Could Musical Roads address Global Speeding and Road Safety


Pic: source

There are roads in Hungary that plays music!
A musical road was first created in 1995 Denmark, by two artists. Given how brilliant a concept, I wonder why its Danish origins seem almost obvious. Just like the concept of hygge and especially Lego.

Musical roads also exist in other countries like Hungary, Japan, South Korea, the United States, China, Iran, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Many of these are either created by artists, or as in the case of Hungary, in memory of an artist. The Japanese interestingly stumbled upon it by a fortunate accident involving engineer Shizuo Shinoda, who unintentionally scraped some markings on the road with a bulldozer. Driving over that section created tunes.
[Read more on musical roads here].

Once you get past the amazement of musical roads in general, you can’t help realize the possible solution it presents for controlling speed on roads and highways across the world.

Imagine popular tunes are recreated onto roads notorious for speeding. Anyone going faster or slower than the popular tune that a road plays, which would be adapted for the speed range on that road, riding or driving outside that range would simply sound..wrong.
And it might nudge you to adjust your speed to within the prescribed limit! 💡

If the installations are affordable and convenient to install/remove, they could be updated with the latest tracks regularly, to keep up with times.

Another aspect that might contribute to its possible effectiveness is the fact that unlike the car music system, it cannot be turned off. The flipside of course, is the possibility of teens (the usual suspects and culprits of speeding) intentionally speeding to make the tune sound funny.

A subsequent study could perhaps look into finding any correlations between those who tend to speed, and those who don’t have a ear for music… 😉

[The musical road – Hungary](https://youtu.be/rM5oX0KbtUw)

How About a Mass Behavioural Improvement before India’s 100th Independence Day

 


The beautiful tri-colour waving at Connaught Place, Central Park, Delhi.

It’s 75 years since India got Independence!
A proud milestone for all of us Indians. Also one to reflect on and carefully choose the path forward.

I happened to read a 75th Independence Day post on Instagram a short while ago, that took a crude jab at the Brits.
What I found amusing is I believe it captures a common trait among many of us Indians.

This is obviously not a political post. It is a behavioural one though.

It has been 75 years!
Our media never misses an opportunity to find Indian connections to the Royal family..
There’s a massive Indian population living in the UK..
We dream of holidaying in the UK..
We dream of owning cars and motorbikes from the UK region..

..but still have this unaddressed anger of sorts. I mean come on, it has been 75 years ffs!

Thing is, I have experienced this type of misplaced emotion myself as well.
As a 7-8 year old, one of the early deaths of a loved one was that of my grandfather. He had already suffered a stroke, and subsequently died of a heart attack.

I remember struggling to come to terms with it, and told a cousin that I wish a person had caused it, so that perhaps I could find a rational channel for my anger and more importantly my sadness.

So I wonder, is it something broken in our education system, or in how we bring up our children, not discussing or not knowing how to discuss tough or uncomfortable topics, that causes us to grow up to become anger-filled, cynical adults who, as Steve Buscemi (Garland Greene in Con Air) describes someone saying,
“He’s a font of misplaced rage.
Name your cliche. Mother held him too much, or not enough.
Last picked at kick ball, late-night sneaky uncle. Whatever.
Now he’s so angry, moments of levity actually cause him pain.”

And this is not just the case with India. Other countries around the world, some in Europe and South America too, display a similar general trend of latent anger or cynicism amongst its people.

Better understanding of this behavioural pattern might help us address it, so we can reach our true potential, as individuals, and as a country. Let us improve multi-fold by our 100th Independence Day.

 

 

 

 

Mobile Apps and Habits


Pic: source

If you are trying to create a new habit or trying to use a mobile app more regularly, you would obviously have better luck if you placed the app on the Favourites row. It could be a planner app, an e-book reader, a food-tracking or exercise app, or whatever else.

But it is possible that row is limited and filled with other important apps like the caller app, browser, camera, etc.

So in case you use a page-type layout for apps, the next best option after the Favourites row, is to place that important app in the row just above the Favourites row or in the top row. Because either of these is where your general gaze goes to each time you look at your phone.

