therefore any devices that is part of Internet of Things (IoT) is connected and therefore generally Smart(er) than it's disconnected predecessor. This is why IoT and Smart Devices and M2M (machine-to-machine) are often talked about in the same breath and sometimes interchangeably.

(For those interested, at SAP we are working hard on helping Smart Devices get off the ground with a good push. We're working on things like Smart Vending Machine that can interact with consumer's smart phones and also help to maintain itself through metrics and predictive maintenance. We're also working with places like University of Guelph on Smart Green Roofs, which are not only environmentally friendly but are also self-maintaining and optimized for energy and resource consumption. Additional we're also making the world safer through Smart Cranes, which can detect and avoid collisions in dense construction environments. Just to name a few things...) 

Unfortunately the terminology isn't ideal and it's sometimes confusing. Smart Devices shouldn't confused with Artificial or Machine Intelligence, which is about building software in a way that it can mimic learning and improve over time. These Smart Devices aren't that kind of Mensa "Smart".

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau

p.s. Maybe the trend will be for "Super" Devices next. In the mobile world we're already past Smart Phones and now we often talk about Super Phones (like Androids and iPhones, etc). These phones are even a step above Smart Phones, which were step up from Dummy Phones or Feature Phones

Monday, 3 November 2014

IoT: 3C's of Internet of Things (aka Welcome to Industry 4.0!)

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to speak on a panel discussing IoT and UX at SMARTWEEK 2014 (Toronto) hosted at MaRS and UofT. (slides for Challenges of IoT and UX).  After the session I got a few questions & requests to expand on my 3x C's of IoT idea and I'm hoping this blog entry helps any similar questions...

(SMARTWEEK 2014 @ UofT Bahen & MaRS DD)
My take is slightly different from others like Google's Scott Jensen whose broken IoT into 3-layers: Discovery, Control and Co-ordination. (see his blog Deconstructing the IoT). I have strong influences from my RFID and controls experience (via now defunct Sybase RFID Anywhere) which worked with many hardware technologies like Passive, Active RFID tags, PLCs and Location Information Systems

I've seen the slow progression from very 'dumb' readers to today's 'smart' readers. I've seen original simplistic hardware readers which had to be directly connected to PCs and servers, become only *a part of* more expensive, complex programmable readers systems that had customer firmware, high powered CPUs and locale storage. Hardly recognizable from their more primitive predecessors. I've seen old 'dumb' readers become simply a component or plug-in for more powerful mobile devices that are connected with locale storage and run apps.

So here is my take on the 3C's of IoT devices...

(Slide 7 - IoT + UX challenges - SMARTWEEK 2014)

In my reverse pyramid, devices are quickly moving from individual, isolated direct Control devices and into Connected network of devices that are able to Cooperate and Coordinate. So to expand:
Level 1 - (Direct) Control - At the bottom of the pyramid, the devices work on their own and isolated. They can go through life on their own and interaction is necessitated directly between the user and the device. Your Toaster is a example of this, it's happy to fully function on it's own never knowing another toasted (or any other device) ever existed.
These devices are bottom of the ladder and aren't very smart at all.
Level 2 - Connected -The next level is a device that can communicate with other devices. (Unfortunately, at this point often the communication is uni-directional and more in a slave-master type of relationship.) Your Logitech Harmony remote is a example of this, as it's happy to tell your Blu-Ray Player, Receiver and TV what to do. Once you've gotten used to interacting with the single remote it's hard to imagine interacting with every single device one-at-a-time (like when you have to debug which device is not working properly!?!).
These devices are smarter as they have to know at some level to communicate to other devices.

Level 3 - Cooperation-Coordination - The 3rd and final level IoT is devices that work together for a common good. At this point the magic happens as suddenly the sum is greater than the parts. Beyond gains from simplification, new features and powers emerge from the 
gestalt/collective. For example BitCoins is much more powerful than a simple collection of electronic banking institutions. Your car cooperating with your house so you can seamlessly continue that conference call would be another use-case.

These devices are by far the smartest as they realize the untapped potential of co-operation.

Another great example of what Level 3Connected, Coordinated/Cooperating Smart Devices is Industry 4.0. Pioneering out of Germany and SAP is playing a part. 

In this 4th industrial revolution, Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) will interact with each other (aka Co-operate) and work together (aka Coordinate) to build and manufacture products in much more complex ways than we've ever seen before.

