‘Uninvited Guests’

click to enlargeWonder what it would be like to be older and ‘nannied’ by some of the ‘whiz-bang’ devices we promote as making life healthier and better? This short (4 minute) video dramatizes how a 70 year old man deals with the smartphone-connected devices–a food-monitoring fork, activity-tracking cane, pill dispenser and sleep monitor–his well-meaning children have provided to nag and monitor Dad at a distance. Dad dispenses with these annoying ‘uninvited guests’ in his own clever way. Produced by the UK/India-based design consultancy Superflux Lab for the ThingTank project, which explores the conflicts and frictions these IoT tools in the connected home can produce with humans. On Vimeo. Hat tip to Guy Dewsbury via Twitter.

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  1. Nick roninson

    This should be compulsory viewing for anyone in the industry!!

    ( and anyone with elderly parents.)

    Nick R

  2. Kevin Doughty

    I agree that designers need to understand how the users will react to the introduction of remote monitoring, especially if it all appears at once with the intention of changing behaviour and preventing accidents and future ill-health. But is this an age issue? Wouldn’t any of us feel the same was as the subject of the clip irrespective of age? (and 70 is FAR too young unless you are a young designer!)
    Does the subject understand the risks to his independence? Does he understand the consequences of an accident? The answer is probably not (nor will he want to) until he either experiences one himself (in which case it may be too late!) or he witnesses the impact of risky behaviour on a close friend or relative. So the challenge could be to introduce enough of the negative outlooks to make him see for himself what could happen to him unless he changes his ways – but without being accused of scare tactics.
    Maybe we all need a modern “Christmas Carol” and dreams which include visits by the required ghosts of Internet past, present and future. The predictive analytics of Big Data may will present everyone with some outlooks that will be difficult to accept.

  3. Donna CusanoDonna Cusano

    I noted that the tech as depicted is very one-sided and directive. Now if this solitary, strong-willed and quite intellectual man could interact with some meaning rather than be nagged…if they could be his friends rather than scolds…then we may get somewhere. ‘Christmas Caroling’ can only get you so far. We anthropormorphise cars all the time; why not our phones, sleep monitors (sleep guides?) etc. Robot pets and Roboys may be the way to go for some of us….

  4. Great find Donna!

    I played the video to a 79 year old and the response was very insightful:

    “If I ever get given any of that type of stuff I’ll just put it on eBay”

  5. Donna,

    I can’t tell you how much this video made me feel after watching it. I have been trying to convey to every level that I know that these problems existing. My usually rhetoric is “One solution doesn’t fit all” and “If you build it, they may not come”…

    I validated this again over the past 4 months in moving my parents from their farm into independent living. I had to say, over and over again to myself, “Lose the Battle, Win the War”… I need to engage my parents on their terms, not mine.

    I have been in this field now for 9+ years and to see my own mother key in a wrong reading into an IVR call she received just to get her favorite nurse to call her made me insane, but I realized for sometime now, there is Perception and then their is Reality. We must engage patients on their terms in order to make a lasting change. (or leave them alone, if they stay comfort, content and out of the hospital).

    Great Great video.

  6. Thanks for pointing us in the direction of this brilliant little film, Donna! It reminds me of a friend’s recent story of her mother, whose fitness tracker nagged her regularly to stand up and go for a walk whenever the device detected a specific period of inactivity.

    But she found this nanny tech so annoying – especially when it regularly interrupted her daily bridge games – that one day she turned it off and put it away permanently in a kitchen drawer, where it lived happily ever after.

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