Postcard from New York.

NYC Hotdogs

 

The Interaction 17 conference (IXD) is an annual conference which brings together leaders in the global Interaction Design community to discuss the latest challenges and developments within the practice of Interaction Design.

Charlene’s take on the trends and topics from the first two days are that balancing user value with that of businesses is vital, but still not equitable and Virtual Reality still needs careful consideration before adoption.

Below is her outline of the highlights and most thought provoking content.

Day one.

Our first day at IXD was the 6th of February - and it kicked off with Chelsea Mauldin, from US based Public Policy Labs, a consultancy leading service design and championing service innovation in the public sector. Chelsea shared case examples of work transforming public sector services and in public interest issues. This was particularly relevant as a significant amount of our work is in this area; and projects such as ACC’s Levy consultation, Immigration’s Visa Gateway and NZTA/WCC’s ‘Getwellymoving' initiative to name a few.
 
The key outtake was that alongside what are often overtly business oriented objectives – like lowering cost to serve and channel migration – it's critical to balance a demand to find and deliver user value.  

The second session with Brenda Laurel was as thought provoking, about power, control and our duty as designers to the users of any service or interaction we create. The assertion was that we have a duty of care, loyalty and obedience. Again, there were strong parallels to work we've done for banks, power companies and Public sector organisations, where the rights and values of users need to be balanced with the drivers and objectives of organisations.
 
There was a really big focus on Virtual Reality (VR) in many of the other sessions. Most were still questioning the value and interrogating where it's going as a user oriented platform in the future, with speakers further exploring possible applications and uses – plus looking at what new tools and processes might be needed to unlock greater value for business. 

The challenges and opportunities for content and interaction in virtual reality are strong, but much of the conversation still focussed on the responsibilities that designers bear when working in this space, and the commercial break even points between creation and usage.
  
Battling bias.

Recurring themes throughout the day were designing for diversity, collaboration, the isolating experience digital can pervade and designing with data - all timely and relevant to the challenges we see at home in New Zealand.
 
Ray Nasar spoke on how designers and data scientists could come together to use machine learning to reduce complexity, track behaviour and predict outcomes in order to customise experiences for users.
 
Jen Heazlewood’s perspective was a good reminder of the presence of bias and the importance of designing for diversity. 

The team from Local Projects shared their work integrating spatial design and digital customer interactions, through some really amazing installation projects for museums. Their examples were using technology to encourage human social interactions and learning, to bring people together rather than isolate people – as technology so often does these days. 
 
Day two. 

The morning's keynote was a 'what's happening out there' from a social design, access and enablement perspective. Juliana Rotich is doing some great things in Africa, creating solutions for uniquely African challenges. Her examples included; enabling internet connection in remote locations, supplying 'consistent’ electricity where supply is challenging and giving greater access to technology in education).
 
The balance of the day was focussed on the emergence of collaboration between Interaction and visual designers, as well as industrial designers and physical prototyping labs. This was looking at the future of interactions, which are definitely moving away from the screen and into physical spaces, through virtual or augmented reality and other physical objects and products. 
 
On reflection, it's been rapid fire, inspiring and thought provoking, leaving us plenty of things to think about - particularly in light of how what we see in US examples definitely needs to be adapted to our own unique situation in New Zealand.  

Charlene Turei _ Interaction Design Director.