Symbol For Context

Know When Your Computer Is Intelligent #

Over the past few years, I have spent a considerable amount of time on side projects investigating contextual products. A contextual product uses hardware and software sensor inputs to create a better experience. Context goes beyond issuing commands to computers and waiting for a responses. Context seeks to codify computers with humanlike responses the product’s user desires.

There are many examples of contextual products being built today such as Apple’s iPhone, Amazon’s Echo, Nest’s Thermostat, and Tesla’s Autopilot. These products, which are a combination of hardware and software, capture one or more sensor inputs and perform mathematical calculations resulting in one or many intuitive decisions. Take Autopilot for example: Using a camera, radar, and 360 degree sonar sensors, Autopilot identifies highway road lanes. With lane classification data, Autopilot directs the vehicle’s steering wheel to guide the car between lane boundaries. The machine learning powering these decisions is amazing, but there is no way to understand when this is happening across multiple product categories with a consistent symbol.

This symbol should represent something more than a throbber or a spinner or a loader which just shows that the computer is processing a request. This symbol should represent a machine thinking and making decisions. There should be clarity with this new symbol just as there is clarity with the following symbols.
Each symbol has a very clear definition of what it represent and abstracts away the need for the device to display text like “I’m using your location to do something right now”, “Your phone is totally disconnected from all network activity”, or “Your device is powered on.” The goal of the symbol for context is to represent the statement: “Your computer’s hardware and software are doing smart things right now.”

I am submitting a proposal for this symbol:

When Is The Symbol Used? #

For a Nest thermostat, this symbol would appear whenever you walk by the motion sensor of the device. The symbol would activate when Nest sets the temperature of your house based on your arrival or departure. In the case of Tesla’s Autopilot, this symbol would appear in the instrument cluster whenever Autopilot was engaged. This symbol could also be present in iOS and Android on the status bar. In the case of mobile platforms, the symbol would let users know when the mobile device is performing contextual operations.


  1. The symbol is based on the latin character C which is the first letter in the word Context
  2. Identifiable at small sizes (16x16 pixels): context-fib-small16.png
  3. The symbol balance is based on a Golden Ratio Fibonacci scale context-fib-colors.png
  4. This is free and open for anyone to use in their hardware and software products under the MIT License
  5. Open Source Repository Hosted On GitHub

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