Below is a quick diagram that illustrates how far we've come since the Cincinnati slaughter house in 1870 to the next generation of CPS enabled factories. Ironically PLCs aren't even 50 years old yet!


So without talking about Machine/Artificial Intelligence, we are currently building the next generation of factories and other systems that have 'smart' devices that are Connected and Coordinating/Cooperating together to provide never seen before productivity. Isn't technology awesome!?!

I hope that helps clear things up...

Wayne Pau

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Design Thinking: The greatest Danger to Brainstorming! (In defense of Brainstorming - Part 2)

(A little while ago Fast Company's Rebecca Greenfield wrote a piece entitled "Brainstorming Doesn't Work; Try this technique instead". I wrote a response: "In Defense of Brainstorming (aka you may not need Brainwriting)", but I realized *now* that I had forgot to add what I think is instead the biggest obstacle to Brainstorming, so this Part 2 attempts to address that.)

There are *many* obstacles to a good Brainstorming session, but the actual biggest *danger* I believe is not having enough 'quality' ideas and especially getting those amazingonce-in-a-lifetime radical ideas. It's the same principles regarding Quantity and Quality of ideas.

(For more info on why I believe quantity begets quality, see a previous post on 50 lbs of clay and how Quantity also intrinsically begets Quality.)

User Interview/Insight expert Steve Portigal has a great graph I like to use to illustrate the divide between the 'first wave' of pedestrian ideas and the 'second wave' of magical of "Wacky, transgressive, innovative, breakthrough, weird" ideas. Steve goes so far as to say we need to slough through the 'bad ideas' to get to this 'second wave'.

(Steve Portigal - Power of Bad Ideas)
As good Design Thinking coaches and Brainstorming facilitators we need consciously to *PUSH* to get people into the 2nd hump or 'second wave'.

This is why as part of Part 1 of this post, we have rules #1, #2, #6 & #8

  1. Defer Judgment - to prevent smoothing radical ideas
  2. Go for volume - to push envelope to get to great ideas
  3. One conversation at a time - to ensure everyone gets a voice
  4. Be visual - to stimulate right-side of the brain and communicate efficiently
  5. Headline - to communicate efficiently, allowing iterate through ideas quickly
  6. Build on the Ideas of others - to help iterate and evolve ideas
  7. Stay on topic - keep sessions moving and prevent time wasting
  8. Encourage wild ideas - getting past the easy, obvious ideas
(8x Rules for Brainstorming)

Over the years I've personally become more keenly aware of passing through the barrage of easy ideas ('first wave'), into the more difficult silence or lull of little/no ideas and then finally into the flood of 'second wave' ideas.

(1st Wave vs. 1st & 2nd Wave Brainstorming)
The above graphics attempts to show the difference between simply settling with only 'first wave' Brainstorming vs. 'first wave' and 'second waveBrainstorming. In this example, it's 7+ more Ideas Total and 3+ more Great Ideas.

Funders and Founders Anna Vital has a great post called How Many Times You Should Try with an info graphic that shows James Dyson tried 5126 prototypes before his initial success. How close are you to Brainstorming out that truly great idea? Are you giving up before the second 'hump'?

If you want to keep doing additive or derivative innovation, don't worry about what Steve Portigal is talking about. You can Brainstorm out the next iPad-mini from the normal sized iPad, basically a slight/marginal improvement over the original. (BTW Apple/Tim Cook, if you reading this, maybe you should 'invent' the *new* iPad-Biggie while you're at it...)

OR *IF* you want to do something disruptive and truly innovative, to build that first iPad, iPod, or iPhone, then I encourage to have a look both the Quantity and Quality of ideas your next Brainstorm.

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau

p.s. There is no magic number of post-it-notes where the you know you are getting the 'second wave' of ideas. However it's not uncommon when I get a group as small as 5 people to aim for 150 post-it-notes within a 30 minute session.

5 people x 30 mins ==> 150 Ideas

It sounds radical, but it is really is a reasonable target. The first 50-100 will probably be 'first wave' ideas. If you push really hard, often you can get an extra 50-100 ideas if you are consciously about it. (As your diverse, T-shaped, multidisciplinary teams evolves, you'll easily surpass this target! Honest.)

