System 8 is a design research investigation for Apple that explored how the Mac OS could become more adaptive to the user as they worked at their computer over time.
Challenge: Apple Computer’s Human Interface Group asked students to design an adaptive computer system. As part of a team from the Royal College of Art in London, I helped develop a prototype for a working environment that would accommodate the way people use their computers.
Response: Our mission was to make the computing experience more relevant, forgiving, fun, and productive. We decided to have an adaptive system informed by the patterns of computer usage by the customer.
By observing and recording user behavior over time, the experience of using a Mac could support greater productivity and enjoyment. We developed several features to personalize the user experience, so it could be more adaptive:
- Customer Templates: An alternative look- and-feel for different user groups including designers, children, and executives were proposed. Our system came pre loaded with customized content, applications, user interface attitudes and behaviors to suite each demographic.
- User interaction Signature: Records customer interactions and allows them to be played back, making light work of frequently repeated user tasks.
- The Lens Tool: Detects user activity, allowing repetitive tasks to be automated and run in the background, thus saving time and reducing overhead.
- The System Watcher: Proactively monitors and communicates user and machine performance levels to optimize the computing experience letting users know they are getting the best out of their machines, and they can work smarter, not harder
Result: System 8 was a winning entry in the 1993 Apple Computer International Student Design Awards. I was offered an internship and then a full-time job with the Human Interface Group at Apple following the competition.