SK Broadband B-Box, a better TV experience

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SK Telecom/Broadband introduced a setup box called B Box. It was co-developed by a design consulting agency, Plus-ex, and recently received a red-dot design award. It not only looks way different from other ugly, bulky setup boxes, but it also provides several interesting services with TV viewers through immensely improved User Interface (UI). For instance, viewers can access the information about weather, stock prices, and his/her own schedule information watching the program. They can customize the layout and choose main screen size as well as select which information they want to get among traffic, home monitoring, pictures, and etc.

For me, I like the Dynamic Channel function. It allows me to “watch” up to 12 running TV programs on different channels. I review multiple contents, skip commercials, and choose the best channel. I wish other companies pay attention to improving viewers’ TV experiences as well.

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Devices help us empathize with others

Empathy matters in design and new  product development (e.g., Dev Patnaik’s Wired to Care). In order to deeply dive into target customers’ thoughts and feelings, marketers have used some combination of observation and interview (i.e., market-oriented ethnography in Rosenthal and Capper 2006) and even pictures (e.g., Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique). Academic researchers in the marketing area continue exploring tools (e.g., Listening-In in Urban and Hauser 2004).

However, designers seem to invest more effort into empathy probably because they are able to develop tangible devices. Last year, I met several interesting empathy support devices at the exhibition by the College of Design at Kookmin University. Students developed a series of devices that help researchers put themselves into the shoes of pregnant mothers, asthma patients, and even the seniors suffering from the pain of hands and legs. In order to empathize them, researchers carry baby dolls or wear masks, gloves and sand sacks.

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PhD thesis: paper vs. book

Marketing PhD candidates write papers. However, some design PhD candidates publish books. I have received book-format theses from two people who obtained their design PhDs from European universities. I also know of some other design PhD candidate in US  who are presently writing books for their PhD degrees. Why do marketers and designers require different formats of work to obtain PhD degrees?

I believe that design PhDs are asked to have a broad understanding about an area, whereas marketing PhDs are asked to generate specific piece of information from an area. An author of a book (PhD in Design) raises a broad question (e.g., value of design thinking), reviews others’ answers comprehensively, and then makes his/her own argument. Differently, an author of a research paper (PhD in Marketing) raises a specific question (e.g., value of design thinking is greater when economy is good than when economy is bad), reviews others’ answers briefly, and then test the question by performing statistical analysis. In sum, design PhDs make a holistic approach whereas marketing PhDs make an analytic approach.

Please help us recycle easily

We want to voluntarily participate in recycling but do so only when it is easy. Recently, I met two bin boxes next to each other at a university in Seoul. Unfortunately, their colors and names made me confused: the left one had a blue cover and a green panel saying “recycled” and the right one had a green cover and a blue panel saying “disposable.” When I found myself keep thinking to figure out which to follow among words, cover color, and panel color, I decided to throw my empty coffee can somewhere else. Indeed, behaving nicely requires enormous mental resources.

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