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Why we treat our users like they are from the stone age

Modern people have evolved little from the stone age man, evolution moves almost infinitely slowly and the stone age was only 600 generations ago - 12 000 years. A small drop in a sea in evolutionary terms. 

Hence, we're all still programmed to look out for sabre toothed cats, bears and be prepared to fight or flee when dangers appear.

Our minds and eyes are constantly scanning the horizon of the savannah for threats, this is an evolutionary advantage that can not be turned off, it is literally hard wired into our brains. It has helped our species over the hundreds and thousands of years and those individuals that did not have it had a harder time surviving and in the long run that refined out the best individuals like you and me.

So when we're so easily distracted by flashing lights, moving images, or the phone buzzing in your pocket it is just our stone age brain doing its job.

This is why it is so important, when designing hardware and software that interacts with humans, to avoid flashing lights, screens that change content in the corner of your eye when you pass by and to make sure every interaction has a purpose and remove things that are unnecessary or can be automated with software.

It might seem like a good idea to run the company's latest commercials on a room panel or run a slide show loop. But is it really?

Our brilliant, stone age, brain has a limited bandwidth and we need to make the most of it. Sometimes it is better to omit some features, while easy from a technical perspective to implement - they are not easy on you or your colleagues.

One of the many small changes we did recently for our next release is to transition our led lights between different states in a slow smooth glowing fashion, much like a sunrise. We have since the last generation of room displays removed the front facing motion sensor that was changing the content of the screen if someone walked by, one of the reasons is that our sensitive stone age brain doesn’t need any unnecessary alerts to interrupt individuals focus during the workday. 

We strive to make human interactions better with technology, not the other way around.  

To finish off this blog post I want to leave you with a top 3 best recommendations to optimize your day. Your brain will thank you:

Top 3 recommendations you can do today to make it easier to keep focused: 

  • Take 5 minutes to install a browser ad-blocker, get rid of the flashing ads.
  • Avoid having a TV or other monitor running moving content in the room you are working.
  • Try to get some daylight in your eyes every day, especially during the winter. Our stone age brain needs to calibrate its clock.

Do you have any other recommendations on how to optimize your focus and day at work? Leave a comment below!