How Calm Tech is Reshaping What We Do

Fresh from the 2024 NTC Conference: Calm Technology

I just returned home from the 2024 NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference, my brain and body full of love and information. I will be divulging more insights in our next newsletter, but today I want to quickly share a reflection from the last day of the Conference: Calm Technology.

As I listened to Amber Case talk about Calm Technology—a concept that examines how we can improve the way humans experience technology—I really resonated with her information on sensory awareness and how tech can do better.

During the keynote, Amber asked, “Why do HVAC systems have to be loud?” I always assumed that HVAC systems needed to be that loud. But it’s not so. She poses: how can we use technology to help folks with sensory processing sensitivities? Now that’s a great prompt for tech that can, as Amber says, “establish new standards for designing harmonious human-tech interactions that improve our lives.”

Photo of Amber Case speaking at the 2024 NTC Conference.

Thinking about Calm Tech in Real Life

The other day, I dropped off my kiddo at school and she was terrified to go inside because her school’s custodian was cleaning the floor with a particularly loud machine. She is sensitive to loud sounds like trucks and lawn mowers and ride-on floor cleaners. How could we design this technology better so it doesn’t trigger sensitivities to sounds? Or sights or textures?

As we navigate an era saturated with digital noise and literal noise (my 1980s furnace is one of them), embracing Calm Technology becomes increasingly vital. By prioritizing simplicity, minimalism, and user-centered design, we can cultivate a tech-savvy environment that promotes focus, mindfulness, and well-being.

Amber posits that we can create a future where technology enriches our lives without overshadowing our peace of mind, and I have to agree.

What We’re Doing Differently

In the coming months, I’ll be thinking about how to incorporate some of the principles of Calm Tech in the work we do with our clients. This may look like crafting projects that complement our working styles without distracting or overwhelming anyone. Being thoughtful in our designs as to respect a user’s time and attention. And taking into account the beautiful plethora of people out there who will be absorbing the information we design.

Get on Board with Calm Tech

If you’re moved by this concept, here’s how to learn more: