Dublin, Ireland Accenture
The Dock Innovation Hub, 7 Hanover Quay,
Grand Canal Dock, Dublin, D02 YN32, Ireland

Sketching in Hardware is an annual summit on the design and use of physical computing toolkits. Participants from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds will discuss tools for creating digital products, environments, and experiences: how to make them, why to make them (and why not), how to use them, how to teach with them, and how to understand their impact.

After a hard crash, we take a deep breath, restart, try to debug what we think caused it, and hope we learned enough to avoid something similar. That's sometimes what living in the moment feels like today, across all facets of life. On just about any given topic there's been a tectonic shift in how and we talk about it since the last in-person Sketching in Hardware in 2019. Our frame today for what the technologies we build can accomplish, and what they can't, is more complex, sometimes more hopeful, and definitely more confusing than it has been in memory. Those of us in the business of making technology can act confident there are ways out of the maze of uncertainties, but we're not so sure. At least I'm not.

Nevertheless, after the suspended animation of lockdown, the power is back on, more or less. As opportunities and challenges created by embedded digital hardware only multiply, so does the need for better tools and thoughtful practice in applying them. Cheap embedded machine learning can identify a plant disease from photos to save a farmer their crops... and profile people for police states. Motion sensor networks provide unprecedented levels of workplace safety...as they monitor every breath.

The flip side of the confusion of our world today is an opportunity to step back and examine how the needs for our digital hardware tools changed. What does it mean to embed physical things in the world, when so much is digitized? How do we lower the barriers to entry responsibly? What does the ecosystem that our tools exist in (both literal and figurative) look like?

I believe the positive outcomes implicit in our digital tools can outweigh the negatives, but we need to be thoughtful as we create tools for others to use. After the reboot we should not just leave off where we left off before the crash.

ThingM is a device studio. We design and manufacture ubiquitous computing / Internet of Things products that combine user experience design expertise with a deep knowledge of cutting-edge technologies. We create useful tools for designers and innovative products for everyone else.