18 September 2007

Ferrari on the importance of understanding users

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Antonio Calvosa
The user as an unconscious sensor of the environment” was the title of Antonio Calvosa’s (Ferrari S.p.A.) keynote speech today at the Ubicomp conference in Innsbruck, Austria.

This talk adheres to the vision that in order to bring key benefits to human daily experiences with products and specific environments, new collaborative, ubiquitous and pervasive systems need to be developed, thus moving away from a stand-alone and computer-centred vision technology. The idea of the user as an unconscious sensor of the environment will be presented together with the possibilities offered by the application of adaptive systems to a particular user experience such as driving high performance vehicles. The example of the Ferrari’s Innovation Team will be brought as a case study of a multidisciplinary group which, by accounting for corporate needs and research trends, is active in shaping research directions and facilitating the market exploitation of both new paradigms and technological achievements. This will be presented by means of a series of initiatives in the area of ubiquitous and pervasive adaptation.

Mr. Antonio Calvosa, currently leading the Ferrari’s Innovation Team Project, is in charge of bringing knowledge into the Company with respect to future and emerging technologies that can play a relevant role in enriching the Ferrari’s driving experience. He developed a series of international collaborations with leading institutions, mostly within the Seventh Research Framework Programme of the European Commission. In particular, attention has been paid to the identification and exploitation of new concepts for future human-machine interfaces.

He is a co-author of a series patents at Ferrari on human-machine interface and of a patent on electron microscopy held at Philips Research. Antonio Calvosa graduated cum laude in Electrical Engineering from Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and also received his ‘Diplome d’Ingenieur’ from Ecole Supérieure d’Electricité (Paris, France) within the Top Industrial Manager for Europe Programme. He also holds a Master in Physics of nanostructures from Paris XI (Orsay, France).

According to Rachel Hinman of Adaptive Path, who attended the keynote,

Calvosa encouraged the audience to “…get your mind out of the lab – put your mind into figuring out how to communicate your technology to everyday people like your mom, or to your friend.”

He also talked about how in the end, you should always be thinking about the end user and putting people at the center of what you do. He gave an example of the Moen Revolution shower head created by Design Continuum Inc.

“Moen Revolution was an example of engineering the product based on the design. We worked in reverse to design the inner working that would improve the shower experience.”

He stressed that user need drove the design and development of this product – not technology and engineering.

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