I just returned from the inaugural Designer of Things (DoT, like IoT) conference and it was an awesome start for a new conference focused on this key vertical market. There were two primary tracks: wearables and 3D printing. The sessions spanned the gamut from technology to make fashion, to how to build wearable devices that function 24x7. One of the key reasons I attend shows like this is to interact with a diversity of folks in our industry and after a slow start to the day (first session I was in only had 13 people in it) things picked up and by the time of the first keynote the audience had expanded to over 700.
A recurring theme for the conference was "Moving from Smart Devices to Wise Devices", first mentioned by Gadi Amit of New Deal Designs in his Keynote on Tuesday -- a great discussion of the power of the design of a new device. The focus was not on the hardware, nor on the software, but on the customer and the emotional connection with the new device from a holistic perspective. Giving the customer the best experience is the goal.
Another theme was the maturing of devices as time goes on. The desire to upgrade the device and extend the functionality over time is a growing key expectation by customers. The best example, which came up often in the DoT conference, is the Tesla. Initially shipped without full functionality, the Tesla has an always on cellular connection so that software updates can be delivered seamlessly and improvements can be made often. Since initial production more than 500 updates have been delivered.
What became clear over the course of the week was that data is key, for both initial design and for continued evolution of the products. Data for design comes from potential customers and enables designers to better understand customers, their usage patterns, expectations, and preferences. Designers can perform A/B testing to identify the best feature mix, best interfaces and best interactions with customers. Data from the products informs future designs, shows what expectations were universal and which were not fully understood and which are the actual key features.
The inaugural DoT conference was a great first step. No doubt UBM will grow and enhance this conference and it will be even better next year.