Technology for Humans
Avoid the droid
Despite technology that is light years ahead of what we have on Earth today, Star Wars is a story that occurs in the past (a long, long time ago).
As such, it seems odd to think of Star Wars as not a futuristic movie, but actually a history lesson. Nevertheless, Star Wars can provide great insight into how people design, consume and feel about technology….even here in our lonely galaxy.
Volumes of pages could be written about the different forms of technology used in the film: Death Stars, tractor beams, lasers, ways to harness gravity even in deep space far away from any planets, and of course, ludicrous speed (wait, wrong movie – we’ll save that for our SpaceBalls special). But for the sake of brevity, let’s stick to a few of the big ones: droids and spaceships. Specifically, let’s talk about the big three: R2D2, C3PO and The Millenium Falcon.
It is interesting to note that prior to Star Wars, technology in movies and TV was often portrayed as evil or to be avoided. Look at Lost in Space or 2001 a Space Odyssey. Technology was to be feared. But Star Wars changed that, and in looking at our Holy Trinity of technology in Star Wars, we see that how they are designed reflects this. All three do not look menacing. The Millennium Falcon actually looks much like a patchwork of metal thrown together rather than a agile Empire slayer. R2D2 and C3PO actually assume many human characteristics: R2’s beeps that convey emotion and PO’s actual form factor is a person (despite being a droid whose main purpose seems is to be able to translate over six million forms of communication).
So what’s the point? People want their technology to be approachable. They want their technology to make them feel more like a human and not like a robot. All three are designed in a way that invites human interaction and bends to the needs to the person using it.
Taking this a bit further, not only does the design of the technology invite human engagement, they actually invoke downright soulful emotions. Think about it. All three, at some point in the series, need to be rescued,even the Millennium Falcon. In Episode VII, Rey and Finn steal the ship from a junk dealer and are found by Chewy and Han … and adventure follows. These machines are cared for as if they are people because that is how people feel about them. These robots bring out emotions in the people around them.
Ponder that for a second. If the droids had been designed in a way that appealed less to human emotion, perhaps the Rebellion wouldn’t have succeeded. What if R2D2 wasn’t designed to look like a loveable pet? What if R2D2 resembled a womp rat? Or a Jawa? Do Luke and Obi Wan still decide to follow the random message from the strange lady in the movie the robot shows? Maybe not.
Bottom line, just like in the film, users want their experience to make them feel more human, not less. Your digital transformation needs to do the same thing. Design with the human experience in mind … otherwise you may be responsible for the entire galaxy being enslaved by an evil space wizard.