If you use a Menu layout with apps (or app folders) on a vertically-scrolled grid, you might be better off placing the important app in the absolute middle row, or the topmost or lowest row.

When you use your phone the next few times, observe which section (top, or lower) of the phone you pay attention to.
Or without checking on your phone, try to think of one or more apps that you think are on the top and bottom (one above Favourites) row on your phone. Placing the important app in that row will remind you to use that app more regularly.

If you aren’t in the habit of rearranging the layout of apps on your phone, key apps that you believe might help you improve on some front, will have a greater tendency to remain downloaded but forgotten or seldom used.

Questions and thoughts welcome.

The Hostile World for Women


Pic: source
 
The men among you might be able to relate to this.
 
Think of the last time you attended a conference or had to commute for a duration of over 30 minutes. And rather than drive or take a bus or train, you Uber or Ola it there and back.
 
How often might you have dozed off in the cab?
 
I have on plenty of occasions.
 
Doing so is probably not too safe even for us men. But you can relate to this scenario. Unless you are on a call or browsing, or chatting with the driver; there’s a good chance you’ve been generally sleepy. Even more so if it is sunny or gloomy outside, making it a struggle to keep awake in the cab.
 
We do wake up refreshed though; ready for whatever tasks await us.
 
Now, imagine those same instances as a woman.
One would imagine it is far more unsafe for her. Which means she needs to resist that overwhelming nap in the cab that we men would struggle to resist.
 
Imagine an hour or more of commuting. Imagine needing to stay awake, only because you are a woman. Only because the world remains disproportionately more unsafe for you.
 
During engineering, I used to have a little over an hour of commuting each, to and from college. A 5-minute local bus ride for about 2 kilometers, and then an hour on an express bus flying for a good part on a national highway.
 
One afternoon, when getting back from college, I remember being sleepier than usual. So I dozed off for a while. After getting off at my stop, and getting into the local bus, I sat on an aisle seat on the left. Next to me on the window seat was an elderly man.
 
Still drowsy, I nodded off, and my head unintentionally bobbed off this old man’s shoulder. Awoken by the jolt, without looking up, I apologized to this person. Still struggling to stay awake, I nodded off again.
 
And again, along the twisty roads, my head hit his shoulder. Again, with eyes half open, I apologized, before opening my eyes wide open to try and stay awake. But before I knew it, I had drifted off, only to wake up after the next jolt between head and shoulder. 😛
 
I wondered how come this old man was so tolerant of this invasion of his space. As I turned to apologize, I realized he was fast asleep too, head bobbing slightly with the movement of the bus.
 
It is a different situation if a a woman is sitting beside another woman in public transport. But otherwise, this lowering of one’s guard and allowing oneself a few zzz’s in the face of exhaustion is an improbable scenario for most women. She would not feel safe to allow herself to catch a few zzz’s. Even on the most scorching afternoons on a bus filled with strangers she is instinctively programmed to be alert about.
 
In a generally hostile world, imagine the toll this resisting of sleep, or the need to be on alert all the time, puts on the average woman’s attentional space.
 
Now imagine how making the world safer, could do wonders to the attentional space of millions of women.
 
An attempt to create a safer world has many dimensions to it.
From educating us men from childhood, to creating safe environments and neighbourhoods. And creating less-taxing processes and experiences.
 
Indian queues have been something of an amusement for decades. How we generally struggle to create straight lines, but would rather flock over a counter. That experience for most of us men, though mildly stressful, is only one of ensuring no one cuts the queue before you.
 
For a woman, it is a far more horrifying experience. It often is about having strange men far too close in her personal space. She is not just concerned about losing a few spots in queue. Her mind is most likely in a state of high alert. Scared she might be pushed off balance, or touched, or pick-pocketed. Not a pleasant state for anyone to be in.
 
