Design Thinking as a framework for Innovation

Avi Barel
Avi Barel
Mar 10, 2017 · 12 min read

“Best way to change the future is to design it” — M. Cobanli

Design thinking methodology has been proven to result in more creative solutions in many fields and has been applied successfully in business, strategy and to social issues. But now more than ever, it can help not only in problem-solving but also in user-centered design and personalized product planning, in order to make things as simple as possible for the users. Let’s take cybersecurity for example: keep it in the back of your mind and approach your design with the assumption that your user has zero knowledge in security and privacy, so the key is, to build better, intuitive, and easy to use products, even for the average user, so they will be able to sleep in peace at night, knowing that they are protected thanks to your product.

Why we need design thinking in Tech and Innovation?

We are living in interesting times; technology has really changed and improved our lives in the past ten years. Thanks to our smartphones we are always connected to the internet, and we have information at our fingertips, 24/7 from anywhere and anytime. And today more than ever before, we are always online, available, and even addicted to wonderful and intuitive user-experiences, we enjoy using our smartphones for a variety of internet based content, applications, and cloud services. So the internet is becoming an extension of our mind, not only because of Crowdsourced information but because it enhances our experiences, knowledge and human capabilities in general (well, at least until we are all cyborgs — The singularity is near).

“I almost feel like somebody’s watching me”

How can design thinking help?

Well, It’s true that most of the people ignore security and privacy issues, as long as they get wonderful user experiences from their device, applications, and services. Let’s face it, we all use internet services (email, cloud services, and social networks) especially when it’s “for free.” But it’s very important to let the users know about data collection, and of course give them more controls over their data and privacy settings, with an easy-to-use mechanism, particularly for the average user who has no understanding of technical stuff like permission management, firewalls, and other security tools.

Keep it simple
Take it from the desktop to mobile — but make it simple!

What can be achieved by design thinking?

I had to try it myself, so I’ve decided to take up the challenge and do something about it over the last couple of weekends, a little side project to solve this problem, inspired by an idea that I had a few years ago when I moved from iPhone to Android. Well, personally I just love technology, I’m a tech enthusiast, an entrepreneur and a geek who is always passionate about technology, so if I see a problem, I want to solve it. And after a short planning, sketches and short brainstorming, I have developed a quick prototype (MVP) that aims to solve the problems I’ve mentioned, but more than that, simplifies everything for the average user, in order to deliver a magical experience. Simply hit a button and wallah, your problems solved!

A quick prototype — Designed at the speed of thought…
  1. Smart permissions - Make it easier for everyone (even for non-technical users) to protect their device and privacy, which can be solved very easily, for example by applying smart Crowdsourced policies that were configured by thousands of other users, who choose to share (anonymously) their app permissions to help others. But more importantly, perhaps making the process easier and productive for everyone, especially for non-technical users. Imagine that some users (say 1000 users) blocked camera access for a particular application, their policy will be automatically shared with the crowd, in order to make everyone’s life better. Think about non-technical users, if only they could get this capability today, thousands of people around the world will be able to hit a single button and instantly make their device secured thanks to crowdsourced security configurations. And if that’s not enough, just Imagine that everytime you install a new app, you’ll get a little notification that warns you about questionable permissions in that app, for example: “Hey, 1,000 users have blocked this application from accessing the camera, would you like to do the same?” And even if you have dismissed the message, you can always undo that, just launch smart permission manager, and you’ll get an intuitive, easy-to-use interface with a simple “Smart Protection” button, which you can simply tap, and it will do wonders — it will automatically block any suspicious apps on your device, thanks to the Crowdsourced data. We can even use Machine Learning and AI capabilities in order to improve that process.
  2. Smart Firewall - A permission manager is not enough, because there are so many apps and games with a full network access (without any logical reason), like that flashlight application which came with so many questionable permissions and also an internet access. Let’s say that there’s only one flashlight app out there that does what you need it to do, but it has so many permissions, and it looks suspicious to you, but you don’t have a choice because that’s the only flashlight app and you really need it… what are you going to do, avoid installing it? Maybe, but what if you had a simple way to prevent this app accessing the Internet? So that way, even if it has access to your valuable data, it won’t be able to send it over to the app developer’s servers! And you’ll be able to use it anyway, knowing that your data is safe. So the point is — we need a firewall combined with a permission manager. Just like Smart Permissions, Users can protect themselves by using a crowdsourced firewall that is capable of recommending which application to block hermetically from accessing the web, in order to prevent outbound data leakage or even inbound traffic and vulnerabilities by hackers. So it’s not only about turning the traditional (and complex) firewall into an user-friendly and “Smart” (crowdsourced) firewall, but it’s about “killing two birds with one stone” by providing Millions of mobile users out there with a simple and easy-to-use firewall, for the first time for mobile devices. As you may know, for years people had to Root their devices in order to install a basic permission managers and firewalls, but no worries, there’s a solution even for unrooted devices — Technically it’s possible to implement a firewall as a service (FWaaS) in a single Smart Permissions app, so even users without rooted Android or Jailbroken iPhones will be able to get a simple permissions manager and even to block internet access for some applications via simplified firewall. And all of that from an intuitive and user-friendly application that enables non-technical users enjoy privacy and protection, thanks to policies and configurations that power-users have shared with the community, in order to help thousands of other users out there to restrict untrusted apps simply by pushing a button.

Demo: How it works:

Edit: This is the latest version of SmartProtect (Aka SmartPermissions)

What’s next and how this approach can help

Keep in mind that this article was written before our products were “Smarter,” thanks to the IoT (Internet of things), and it doesn’t matter if we’ll have “smart home” products in every room at home, not to mention “Smart” toys that can ‘spy’ on children or “Smart” autonomous vehicles which we can buy even today (my favorite one is Tesla). Just remember that when we implement computers in vehicles, and “smart” products to connect them to the internet, we’re actually taking all of the security issues we had for years in computers and bringing them to all “Smart” products in our lives, doesn’t matter if it’s inside or outside your home (on wheels). It’s relevant not only for you and your family’s privacy and online security because it has become a real life-threatening reality! Not to mention Smart robots with AI brains that will be controlled from the cloud, if you are scared of hackers taking remote control over your robots, just watch I, Robot or Terminator movies to get some ideas. Sometimes science fiction becomes science fact…

In summary:

Why? Because if you care about something, do something about it!

StartUX is a unique Innovation Hub for: Startups, UX/UI/FE, AR/MR/XR, AI/ML & Tech! Website:

Avi Barel

Written by

Avi Barel

CEO at HoverSense | Former UX Lead at Microsoft, Cisco, NDS | Founder at | Passionate about: #Tech #Innovation #Startups #AR #XR #AI #UX #UI #Dev

StartUX is a unique Innovation Hub for: Startups, UX/UI/FE, AR/MR/XR, AI/ML & Tech! Website: