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Engage in Review: Anticipatory Design with Aaron Shapiro, Huge CEO

huge aaron shapiro anticipatory design

While the idea of technology making our decisions for us may seem like a difficult concept to grasp, think about this statistic shared by Huge CEO Aaron Shapiro during his Engage presentation on anticipatory design: Americans make 35,000 decisions every single day. And technology only makes those decisions more complicated, providing too many options and leading to something called “decision fatigue.”

Shapiro broke down the three key change drivers when it comes to making anticipatory design a reality: demographics, bandwidth ubiquity, and machine learning. Once these work together, we can move away from “help me make decisions” and move towards “make decisions for me.”

So what could anticipatory design look like? Shapiro used two great examples: Uber syncing with your calendar to call a car when you’re wrapping up at an event, or a thermometer embedded in a pot that communicates with the stove to turn down the temperature as needed so dinner is never ruined.

We’re already seeing the first signs of anticipatory design emerging in the marketplace. Magic, a text message delivery service, allows users to get whatever they want on demand. Say you want to order a bouquet of flowers for your significant other -- you just text Magic, and they’ll be able to find a flower shop, pick out your flowers, and have them delivered to you right away.

The Tide button from Amazon enables the order and delivery of new Tide laundry detergent whenever you need it, just by the simple press of a button on your washing machine. In the future, a scale in the washing machine could sense the weight of the detergent used, and by collecting that data, be smart enough to know when it’s time to order more -- eliminating the need to do so much as press a button.

And for Huge, anticipatory design isn’t just a futuristic concept. It’s a reality for the staff and their customers at the recently launched Huge Cafe. The experimental project, Shapiro says, is intended to examine how the digital world can communicate with the retail world. In the works are plans to eliminate lines by building an app that senses when a repeat customer is driving to work and prompts baristas to prepare their regular order. Those baristas will have their hands free to make drinks thanks to a queuing system that works with the Apple Watch. Finally, each cup would have an embedded chip that activates the billing of a customer’s credit card as they leave the store.

Ultimately, we’re undergoing a big shift in how we interact with technology. In the future, says Shapiro, data and design will converge to become an art. UX professionals and data scientists will work together to make this a reality, and brands will be the ones facilitating the transformation of products into services.

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