Thursday, March 13, 2014

Speed Rounds on What's Going 'Round in San Diego UX

It was Show & Tell for the San Diego UX Speakeasy crowd last night at our host Qualcomm. In our ongoing mission to build community, have fun, and demonstrate there is a lot of interesting UX work going on down here in Southern California we held speed rounds. Five energetic souls had 5 minutes each to wow the 100+ people (all the room could hold) with something UX-ish and interesting. Truly, only 5 minutes as the guy with the timer was on the job. There was a bit more breathing room during the following Q&A and for the most part the audience complied nicely with questions, comments and suggestions. All while noshing on some really good food.

First out of the gate was Erin Porringer making a report on World IA Day and the exciting ride up to Los Angeles on the Magic Bus. Apparently the bus ride was as wild and colorful as last year when I reported on it (sadly, I was unable to attend this year). But the best part of course was the event itself, which, according to Erin, involved, among other things, breaking up into groups and proposing solutions to some of LA's worst problems. Such as traffic.

If you have never experienced 14 lanes  (7 in each direction) going 85 mph then you haven't lived. Conversely, if you have never experienced those same 14 lanes (7 in each direction) crawling along at 5 mph for mile... upon... mile... then you haven't lived. (Now that I think on it, that particular stretch might be in Irvine.) A user experience in need of help for sure. It seemed only fitting to hear that one of the proposed solutions was to create a version of Google Maps with ratings - love that freeway? 5 stars. Hate that freeway? 1 star. I wonder if comments were going to be included for highlighting such things as really cool billboards and entertaining driver antics.

Second out of the gate was JC Nesci from Soso Limited. Soso hosted one of our meetups last year and thus we know they are always doing something creative. Last night we learned about a proposed redesign of the UI for Google Fiber network setup and configuration. As JC pointed out and we all know, it can be exceedingly painful to deal with a the likes of a Linksys router interface. (The audience groaned right on cue.) Most interesting, JC shared the thought process they went through testing out various interactive visualization prototypes for Google Fiber configuration. These got more fun as they progressed. Yes, fun - did you ever think online network configuration could be fun? I wanted to reach out and drag and drop those nodes, drag around those connections, plop those overlays on one another. Will Google use their ideas? TBD!

Third in the lineup was UX Speakeasy committee member Elina Ollila who in her day job works at Vigor Systems. Elina brought up a well known sticky challenge for large and small companies alike: where should UX be placed in a company and why? After describing what Vigor does, her job as the one and only UX employee (a temporary state of affairs she assured the audience), and the growing pains this small company is experiencing, Elina asked the audience for suggestions. Elina's presentation produced some of the most enthusiastic Q&A&S of the evening. Audience members made all sorts of helpful suggestions (hence the "S") about the role of UX within a corporate structure and why it might best be placed in one divisision or another - or ideally, integrated throughout all divisions. It was nice to see so many people voicing their ideas and the rationale for them.

Fourth, we heard from Kristine Angell, a UX Researcher, about a project called "The Domestication of the Internet".  Project management investigation for Supermoms on the Internet. Conceptions of time, time & task management. A bunch of data whizzed by in 5 minutes, as we  heard about study participants, mode of data collection and analysis. I was glued to this one because I just love research. 2010: 25 participants, 10 days online, 32 self reports, 5,600 data points. 2012: 12 returning participants, 6 days online, 10 self reports, 624 data points. Several interesting results including this one:  most family members delegate many of their tasks to the mother in the family. Supermom indeed. Lots of audience chuckles on that one. They already knew this particular result.

Last but not least, Paul Lafata from our host Qualcomm telling us all about their foray into wearable technology. In the form of a smart watch. There was also mention of a wireless dog collar to track down canine escapees. Managing to sneak past the allotted 5 minutes, Paul told us about all sorts of features and the tech underlying the smart watch. There was something about their mirasol technology based in some way on butterflies, but I missed the details because I was messing around with my camera. However, the entire audience was invited to a local pub afterwards to continue the conversation and ask Paul questions. I am sure they did so, because this crowd loves a good pub.

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