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Hooked on Behavior Design


A great Meetup with a very high level of speakers and diverse talks, from more philosophical to practical.

First Talk: Principles of Behavior Design

First talk was from Kars Alfrink, the principal designer at Hubbub. He talked about the principles of behavior design based on the COM-B system. COM-B is a ‘behaviour system’, involving three essential conditions: capability, opportunity, and motivation.

Kars used an intriguing quote in his presentation: “Just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean you should”. He explained that measuring is the first step in commoditization. Commoditization is the process by which goods and services that once had economic value and distinction end up becoming simple commodities in the eyes of the market consumers. Commoditization of design is bad, because it makes everything look and feel the same. At the end this will result in dull design, not interesting to the user.

Kars gave an example in games, where coded (and measured) behaviour prevents the user to be co-owner of the game. If you give the players more freedom, and give them the chance to play the game with there own rules, they will be much more connected and involved with your game.

Second Talk: 'Smart' Cars

Second talk was from Dariu Gavrila. He is a senior research scientist at Daimler R&D. There he is leading a team that works on ‘smart’ cars, cars that see (and act). The fruit of his labor can be found in the Mercedes-Benz E-class and S-Class models (2013). The amount of technology that is put in those cars is incredible. For example, the cars have 8 cameras with all kinds of sensors that collect data. With that data you can do all sorts of things. For instance, scanning the road in front of the car for bumps and adjust the shock absorbers accordingly. You can glide over the road that way. Or what about adaptive cruise control, with which the car can drive itself?

Pedestrian Safety

The most important thing Dariu talked about was pedestrian safety. The smart cars can see when a pedestrian suddenly crosses the road, and can give the driver a warning or even use the brake by itself. Detecting whether there is actually somebody crossing the road is very hard. Thats why the cameras and sensors used in the cars are very advanced, and can make an almost 3d image of the surroundings.

Dariu also talked about what the future has in store for us. Daimler is now working on making the system even smarter. They want to predict in advance if a pedestrian wants to cross the road. Dariu and his team are using facial recognition and analyse the movement to see if this is the case. With facial recognition it is possible to see if a person sees the approaching car. They are also testing with camera’s facing the driver, so they can see if the driver is looking the right direction to see if a person is crossing the road.

Third Talk: Habit Forming

The final talk was from Nir Eyal, author of the book ‘Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products’. He studies behaviour design and habit forming. Nir talked about how technology pursuits people. How big companies like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp manage to make people develop new behaviour.

The Hook

If your website or application has a business model that requires daily use to succeed, it’s important your website makes the user form a new habit. Nir has made a framework called ‘Hook’, that can help you achieve this. The Hook framework contains 4 elements: Trigger, Action, Reward and Investment.

Figurative presentation of the 'Hook'


This was a great Meetup. Very high level of speakers and very diverse talks. From more philosophical to practical, with real life examples. I can really recommend this meetup-group for anyone who is interested in design and human behaviour. There is something for everyone!

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