Bodies and Buildings Class 3: Health Systems and Open Data

We mapped the obesity systems of Japan, Mongolia, Korea, Columbia, and the NJ Path Conductors.

Last week students not born in the US were surprised that the obesity epidemic “snuck up” on Americans. So students looked at other countries, and those that focused on their home countries were surprised to find the epidemic at its roots.

Global trends in non US countries:

  • Japan is the least obese country, but not uniformly. In Okinawa, were Western lifestyle was introduced, obesity rates are at 50%.
  • Peer pressure keeps women at low BMI rates in Bogota, Columbia and the rest of Japan among women, but the reverse is true for men.
  • Depression and Korea and Japan are a growing problem, but not correlated to obesity the way this happens in the US.
  • In Columbia and Mongolia, governments have introduced efforts to discourage malnourishment – yet only a few years later the problem shifts to an increase in obesity.
  • Ethnographic observation of American work conditions vs. other countries reveals a profound difference in respect, dignity, and life experience. We compared the PATH train conductor to the Russian museum security guard with the Japanese shinkansen train conductor, and the connections between work, dignity, and obesity.

Here are class notes:

 

And next week’s assignment:

Write a one-page essay to be presented in class.

Assume someone you love has been prescribed a wearable device to track their glucose levels, heart rate, and emotional state, and the doctor is at a research organization asking for the data to be donated to a larger research effort.

What do you advise and why?

Would this change if the research study was also measuring the quality and quantity of interactions between caregivers (yourself) and your loved one?

 

Bodies and Buildings Class 2: Bodies and the Obesity Epidemic

Tracking the global 20-30 something at ITP.

No students have a TV.
No students use Foursquare (abandoned), or Swarm (never downloaded) but most still tethered to Facebook.
Half of students have paid money for in game purchases, up to $800 to keep up with virtual friends.
No one is actively wearing a fitness wearable.

Wow.

For next week:

When developing ideas and concepts for our student projects, and future projects, business ideas, and save-the-world ideas, we often start by designing for ourselves.

For this assignment, research a part of the world at a local level (city, state, province, county) that has a problem with obesity.

In a one page essay, describe the social, cultural, technological, economic, and other conditions of this region that may be contributing to a growth in the prevalence of obesity. Map the system of obesity in this country. What is the one recommendation you would make to government, business, or the citizens of this country to slow the growth of obesity.

 

Better by Measure Class at SVA’s Products of Design

Rebecca Silver and I are evolving our Products of Design experiment. From… teaching sustainable design as a silo… to teaching social, civic, and environmental design into startups and entrepreneurship.

Manifesto:

 

Syllabus below:

Better by Measure 

FALL 2014, SVA, PRODUCTS OF DESIGN

Shaping new business models to address environmental outcomes, social justice, and civil society

TEACHERS

  • Jen van der Meer: @jenvandermeer
  • Rebecca Silver: @rgsilver

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Bodies and Buildings Class 1: Intro to Systems Thinking

Have we reached the limits of growth:

 

Bodies are in trouble right now – despite reaching the peak of productivity the US now leads the world in the rampant growth of chronic diseases that lower life expectancy, and reduce life quality.

“People are living longer than projected in 1990 — on average, 10.7 more years for men, and 12.6 more years for women. But for many of them, the quality of life during those years is not good. On average, people are plagued by illness or pain during the last 14 years of life.”

Buildings account for the largest source of both electricity consumption (68% of global use) and greenhouse gas emissions (48% of global emissions) in the world. –UNEP.

Purpose of this course:

You are better equipped than MBAs to envision and build our way out of this trap, but often lack an understanding of the mega forces of business, regulation, and bad cultural habits that keep us from saving ourselves.

What we will cover in this course:

  • Meta view
  • Focus on points of intervention
  • Conceptual scaffolding

“Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in ‘leverage points.’ These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big change in everything .”

Introduction to Donella Meadows, and learning about stocks, flows, and hands on the faucets.

