Appliances versus Terminals

I was doing some writing for my upcoming Device Design Day talk and started to make a list of two common kinds of smart things that I've been seeing out in the world. For lack of better terminology, I'm calling these appliances and terminals. I haven't yet processed all of these ideas, but here is an initial stab at distinguishing two major classes of smart thing.

Appliances Terminals
Most functionality is Local Remote
Technical capabilities Narrow. Technology is only included if it supports core purpose. Broad. Many possible sensors and actuators are included in case they're needed by a service.
Effectiveness High. They're very good at the small number of things they do. Low. They're OK at many things.
Interface complexity Low. A narrow vision means the interface is relatively straightforward. High. The general-purpose nature of the devices means that the burden of efficacy is on the interface design.
A group of them that is interoperating is called... An ensemble A service
A single member of the group is called... An instrument An avatar
Barriers to interoperability High. Unless they're designed to work together from the start Theoretically low: they're designed to be avatars of the same service. In practice: high. Cross-avatar UX is still at an infancy.
Distinguished from each other by Specific function Size
Strength of links between linked devices Low. Connecting appliances that aren't designed to be connected is difficult. High. In theory. Theoretically service avatars should easily communicate, but that's not often the case in practice.
Examples Digital pedometers, Internet connected bathroom scales, networked parking meters, cars, Nike+iPod, cameras. smart phones, netbooks, laptops, connected TVs

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You might want to change "Size" to "form" for terminal. As size is one part of the terminals shape it takes. The word "form" is also a nice opposite of "function" for the appliance. :)




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This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on August 9, 2010 6:35 PM.

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