Tag: Shrutin Shetty

Earth vs Jeff’s Trillion

When the population of animals or insects in a region grows substantially and causes damage, we call it an infestation.

Yet we humans have never looked at it the same way when it comes to ourselves, on how we grow and expand to displace and occupy forests, oceans, plant and animal territory.

And that concern is worsened multi-fold when public figures like Jeff Bezos say things like he did around 2018, that someday ‘a trillion people will live in space, there will be “a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts” and we’ll develop other planets, leaving Earth a beautiful place to be’, that isn’t coming from a place of need-based expansion, but rather a fascinating-sounding image to sell tickets on his spaceship.

Because then us common mortals start seeing the planet like we do an existing, well-functioning phone, when someone we admire gives us a preview of a fancy, upcoming phone. Our reaction is often reflected in what I call a ‘rolled model’ (as opposed to a role model).

We are suddenly even less careful with our phone. We don’t mind if it falls a few times, or if something we placed on it risks scratching the screen or leaking onto it.

Because someone we admire gave us a preview of what our world and life would be, with that upcoming new phone.

So what if that person we admire actually sells phones. So what if we are suddenly alright with our current phone getting damaged.

We are simply fixated on the possibilities of the new.

Only, in the case of the planet, the intention of the likes of Musk and Bezos is simply to sell tickets to space. But the effect of such previews don’t just influence our actions to affect our phone, but influence and magnify the damage we cause to the blue dot that’s home to a lot more than just us.

Here’s a very interesting article: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220905-is-the-world-overpopulated

#earth #population #ecologicalbreakdown #space #balance

Product Design should factor Human Forgetfulness

Product design should factor for human forgetfulness where possible.

This is a picture of the detergent tray from a leading brand, top-loading washing machine.

The hole in the tray is where detergent, mixed with water, drips into the drum during a wash cycle.

However, when the tray is opened to fill detergent, you notice it slopes downward.

This is understandable from a manufacturer’s perspective, the reason for the downward slope of the open tray intended to prevent any liquid or diluted detergent dripping into the drum before the cycle has begun.

However, from the user’s perspective, it also means that if a user forgets to shut the tray, it will fill with water, but mostly likely won’t drip through the outlet, as you can see in this case where, shortly after starting the cycle, it was realized and shut.

And forgetting to close the tray can be a very likely possibility in the hurried world we live in. It would involve an extra wash cycle after one realizes. And more water wasted, to get the job done.

A less desirable workaround solution could involve a sensor check that alerts the user of an open tray.
A intuitive workaround could be where the tray tilts forward (instead of backward), and the outlet is placed on the lower end, and only opens during a cycle and not before. So as not to inconvenience the user.

After all, aren’t machines supposed to be designed to make human lives more efficient?

#product #design #behaviour

An Indian Survivorship Bias Example

Many of you must have seen that drawing of a World War II plane with red dots on it.

It explains Survivorship bias, a bias that statistician Abraham Wald figured out.

Pic: source

Simply put, survivor bias is our tendency to view a situation or pattern as a comprehensive representative sample, often without considering what might be missing from that picture.

For instance, the WWII plane with red dots was a study Wald and his team carried out to determine which parts of returning Allied jets were hit the most by enemy gunfire, so as to reinforce those parts and make them stronger.

It was then that Wald realized that those parts were actually stronger, as all those jets had made it back to base safely. So instead, they focused on reinforcing the other parts, since clearly jets hit on other weaker sections never survived to tell their side of the story.

In India, there has been a belief among many of the older folk that children or people with big/long ears live a longer life, compared to those with smaller ears.

Interestingly, while most of our body shrinks with age, our nose, earlobes and ear muscles keep growing. Which means our elders had the concept backwards.

It was not that those born with bigger ears lived longer. But rather that those who lived longer, had ears that simply had a longer time to keep growing, and are therefore, relatively bigger in size.

#behaviour #behavior #bias #behaviouralscience #behavioralscience

 

Product Design Inputs for a Standing Desk

Invisible Bed has been an interesting product company.
As a recent
owner of a wall mounted sit/ stand desk, I recently shared some product design inputs with the CEO. They were well received.

The Product:

The Challenge:
1.Pre-attached table-top – makes installation a challenge even for a 2-person team, as the table-top weight causes the swing-arms to open
What I would do instead:
Keep the table-top separate. Maybe include a clamp on the swing-arms, onto which the table-top can subsequently be clamped onto. This might prevent the swing-arms from constantly opening.

2.Desk design – causes the unit in fullycollapsed position to swing outward and downward when unlocked. And the locking mechanism deforms if the desk is inadvertently lifted without unlocking – either way, risks injury to users or children who unlock it and are in the path when it swings outward
What I would do instead:
Offset the design so that the center of gravity falls within the unit itself, preventing it from swinging outward. It would then need to be manually lifted into position by the user, also automatically reducing the possibility of small children getting hurt as the unit would not swing open even if unlocked.
Or alternatively (simpler but boring option), a stronger locking mechanism.

This idea was part of an initiative called RattL ’em. and was shared with the CEO of the company, who was thrilled with the inputs, and plans to incorporate it in the future design.

What is RattL ’em?: We are constantly fascinated by companies, products and services.
So whenever a company catches our curiosity, we offer them an idea (a new product, service, or feature/ improvement idea), or highlight a concern area. Someday, we hope we can send an idea out into the world everyday.
We do this for free, and for fun. And the company receiving the idea is free to use it, with no financial or other obligation toward us. It is our way of trying to be the best in the field of people innovation.

Everything as a Service

Pic: source
 
Over the past decade, the business world has had a real attraction to making everything a service. And rightly so. Would you rather struggle to repeatedly sell your product to the same customer? Or would it be better to offer it on a subscription model where you can keep improving it over time, and charge users a regular fee for using it? From furniture and tech products to cars, web hosting and food apps. I’m all for the services model.
 
However, you can’t help compare the process of buying good ol’ products whenever you would need them, to subscription based services. Let me know what you think..
 
In FMCG products, larger SKUs are more expensive, but (almost) always cheaper per unit than smaller quantity SKUs.
Increased manufacturing, distribution costs, and profit margins affect the price of a product. But that price applies to all customers, new or loyal ones. As does any promotion, that does not differentiate between old and new customers.
 
Compare that with technology and web service companies. You pay a monthly, quarterly or annual fee for services they offer. Technology companies, like any other business, have costs that tend to grow over time. And their discounts to convert free-, or non-users to paid users are far more tempting than consumer product discounts. Rightly so.
 
But these discounts strain the operations of many of these tech companies, forcing them to create lean models of operations. That’s the upside! Is anything more fascinating than Uber needing only a 3-member team to manage every new location it expands to?
 
But once that discount period is over, fees of many tech services companies goes up, year after year. And similar to consumer product customers, there is no growing advantage of staying loyal (apart from a superior offering itself) to a brand. While customers of consumer products still benefit from any benefits offered to new/ non-paying customers, that often does not happen with tech services companies.
 
And therein lies the anomaly. Alert consumers of a tech service would find themselves reviewing the service and its benefits, comparing with competitors, or even just weighing the pros and cons of retaining any such service, each time it is up for renewal.
 
I’ve been using the MS Office 365 service for almost 8 years, and the older MS Office software before that. And while my subscription was on auto-renewal for many years, at one point I realized how the fee had steadily risen. While new users were still getting it at a price almost 40% lower (and as a friend mentioned, even lower on Amazon on festival days). It seemed unfair, and there was nothing stopping me from simply registering as a new user with a new email id, and simply moving files from one cloud to another.
 
Similarly, hosting is a ruthless market for service providers. All service providers offer heavy discounts on new subscriptions, but those fees skyrocket once that initial period is over. And in many cases, you don’t want to avail the heavy discount and commit to many years subscription without knowing the quality of the service and support.
 
I wonder if this anomaly seems more in price-sensitive markets like India, or it is a pattern across the world.
 
And I wonder if there is a better model that might help fix this apparent anomaly (for customers) and challenge that service companies face. One that is adequately fair to the service companies that work hard to bring incredible services our way, and to stand apart from the competition. And that is also fair to the average user of those services who is not thrilled about being fleeced for a service he or she has been using loyally for sometime, and then finding out that it is being offered to newcomers at a fraction of the cost they pay – with no extra benefits to show for the loyalty.
 
The ideal model would be one that adequately compensates tech service companies, while also avoiding the highly skewed pricing between newbies and loyalists. And tech companies need to lose any fat.
 
I am always reminded of Uber and Ola. It is popularly known that Uber just needs a 3-member team to expand to a new city. And in 2012, I remember forgetting an empty gym bag in an Ola cab, and ended up being sent to two of their sprawling offices in Mumbai!
 
The business model that extends from the founders’ vision and extends to become part of the culture of the organization, will determine how soon and how much profits your business can and will make.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.
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