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How Do You Calm a Crying Baby? With a Little AI, and Lots of Design

I remember when Yves Béhar first showed me the August smart lock. It was years ago, before the product—which replaces the conventional combination of a metal key and mechanical tumbler with an authenticated mobile device and WiFi-connected electronic unit—was announced to the world. The designer dropped by my office at the Time & Life Building in Midtown Manhattan to give me a sneak peek. He demonstrated its utility by using his smartphone to digitally grant me access to his California beach house, right then and there. With a tap of his finger, he revoked it.

Good thing he did. Today I live a short walk from the Pacific Ocean and could actually take him up on the offer. (Surf’s up, Yves!) But Béhar has been rather busy in the years since that visit, and he appeared at a Fortune Brainstorm Design dinner at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday to highlight how some of his projects demonstrate the kind of design he hopes to see in the world.

We need design that is driven by humans, artificial intelligence, design, experience, and speed, he argued. His Snoo, “a robot that takes care of your baby,” is an AI-equipped bassinet that coddles and calms an agitated newborn so a parent can get a good night’s sleep. It’s a far cry from the humanoid robots seen on the silver screen and a rebuke to a parent who says that they’d never hand their child to a bot. “I love this game of cat and mouse,” Béhar told Wallpaper’s Tony Chambers. “As a designer, we want to contradict these dystopian Hollywood notions.”

At the other end of the spectrum was Elli-Q, a device meant to cater to the elderly by connecting them with the outside world. “If you really think about who AI is going to serve, it’s healthcare—the aging population, babies, people on both ends of the spectrum,” Béhar said. And not, as we’ve come to expect, able-bodied people in between.

When Béhar first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s, at a time when Microsoft reigned supreme in the tech industry and Apple was faltering, “being design-driven was not seen as a path to success,” he said. That’s changing, and quickly. Designers are a key part of board, product, and investor meetings. “When technology fails, it’s not because of the technology,” he said. “It’s because of the design.” All the better to make it a more strategic part of the organization.

Consider L’Oréal, which despite its millions of customers is trying to act like a startup by not resting on its brand to move product. Béhar worked with the company to design a set of transfer tattoos that can be scanned by a smartphone to reveal whether you’re getting too much sun—an empirical prompt to apply sunscreen, ideally L’Oréal’s.

Béhar closed out the night by arguing that there’s more work to be done to incorporate design into the highest echelons of business. Not every part of the world is as progressive with this as the Bay Area, he said. It’s a missed opportunity, especially when it comes to technology. “Who best to take a low barrier to entry and turn it into something magical and special?” he asked. “Designers.” It was difficult to disagree.

This article first appeared in Data Sheet and Business by Design, Fortune’s newsletters about the business of technology and design, respectively. To subscribe to either, click here.