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Design Thinking: In defense of Brainstorming! (aka. You might not need Brainwriting...) Part 1

A  week ago Fast Company's Rebecca Greenfield wrote a piece entitled "Brainstorming Doesn't Work; Try this technique instead". While Fast Company has many great articles and I did agree with some of pitfalls listed in the article, (with apologies to Leigh Thompson of Kellogg School), but I think Brainstorming works just fine if you're doing it 'right'. We don't need Brainwriting, but rather just stick to Design Thinking's Brainstorming 8x rules and you should be in great shape!

We love Design Thinking at SAP and we especially love the Brainstorming part. Along with SAP I suggest that Stanford, IDEO and many other companies also aren't giving up Brainstorming anytime soon. When done correctly, I believe those companies are still reaping many rewards from those sessions.

We have 8x basic rules that govern Brainstorming sessions (link to Bootleg PDF on Brainstorming):

  1. Defer Judgment - to prevent smothering radical ideas
  2. Go for volume - to push envelope to get to great ideas
  3. One conversation at a time - to ensure everyone gets a voice
  4. Be visual - to stimulate right-side of the brain and communicate efficiently
  5. Headline - to help communicate efficiently and filter through ideas quickly
  6. Build on the Ideas of others - to help iterate and evolve ideas
  7. Stay on topic - keep sessions moving and prevent time wasting
  8. Encourage wild ideas - getting past the easy, obvious ideas
You can see a great blog post describing the rules above by Caroline O'Connor of Stanford d.School at Rules for Brainstorming.

Below are 3x concerns I have regarding why Brainstorming wasn't being applied optimally in Leigh Thompson's research. I've love to see if the statistics and outcomes would have differed if the groups had a proper Design Thinking coach and were adhering to the process.

#1 - In Design Thinking Brainstorming sessions, we have idea/post-it-note rounds where team members write down their ideas on post-it-notes by themselves individually before verbally sharing with the group.There are definitely oral parts of it, but I disagree with Leigh Thompson's premise that (2:01 of How to Stop People from Dominating Meetings video):

Brainstorming: Simultaneous Oral Generation of Ideas
Brainwriting: Simultaneous Written Generation of Ideas
If Brainstorming was just Oral Generation of ideas, why do I keep buying so many darn Post-it-Notes and Sharpies! One of the Design Thinking rules is being visual (#4), which *only* can happen on written down ideas. We do in fact write ideas, atomically one per Post-it-Note all.the.time.

(Using Voting Dots with Design Thinking)

#2 - In Design Thinking we also use voting dots to help semi-democratically decide on which ideas to execute on first. The dots are equal in size (and therefore also equal in 'voice') and can't lobby other dots, so aren't vulnerable to 'Doom Loops'. The process is usually done with little talking, so once again minimizing any dominating participate effect. (There is obviously still some small possibility of peer pressure but it's largely minimized for the reasons stated above.)

#3 - The Stanford's Design Thinking Brainstorming has more rules and structure in place over and above the 2x rules that Leigh Thompson from Kellogg School has. Rules that encourage full group participation and embrace not just balance but also diversity. So if you're looking to change things up, why not move to a more encompassing methodology?

While it's often hard to argue with Fast Company or Kellogg School, but I believe I'm going to keep to Stanford's Design Thinking Brainstorming sessions. At least for me, it's been working great and we don't often suffer from Doom Loops and Uneven Communication Effect

We've never really had a problem with that using's Design Thinking methodology. These days I feel that a "Brainstorming Session" without these rules is just a discussion. ;) It's not really what we'd call "Brainstorming."

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau

p.s. I realized that I did not outline what I thought was biggest obstacle for Brainstorming. Therefore I'll be posted a follow-up Part 2 on this posting.

Original Links for Fortune & Fast Company articles on Brainwriting:

Sunday, 13 July 2014

UX: Death to Versioning! (aka. the Perpetual BETA program)


The other day I was viewing weather updates on when I ran into a new feature "Percip Start Stop" for tracking rain by the hour. What surprised me was not the new feature but the above disclaimer. BETA stage. Soliciting User Feeback.

As a long-time user (back when you had to get a invite just to get an account!) I'm used to being the QA department for companies. Google is known for being in "perpetual" BETA, as this Wharton K@W article: "Is Google Stuck in ‘Perpetual Beta’?" outlines. Ever try to figure out the exact "version" of gmail you're using?

However controlled BETAs help facilitate rapid deployment of new features. It's often a low-risk, high gain way of not waiting for a major release to see if there are new features users like and will use. For UXers this is a chance to update small changes without having to wait for major release (but I don't suggest changing the UX too radically too regularly... that's a good way to annoy users). 

