Building emotional connections & human resilience: Q&A with Mirjana Spasojevic

I was thrilled to sit down with Mirjana Spasojevic, head of the Immersive Experiences Lab at HP, to chat about building emotional connections and human resilience. She recently spoke at RISE 2017 about the work HP Labs has been doing to better understand people and their practices in order to craft the best experiences with future technologies.

Here’s a snapshot of our conversation about the Immersive Experiences Lab’s quest to understand and fulfill the promise of valuable, delightful experiences through data-driven, user-centric solutions.

How does HP’s mission and outlook on Megatrends play a role in the Immersive Experiences Lab?
HP’s mission to “engineer experiences that amaze” plays a vital role in how we innovate in the Lab. We want to create technologies that makes our customers’ lives better. We do that by studying how people work and live – their motivations, their emotions – and then we consider how technology might change their practices in the future. We are constantly prototyping, experimenting, and iterating based on our learnings because we want to help drive positive change in people’s lives through the solutions and experiences we create.

We also make big bets based on Megatrends – Rapid Urbanization, Changing Demographics, Hyper Globalization, and Accelerated Innovation. With these Megatrends as a backdrop, we as researchers craft experiences that anticipate how the world will be in three to seven years.

What projects has the Immersive Experiences Lab worked on that exemplify this?
Recently we created Project Jetty. This concept started in a brainstorming session, and our team’s goal was to help people feel connected without actually being connected. In our study, we placed an “art object” – a 3D-printed, realistic representation of a subject’s house – in the home of an older adult and another 3D-printed house in their children’s homes. Each printed house glowed when its owner was home, and it sat in a photo frame with holographic, real-time weather displayed around it.

Before the study, all of our study participants indicated they didn’t stay in touch with others as often as they’d like, and felt dissatisfied with their current methods for keeping in touch. After the study, we heard comments like, “I feel happy and warm inside because in some strange way I feel I am able to see them through this device.”

This is when we saw an exciting shift in how these people experienced the concept away from technology and toward the fulfillment of emotional needs.

I find the shift from technology to emotion fascinating. Can you tell me more about that goal?
Of course. With Jetty we aren’t necessarily looking to develop a new HP product. Instead, we wanted to extend our understanding of how technology can help us live better and feel more resilient in our lives.

We’ll use the learnings from Project Jetty in a wide variety of future projects. We believe the future of computing is people-centric. Wearables, smart materials, and technology in general should always strive to support human resilience and authentic experiences.

This people-centric approach is at the heart of everything we do in the Immersive Experiences Lab.

Learn more about the work Mirjana and her team are working on here.

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Nicholas Negroponte: A 30-year History of the Future

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab, pushes the edge of the information revolution as an inventor, thinker and angel investor.

In this TED talk, Negroponte recounts the last 30 years of technology. He highlights his predictions from the 1970s and 80s that were originally dismissed, but are ubiquitous today. He also leaves us with a fascinating prediction – we will ingest information through our blood stream in the future.

Ingestibles are especially intriguing to me because it’s a technology that has the potential to be transformational. We are moving from a world where we carry technology, to a world where we wear technology, and more recently to a world where we can now ingest it. At this point, I don’t think we’re far off from Negroponte’s prediction becoming a reality.

READ ALSO: Fitness Wearables Not Fit For Your Wrist

In fact, healthcare-focused ingestibles have already hit the market. The FDA-approved Proteus pill uses a one-square-millimeter sensor to transmit important information about your health to your doctor or family member. Upon swallowing, the sensor is activated by electrolytes within the body. The pill then transmits a signal to a small patch worn on your torso and sends the data via Bluetooth to a designated smartphone.

When you think of this pill by itself, it may seem like a novelty, but when you consider the strides made in wearables and ingestibles along with the convergence of consumer products and specialized medical devices, it’s inevitable that we’re going to experience a structural change in our healthcare system.

I want to hear your predictions. How do you think ingestibles will be used in the future?

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