EXPERIENCE DESIGN FOR ROBOTICS

You know what I’m up to at the moment?

Doing the experience design for a robotic service.

How many of you UX types are drooling? Go on… admit it. Imagine having the chance; to not just look at how robots work, not just how they interact with people, but also how they can be part of that grand ballet of experience design; an autonomous service?

I have been doing experience design of one sort or another for 16 years. I realised I was an experience addict when I designed my first form. When you’re an addict, you are always looking for the next hit. And this is a doozy.

Where would you start? How would you get under the skin of such a beast? Who has done it before? How will you know success?

So many questions.

But first, what exactly is it? So, I am lucky enough to be involved in designing a system for farming. Something so radical it could revolutionise the way food is produced. By 2050, we have to produce 70% more food. We cannot use any more land. We must find a way of making farms more productive and efficient. A lot more. The only way to do this is by being a lot more granular about understanding crops, and the ecosystem they live within. This is not a manual process. There are millions of plants in a crop from one farm. You need a high level of automation to make this precision effective.

An answer to this is using robots. Small robots. Robots that do not compact the soil. Robots that continuously monitor the condition of the soil, of the crop and of weeds. Robots that plant without ploughing. Robots that control weeds without chemicals.

But the core of the proposition is that these robots are not individual units. A farmer does not have to make a whole range of machines work together. They can just use them as a service. So the farmer doesn’t have to have machinery sitting round in their shed. They just know when something needs to be done, the robots will turn up and do it.

Quite apart from the robots themselves, this involves some pretty serious back end stuff. The system has to be able to convert raw data into recommendations or instructions based on complex analysis. It needs to be able to instruct not only the robots themselves, but also the provisioning systems, logistics and supply chain.

But the robots… well, they will be the face of the company. There will be a robot on the farm when there is no Small Robot Company person. They need to do their job, but they also need to communicate what they’re up to. They also need to be able to exude trust in what they are doing.

We all know that the key to getting this right is the experience. But, as I said at the start, how do we design that experience? What do we want that experience to actually be? What processes do we use? How do we know when we’ve got it right? Well, we’ve got the next six months to work it out.

I thought might be interested in hearing how we did it. I hope you may want to let me know what you think.

Thanks!