Yves Béhar: Design is the driver for technology

Copyright: Leena Salo

Yves Béhar at the Global Design Forum in London 2015

I had the great forture to see Yves Béhar give a talk at the London Global Design Forum. Béhar is a design entrepreneur and the founder of FuseProject. He was named one of the Top 25 Visionaries by Time Magazine. His humanitarian work includes One Laptop Per Child and See Better to Learn Better.

Béhar believes that technology is evolving so fast, it’s changing the role and responsibility of designers. In Béhar’s opinion technology equals design.  The difference is that technology is about performance, efficiency and features while design is about the human experience.

– Technology has to move from something that has to be learned into something that fits seamlessly into our lives. Design can and will equal technology. It’s not only about making things pretty, but shifting our perception of the world, creating new experiences and shaking the limits of what’s possible. The future of technology depends on us – the designers, entrepreneurs.

Why does technology scare us?

Today design is becoming a driver of technology: what’s possible and what is responsible?  At the same time technology scared us – why?

– Maybe it’s because technology brings upon change and with changes comes a lot of uncertainty. But so does design. It brings social, economic, material and life experience change, says Béhar.

– What have I learned about technology in the last 20 years? It mergers big ideas – big ideas in the technological sense which design has made better.

Béhar believes that design accelerates the adoption of new ideas because design has a central role in implementing of these ideas and making them liveable.


Biggest challenges for designers in the future:

Copyright: Leena Salo

Yves Behar talked about design and technology in London.

1. Distraction hell vs Invisible Interface

One of the big issues I see is the notion of distraction hell which technology brings in to our lives versus the notion of an invisible interface. There is a huge conflict between our technological tools and living in the moment. Our screens have become huge, attention sucking monsters that we have to fight off every day.  At the same time, we can’t live without the information and without the control that technologies give us, says the designer.

So what is the alternative? How can control and information be transmitted in different, subtle and invisible ways? As humans we have five senses. Why is it that we have to be solely focused on sight to comprehend the signals that technologies send us? As humans we are attuned to all kinds of signals.

2. Robots vs Humans

Technology removes complexity and friction. You don’t have to think about using products or their interface, says Béhar.

Screenshot from August Smart Lock website

Yves Béhar was involved in developing August Smar Lock, which makes keys redundant. This was one advancement in robotics that he said he really enjoys personally.

3. Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality

  For everyday life, augmented reality will be a part of almost everything we do whether it is shopping, cooking, learning, designing…

4. Health Care vs Personal 24/7 Care

I think we are the last generation who knows so little about their health. Personal care 24/7 consists of technology that helps us understand ourselves better. When we imagine this developing further to give us the full insight into our health, imagine what that will do to the whole health care system – having all that information available. Instead of asking the patient how they are doing, doctors have the information from the technology. There are all sorts of sensors and technologies that are coming and will help us manage our health. Critical element of these products is that they have to be wearable.

5. First World Problem vs Technology For All

  Is technology just a first world problem? Lately what we have done is rather than designing a product or a solution out here is to work with entrepreneurs in developing countries. What we’ve see in Africa and other places is that when the infrastructure is lacking, technology helps to bypass that. This is why cell phones have taken off in such a big way all over the world. What we’ve seen is tremendous amount of sophistication by entrepreneurs of the developing world. In some areas the west is far behind in offering those services because our old infrastructures are in the way.

Find A Doctor

The problem in Kenya is that 50 percent of people have never seen a doctor. Béhar was involved in developing a service called Find A Doctor, which helps is contacting a doctor via a cell phone, voice only or video.


6. Single Mind vs MultiDisciplinary

It’s clear that when you develop software, hardware or any aspects of technology, this is something a designer cannot carry on his own shoulders. Partnering and working with other in a multidisciplinary fashion is essential.

Printscreen from Herlman Miller's website

Yves Behar helped Herman Miller develop office furtiture which encourages collaboration and open gathering of ideas.


Text: Leena Salo

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