January 2019

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Creating Digitally Mindful Spaces

The possibilities of meaningfully integrating digitally mindful experiences into our lives.

Dr. Lawrence Ampofo
Dr. Lawrence Ampofo
 Director & Founder
Digital Mindfulness

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Digital technologies have transformed the ways people interact with spaces, as increasingly sophisticated new technologies and emergent thinking explore the possibilities of meaningfully integrating digitally mindful experiences into our lives. The long-standing belief from digital leaders has focused on designers adopting a customer-centric model of experience design. However, what if technology, and technology-enabled spaces adapted to people and were designed in response to individual human behaviours? As we 2019 is now upon us, experts are now meaningfully integrating this model to the creation of smart buildings. Together with the widespread adoption of core technologies such as Augmented Reality, 5G, and the Smart Workplace, we can see growing evidence of the charge towards digitally mindful buildings.

Conceptualising how we spend our moment-to-moment interactions with digitally-mediated spaces, we can envision a host of ill-timed notifications, multiple devices, and buildings designed to get as many people as possible. Such an environment is chaotic and cluttered with competing technologies vying for our attention. This situation is tangential to digital experiences that respect human attention, and de-prioritise persuasive digital experiences that optimise for ‘time spent,’ is gathering importance in the wider public zeitgeist.

Indeed, business leaders are acutely aware that as the gap between human experience and technology solutions shrinks, designing for individual human behaviours not only improves the quality of that experience but also gives businesses a competitive advantage in productising effective digital solutions. This approach to building design denotes a move from personalised experiences to partnerships. This is what we think of when we describe the digitally mindful design.

The motivations for integrating this conceptual approach into the design of digitised spaces are myriad, driven by a range of socio-technological factors that together spawn innumerable opportunities for innovation and value creation. From calm design to sophisticated haptic communications, to interoperable mindful technologies in the workplace, digitally mindful buildings are set to meaningfully enhance the human experience across a multitude of digital touchpoints. They are now not just ‘nice-to-haves,’ they’re essential modern building design.

Examples of digitally mindful buildings abound, such as the efforts by WeWork to design its spaces using algorithms and technology to facilitate meaningful human connection - particularly related to “what they call ‘circulation space.’ That circulation can ‘help guide and divide the energy of the floor, keeping raucous lounge get-togethers distinct from the more subdued private call booths or conference rooms, says Hilburg...Not only is the initial planning of WeWork’s office space highly digitized and analytical, but it is also under continuous review based on tenant feedback...New design strategies at the head office then trickle down to other sites as they are built or redesigned, it works like ‘software updates’”.

The digitally mindful design is therefore important because as we design buildings and spaces to be connected environments, they can simultaneously be designed to be calm and non-interruptive spaces where people ultimately do their best work.

Designing these calm environments also points towards a higher purpose for connected buildings; as spaces that actively contribute to human wellness, productivity, and collaboration. Today, most buildings operate at a machine level. But with the approaches discussed above, what would the human relationship to buildings be like if technology and data were used to help the building operate at a more human level? The technologies and design principles we have at our disposal today mean that not only can we use sensors and data to gain insight on people at scale, but we can also design experiences that operate in the background, away from the attention field of humans.

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it” — Marc Weiser.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Software and IoT are fundamentally changing how people interact with technology and spaces. Humans are increasingly less likely to be hunched in front of our computer screens and expect to access computers wherever they are, and for those digital experiences to be ambient, non-interruptive and powerful.

The benefits of a digitally mindful approach to digitising buildings are numerous. Smart buildings that are more adaptive, responsive, and aligned to the goals and actions taken by customers and employees alike will address the core needs of these two important stakeholders. With more data on the ways people interact with technology, coupled with a market opportunity topping $1tn, businesses are now reshaping everything from the interfaces customers and employees rely on, to the larger engagement journeys they make possible within their spaces.

By offering digitally mindful experiences, businesses ultimately graduate to a larger role in the lives of their customers: from a simple service provider to that of a partner. As a new customer–company partnership is formed, the goals of the customer become those of the company, and in the process reimagine their relationship with people, from one that lasts the length of interaction, to one that persists over a lifetime.


Please join us in Atlanta AHRExpo,

Smart Environments for Humans Mon. January 14 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM Room B311

Ken and Lawrence will discuss with you "To succeed at digital transformation, instead of making humans more technical, we need to make technology more human."Welcome to Digital Mindfulness Unlocking value and opportunities from time well spent digital experiences – Current smart environments operate on a machine level and do not understand people – New paradigm: smart environments can operate at a human level – New technological innovations (AI, Emotive Computing) and advances in scientific disciplines (neuroscience, psychology) will demonstrate this to be possible.

The Edge of Building Emotion @AHRExpo 2019  - My mind is consumed with "The Edge of Change" this month's theme, This is the building emotion edge-ifcation that we will share @AHRExpo 2019 Atlanta.

About the Author

Dr. Lawrence Ampofo, Director, Digital Mindfulness
Human By Design
Lawrence Ampofo is a thought leader on the impact of digital technologies on humans and society. Lawrence is a political scientist, strategic communications expert, author, trainer and speaker who focuses on the impact of emerging digital technologies on the geopolitical system and global business.


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