Sunday, July 6, 2008

Meet Motorola's In-House Tech Anthropologist

It's one thing to design a product scheduled to hit the shelves nine months from now. Figuring out what to build 10 years down the line requires a little more abstract thinking and experimentation. Crysta Metcalf studies the ways people use the technology around them to communicate. The goal is to figure out what the company should look into developing in the future.

Crysta Metcalf has eavesdropped on the conversations of strangers, pored over their personal photographs and grilled them on their closest relationships.

Such nosiness is all part of her job of studying people and how they communicate.

Metcalf is the principal staff anthropologist at Motorola. Her responsibility is to spot long-term trends in how people socialize and interact, then help translate those findings to engineers and designers for use in inventions from three to 10 years into the future.