"Back in the day" we used to wait patiently for new version, like Windows 3.1, 95, 98, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, etc, we expected to have to pay more for the newest release to get new features. Many users didn't upgrade and that's why we now have the Windows XP EOL issue as outlined in this Microsoft support article: "Windows XP support has ended". Yet I think he Web and Mobile revolutions have changed radically for the following reasons:

#1 -  On a website you can generally *only* have access to the latest version. A website generally has usually one version and this makes it easier to maintain. There is no install for a website, so changes are implicit and virtually immediate. When it's it's UP it's OUT! Very different from former native apps which changes only occurred when users installed an update.
(For the record I think Gmail does usually have a linked to revert to the old theme or UI, at least for a little while.)
#2 - Users are always running latest version. Generally speaking users who buy mobile apps from AppStore/Google Play Store have free upgrades and do in fact upgrade often. Pretty much when the new iOS update is out within days everyone is upgrading.
(After Heartbleed Bug and other vulnerabilities it seems like some apps update every few weeks now. I always get these notifications on my iPhone.)
 #3 - Users culturally embrace change. For the most part users are very open to changing UI. Therefore, because there generally isn't a uproar or backlash, this has given license for companies to regularly re-vamp their apps and websites, almost as often then as they re-org.

(UX Warning: However I've encountered issues with older users who spent years learning how to to use, only to have one day all the button changed on them and not know how to use the site anymore.)
 #4 -Cloud SaaS and pay-per-use. Since companies like have turned software into a lot like leasing cars. If you don't care to own it then were happy to give you the latest and greatest car every few years (or in internet years, every few months).
 #5 - Rapid pace of change. It's likely cliche, but really the pace of change is so quick that without a steady pace of updates many of our websites and apps would be obsolete. Every so often I read a UX book with a screen capture of a website from 5-10 years ago and laugh how outdated the IxD is.
The only unfortunate part I see in perpetual BETA program is that sometimes I feel companies use this as license to release lesser tested software. In a true BETA I should be providing feedback on my experience, not submitting bug reports. +_+

(In full disclosure, I work for SAP and we have a very strict release process and I don't think it's changing any time soon. For the curious, it's called I2M (Idea-to-Market) and PDF executive summary is available online: Product Quality at SAP.)

However even SAP is quickly becoming a cloud company (see SAP buying SuccessFactors for 3.4 Billion back in Dec 2012). When you move to SaaS/on-line/Cloud offering, you are basically no longer owning the maintenance and upgrade of the platform. So when we upgrade the Cloud, we're doing it for everyone, and this allows us to roll-out these BETAs and hopefully provide things even quicker than ever!

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau

p.s. For more jokes about Gmail spending so long in BETA you can read this blog: "Gmail leaves beta, launches "Back to Beta" Labs feature" in which Google actually added a way to put back the BETA disclaimer. ;) Jokes.


Sadly when I tried it on my gmail today I couldn't find the setting. I guess that joke got old quickly. Likely when they started to charge companies for an "enterprise" version.

It also does not escape me that ironically I'm blogging this on Blogger/Blogspot, which is also another Google product. :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Global Accessiblity Awareness Day May 15, 2014 (aka Let's talk about A11y...!)

Thursday May 15th 2014 will be Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

Global Accessibility Awareness Day Logo

So what is GAAD? From GAAD website:

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a community-driven effort whose goal is to dedicate one day to raising the profile of and introducing the topic of digital (web, software, mobile app/device etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities to the broadest audience possible.

*IF* you're doing #A11y or your site/app/store/business is already Accessible, great; give yourself a pat on the back because you're already aware. If you're not, maybe spend some time thinking about #A11y? (If you already are aware, consider the next step trying to make others aware too!)

To be honest, I ultimately think that Accessible Apps and Sites are just *better* designed and more usable in general. 

I believe that the heart of inaccessibility is ignorance and how we start to fix that is through Awareness. The following infographic does a succinct job expressing the issue of Equality vs. Equity:

Equality vs. Equity: See descriptive text below...

(For those using Screen Readers, the left picture has 3 boys of varying heights trying to watch a baseball game, but the shortest boy is too short to see over the wall. On the right is a picture of 3 same boys, but they have various number of boxes to stand on to make them effectively the same height. The shortest boy has 2 boxes to stand on and can now see over the wall and enjoy the game. All the boys can now watch the game.)

The text below the image is:

Equality = SAMENESS
Equality is about SAMENESS, it promotes fairness and justice by giving everyone the same thing. 
BUT it can only work IF everyone starts from the SAME place, in this example equality only works if everyone is the same height.

Equity is about FAIRNESS, it's about making sure people get access to the same opportunities.
Sometimes our differences and/or history, can create barriers to participation, so we must FIRST ensure EQUITY before we can enjoy equality.

(I have seen the infographic many times, but I got my copy from

The other day I was at a site with "wheelchair" accessible washrooms. Or at least they were supposed to be Accessible. However the button to the open the door was on the inside of the bathroom only. When I observed a wheelchair user open the door, stick their arm inside and hit the button and then back-off and wait for door open I was a little shocked. Ingenious work-around solution, but hopefully unnecessary in the near future.

I realized Accessibility should not be viewed as a checkbox. 

I'm hoping that GAAD and other events help promote the Awareness of Accessibility, so that we can then leverage Empathy to adequately execute Accessibility. (Maybe a bit of user-testing might be useful as well, but I digress...)

In this way I hope that we can fulfill all 4x of the principles below:
  1. Dignity
  2. Independence
  3. Integration
  4. Equal Opportunity
Awareness, then Empathy == Greater Accessibility.

Hope that helps...
Wayne Pau

p.s. If you are interested, below is a presentation I did at Conestoga College at their #A11y/AODA event back on March 27, 2014:

Designing With Empath Presentation

Friday, 18 April 2014

Design Thinking: LEGO & DT (Not just for Kids!)

Design Thinking built using LEGO

I *always* had an obsession with LEGO so please excuse me if this posting is a little bias. For years my relatives and family friends knew every X-mas and Birthday a fail-safe gift was LEGO.

For me LEGO is a great fit for Design Thinking approach and development overall because:
  1. LEGO supports Rapid Prototyping
  2. LEGO is Abstract
  3. LEGO is Creative
  4. LEGO is a Right Brain activity
  5. LEGO is Constrained.
  6. LEGO supports CI (Continuous Integration)
  7. LEGO is Fun
  8. LEGO supports A11y (Accessible)
  9. LEGO is Reproducible.
  10. LEGO supports i18n (Internationalization)
Don't take my word about it. Tim Brown has a whole chapter (Chapter 4 - Building to Think, or the power of prototyping) in Change by Design. To be honest, if you aren't building or prototyping something, you may not be doing Design Thinking effectively. 

1. LEGO supports Rapid Prototyping

LEGO builds are generally fast. There is no waiting for things to dry, no ordering parts, no welding, etc. It's so fast that often it's better to start building than it is to design something on paper (or in a some CAD program) beforehand. Changes can be done on the fly without having to re-architect the whole build.

Lastly LEGO builds are generally transient and don't last forever. It's understood that they get taken apart and put back in the drawer for reuse later. Therefore builders are less attached to a specific prototype, a key component to good rapid prototyping. 

2. LEGO is Abstract

One the best things about how abstract LEGO creations can be. People know it won't look exactly miniature real-life replica, like how LEGO mini figures all have the same head-shape and no knees! (Actually the Yoda LEGO mini figure doesn't bend at the waist and is quite a bit shorter than other mini figures, but you get the picture...)

Prototypes often have a low-fi feel and therefore invite user feedback which is core component of Design Thinking.

3. LEGO is Creative

When MOC'ing (My Own Creation) LEGO you are really building something from your own imagination. Kids never just sort or sit and admire LEGO bricks. Everyone around a random pile of LEGO seems to consciously or subconsciously starts to build things. It's like doodling.

This what I call the 'Reverse Entropy of LEGO' effect. Few LEGO fans can stand still and watch LEGO just sit there.

4. LEGO is a Right Brain activity

Without getting too technical, LEGO building is more a Right Brain process, like drawing vs. say writing. For those that traditionally favour Left Brain activities, LEGO building helps encourages Right Brain usage for a more Full Brain approach that can foster new ideas and ways of thinking .

5. LEGO is Constrained

Somewhat counter-intuitive, but for Design Thinking one great feature is that LEGO is constrained. While Desirability is the first pillar tackle, good Design Thinking designs optimize Desirability, Viability and Feasibility.

LEGO only has 6,800 unique pieces (down from 12 ,000 a few years back) and for projects we are usually constrained even further to the pieces we have at hand. Working within these constraints helps us get familiar with this pillar of DT (Feasibility) and often fosters even more creativity!