 

 

 

Bodies and Buildings NYU ITP Syllabus for 2014

Bodies and Buildings
Fall 2014 Syllabus
NYU ITP
Instructor: Jen van der Meer
jd1159 at nyu dot edu
Mondays 6:30 – 9:25 PM 721 Broadway at Waverly

Generative Spiral

Why is it so hard to care for our planet and ourselves? We seem hungover from a century of prosperity and ingenuity, unable to invent economic models that create jobs, improve health, and restore the earth. Eager ITP students are better equipped than MBAs to envision and hack our way out of this trap, but often lack an understanding of the mega forces of business, regulation, and bad cultural habits that keep us from saving ourselves. But don’t despair! We’ll get busy, and make things again – but also provide you with conceptual scaffolding upon which to build your world changing ideas.

Our tools of understanding include deep design thinking, and systems thinking. By focusing on two systems in particular: human bodies, and the buildings that humans make, we will examine the environmental and social impacts of the economic systems. Bodies are in trouble right now – despite reaching the peak of productivity the US now leads the world in the rampant growth of chronic diseases that lower life expectancy, and reduced life quality. Buildings are not in enough trouble – they account for the largest source of both electricity consumption (68% of global use) and greenhouse gas emissions (48% of global emissions) in the world.

In this course we will discover what Dana Meadows calls “leverage points” as places to intervene that would transform the system as a whole.

Goals:

This is a lecture course, and the syllabus is built to provide students with a systems thinking approach to problem solving. The objective for the final presentations is for students to generate a concept that can be applied to improve human health, building health, or both. The goal is for students to articulate a solution, and argue persuasively for ideas to become reality (vs. moving straight to working prototype in usual ITP fashion). Assignments will involve in person class presentation, and class participation is required. The course is structured to provide iterative opportunities to build and strengthen ideas – rooted in user-centered design, grounded in the realities of sustainable cost models and growth plans, validated by lean and iterative solution development, and strengthened by students’ ability to stand up and tell their stories.

dna

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When N = All

Open Data and the Future for Startups

I’m at Startupfest Montreal today – come join me to talk about The Future of Open Data:

The rise of open data sets released onto the public commons has accelerated the birth of new industries, and new companies. Emerging as a government activity, now private sector companies are joining the movement to publicly source data, and contribute previously hidden data sets to open science activities. While huge stores of data remain locked away for reasons of inertia, cost, or competitive advantage, every day we are confronted with new data sets that can change the shape of how we see industry, culture, and our future.

What opportunities for startups exist when the data available to learn about everything that we do approaches a sample size of N = all? When we no longer have to sample a small set of data, because we are able to access the firehose of everything, and everybody? What is possible? What is terrifying? What will matter. When data is abundant, accessible, and free, served to us a public utility, will we still have a winner-take-all technology culture?

After all nobody but a few of us data nerds actually want data. What we all crave are answers, and wisdom. How will your startup contribute?

NYC BigApps: For Profit or Non Profit?

A strange question started popping up in my classes at SVA PoD, NYU ITP, and in various apps and tech and data competitions:

Is my concept best suited to become a company? Or a non profit?

Strange, because when I graduated in the 90′s - this question might apply to one’s career path, but it was pretty clear that non profits were for those that wanted to do good, and for profits were for those that were ambitious, and wanted to make money.

Now there are multiple, myriad ways to form an entity, and “good” is not the provenance of the mission driven 501 (c) 3.

A better way to answer this question – follow the funding sources that accelerate scale.

I’ll be speaking Saturday, June 21, at the NYC BigApps Big Build

Craving Tactile, Human Connections through Technology

The 4th Annual NYU ITP Pitchfest

For the past four years I’ve had the honor of organizing the NYU ITP Pitchfest, a workshop series and pitch day for entrepreneurial ITP students and their creative technology companies. Student teams iterate on their thesis and course projects to build them into companies, pitching to New York’s most generous VC and Angel investors for feedback and counsel. Joanne Wilson, Gotham Gal and the WE Festival, Andy Weissman of Union Square Ventures, Amy Millman of Springboard Enterprises, Frank Rimalovski of NYU Innovation Fund and the Entrepreneurial Institute, and Taylor Davidson of kbs+ Ventures served as our esteemed panel of compassionate critics.

