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Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design Paperback – September 9, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0123748997 ISBN-10: 0123748992 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 1 edition (September 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0123748992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0123748997
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 7.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #906,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Finally a book about ubiquitous computing that covers the broad challenges of designing for user experiences over a vast range of devices, device sizes from micro to meso to macro, and crucially, ecologies of devices. An evocative tour thru past design efforts and devices/systems that beautifully sets the stage for the design challenges we are quickly marching into. -- John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist, Xerox Corporation; Former Director, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC); author The Social Life of Information and The Power of Pull

"This book explains in no-nonsense language why you should care that computing has become ubiquitous and what the implications are for people who design things. Even better, it lays out suggestions as to how to use this knowledge to make better things. If you've ever wondered how interface, interaction, information, and industrial design overlap, what they have to do with user experience, and how it's all affecting your life, you should read this book." -- Tom Igoe, Associate Professor, NYU, Interactive Telecommunications, author of Physical Computing and Making Things Talk

"Smart Things is a rare artifact from the future that packs immediate practical value. I predict its coverage of multi-scale design will change user experience practice forever. It is the most useful book about the future of design I've read and has changed the way I work. Mike Kuniavsky doesn't just write about the future, he lives there... and now so can you." -- Peter Morville, President, Semantic Studios, author, Ambient Findability

"Provocative and pragmatic, Smart Things describes an important new approach to the design of consumer electronics. Its chapters explain why the design of digital products is different than other kinds of design and provide valuable techniques that unify the disciplines of interaction and industrial design." - Charles L Jones, Vice President, Global Consumer Design, Whirlpool

"Web designer Mike Kuniavsky, who has spent his career dissecting people's relationship to digital technology, hangs out at Four Barrel Coffee precisely because he can disconnect from the Internet and concentrate on his thoughts. That's where he wrote his upcoming book on consumer electronics design: 'Smart Things.'"--The Los Angeles Times

From the Back Cover

The world of smart phones, appliances, picture frames, and shoes is already here, but the practice of user experience design for digital ubiquitous products and environments that do not have traditional software user interfaces is a relatively new practice. Unifying software interaction with device and service design and creating a successful product is no easy task. Based on years in the UX, mobile, and industrial design trenches, Mike Kuniavsky brings you the first practical book on the subject, whether you call it ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, or the Internet of Thingsuser experience design. His problem-solving approach provides both broad design methods and a varietycase studies of real world successes hits and misses. This book gives you both the "whyhow" and the "howwhy" of of designinging smart products that people will buy and use.

More About the Author

I am a consultant, writer, entrepreneur and designer exploring the intersections of high technology and everyday life. I have been a user experience design consultant since 1994 and have helped hundreds of companies and organizations design effective, pleasurable and profitable online, environmental and device user experiences. In 2006 I cofounded ThingM, a ubiquitous computing consulting company. Previously, I was a cofounder of Adaptive Path, a leading San Francisco internet consultancy, and the founder of Wired Digital's User Experience Lab. I live in San Francisco.

Customer Reviews

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"I'll never get tired of how fast this computer is!"
David Field
I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand the basics of user experience design.
Generally you'll find those most artistic and creative doing your 'design' work.
E. Byers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ira Laefsky VINE VOICE on October 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This beautiful and simultaneously unbelievably useful book represents several firsts, incorporating the Interaction Design and User Experience Design of Mobile Devices and Household Appliances; at the same time it provides ideas and design guidelines for the design of Ubiquitous Computing solutions, suggesting what we can usefully do with the emerging "Internet of Things". The author is a leading light in Interaction Design having been a co-founder of Adaptive Path and the first firm offering Physical Computing Solutions with a Design and HCI flavor, ThingM. He is the originator of the concept of "Sketching In Hardware", an idea that owes some intellectual roots to Bill Buxton of Microsoft but which points the way to those Artists and Engineers who combine Physical Computing, Electronics and Interaction Design. He has a track record of developing real Physical and Computational solutions which illustrate an Engineering as well as an Artistic Problem-Solving Ethic. His physical creations include the interactive intelligent and beautiful WineM wine rack and a smart multicolor LED for Arduino (and other microcontroller) experiments.

Many scholarly, and a few idea-centric books (notably Adam Greenfield's "Everyware") and articles have been written about Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing, but no other book to date has given the design parameters, heuristics and suggestions about how these communicating engineering devices can be incorporated into a desirable user experience. Simultaneously, Mr. Kuniavsky has written one of the first books documenting the optimal methods of designing Interactive Intelligent Objects including mobile computing devices and appliances (such as centralpark refrigerator). He develops useful metaphor's and monikers for designed Interactive Objects (e.g.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Senecal VINE VOICE on January 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book really gave me food for thought. I've always thought about a user's interaction with a device in terms of its interface (buttons, GUI, etc.). This book opened my eyes to the fact that it's not just the interface, but the user's entire experience with the device that matters. Anyone who has a hand in designing or making something that must be interacted with should learn about this.

There are chapters on things like "Applianceness", "Scales of Experience", and "Information Shadows". Each one discusses an important design consideration, and how it relates to user experience. Some of the chapters are more like case studies: the development of a specific product (like the iPod) is discussed, with a focus on how its overall user experience was designed. I found them interesting and enlightening. It's fascinating to read about some of the products. As the author points out, some devices are easy to use but not useful. Other devices, like the iPod coupled with iTunes, provide a good overall experience and do well. Still others, while they may have a solid design and reasoning behind them, do not do well in the marketplace.

The author references many sources in the book, so if you want to do any additional reading on the subject you shouldn't have any difficulty in assembling a reading list. The author chooses to cite his sources inline using (author and year), as opposed to a number like [42]. Unfortunately, placing a reference citation inline is disruptive, and because he uses the longer citation format it got annoying at times.

I think that if you need (or want) to learn about user interface/experience design principles, this book will be an informative read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By buru buru piggu TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am an interactive designer/web developer by trade and when I ordered this book, I expected it to contain discussions of different interactive technology platforms and implementation methods for creating "smart things", machines or objects with embedded processors that can respond to sensory input and do something cool.

Having "computing" in the title, I expected to be able to learn how to make and program simple gadgets or at least encounter some theory on human-machine interaction, like the excellent The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems by Jef Raskin. My expectations were perhaps misplaced. This is not an instruction manual or an engineering book. Instead, it contains a lot of foundation-type material like the kind of book you might find in a Design 101 class. It will teach you the vocabulary and concepts of the field, not the hows. It is a high level overview of design concept like "avatar ecologies" and "information shadows", and explores a wide range of products throughout the last few decades, including the iPod, Atari game machines, Nabaztag, QR codes, cellphones, and other electronic gadgets.

Recommended for students of the interactive design field so they can get a lay of the land. If you're looking to create specific products using various technologies, you will have to look at instructional books on programming iPhone, Android, HTML/PHP, or Flash instead.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bob Walter VINE VOICE on November 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I expected this book to take me through creating excellent user experiences for software and the Web. Instead, I got a tour of the authors' view of everything from buildings to sex toys. I can see this as a design text book. It certainly provokes thought about the way people communicate about things. The examples are sometimes surprising and the text fairly dense. However, there is serious value in this book.

Having said that, I believe this text is aimed at professional designers of all kinds. It also is an interesting sociological view of the way modern society thinks about the things it owns or desires. The book kept my interest. It isn't easy reading and the illustrations are not inspiring. However, I walked away with a deeper understanding of how design and society interact.

If you want a book to help increase your user interface design skills, this isn't it. If you want to gain deeper insight into the entire spectrum of people and things, you won't be disappointed.
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