6. LEGO supports for CI (Continuous Integration)

Just like some software tools, LEGO supports backing-out recent changes and trying new things. You often don't have to destroy a whole build just to try out a small change. So unlike a painting or drawing this fosters continually updating, refining and trying new wacky ideas!

Parts can even be built separately and added together easily at the end. Integration with LEGO is always fairly easy, as generally all LEGO blocks fit with other LEGO blocks, it's a fully compatible system.

(Also, as an Agile/SCRUM Master coach, you generally *always* have something to show. =) Even if it's a few block at the end of a sprint or iteration!)

FYI - This happens to me *all-the-time* at home. I'm constantly tweaking and trying new ideas out even on old builds I have displayed. A great idea comes to mind and I'm never afraid to try it out because it often only takes seconds to reverse it!

7. LEGO is Fun

The most common verb action for LEGO is 'play', even more than 'build', 'designing' or 'creating'. Maybe it's great childhood memories, but it's rare that you have to convince someone to 'play' with LEGO. When we use LEGO in Design Thinking workshops, I don't think I've ever heard anyone call it 'work'.

8. LEGO supports A11y (Accessibility)

LEGO is Accessible. Anyone can play with LEGO. Most people are usually attracted to LEGO. I have a few sets on my desk at work and they are *always* a conversation starter. LEGO with it's Duplo lines is a toy that a person at any age can enjoy. While not everyone is a master-builder, almost anyone intuitively can start to put LEGO bricks together. You don't need years or weeks of intensive training and like drawing it seems every child is drawn to it.

9. LEGO is Reproducible

While MOC'ing (My Own Creation) is often tough, rebuilding an existing model is much more accessible. Unlike painting or drawing, it's quite easy to reproduce a LEGO creation, given the finished product.

Like an '3D Printing' process, it's possible to have an exact replica in your hands anywhere in the world almost immediately. Every replica is also exactly the same.

10. LEGO supports i18n (Internationalization)

LEGO is international. It sells pretty much everywhere in the world and seems to be quite universal in it's appeal. Started in Denmark, it's still family owned and as of 2013 was the 2nd largest toy manufacturer (behind Mattel). Like IKEA, LEGO instructions have no words and meant to be understood in any market.

Germany is the #1 LEGO consumer, followed by the US. On average everybody on the earth owns about 86 pieces bricks  LEGO. *Yikes*. I own a lot more than 86! ;)

So go, get your boss to order you some more LEGO for the office! Go ahead and dig out that LEGO bin and tell your spouse you're putting in some overtime!

Hope that helps,
Wayne Pau 

p.s. I've tried my best to use "LEGO" as the plural. For those *particular* enough to notice, the plural for LEGO is not legos. I believe it's supposed to be 'LEGO bricks'. This is called out in the 'Fair Play' guide on the LEGO site in the section "Proper Use of the LEGO Trademark on a Web Site".

Another site, Brick Brothers in their glossary has gone and said it's like 'sheep', which is both the singular and plural form as opposed to 'sheeps'. 

:) More than you wanted to know right?

Monday, 24 March 2014

How Google *Pwned* Samsung & HTC (aka Why Nexus is still #1)

By now everyone has heard that Google has sold off Motorola Mobility and what a loss it was. I strongly disagreed with that and this Forbes article says a lot of what I felt. Google needed Motorola Mobility for its strategy to *pwn* other vendors who greedily thought they could exert their unique brand of is 'enhancement' further fragmenting Android is.

  • Google Nexus 5 #4, LG G2 #9
  • HTC One Google Ed. #2, HTC One #3
  • Samsung S4 Google Ed. #6, Samsung S4 #7
  • Moto X #5 (ahead of all ODM except HTC)
(As of Feb 2014 - Business Insider RANKED)

You can see this with the latest Android device rankings. Every Google Edition of nearly every ODM device is better that the original (HTC One and Samsung S4) and the Nexus 4/5 are way better that any LG offering, yet are also made by LG. Add to that the announcement that the new flagship Samsung S5 will be more Nexus/Google experience like, you can see that Google has exerted it's will over its android ODM (original device manufacturers). 

I had always wondered why Motorola devices weren't more innovative. Sure questions on 'fair play' concerns from Samsung, HTC, LG, etc was a factor but I don't think it was the main driver. I *think* Google was trying to make a point on the RIGHT way for ODMs to add value to androids with minimal OS changes and subtle hardware tweaks. All this allows for more equivalency/democracy amongst Android, (think number portability in North America years ago and carriers) making it easier for consumers to switch between makers within the android ecosystem. 

Moto X and G were like Nexus devices in disguise! This way Google could use LG as the nexus vendor for nexus 4 and 5 and basically get almost 4x Nexus phones (adding in the 2x Moto phones) in the last few years!

I was always curious as to why Google didn't try to build off the initial success of the Moto Xoom, the first Honeycomb 3.0 Android tablet. Both the Moto X and G are both Superphone format devics. If I had to guess the reason it would be either:

  • 'A' -  was happy with what it got from ASUS (why not? For the price the Nexus 7 is pretty much the best 7" tablet out there!)
  • 'B' -  thought that the larger market phone market (what Google calls "SuperPhones") fragmentation was more important to fix first.
Likely a little of both 'A' and 'B', but maybe more 'B' as money is still in "Superphones" and not really tablets. The margins are much higher still for cellular devices vs. WiFi-only. (See Cellphone Economics posting I had a while back.)

Don't believe me that ODMs don't want to make it easy to move to another Android phone manufacturer? See the photo below. Samumg and HTC intentionally make thier back button on different sides of the phone.

(S4 back button RIGHT from

(HTC ONE back button LEFT from
Notice that the back buttons are intentional opposite. Compound that with two very different icons, one with a curved back arrow (Samsung S4) and another more like a square bracket (HTC ONE). Keen observers will also note that HTC ONE has no 'middle' button. Menus are all done by Context Action Bars (as suggested by Google Android Dev site a few years back). The Home Button on S4 is really the middle non-labelled button, yet again different from HTC and others.

I wish Google could have made this a 'Hardware' standard too. Not a problem with Apple's iPhone 5s vs. 5c! *Apple fan-boys cheer* Both because there is no back button (and no labels on iPhone5s) and that there is only 1x hardware manufacturer.

Hope that helps,
Wayne Pau

P. s. Nokia and Motorola used to do this too with pick-up and hang ups buttons which was worse! It totally annoys 1st time users who muscle memory jets them to go back a screen, only to have app close and go to the homescreen.

*** UPDATE *** Looks like Lenovo is also going the patent route, buying a number of patents from UP. Read more here. So you can clearly see that Google by keeping the patents from Motorola Mobility clearly knew what they were doing!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

UX: Don't Make Me Think Revisited (aka 3rd Edition)

When I came into the office in January I realized that Santa (aka Steve Krug) via Amazon had left me a belated X-mas gift via mail!

If you are in UX and haven't read this book (in any edition), I can't over emphasize how important this book is. Steve is great at making complex things seem "common sense" and his super reasonable, laid back, humourous approach can warm even the grumpiest usability Grinch.

The "revisited" (or "reloaded" for Matrix fans..) part also includes a whole new chapter on Mobility (Chapter 10, titled "Mobile: it's not just a city in Alabama anymore"). Really this chapter will take you 20 minutes to read but it could change your life, I mean app. It might be worth it to just to buy the book only to read this new chapter! It's 21 pages of very, very relevant material for anyone doing mobile development.

For something more "fun", have a look @ Steve's Blog on how he played with the covers before settling on the current design.


=) Then... for even more fun do a quick search in Amazon of the book to see what other covers exists! It took me a bit to identify the 1st edition cover being so vastly different from 2nd edition, but I did find one in German with a neat look (Das intuitive Web!). So from 1st to 2nd edition, not much changed, but Steve and the published definitely made some whole-sale changes for 3rd edition. I personally think it looks great.

(Amazon Web Search URL)

With a gun pointed at my head, (ignoring that I consider Steve a friend) and told I could only get my team-mates and stakeholders to read just one book, this would be that book. It totally puts UX concepts into things the "everyday" person can understand. The examples (updated in 3rd edition) are incredible helpful and the humour makes it easy to get though the book in single day or sitting (although you might want to spread it out to let it sink it more or just constantly keep using as a reference).

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau

p.s. In full disclosure, I admire Steve's knowledge and expertise in usability and even more importantly I really like him as a human being. He was generous enough to add me to acknowledgements page (yes I'm that Wayne Pau) but really my contributions and insights (if any) in the Mobility Section (Chapter 10) were very tiny. He's just that nice of guy! Thanks Steve...