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 – morning.

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 delivered a thought provoking talk about about power, control and our duty as designers to the users of any service or interaction we create. She discussed a designers duty to serve the users, a duty of care, loyalty and obedience, where the users are positioned as the ‘owner’ of a product or service. Using case examples and stories, she illustrated how a change a commitment to this notion can trasform experience for users. This was particularly relevant as a significant amount of our work is with the public sector, with projects such as ACC’s Levy consultation, Immigration’s Visa Gateway and NZTA/WCC’s ‘Getwellymoving' initiative to name a few.

Chelsea’s talk challenged existing approaches and thinking around the tension between what an organisation wants to do, accepted approaches to mitigating risk and considering what a user would actually want to experienced if they ‘owned’ the experience.
A series of talks followed which focused on Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality, 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 the challenges and opportunities for designers, and what new tools and processes might be needed to produce experiences of value. In line with a growing theme, there was also an underlying conversation focussed on the responsibilities that designers bear when working in this space.  

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 one – afternoon.

The afternoon saw a split in venues with 3 options, with a collection of speakers at each to choose from. It was tough to decide between different themes and speakers, but in then end we went with talks focused on machine learning and battling bias.   

Ramy Nasar gave a compelling talk on how designers and data scientists could come together to use machine learning to harness complexity, track behaviour and predict outcomes in order to customise experiences for users. For us, he was the speaker of the day as he was able not only to illustrate the opportunities for enhancing users experiences with the application of machine learning, but he was able to illustrate some technical concepts and examples all without his slides due to a technical issue. 

Some emerging themes from the day were designing for diversity, collaboration, identifying the isolating experience digital can pervade and designing experiences which enable humans to reconnect with each other and our environment - all timely and relevant to the challenges we see at home in New Zealand.
Day two. 

The morning's keynote was an inspirational talk by Juliana Rotich, showcasing some of the amazing things she’s been doing in Africa, creating solutions for uniquely African challenges, including; 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 can to be adapted to our own unique situation in New Zealand

Charlene Turei _ Interaction Design Director.