A lot of us have either mentioned or found amusing, how women go to the loo in pairs or groups. There are those of us who only need to slide down a zipper and go. We can never fully understand the challenge a poorly lit toilet or approach presents to a woman. Nor the lack of a hook for a purse, an empty toilet paper roll, or a working latch on the door presents to a woman.
Pic: source
 
Years ago, as a male teen growing up in India, I have done my share of urinating in public. Not exactly in public, but say into a field on the side of a highway and such. Not proud of it. In fact over the years, I’ve been increasingly ashamed of it.

Many years ago as a student, I was on a bus traveling between two states. The bus stopped in a small town, and many of us passengers stepped out to relive ourselves. On one edge of the bus stand, beyond an open gate, was a swamp.

Since there were far more people than toilets, and given the short duration of the stop, the teenage me headed toward the swamp. A few elders standing along the path to the swamp figured the obvious reason I was headed there. In an animated manner, they seemed to caution me using a word in the language of the state. They kept repeating it. I was familiar with the word. In my limited vocabulary, it meant swamp or small water body or something. I smiled and waved them a friendly ‘don’t worry about it’ and walked past, stood on the edge of the swamp and got to it.

During the rest of the journey, the word of caution from those villagers kept playing in my head. That’s when realization hit that there also exists an almost identical, phonetically slightly different word in the same language. One that translated to water snake! So much for risky relieving business.

But unlike that incident, even the most normal seeming public toilets (including the ones at malls) can seem equally daunting for women. From lights not working, to male staff being assigned to clean them, it is no less scary than the risk of those water snakes.

Imagine the world of a difference between someone able to relieve oneself when necessary; to someone needing to hold it in till she gets to a more accommodating place.
 
Now imagine how making the world safer and being considerate and thoughtful, could do wonders to the lives of millions of women.
 
Educate. Be considerate. Design safer and more thoughtful spaces and processes.
Pic: source
 
#women #safety #AttentionalSpace #design #DesignThoughtfully #processes

Heel Rollers – Not a great Design

Image: source
 
Heel rollers, heel wheel skates, or heel wheels, have a fundamental flaw in their design.
 
If we humans were to pick between standing for a minute on the front section of our feet or the heels of our feet, odds are we would be more comfortable on the front section. The heels generally bear most of our body weight. But if our weight is channeled only to the heels, they seem to tire soon (the calcaneus region). In contrast, the front section of our feet do better at balance control and managing the weight.

Image: source
 
Coming to these heel rollers which seem to be popular with kids, they seem to have a flawed design. Each roller has a single pair of wheels, worn over shoes, and positioned towards the heel. This leaves the front section of the feet free, allowing for balance control. Yet, this puts the axis of the wheels in line with our center of gravity, increasing chances of rapid falls backwards. That in turn, increases chance of injury to the head.
 
What if you wore the wheels over the forward section of your feet, closer to the toes?
 
While this would remove that balance control that the front section of the feet offer, it would increase chances of a forward fall. Of the two, this one is slightly better as the user has a shot at controlling or dampening the fall. But, now the wheel’s axis is outside of our center of gravity, making the ride unstable and not enjoyable. Unless one skates only using the forward section of the feet. [Imagine a woman in heels, but with wheels under the front. Does that look remotely comfortable?]
 
Unlike roller skates, heel (or forward) rollers would be a good way to induce a back pain due to its unstable design, The lower back in particular would be working extra hard to counterbalance to constantly maintain or regain balance.
 
So in all, not the best idea for a fun alternative to walking for kids.

Plastic Diet – Trying to Predict Big Pharma’s Next Big Thing

plastic-pollution-kills-another-whale-1

Image: source

Since plastic is pretty much an inescapable part of our diets now, and since we humans are inclined to prefer selling/buying a solution rather than inconveniencing ourselves with rollbacks or preventive efforts, my prediction for big pharma is that their next big offering will be pills (or some other form) of supplements to help digest that plastic.

Bon Appétit

An old, related post: Choosing a business opportunity to avoid change.

Product Design – Bottle Necks

I recently got some (plastic 😬) bottles for home.
Not proud of it. But anyway, I noticed a small design anomaly with them.

