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Today’s consumers want to buy products that have a balance between form and function and that are enjoyable to use. For a product to achieve enchantment, it must address one of six human desires:


1. Omniscience. The amount of information available today is overwhelming, and people want assurances that the information they are receiving is correct and factual. People have not lost their sense of curiosity or their desire to learn, but information needs to be compelling, believable, and fit naturally into people’s current lives.

2. Telepathy.Advances are happening today in devices, such as the Apple watch, that allow users to do much more than just tell time. These devices help people stay connected to one another. Enchanted devices will continue to become more ingrained in everyday life by providing data about loved ones. Rather than disconnecting people from one another, enchanted objects will result in a more connected society by improving genuine communication.

3. Safekeeping. Safety is a primitive human drive. Enchanted objects of the future will build upon the surveillance capabilities of smartphone cameras, police body cameras, and street cameras. They will also allow for instant communication with law enforcement and loved ones. A feeling of safety will arise from this ubiquitous surveillance and the ability to receive immediate help when needed.

4. Immortality. Many people understand the idea of a quantified self, where people keep track of diet and exercise to promote longevity. Sharing this information with others helps keep people motivated. This information could also be connected directly to medical providers.

5. Teleportation. The idea of teleportation is appealing due to the hassles surrounding traveling today. However, it does exclude the pleasurable parts of travel, such as meeting fellow travelers and enjoying the journey. There is much room for improvement in traveling and how people arrive at their destinations. Google’s self-driving car does not offer teleportation, but it does provide friction-free travel.

6. Expression. The desire to create is one of the most primal human drives. The game Guitar Hero spoke to the desire to become a rock star by making it easy to experience playing a guitar without the technical skills of playing a real guitar. It is an enchanted object because it works with a familiar object, the guitar, but makes it possible for anyone to use.


The Extraordinary Capability of Human Senses

People interface with most technologies via sight and less so with the senses of touch, hearing, taste, and smell. However, these other senses can be just as powerful as sight. For example, the cocktail party effect occurs when people are in conversation about one topic but are able to tune into another conversation when a familiar name or word is mentioned. This demonstrates the human ability to use senses peripherally, and this ability should be considered in the development of enchanted objects.

Technology Sensors and Enchanted Bricolage

Although computers cannot recognize subtleties such as facial expressions, sensors can gain a lot of information from a person’s touch, movement, temperature, and location. For example, the Nike Fuelband not only tracks exercise but measures pace and distance based on footsteps.

The Seven Abilities of Enchantment

1. Glanceability. Enchanted objects provide necessary information with only a glance so people do not need to give their full attention to something. The Windows 8 operating system was designed with this in mind, placing the most important information in tiles on the screen. Other everyday objects that use glanceability include clocks, which only need a glance to determine the time.

2. Gestureability. People do not need to think about how to interact with familiar objects, so the question is how these objects can be improved. The Amazon Trash Can transforms an everyday trash can into a trash can that also notifies Amazon when an item needs to be reordered.

3. Affordability. Adding sensors to existing objects to create new features will become less expensive as hardware costs continue to plummet.

4. Wearability. People already wear technology to monitor their fitness levels. In the future, more enchanted objects will be wearable, including wrist bands, clothing, and shoes.

5. Indestructibility. Objects commonly found in homes, such as coffee tables, last for years due to their durability. Enchanted objects will need to mirror this level of hardiness to become staples in everyday life.

6. Usability. Objects with minimalistic interfaces are desirable because there is no need for an on/off switch. An example is the Google Latitude Doorbell, which senses when a family member is close to home and plays a sound specific to that person.

7. Loveability. To encourage people to connect emotionally to devices, designers need to include human attributes that are lacking in today’s devices.

Five Steps on the Ladder of Enchantment

The Ladder of Enchantment is a five-step process for design and development of enchanted objects. As an object climbs the ladder in features, it becomes more sophisticated and more enchanting.

1. Connection. Successful enchanted objects allow users to connect with them virtually via smartphone or computer.

2. Personalization. Amazon and Netflix already make recommendations based on individual profiles. The same concept could apply to any object, such as a scale that provides feedback based on age, weight, and medications.

3. Socialization. In the future, objects will interact with humans as if they themselves were human. A plant could signal the need for water to its owner. A smart trash can could recommend future purchases.

4. Gamification. Video game designers motivate players to reach new levels with points and leaderboards. They tap into the desire for achievement and recognition. These principles can be tied into other objects.

5. Storification. Stories speak to emotions. Creating personal goals within enchanted objects enables the objects to help tell individual stories.

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