menu

PSFK Talks To Mike Kuniavsky

PSFK Talks To Mike Kuniavsky
Advertising

Mike Kuniavsky is the co-founder of ThingM, a design and computing device studio that specializes in making products for everyday problem solving and self-expression.

Daniel Edmundson
  • 13 april 2010

Mike Kuniavsky is the co-founder of ThingM, a design and computing device studio that specializes in making products for everyday problem solving and self-expression. He also researches, designs and writes about people’s experiences at the intersection of technology and everyday life–both in books and on his blog, Orange Cone.

PSFK recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mike to discuss activity at ThingM and his new book, Smart Things.

What are you working on right now?

“Well, I finished my next book, ‘Smart Things,’ a couple of weeks ago. It’s a guide to ubiquitous computing user experience design for interaction and industrial designers.

I also just wrapped up a project for a major handset manufacturer in which we developed a set of tools for helping project managers, designers and engineers think about prototyping mobile user experiences in new ways. I can’t talk about it more than that, but this is the second company I’ve worked with on building tools to help development teams shift their perspectives on what is possible with ubiquitous computing and I’m excited to see the results.

My company, ThingM, is about to release two new ubicomp user experience protoyping products in the same vein as our BlinkM and BlinkM MaxM smart LEDs, and we’re updating our sequencer software to allow someone with virtually no electronics knowledge to program and control sequences of multiple standalone smart LEDs at once.

So, for example, a costume designer could add some of our smart LEDs to a costume and program them to fade between colors that match the rest of the set design. With a little bit of simple programming, those same LEDs could change their colors (say, when a scene changes) using no external control and only a simple switch. It’s a driverless USB to I2C converter that makes it very easy for virtually any device with a USB port to program or control our smart LEDs (or any other I2C device). The other product is going to be a surprise. We’ll announce it at Maker Faire in San Mateo in May.

We’re also working on a consumer-facing product that’s currently being protyped in northern Italy. We wanted to tap the deep industrial design model making experience of northern Italy and were quite lucky to get a chance to do so. We’re hoping to also announce it at the end of May.”

What has been the most interesting reaction to your project?

“In terms of the prototyping products my company makes, the most interesting reaction is how they keep selling and how they keep on being used by a wide range of people. Everyone from set designers to car modders to roboticists have been playing with them, though that’s only the small fraction of folks whose work we know about. As a micro OEM, we actually know only a little about how people use our products (which is an interesting to challenge to me as a user-centered designer).”

What projects, people or ideas are currently inspiring your thinking these days?

“I’ve had my head down in book writing for a while, so I may not be up on the latest cool ideas, but I think that there’s a really interesting trend in opening up data sources. Pachube works as a free data stream brokerage that sits on top of TCP/IP and HTTP to provide a kind of semantic resource location technology for small net-enabled devices that has been missing. This kind of data openness is being matched by things such as the US Governement’s open data initiative at data.gov.

The trend I see here is a combination of openly sharing data sources and streams and creating business models around making technology layers that make those data streams meaningful and valuable. Both Pachube and data.gov are a kind of search engine for data streams, rather than documents, which I think is a very powerful concept.”

What developing trend, idea or technology makes you most excited or hopeful for the future?

“I see increasingly more user-centered design methods across industries and companies, which I think is great. Creating technology outward from technological capabilities creates enormous waste. Engineers produce one technological artifact after another, and the organization they’re working for implicitly hopes that someone, somewhere will either want to buy it/use it or will figure out how to modify it so that it’s valuable. I think that’s an incredibly wasteful process and is probably responsible for billions of dollars wasted in production and for trash heaps full of useless tech. I am heartened to see that more companies are hiring user researchers and user-centered interaction designers, and changing their design processes to reward design that starts with people’s needs, rather than product managers’ powerpoints or technology spec sheets.”

Thanks Mike!

ThingM

Orange Cone

Advertising
Trending

Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile august 26, 2016

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture august 26, 2016

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Work

See All
Design august 26, 2016

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion august 26, 2016

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Domenico Vitale

Content & Production

Syndicated august 26, 2016

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability august 26, 2016

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 23, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising august 26, 2016

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising august 26, 2016

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work august 26, 2016

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Design august 26, 2016

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia august 26, 2016

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising august 26, 2016

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.