For those that don’t know the school, ITP is a two-year graduate program founded by the late Red Burns, and located in the Tisch School of the Arts. Described as “MIT’s Artier Cousin” the school’s mission is to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies — how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people’s lives. ITP is a technology school in an art school, and long before the recent rise of wearables, connected devices, and the internet of things, students learned physical computing – how code could power real things in the real world. Stepping into ITP feels like a trip into the future, but the aim of the course is to use the technologies available today to manifest a world we want to live in, best described as the Center for the Recently Possible.

Students graduate with the skills to make, to code, to visualize, and to start companies – from Foursquare which originally began as Dennis Crowley’s thesis project, Dodgeball, to Project Noah, Yasser Ansari’s citizen science app for documenting nature that was enveloped by National Geographic after presenting in the first annual Pitchfest.

Jewliebots

Jewliebots

Maria Paula Saba, a recent graduate of ITP, and Sara Chipps are the co-founders of Jewliebots, an open source programmable jewelry company. Aiming for the teenage market, and building on the trend of celebrity wearables, Jewliebots plans to sell direct to teens, with an added benefit to parents that their girls will learn to code while customizing their jewelry. Maria showcased the Lillybot, which allows teens to program their jewelry to change colors and react to sensors, and the Daisybot, for teens reveal how they feel through their Twitter or Facebook updates. www.jewliebots.com.

Aqua Bridge

Aqua-Bridge

Aqua-Bridge

Youjin Shin presented Aqua-Bridge, a platform that empowers citizens to solve their own water problems by allowing them to test their water quality easily and share it with the world. Originally deployed in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana, Aqua-Bridge has worked with NGO groups to test the water quality of donated water filter technology, and share quality outcomes data transparently. While working on the project at ITP, Youjin responded to requests from local New Yorkers to test their water quality as well, and quickly learned that while NYC’s municipal water supply is one of the most successful in the country, building water towers, old pipes, and defunct water filters contaminate the system. Aqua-Bridge hopes to encourage citizen science on a global scale, selling testing kits in the US to fund testing in the developing world. www.aqua-bridge.org.

Glance

glance

Natasha Dzurny, otherwise known as TechnoChic on her successful Etsy shop, described her inspiration for GLANCE in the high design furniture showrooms of SoHo. GLANCE displays real-time personal information as a beautiful abstract wall piece for the home or office. Dzumy uses fitness trackers and other devices to discover and use information, but finds it takes too long to continuously take out her handset, unlock the screen, find the app, and use the app – often with little insight or understanding. GLANCE gives personal data a place to influence its creator and bridges the worlds of kinetic displays, like a clock, with programmable influential information, designed for the home. Individuals choose a single goal, like steps walked or miles run, and GLANCE shows you your progress for the period of time you’re tracking. www.just-glance.com.

NutureMe

NutureMe Minigame

NutureMe Minigame

Ilwon Yoon and Woonyung Choi are inspired to build a mobile game that offers a fun way to interact with fitness data to stay fit. Influenced by Pokemon tamagotchi toys they played with as kids back in South Korea, and mobile avatar games, NutureMe is an iteration of Yoon’s thesis project, Walk to the Moon, and addresses a core problem with activity trackers: motivation. Wearables and trackers deliver insights in the form of a single number or progress towards an arbitrary goal, but Yoon and Choi wanted an emotional, fun connection. NutureMe works off of the Moves app API, and connects the user to a mobile game about a pet dog. The more steps you take, the healthier your puppy grows and thrives.

healthiecare

Diana Freed addresses a key unmet need in health: the ability for patients to comprehend their diagnosis and care. Freed’s credentials are astounding – a Clinical Psychologist, Pediatric Neurosurgery researcher, Technologist in Residence at Cornell Tech, former EVP of Communications at Rosetta, Freed is now at ITP to develop technologies that improve patients’ lives. In all of her previous efforts to connect with patients, Freed noticed a common problem that human-centered technology could solve – the ability for patients to follow up and understand their care using questions and quick surveys written in patient language. Healthiecare has already been tested at Cornell Weill Hospital, and is in consideration for a pilot with Johns Hopkins Hospital Pediatric Neurosurgery to study patient and caregiver comprehension of breakthrough seizures.

