Play Lab / Exercise 1: Micro-Futures and Trend Observation

There are many habits we have today that may indicate how society will change or what new technologies develop. These habits and mannerism, when more deeply considered, can even pose as potential opportunities for improvement and the creation of these developments. In a sense, by noticing behaviors that occur today we can identify areas of need and innovate for the future.

Cell Phones and Daily Commute
The cell phone has permeated every part of our lives (is this a design flaw or an opportunity?), even our commute from home to work or from class to class has been infiltrated by our mobile device. As cell phones have become smaller, likely to increase ease of use and transportation, they have actively become part of this transportation process — whether intentional or not.
This poses a design opportunity, especially in the app world. If we are constantly on our phones when walking from place to place, perhaps it is important to note what kinds of things we are doing on our phones. Texting, checking email, playing games? What kinds of things could be introduced? Is this something the creators of Pokemon Go picked up on and was it an integral part of its success?

Chairs as Coat Hangers
There is probably nothing that seems particularly unusual about this photo. We see coats hanging on the backs of chairs all the time, and probably partake in the behavior ourselves as well. Hanging a coat on a chair, to many of us, is a very obvious thing to do. But what originally prompted us to use that chair as a make-shift coat hanger? Did we think to do so because we once saw someone else do it? Were we taught by our relatives that this is the appropriate thing to do when indoors? Or was it perhaps the form of the chair itself that invited us to drape our outerwear over its back?
This chair, in particular, is not exactly suited to host a coat. The shape is very rounded and is such that a coat could easily slide off onto the ground (something many of us have painfully experienced one too many times). But if so many of us hang our coats on the backs of chairs, should they be designed to intentionally host coats? Or should chairs simply remain objects to hold our bodies and not our things?

Social Media and “Auto-Tagging”
The entire premise behind social media is for us to connect with those around us. Whether it’s posting a photo of an artfully curated latte on Instagram, authoring a profound thought on Twitter, or tagging a friend in a ridiculous photo on Facebook, social media is for sharing. This act of sharing, or inclusion in a post or photo through “tagging,” has improved and become easier with time. Many of us, however, still struggle get it right, including myself. 
Above is a screen shot of a post my mother made on Facebook yesterday (sorry for any embarrassment this may cause, mom, I love you very much). And you’ll see that I am tagged. When this post was made, however, I received no notification and was never actually “tagged” as my name didn’t turn into a tagged link. This is no fault of my mother’s in particular — you can see that the format she used for tagging was right, but something in the system went wrong.
Is there perhaps a better way to include our friends and family in our posts?

Forgot your password?
In the day and age of the forgotten password, likely due to the numerous variations we have on a single or few of our primary passwords, everyone has at some point succumbed to clicking the saving “forgot your password?” link. But just when you think you’ve been rescued by the password Gods, you’re hit with security questions with answers you came up with in early high school (were those answers capitalized or not….). Once you’ve made it through these various stages you’re either sent to a screen to reset your password or are sent an email from which you can do so. If so many of us struggle to remember our passwords, is there an easier way to remember them? Can we do away with passwords completely? 
It seems like Medium has caught on to this trend and has done something quite effective. Since usernames tend to be email addresses, rather than having an email and password sign in screen it directly sends you an email to verify your identity. A simple click on this link and you are signed in! What a way to circumvent the entire forgotten password pathway. You can even use Facebook or your Google account to sign in.
It looks like Medium spotted a frequent behavior and trend and developed their website to target/accommodate this. Way to go Medium!