May 21st 2020
New product development brings inclusivity to the forefront
As part of our Decade of Change series, Camille Campbell from our New York office explores the ever-evolving world of inclusive technology
Diversity and inclusion is one of the hot topics throughout every aspect of our lives from the political sphere to our office spaces.
Technology such as virtual assistants, interactive maps, and virtual doctors will need to be able to be usable by everyone. How will people who cannot hear be able to use a voice activated virtual assistant?
Will facial recognition software be able to read faces that are unique to the builders of the software? Is there a way to use technology to help people gain independence?
Companies at the moment are developing creative solutions to ensure their product can be usable by everyone and anyone. Google has recently announced their dedication to inclusion by creating a Product Inclusivity team led by Anne Jean Baptiste.
“The technology itself isn’t not-inclusive, it’s just that it wasn’t tested enough to determine that the product designers themselves weren’t unconsciously biased,” Baptiste explained. Adobe and Microsoft have also developed their own teams to help tackle product inclusion.
Inclusive Technology, a UK company, creates catalogues of inclusive technology for school systems around the world. Better inclusive and assistive technology in schools are a growing need to the amount of non-traditional learning offered to students with unique needs. Eye tracking software has been launched called Skyle that can be used on an iPad Pro. This can allow for students to be able to access AAC apps, infra-red products, and social media to connect with friends and family. Concept 3D, a company that created virtual maps, had included audio maps for users with low vision.
Retailers such as IKEA, Tesco, Lacoste, BIC Kids, MTV, Patron, Cadbury, Converse, and Kate Spade are all hopping aboard this trend by using AR to connect with all users. ASOS, in collaboration with Zeekit have rolled out a AR feature that allows customers to be able to customize the view of an item.
A dress can be viewed on multiple skin colours, heights, and body types to be able to assist users in finding the perfect fit. Not only does this make customers feel these brands have something for them. It can cut down on shipping costs and mistakes.
“If technology does not serve us and amplify our lives, then obviously we are not doing our jobs,” said Omar Khan, of Magic Leap, a VR startup
Brands need to shift their focus to diversity and inclusion initiatives in order to survive in this new future, and the spotlight will be on companies that are able to adapt to these new specifications. Hiring diverse staff and stress-testing products are examples of ways that brands can promote diversity & inclusion as a part of their ethos. Product diversification and accessibility are also key – brands can also benefit by developing products for underrepresented communities, overall bridging the digital gap while expanding profit.