The ‘Average’ Myth

In 1950 they decided to find out. Researchers at Wright Air Force Base in Ohio measured over 4,000 pilots on 140 dimensions of size, including average torso length, arm length, crotch height and even thumb length.

[Lt Gilbert] Daniels selected ten physical dimensions that he thought would be most important for cockpit design. Using the data from the 4,063 pilots who had been measured, Daniels defined someone as average if their measurements fell within the middle 30% of the range for each dimension.

He then compared each individual pilot to the average he had calculated. Most of his colleagues expected the vast majority of pilots to be within the average range for over half the dimensions. But in fact Daniels analysis discovered none of the 4,063 pilots measured managed to fit within the average range of all ten dimensions. Even when he selected only three dimensions fewer than 3.5% of pilots were within the average size for all three dimensions.

via Conversion Uplift

The article does a good job explaining the applicability of "average" in user-experience design, but I’ll add one more trick that I’ve always used: histograms.

If you’re designing a new shopping cart experience, your research may find the average number of products in the cart is 50. But, 90% of those carts may have only one item, while the other 10% have hundreds. Designing the cart to maximize the experience of someone with 50 items won’t help anyone.

Or: statistically, the average human being has fewer than two arms.

“Choose Your Own Adventure” Television

Netflix’s first interactive episode arrives on the service today, giving viewers a chance to shape the narrative through a series of decisions they make throughout the experience.

Seems like an obvious choice for an interactive digital product. The proof will be in the storyteller’s ability to write all those branching narratives.

via The Verge

Unambiguous Role Allocation

"The safest thing to do would be [to produce] a system where either the car is in control under all conditions or humans are completely in control," Missy Cummings, director of Duke’s Humans and Autonomy lab, told Recode in a previous interview. "It’s called unambiguous role allocation, because there is no question who is doing what. The trickier part is the technology isn’t there. If the technology is not there, you can’t guarantee that kind of confidence in the operation under all foreseeable conditions."

via Tesla responds thanks but no thanks to Consumer Reports’ call to disable and rename Autopilot

Deskewing the Polls

People, though, should stick to reality. Right now, Clinton is leading in almost every single national poll. She leads in both our polls-plus and polls-only forecasts. That doesn’t mean she will win. The polls have been off before, but no one knows by how much beforehand, or in which direction they’ll miss. For all their imperfection, the polls are a far better indicator than the conspiracy theories made up to convince people that Trump is ahead.

via The Polls Aren’t Skewed: Trump Really Is Losing Badly

I hope these polls are right, Hillary becomes our first female president, and we can out this national nightmare behind us.

If you’re Team Trump, though, what does lying to yourself get you? Maybe a little extra narcissism?

TV guide

via Recode:

Last year, Apple shelved its plan to sell you TV. Now Apple has a new plan: Tell you what’s on TV and help you watch it.

Apple has started talking to TV programmers and other video companies about creating a digital TV guide that would work on both Apple TV boxes and other Apple devices, like iPhones.

The idea is to let users see what kind of programming is available in video apps made by the likes of HBO, Netflix and ESPN, without having to open up each app individually, and to play shows and movies with a single click.

A global queue is a version-one feature. The second Apple decided that apps were the new channel, it should have been obvious that splitting content among an infinite number of experiences wasn’t going to scale.

I realized it and you’ll have to trust me that no one is looking my way for their futurist needs. Truth is, it wasn’t a difficult thing to foresee. Spend any amount of time digging around for something to watch and it’s apparent immediately.

I hope this isn’t MVP run amok.

À La Carte TV Packages

Dish hasn’t given up on Sling TV, their take on internet-delivered cable:

Sling TV on Thursday announced a slew of changes to its streaming service, including several new channels and the creation of "Orange" and "Blue" tiers, the latter bringing multi-stream support out of beta.

An "Orange + Blue" package is available for $40, but many channels — like HBO, Epix, and Cinemax — are still in separate add-on packages costing between $5 and $15 per month. Sling’s Latino content has been expanded with a "Caribe" package featuring Cuban and Puerto Rican material, plus a $10 standalone service.

via Sling TV splits into ‘Orange’ and ‘Blue’ tiers, adds NBC, BBC America & other channels

À la carte channels were always a bad idea, and Sling is admitting as much here. The economics of modern television simply don’t work outside of the bundle model.

I do wonder how long before Sling’s prices creep up to match standard cable.

Calvin and Hobbes in 3D

Calvin isn’t quite right, but this is incredible all the same.

Turning classic 2D cartoons into 3D renderings can be a tricky act to balance. There’s always something a little unsettling and kind of off about the finished model, like say, The Peanuts Movie, or Garfield: The Movie. Maybe it’s the way that it looks way too polished, or how it messes with the nostalgic memories of our beloved characters, but we just know it’s not right when we see it.

Artist Gabriel de Laubier effortlessly jumped past this hurdle, transforming Bill Watterson’s iconic Calvin and Hobbes "Big Bang" strip into an interactive 3D scene:

via Calvin and Hobbes in 3D is even more magical

Advanced NASA Tech Used for an (Admittedly Cool) Bentley Ad

CSI just became 100x more believable.

Bentley Motors Look Closer

Photos app Searchable Keywords

via Behind Apple’s Advanced Computer Vision for Photos app:

…Bedroom, Bedchamber, Bedchambers, Bedrooms, Boudoir, Boudoirs, Chamber, Chambers, Sleeping Room, Sleeping Rooms…

Incredible list of searchable keywords in the new Photos app, although I’m not sure I’d ever search for boudoir…or need 10 ways to search for my bedroom.

One Faster Horse, Please

Seth Godin:

You can’t ask customers want they want

… not if your goal is to find a breakthrough. Because your customers have trouble imagining a breakthrough.

You ought to know what their problems are, what they believe, what stories they tell themselves. But it rarely pays to ask your customers to do your design work for you.

This applies to more than just breakthroughs. If you want to create compelling experiences, you have to start from knowing the problem you’re going to solve.

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