Mar 022020

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  5 Responses to “All Technology is Assistive”

  1. I agree with your argument, for me the glasses as being an assistive technology really stood out. I think in today’s society with the amount of technology that is being introduced everyday it is easy to forget about the simpler technologies that make our lives easier. One of the best examples in the article in my opinion was the SMART belt which is a device that can be put around the waist of the patient and can detect signs and alert care givers if there are symptoms of a seizure. This goes to show how far technology has come and how most technologies in our lives make it easier hence being assistive technology.

    • Hi Hrithik,
      Nice to see you are getting surprised by technologies that we often take for granted. I couldn’t find the example of the SMART belt in this reading though, I was wondering if you could clarify the source for this? It seems like a good example to continue the conversation. I would invite you revise the notion of “assistive technology” by Sara Hendren and think further on which concept of “assistive” is this belt materializing.

  2. One thing that the article mentions as an assistive technology that surprised me was headphones. I wouldn’t have thought of headphones to be assistive since it is such a common item. Reading this article really made me switch my perspective and get out of the stereotype that assistive devices is a category of technology needed by certain people; when in reality I would say it is a characteristic that all devices have or should have and can be used by everyone. Once I thought of “assistive” as a characteristic of technology rather than a category, it made me think of the marketing class that I took and consumerism. In the article, Hendren, talks about six design rules that designers should take in account when creating new devices. These “rules” reminded me of the marketing principles such as knowing the audience’s background, knowing what their needs are, and how to appeal to them. For example, one of the design rules mentioned was to “rethink the default bodily experience” and talked about a tongue sensor that made it easier for those in wheelchairs to navigate around. I think this falls into marketing since the designers had to know the audience’s background and their needs in order appeal to them by providing a solution which will then give them an incentive to pay for the item. This then led me to the conclusion that in order for a device to sell well it needs to be assistive. A good example of this would be the Bose sunglasses that recently came out in comparison to the failed attempt of the Google Glass. While the Google Glass may have been innovative it was not assistive because it fail to meet certain rules such as “rethinking the bodily experience.” With Google Glass the user was able to record videos and browse the web using the device, however it didn’t reshape the bodily experience because you can still get that experience with other devices such as your phone. With the Bose sunglasses it reshaped the bodily experience because it took an item that is normally associated with once sense (sight) and incorporated another sensory experience (audio).

    • Hi Tiffany,
      Nice to see the connections you are making from this course to other areas like marketing. I still feel that the analysis of your examples in light of the reading can help us understand design as a way of “making the world” rather than a way of selling products. Sara Hendren reinforces towards the end of the article, that “questions outside utilitarian concerns also matter”, so it would be interesting to see your analysis of the Bose Sunglasses in terms of how they render visible subtler needs and proxies, and from there, how such needs become a selling point and therefore the glasses are successful in the market.

  3. Hi Sara,
    Good reflections on “All Technology is Assistive”. I enjoyed the summary you wrote at the beginning of the post, where you highlight relevant aspects of the reading. Regarding your example, I am still curious to see how Zoern has followed the six rules on disability posed by Sara Hendren. Why is this car helping us ask questions, not just solve problems?, or how is it considering fine gradations? One strategy for a blogpost on this topic would be to use 1 design rule from the article and apply it to an example, so your statement about the designer incorporating these principles can be made more clear.

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