Tiya

Tiya

Tiya

Su Hyun Kim created Tiya –a mobile app paired with robotic ears that are programmed to deliver physical interaction when somebody sends you a message. The robotic ears are designed to encase an iPhone, enabling users to squeeze, tap, or scratch the case and ears for immediate emotional reaction. Frustrated with the coldness of constant screen swiping as a primary form of human communication, Kim is seeking a more intimate connection through the use of tactile physical computing. Tiya is building on the huge global growth of messaging apps like WhatsApp, and more visually-driven apps like Line, but delivering a tactile connection. www.MyTiya.com.

Wear

Wear

Wear

ITP Adjunct Professor and Scientist in Residence, former VP R&D of Disney Imagineering Eric Rosenthal teamed up with ITP Grad, Design Engineer, and Interpreter for the Hard of Hearing Michelle Temple to create Wear, a wearable assisted living device. Wear is a directional microphone with no latency or delay that sells for under $200. Aimed at portion of all of us with mild or moderate hearing loss, Wear aims to be as prevalent and socially acceptable as eyeglasses – available to the people who are just starting to lose their hearing from too many concerts and earbud wearing, and the people that want to engage in conversations with their loved ones. Wear completed a successful Kickstarter project, and aims to build the company to accelerate market adoption and launch new form factors, features, and products. www.w-ear.com.

VidCode

Vidcode.io

Vidcode.io

ITP grad Alexandra Diracles and Melissa Halfon are co-founders of VidCode, an educational software company igniting girls interest in programming through video art, to get more girls to love to code. From personal experience and through direct observation of middle school and high school computer sciences classes, Diracles and Halfon noticed not just the small percentage of teen girls but the social isolation that they face when learning these core skills. Girls told VidCode that they wanted programming to be built into an existing hobby, more fun, and more community. VidCode is built on the fact that over 60% of teengirls are using video app creation and sharing platforms as a primary communications medium, and they enable girls to edit and augment their created videos through dragging and dropping filters and interacting with the code to create the look they want. With interest from a number of schools, parents, and a the 4.0 Schools Incubator in New Orleans, VidCode will test their product and validate their business model this summer, sharing their own passion for code, and to bring girls the tools to discover the role technology can play in their lives. www.vidcode.io.

To present in the Pitchfest, student teams were selected for variety and preparedness to start a business, and then facilitated through a number of workshops to clarify their company vision, their business model hypothesis, and their company story. This year’s Pitchfest was augmented by the efforts of the NYU ITP Lean LaunchPad mentors: Tom Igoe of ITP and Arduino, Nancy Hechinger of ITP and the WE Festival, Julie Berkun Fajgenbaum of Yolko, John Bachir of Medstro.com, Michael Levitz of R/GA, Josh Knowles of Frescher Southern, Ajay Revels of Polite Machines, and our newest mentor: Ambika Nigam of IDEO. We all wish the students and recent grads success, and want to see all of these companies succeed for our own health, relationships, creativity, and happiness.

Every year a member of the audience shares the same feeling I had when I first learn about ITP – “why did I not know about ITP before I went to grad school?” So we invite you learn by proxy, becoming a mentors and advisors to future Pitchfests.

Lean Customer Discovery Needs Design Research

When you are in a startup, under the gun, trying to execute – how do you find time for empathy?

Lean launchpad simulates entrepreneurship by requiring founders to get out of the building…and into their customer’s world.

Teams succeed when they start talking to people, and find the magic in actually validating their hypotheses with customers, potential partners, and even fellow founders who may have tried to pursue the same dream. But it’s hard to get underneath.

What we heard:

“I think I only scratched the surface, and never really got to the core problems.”

“I don’t know if my customers really understand what they need enough to articulate it to me.”

“Customers said they would pay, but then they didn’t when it came time to pay.”

The truth is that when you are just TALKING – you fail to yield anything but the obvious facts, the surface level insights. For greater learning, Ajay Revels and I reviewed all of the design research literature. Not all of ethnography or design research is relevant for a startup founder – but there are critical skills and techniques that will radically accelerate your ability to understand the pain for which you are trying to solve.

In this slideshare, we highlight the core techniques we’ve curated from D-School, Steve Portigal’s great source, Interviewing Users, Universal Methods of Design, and Ajay herself from Polite Machines.

Have you used design research techniques have you used to get to the underlying needs of your customers?