Welcome to 2018!

2017 was a long and unpredictable year. It started with the death of my father, a hero of mine and an electronics and audio pioneer. He was only 56, and it will be difficult to move on without his voice. He started his decline in mid-2016, followed by many hurried visits last year between trips.

I’m glad I got to spend so much time with him before he left this planet.

Dad and I

This year was enormous for Calm Technology. I was on tour for more time than expected. The 100,000 miles I traveled led me to new places, people and ideas, and I’m excited to explore more of them in the next year.

Calm Technology Book Tour 2017

This year’s Calm Technology Book Tour: 103,281 miles travelled!

What’s Next?
I continue to be an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and a fellow at MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media. I look forward to returning to Boston this January to participate more fully in efforts around AI, ethics, IoT and calm design.

amber case speaking at mind the product london

An enormous audience for Mind the Product London!

New Year’s Resolutions

1. Write more. Write one short essay a month on topics related to AI, ethics, IoT and Calm Tech.

2. Release Designing Products with Sound. I’m working with my editor to improve my writing skills, and I’m making incremental progress. My second O’Reilly book, Designing Products with Sound will come out by the end of 2018, and I’m looking forward to that.

3. Prepare to write a trade paperback. I’ve had many requests for a trade paperback book that provides a wider look at how technology is affecting culture.

beaverton high school audience

Audience at Beaverton High School in Oregon.


Getting my cousins hooked on synthesizers and sound-making apps during a family visit in August.

4. Visit family more often.

Family is incredibly important. I feel that a lot of my life after college was spend in survival mode after graduating in the recession. This year I plan on spending more time with my cousins, my Aunts and my dad’s brother. My family is fairly small, and every moment counts.

5. Read more books!

My favorite book this year was Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay. It followed the author through the origins of many different colors, and I encourage anyone from any background to take a look at it.

My second favorite was Writing Tools, a book I’m still working through.

divine maloney amber case

Researcher Divine Maloney and I this summer in Portland, Oregon before he left to pursue a PhD in HCI!

6. Finish a research paper on the phenomenology of AR and VR.

I’ve been a big fan of VR for some time. I’ve been researching the history of it as a hobby for the last 8 years. I worked on this paper with Divine Maloney this summer and am looking forward to publishing it by the end of next year!

divine maloney amber case summer interns

Divine and I with the 2017 Harvard Berkman Klein Center Summer Interns in Cambridge, MA.

7. Participate more in the local community and help others.

Although I was fearful to do it, one thing I’ve done this year is to sign up as a Blood Marrow Donor at Be the Match.

The process is not as difficult as one would expect, and you’d be seriously saving someone’s life if you are a match. All you need is a cheek swab from a kit provided in the mail, and then you wait for a call.

Sign up to be a Blood Marrow Donor!

Sign up to be a Blood Marrow Donor!

Squicky about needles? Consider that matches are rare. Every donor has around a 1 in 500 chance of matching with someone in the US. And “only thirty percent of donations involve actual bone marrow. (The ones that do are mostly for children, who seem to do better with traditional bone marrow transplantation.) Seventy percent of the time, being a “bone marrow donor” is only a tad more complicated than donating blood.” Most of the time, the process can be completed in three hours.

If you want to learn more about the process, there’s some good information here: https://io9.gizmodo.com/bone-marrow-donation-is-nothing-like-i-thought-it-was-1676114500 There’s also a neat (and tear-inducing) Radiolab episode about this you can listen to right now!

I’m definitely fearful to do this, but if I end up being a match, then I’m willing to deal with a tiny bit of pain to help someone else out.

Thank you
I’d like to thank everyone for their support and comfort during this difficult year. I couldn’t have done it without you. Many of you were proactive in helping me reorganize and help with my family. My family is small and I cherish everyone in it.

Thanks also to new friends and faces, art groups and music, and all of the creative things that help to balance out the seriousness. These are crucial and necessary, and we’ll need more of them as we head into the information age.

vice media crew at xhurch

Vice Media crew filmed part of a new show with me at Xhurch in Portland, Oregon.

What are your goals for 2018? Best of luck to everyone in this new year!


A glacier climb during an AI retreat in Norway this September.

From Esri to Calm Tech: My Next Steps

Amber Case - 2015Today I’d like to announce that I’m moving on from my position as Director of Esri’s R&D Center in Portland, Oregon, and transitioning to several new projects I’m very excited to share.

It’s been an amazing two and a half years at Esri. I worked with an incredible team, and I’m going to miss everyone very much. Many of us came from Geoloqi, a company I co-founded in 2010 that was acquired by Esri in 2012. We were privileged to then work on a series of challenging projects that reached over 5 million users. We built out a new version of the Geoloqi technology called the Esri Geotrigger Service, allowing more features and scaling for many more devices and use cases. Along the way, we also created a number of popular open source technologies, and spearheaded the effort for Esri to use Github. I have tremendous respect for Esri, and I’m confident the projects we started with them are in very good hands.

The Need for Calm Technology

Working at Esri helped me realize something important: Location is just one aspect of the information we need to make sense of things. And as people get increasingly overwhelmed by tech, they find it negatively impacts their life, getting in the way of doing great things. In the coming decades, it’s my hope — and passion — that we’ll develop more and better apps that use feedback loops to help people regain their mindfulness, and sense of focus. Call it “perspective as a service”. These concepts are not new – they take their cue from cybernetics, using data to give people a sense of their own perspective.

With that, I’m proud to announce that I’m writing a book for O’Reilly: Calm Technology: Designing interfaces for the next generation of things. Calm Technology is a perspective on the future of design. We can’t design the world the same way we would a desktop. Calm Technology is about designing technology that respects people and works with their lives, instead of introducing more abstractions. Good technology is invisible. With that in mind, I also started a website, calmtechnology.com, to help explain some of the concepts I’ll expand on in the book.

Which takes me to another announcement:

Applying Calm Technology to the Next Generation of Healthcare

Amber Case - 2015 In 2012 I hosted a biennial conference called CyborgCamp in Portland, Oregon, an “unconference” on the future of humans and technology. Last year, we held the conference at MIT’s Media Lab, where I met Chris Dancy, who showed me data from 600 devices he was tracking, all going into Google Calendar. He was able to modify his behavior in a positive way with this “perspective as a service”. Three years later, Dancy is applying the same methods to the wellness industry.

In addition to writing and speaking this year, I’ll be joining Chris Dancy to build out this platform as part of a new initiative at a company called Healthways. I’ll remain in Oregon while building out a Portland branch of the company. We’ve given our devices many senses, but we need to create a feedback loop to have those senses help us.

Upcoming Talks
I’ll be speaking about Calm Technology internally at the Institute for the Future on March 19th, 2015 and at Craft Conference in Budapest, Hungary on April 23rd, 2015.

Stay in touch!
I’ll be posting updates at @caseorganic and @calmtechbook, and I hope you follow me there. You can always reach out to me via e-mail: case at caseorganic dot com. For writing and speaking opportunities, please ping my business manager and advisor Vanessa Camones: vanessa at themixagency dot com.