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    Glanceability And The Internet Of Things

    Phone notifications are broken. The Internet of Things can help.

    We get a lot of notifications

    Demy de Zeeuw / Via gizmodo.com

    It's no surprise that we dismiss most of them without reading.

    Phone notifications look remarkably similar, and it's hard to discern the important from the unimportant.

    Most data displays use different formats to show nuances in information. This kind of display is more "glanceable" than a notification.

    Driving a car would be much harder if the information looked like this:

    Instead of like this:

    The real world has "glanceable interfaces" like dials, lights, and gauges in appropriate settings, so that we get vital nuanced information the moment we need it.

    Car dashboards have different formats for different pieces of information, with dials for rapidly changing info and gauges for information that changes more slowly.

    By comparison, the information we get from the internet is poorly placed and unintuitive.

    The Internet of Things lets us augment everyday objects with vital glanceable information.

    These augmented objects free us to receive information naturally in the real world, instead of on our phones.

    A car dashboard provides glanceable information that enhances our ability to drive a car, just as an augmented umbrella enhances our weather-sense, freeing us to enjoy the walk.

    Futurists, companies, and artists are working hard to promote glanceable, ambient, connected interfaces

    David Rose / Via businessinsider.com, A Fourth Act / Via medium.com, Sean Savage / Via hackster.io

    The Ambient Umbrella by David Rose tells you when it will rain, Harvis Pond by A Fourth Act lets lecturers see their effect on audiences, and TrainLight by Sean Savage notifies you of incoming buses as you leave your house.

    At a glance, each object can notify us of data that seamlessly improves our experience of using it.

    Hopefully that means a future that looks less like this

    And more like this


    For more information on glanceable, ambient interfaces, I recommend David Rose's eminently accessible book on Enchanted Objects. For more IoT musings, read more on BuzzFeed or poke around my website.


    The Open Lab for Journalism, Technology, and the Arts is a workshop in BuzzFeed’s San Francisco bureau. We offer fellowships to artists and programmers and storytellers to spend a year making new work in a collaborative environment. Read more about the lab, read more from Christine, or check out Christine’s website.


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