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Of all the tech innovations coming out of McDonald’s, we never would have expected the humble drinking straw needed a redesign. But that’s exactly what a team of robotic and aerospace engineers did as part of a marketing push for the burger chain’s new Chocolate Shamrock Shake.
For those who aren’t familiar: the new menu item is a layered fifty-fifty combination of McDonald’s standard chocolate milkshake with the minty seasonal favorite on top. The Chocolate Shamrock has actually enjoyed secret menu status for a while now, but Mickey D’s is bringing it to the mainstream for the minty green shake’s yearly St. Patrick’s Day appearance.
Innovation is one of the driving forces in our world. The constant creation of new ideas and their transformation into technologies and products forms a powerful cornerstone for 21st century society. Indeed, many universities and institutes, along with regions such as Silicon Valley, cultivate this process.
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And yet the process of innovation is something of a mystery. A wide range of researchers have studied it, ranging from economists and anthropologists to evolutionary biologists and engineers. Their goal is to understand how innovation happens and the factors that drive it so that they can optimize conditions for future innovation.
This approach has had limited success, however. The rate at which innovations appear and disappear has been carefully measured. It follows a set of well-characterized patterns that scientists observe in many different circumstances. And yet, nobody has been able to explain how this pattern arises or why it governs innovation.
The McDonald’s on the corner of Third Avenue and 58th Street in New York City doesn’t look all that different from any of the fast-food chain’s other locations across the country. Inside, however, hungry patrons are welcomed not by a cashier waiting to take their order, but by a “Create Your Taste” kiosk – an automated touch-screen system that allows customers to create their own burgers without interacting with another human being.
It’s impossible to say exactly how many jobs have been lost by the deployment of the automated kiosks – McDonald’s has been predictably reluctant to release numbers – but such innovations will be an increasingly familiar sight in Trump’s America.
Every new year brings new challenges for UX Designers. Culture evolves, new technologies arise, the way people engage with digital services changes, and so do the expectations they have about the products they use everyday.
Part of our job as experience designers is to always be one step ahead of those transformations, in a process of constantly challenging our thinking and the things we make. This approach is called synchronous design, and it helps us stay ahead in a world of proliferating innovations in mobile, social, and connected devices. What are the some of the evolving behaviors and needs of the consumers we’re designing for?