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Personal Tech for Women: 5 Things You Need to Know About What Women Want in a Gadget

Monday, June 15, 2015

 

We seemed to have crawled out of the age of sexist gadgets… let’s hope, anyway. Remember the world’s most offensive tablet for women, the ePad Femme? That was put on the market only two years ago, but hopefully it’s been banished to obscurity. Moving forward, much of today’s popular gadgets for women have gone beyond the pink-washed, rhinestone-encrusted patina – and really, the untrained eye might have trouble distinguishing between devices geared towards women and those men are drawn to. 

But in fact, when designing for women, product designers consider a gamut of factors to help them re-imagine existing gadgets – often male-oriented – to appeal to and better assist women, from athletic apparel to housewares and tools. The results go much deeper than color and style, thankfully. Here are 5 points to keep in mind while designing gadgets for women, courtesy of Ayça Çakmakli, senior design researcher at the gender-based design lab, Femme Den at Smart Design.

1. Warm-up tech

Traditionally gadgets have been developed with a technology-first point of view. It was all about the machine, features, speed, gigabytes, and specs. Basically, design based on “cool” values. What has been lacking for a very long time is design based on “warmer” values, which are about people, their lifestyles, and creating stronger emotional connections with the things around them. It’s imperative to “warm up” gadgets with innovation that puts people first. 

2. It’s about we, not me

Not only is she buying for herself, but often her family. So as a buyer, her needs are complex and diverse because she thinks about more than just herself. Instead, she focuses on whether it’s safe for her kids, how her partner will benefit from it, and how it will improve her overall lifestyle and relationships. This could include consumer electronics, like television sets that blend into the home, or laptops, cameras and portable speakers that everyone around her could enjoy and find useful.

3. Don’t brag, be relevant to her life

Men and women can equally like a product or service, but often for different reasons. He tends to be enticed by performance potential, while she prioritizes real life problems and benefits. She’s not swayed by what something could do, but what it actually does for her. Think sportsware, like fitness trackers. Nike, in fact, accrued the help of Femme Den to trouble-shoot watch designs for women. Although women are more likely to focus on health and wellbeing in their work-out, rather than sport and competition, they still want to feel strong and confident — just like men – while maintaining their femininity. Femme Den ditched the girly, cute design for the bolder Imara Strive series. 

4. Help her be more present

She values her relationships and connections. Gadgets should serve to enhance these interactions, not force her to disengage. At certain times of the day, she starts to deliberately disconnect with technology to reconnect with others and even herself. But the right smartphone operating system, for example, could help streamline personal life and work life, keeping each well-organized with less intrusive cross-over.

5. Help her do more

Presenting the best version of herself to the world gives her confidence. Gadgets that aid her in doing this become a valuable sidekick. She might not be an athlete or the best cook, but technology should support her in getting there.

Melanie Sevcenko is a journalist for radio, print and online. She reports internationally for BBC World Service and Monocle Radio (M24) in the UK, and for Deutsche Welle in Germany. Melanie also reports for the online news source GoLocalPDX, in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been broadcast by CBC in Canada and the Northwest News Network, and published by Al Jazeera English, Global Post, Pacific Standard, the Toronto Star and USA Today, amongst others.

 

Related Slideshow: 5 Tech Innovations Changing Oregon

New innovations in technology are changing things for Oregon and its residents. Here are five tech innovations that are making a difference. 

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#1

Virtual Schools

Free virtual schools provide curriculums and a classroom experience over the internet. The Oregon Virtual Academy is part of national system that provides alternative education options for grades k-12. Students can interact with teachers and students from their homes, and be supplied with textbooks and materials for free.  

“Right now there seems to be four times as many parents calling for students than last year,” Allen Finger, Enrollment Consultant for the Virtual Academy, said. “People are looking for flexible options, or the student may be facing bully issues, or schools may not be meeting issues. In the next 20 years we will see a rapid decline of traditional schools and a rise of virtual schools.”

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#2

3-D Printing

3D printing is no new technology, but in the last couple years new innovations have revolutionized how people use it. The process has become much more accurate and affordable, so that schools, companies, and startups are changing the way they think about manufacturing 

“It saves months of time and 100s of thousands of dollars in molding,” said David Anderson, vice president of Oregon Swiss Precision. “It completely alters how manufacturing is done, literally changes everything across the board.” 

Anderson said many schools have added 3D printers, helping students become interested and excited about engineering. 

 

Photo Credit: Creative Tools via Compfight cc

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#3

Access to Internet

Oregonians have seen an increased access to internet, as well as ways to reach it. Problems with being a heavily rural state have limited access to high speed internet, but providers has grown and cellular companies have expanded their 4G networks.  Google Fiber could show up to Portland in the next few years, which has pushed local providers to up their game. Portland has its own wireless mesh network, which helps neighbors share their internet and create free networks.  

“We as users had become dependent on companies that weren’t acting in our interests,” said Russell Senior, president of the Personal Telco Project mesh network.  “It was an act of self creation for something better.” 

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#4

Open Health Data

In recent years Medicaid and Medicare have released new information that was obscure in the past, which has helped inform the public on the spending and costs of the health care system. Personal records have become easy to exchange between health systems, doctors, and patients, according to Tom Yackel, M.D., chief health informational officer at OHSU.

“I think [open health data] is opening up the dialog, and changing the dynamic of the health care system, said Amy Fellows, Executive Director of We Can Do Better, a nonprofit that helped start the Open Notes program in Oregon. “It improved the understanding of health care.” 

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#5

Civic Engagement

With new ways to access and view data, Oregonians can be informed on important issues. Apps and websites bring information to the viewer in a personalized and effective fashion. Civic-minded projects help people make sense of information they need to know. The Behind the Curtain Project by HackOregon in 2014 sought to help voters know how money influenced campaigns. 

“We are just beginning to understand the power of data visualization and how it can tell a story to make a person understand or feel differently,” Catherine Nikolovski, founder of HackOregon said. “We are hoping to improve quality of life.” 

 
 

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