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Press

2023

6 October 2023 

Judy Cogan

iNews.co.uk

Feeling frazzled? Calm technology is what you need to ease your mind and lower stress levels

Dr Alexis Willett, a health and science writer and bestselling author, claims it is possible to calm the din and lower stress levels by embracing calm technology. Here she explains exactly what it is, and how it can help us find our own sense of peace.

There’s a new generation of innovators aiming to change things up by placing our interaction with technology at the periphery rather than the centre of our attention. The idea is that technology is to one side, that it can be brought in and out of use as required, rather than always in front of us.

 16 January 2023 

Rima Sabina Aouf

dezeen

Mui Board enables smart home control from a plank of wood

Designed for wall mounting, the Mui Board is a plank of timber that lights up from within using a subtle white LED dot matrix display.

This can be used like a touch screen to control lighting, curtains, thermostats, speakers and other elements of the home.

Japanese "calm technology" company Mui Lab has unveiled the consumer-ready version of its Mui Board – a minimalist control hub for the smart home that looks like an unassuming block of wood.

Other examples of calm technology include the Light Phone, which intentionally lacks features in the hopes of encouraging users to disconnect from the internet.

2022

August 23, 2022

The Joy of ‘Calm Technology’ A theory for resisting information overload

It seems almost too obvious to point out that most of our technologies are designed to obliterate any surrounding context and to make the object itself the absolute center of one’s attention. Weiser and Brown suggested that the best way to combat this experience of information overload would be to design tools that hold excess information on the periphery—that let people know the information is there but help them focus elsewhere until it’s needed.

What I love about some of my hobbies is that they offer a space that respects my attention and my ability to apply and direct it where I see fit. The satisfaction of slow improvement certainly isn’t relegated to musical pursuits—it happens everywhere in my life. The difference is that the calm technologies offer me the space to focus my attention and perceive that shift happening. This experience is a joy, and an increasingly rare gift.

June 01, 2022

ArchDaily

Mui Lab’s Milan Design Week Exhibit to Showcase Beautiful Blending of IoT into Daily Life with Calm Technology
 

During Milan Design Week 2022 to be held from June 5-12, mui Lab, Inc., the Kyoto-based calm technology startup, will showcase its IoT system that turns furniture and other ordinary items into interfaces, using everyday human action as a prompt for digital sequence. For example, opening a curtain in the morning will prompt the “mui Board” (mui’s wooden interface device) on the wall to display a pleasant message to get your day off to the right start, the lights will slowly turn on when you wipe down your dining table, and lively atmospheric music will start playing when you put a vase on the table as breakfast begins.

2021

Aug 22, 2021

Jordan Novet

CNBC

How Microsoft made its Windows 11 system sounds less nerve-racking

The designers of Windows 11 took inspiration from an approach called calm technology, which was described by two employees of the Xerox PARC research lab more than two decades ago. “Calmness is much needed in today’s world, and it tends to hinge on our ability to feel in control, at ease, and trustful." 

Calm technology also informed the development of the sounds of Windows 11, said Matthew Bennett, who crafted the sounds, following contributions to Windows 8 and Windows 10.

Many of the new sounds are not as high-pitched as their equivalents in Windows 10, and some don’t swing so much from high notes to low notes.

“The new sounds have a much rounder wavelength, making them softer so that they can still alert/notify you, but without being overwhelming,” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC in an email. Just like we rounded UI [user interface] visually, we rounded our soundscape as well to soften the overall feel of the experience.”

2020

February 10th, 2020

Liz Stinson

AIGA Eye on Design

Calm Technology Is Staging a Comeback—Can Good Design Make it Stick?

As the designer Amber Case explains in her 2017 book, Calm Technology, computers were still predominantly used for business at the time Weiser and Brown were researching their calm technology principles. “Although it’s common today to talk about bringing ‘humanness’ to digital interaction, at the time, the concept of humanizing technology was right at the cutting edge,” Case writes. “Computers were business, and the challenges of computing were very functional: throughput, processing power, maximizing efficiencies. So, the idea of computing being ‘calm,’ and fitting into everyday life in a way that felt natural, or even enjoyable, was far from most people’s minds.”

2019

May 2019

e-flux Architecture

Nick Axel and Amber Case

Calm Space - e-flux Architecture

Calm technology is about an ambient awareness. When you walk into a room and flip on a light switch, you know that the electricity is there. You only notice it when the electricity fails to function. It works alongside you, and with you. The amount of focus or training it takes to turn on a light is very small. The complexity is hidden inside, leaving you with something you can almost subconsiously do. In contrast, much of our current technology requires all of our focus. Windows are a calm technology, in that they let you know whether it’s sunny or cloudy or raining outside.

2018

Oct 25, 2018

Molly McHugh 

The Ringer

Will Mindful Technology Save Us From Our Phones—and Ourselves?

You may appreciate the do-everything capability of your smartphone, but “everything does not need a chip in it,” says Case. She isn’t suggesting that technology is bad, but that it’s reached a tipping point when the upgrading process is no longer aiding human life, but in fact competing with it. Eventually, she says, diminishing natural resources will create a shortage of chips, which will necessitate a reconsideration of the hardware upgrade cycle. “Products should evolve over time, they should get better over time,” she says. And they should fail gracefully—they need to work even when the internet does not, because the world isn’t going to be gifted more bandwidth. It’s finally time to start working within some constraints, and in the process rethink the human experience.

Designing our future through the past

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