I was familiar with Don Norman and Roberto Verganti shared argument on design & innovation. In a nutshell: Human Centred Design is great for improving existing products but it doesn’t work for inventing new ones (I agree, and have my take on that).

But somewhat I missed this paper they wrote together: Incremental and Radical Innovation: Design Research vs. Technology and Meaning Change.

If the paper it’s like a summary of their known argument, what was new to me was the Mountaineering metaphor they use for talking about “incremental innovation” VS “radical innovation”.

Basically inventions in a particular product space are like mountain peaks, where the height represent the quality of that product. What Human Centred Design (HCD) excels at is to climb up the current mountain - improving the product in its current form, until even managing to reach its top. But what HCD doesn’t do is to look if there are alternative, higher mountain to climb - meaning, a completely different approach in the same space that could lead to a better product, a “radical innovation”.

I really like the metaphor, it does a great job at explaining the topic, and besides, it pictures a very vivid image of the value of being able to switch between different level of focus when working with design. In this case is between improving and inventing, but it can be for any detail-big picture scenario, wether is the feature and the product or even the soldering and the prototype. I believe getting comfortable in this focus-hopping is a mighty hard ability to get, but it’s when I somewhat manage to do well at it that I get the most satisfaction from working in this space.


1. Certified Artificial Chrome Extension (2019)

Certified Artificial is an organisation claiming to independently verify if your business is really using the latest AI techniques and is an expert of the field or just a jumper in the AI-hype bandwagon.

For a nominal assessor’s fee ($1,499), businesses can procure independent verification by our team of experts that the products and services they’re offering are in fact leveraging the latest machine learning techniques. When verified, these businesses are added to our public database of certified companies and receive an embeddable digital certificate CAI Certified that attests to their genuine use of the emerging technology.

To make it cool, they also created an browser extension that show their certification along a certain name or business (as an examples, according to their standard Yuval Noah Harari and Elon Musk are rated Do Not Recommend (DNR))


2. IKEA’s remote control for SONOS speakers (2019)

IKEA released a controller for the speaker it released with Sonos. Super minimal, portable, no buttons and gestural-like interactions. An iteraction with extra functionalities to their smart lightbulb dimmer. Very cool.


3. Beat the traffic, by move lab (2019)

Turn cars in busy roads into emoji. Nice little game by the guys at move lab. I particularly like the use of object recognition on a video file, rather than on a camera feed. Well thought!

Submit your highscore if you manage to rescue your city from the avalanche of cars rolling through cities every day. The mobility wonderland you’ve created by transforming cars into unicorns, rainbows and trees isn’t only magical. The cars you’ve transformed are finally converted into the amount of public transit needed to transport everybody sitting in these cars. For cities with less cars and more quality of life.