Stein Ove Eriksen, CPO and co-founder, on the design behind Huddly GO
This is the first in a series of interviews with the team who brought the Huddly GO to life. We hope to explore the thinking behind the software, hardware and AI that makes GO so special.
We are starting the series off with one of the co-founders of Huddly, Stein Ove Eriksen who, along with Anders Eikenes, started the company in Oslo in 2013.
Growing up, Stein Ove was an avid fan of gaming and technology, always tinkering with electronics to discover how they worked.
He followed his passion and in Trondheim he studied Electronics and Design at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
He began his career in product design at Tandberg, a Norwegian electronics giant that was later acquired by Cisco and whose legacy lives on today in Norway’s Video Valley.
Now Huddly’s Chief Product Officer, we sat down with Stein Ove to talk about the values and principles behind the product design of Huddly GO – a pocket-sized, ultra-wide angle collaboration camera that gives everyone a seat at the table.
Scandinavian design values
How would you describe the values that drove the design of Huddly GO?
– Well, our design values were based on the classic Scandinavian design values.
First and foremost, we wanted to create something that was human – something that people would immediately respond to in an emotional way and the Huddly GO camera has actually done that from day one.
The reason that people want to buy GO is primarily the functional part of it – it solves a problem. But when you have the emotional response, people want to buy it before they’ve fully grasped the functional part. And that’s where you have the triggers.
What kind of triggers do you mean?
– There are many different ways of looking at conceptual design, but I’ll give you a few examples that were important to us:If you use the Stanford School Design Innovation framework, then you have 3 factors to take into account: technological feasibility, business viability and then the human values of usability and desirability. You have to have all three to have a successful product and business.
Another way to deconstruct the principles of good product design is through the ideas of Clayton Christensen, a Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. In his view, you have 3 drivers of disruptive innovation: emotional, social and functional drivers.
Most of the time, at least in communication, the social drivers come first. That’s where ‘fitting in” to people’s everyday behaviour is important. If you create an awesome experience using kickass technology but it doesn’t fit into your social behavioural patterns, then you simply won’t use it.
What kind of technology do you love?
– I love wearable technology and I was a very early adopter of a smartwatch. Looking back on it now, the world wasn’t quite ready for the technology.
For the first year, other people around me thought it was very strange. You could feel that people reacted when I received a message and looked at my watch. They felt I didn’t want to be there, that I didn’t consider them important.
That technology is great emotionally for the user but socially they still make people feel weird. The Design Innovation framework is great but often you need the Christensen ’emotional drivers’ to get it right.
The importance of timing
So it was primarily the social driver part that drove Huddly GO’s conceptual design. With our experience from Tandberg here in Norway and Cisco we knew it was technologically doable, but creating the right product at the right time for social behaviour is more important than understanding the tech. Sometimes that timing is hard to get right.
You say you wanted Huddly GO to be ‘human’. What do you have to do to achieve that?
– If you are looking at design from a technological angle, then talking about ‘human’ design, which is so non-specific, sounds fluffy, but it really is at the core when you are inventing something new.
If on the other hand, you come from the design angle with a more human understanding, then the technical stuff is not specific, it’s just tech.
To make a “human” product, you need to remove distractions. You need to create sort of a little person that you can relate to and be able to trust that it will do what it’s supposed to.
You have to try to visualise it as that little guy or girl that you can come to that will do what you ask of it.
It’s also important to set expectations – if the product says “hey I can do everything” then it’s hard to relate to. But at the same time if your expectations of the product are too limited, then it doesn’t fit your needs.
We always tried to conceptualise Huddly GO as that kind of helpful little character.
To what degree do you think you have been able to achieve that with Huddly GO?
– Well, with Huddly GO, you have a simple-to-use product that people can immediately understand what it can be used for but it’s also really important for people to know what it can’t be used for.
The human factors are what you need to have that immediate impact – the design values of having a simple affordance that people immediately connect with (in design thinking,“affordances” are the clues about how an object can be used provided by the object itself or its context. The concept was created by the perceptual psychologist James Gibson in the 60’s).
If you have too many options or too many steps to go through, the users don’t get to be creative. If they have to ask “how do I get this thing started?” then it’s just too hard to use.
When people get a Huddly GO, straight away they can understand what they can achieve with and what value they can get from it. Instead of trying to figure out how to use the thing, they envision the situations they can create with it.
As ever, thank you for reading, and don’t forget to have a look at huddly.com.
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