Normally, the neck of most bottles are only slightly shorter than their lids.

 

Now while these bottles are fine otherwise (except, plastic!), I wonder how many people who’ve bought them have unintentionally spilled water on themselves while drinking.

When we reach out for a bottle, we unconsciously gauge the height of the neck (also the mouth diameter), and the brain magically calculates an approximate “how much to tilt”…

But with these bottles, that seems a little misleading. You expect a taller neck than the lid hides, which means water will be out at a smaller angle of tilt than one expects.

Ideally, always either match or exceed (i.e. err on the safer side of) user perception.

This bottle’s neck design is like having a negative margin of safety.
Say a product has a 100 kg payload limit. It is designed with a margin of safety, meaning it will deform or buckle above 100 kg (maybe at 110, or at 120 or even higher), not exactly at 100. But then imagine another similar product with the same 100 kg payload claim, but one that buckles at 95.
This bottle neck is that. Not always desirable.

How the Future of Text Content Should Be

Pic: source

As our attention spans go from low to almost non-existent in an increasingly noisy world, I get especially wary whenever I need to read a verbose report. Especially ones with unusually large paragraphs. You know it might be important, but just the way it is structured makes it very difficult to read to the end. Not to mention all those hours of sleep you missed over the years seems to visit you all together.

When texting friends or colleagues about topics of interest, I tend to type some longish messages myself. But what I have been doing, is structuring them in a manner that I think makes it a little easier for someone to read. I’m not exactly sure how effective it is, but in my opinion, going forward, it might be easier for people to read text content across platforms (websites, news articles, blog posts, social media posts, tweets, etc.) if you toss the traditional paragraph and format it the way I have been…

This here is a paragraph I pasted from the Creative Commons site. And below it is the same paragraph in my ‘attempt to make it more readable’ format…

Original Format:
Use Creative Commons tools to help share your work. Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give your permission to share and use your creative work— on conditions of your choice. You can adopt one of our licenses by sharing on a platform, or choosing a license below.

How I think it should be to make it easier to read+understand:
Use Creative Commons tools
to help share your work.
Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses
provide a simple, standardized way
to give your permission to share and use your creative work— on conditions of your choice.
You can adopt one of our licenses
by sharing on a platform,
or choosing a license below.

While this format would be horrible to available space and formats and layouts we are familiar with, it might just help your audience better understand more complex thoughts you are trying to convey.

Thoughts?

Product Use and Experience – Range and Layers

There is a beauty to how some products (and software) are designed.

Think scissors. If we want to cut something fast, we use the forward section of the blades (speed multiplier). Want to cut something fatter or tougher, use the rear end of the blades (effort multiplier); and cut slower, or risk breaking the scissors.

And Mixer grinders. Need to grind coffee beans to a powder? Start with the low speed, and slowly increase. Jump to the highest speed fast, and you could damage the blades or motor.

Cars (MT) and commuter bikes follow a similar rule. More torque for climbing on lower gears, and better speed on higher gears. Try climbing in a high gear, and you’ll stall. Go fast in a lower gear (or drop to a low gear at high speed), and you wear out the gear.

Think Software. I’ve always admired the MS Office suite. Layered, so novices like the teenage us got some basic fun. And as our task complexity deepened, the software opened up to keep pace.

Physical products have manuals. Tech service cos would benefit if they spelt out the expertise/ features they offered. Many of us use online services not knowing half their features; many of which could simplify our work or make things more enjoyable.
Make layers appear as the user gets ready for them.

Pic: source

 

 

Dettol Liquid Soap Refill’s Cap Seal Ring

Dettol liquid soap’s refill packs (above) have a small flaw in their cap seal rings. The tiny ring that stays on the refill pack (after breaking off from the cap), is not secured in place, and tends to fall into the soap dispenser.

Lifebuoy liquid soap refills (above) on the other hand, seemed to have designed the spout in such a manner that it arrests movement of the seal ring once broken.

A small design element, but saves you from having seal rings in your soap dispenser. =)

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