Designing for Google to Help Users with Tech Addiction
Develop a new cross-company program to help Google users maintain a healthy relationship with tech
Google aims to improve the lives of as many people as possible. A focus on the user has always been core to their approach and the company has built a reputation of product quality, utility and convenience in many categories.
As digital technology becomes more present and available in daily lives, Google users are experiencing many new benefits. But they recognise that some are also experiencing negative impacts related to excessive use of digital devices, apps and content, which may lead to harmful trade offs in other areas of their lives.
Our initial interaction with the client led them to asking us, "How should we define our future vision and where should we focus our efforts to have the greatest impact?"
RESEARCH AND INSIGHTS
What do people most need help with? How and when do they experience these issues? Who is at greatest risk of harm? What role do they expect technology companies to play?
How can Google address their needs? What news product features and services might we develop to help users maintain healthy relationship with and through technology?
How can Google provide leadership? What can we uniquely bring to this subject? What commitments might we make as a company? How might we educate users and enable experts?
PROGRAM DESIGN AND ACTIVATION
How should we communicate the program? What should the program be called? How would we launch and promote it? Who could we partner with to make it a success?
"Teams across our company are working on ways to address specific issues but currently these efforts are fragmented and we have not shared a vision for how healthy relationship with tech should work."
As a team, we chose a specific area of focus. We wanted to solve this for us. So we chose to understand this from the lens of a (American) knowledge worker, who is increasingly unable to disconnect from work.
Studies show, more than 65% of employees report suffering stress from 24/7 connectivity and other “invasive effects of work IT."
What are we trying to solve here?
Who are we trying to solve this for?
What makes Google the perfect partner for this challenge?
REDEFINING THE CHALLENGE
To reduce the negative impact of constant connectivity, amongst knowledge workers who spend a majority of their time on screens.
REDEFINING THE OPPORTUNITY
To empower Google users, with tools that’ll enable them to form meaningful practises with their use of technology.
Platform + Proprietary data + Core equities
WHAT WE LEARNED
The Age of Scarcity, The Age of Abundance.
“A world of too much data, too many choices, too many possibilities and too little time is forcing us to decide what we value.”
- Arianna Huffington, A Beautiful Constraint
65% agree unplugging is good for their health yet only 28% of those people actually do.
Our biggest takeaway is summed up well, by one of our our interviewees,
"I want to unplug. I know this is bad. Yet, there is (almost) an addictive pull that makes me want to stay connected, constantly. "
We live in the age of connection abundance.
"I want to unplug periodically, but I
feel pressured to stay connected."
Carlos, 32, Chile
THE CORE TRUTH
We've become victims of connection abundance.
Heidegger, the great philosopher once said,
“The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.”
OUR BIG IDEA
Our big idea is not about control or complete elimination. It is about giving the users the power to do what they most value.
And, this for Google users means:
OUR BIG IDEA
Two new modes for the Pixel and a three tier nomenclature designed to fundamentally change our relationship with the smartphone.
SO WHAT ARE THESE MODES?
These modes are Dwell, Focus and Open.
Dwell is a return of the phone to its most elemental form
It’s the idea of being more conscious of your surroundings
It’s giving you the permission to be more present wherever you are, whomever you are with
All you can do in this mode, is make calls (just like in the good old days!)
Focus mode is for you to be centered and perform activities that you’re passionate about with use of relevant, limited and meaningful use of technology
How often do we reach our phones to text but end up checking Instagram, replying to group chat messages, finding out a friend is getting married and then checking Instagram (again!) to see her marriage photos and then messaging other friends about it, basically how often do we check our phones and enter the rabbit hole of a million apps and then forgetting what we wanted to do with our phone in the first place!
Are you like me who moves the Instagram app to Page 3 of my phone so that when I reach out to check my Slack I don't end up doing anything else but Slack?!
This mode very subtly deactivates the apps you don't need so that every time you're in this mode, your phone gives you access to only the apps you need.
Open mode, as the name suggests, is your phone as it is now, allowing you to be exposed to a world of connections, information and people
There are times when you are open to every and any distraction, for example, when you're waiting for someone at a cafe.
Send and receive calls
A return to the earliest function of the phone, freeing us to dwell in the moment
Suspend selected apps and/or notifications
A tool for you to be your most productive self without distractions that rob your focus
Full power smart device
Your phone at full capacity with access to a world of people and information
The usage of these terms can potentially lead to a universal language that informs behaviour.
For example, "I called Su in the afternoon, and I got a text saying she is in 'Focus' mode. I bet she is working on her website on a Sunday afternoon."
And with this, Google has access to important data of when (time), where (location) and how, Pixel users are using these different modes to better understand user behaviour around tech.
As part of the launch, we will invite Pixel users to experience these three modes at the Google offices around the world.
By focussing on,
And recognising that we live in an age of
We propose the idea of
Three Modes of Being,
meaningful behaviour around technology