Jon Kalko, Associate Creative Director of Frog, talked to the audience about how to remain relevant in the rapidly changing market of design research. The growing trends of outsourcing creative jobs to Asia, from manufacturing then to graphics design and now design research, are putting designers of every specialties at risk of being displaced. Aside from moving to Asia (which Jon listed as a option), Jon asked us to look beyond our methods. Like any tools, our methods can be commoditized. Our skills in interpreting of data and our cultural sensitivity however, are hard replicate. In more specific terms, Jon asks us to distill meanings out of data, think in diagrams, build frameworks for emotional experience, think end-to-end, and have empathy in our work.
After Jon, Dan Saffer from Kicker Studio took the stage. Dan recently published a book on gestural user interface design. During his talk, Dan covered a wide range of topics in gestural interfaces — from current technology in sensors, user’s detectability of gesture support in a product, ergonomics concerns of free-formed gestures (as in the movie Minority Report) and techniques to get around the limitation of minimum target size for fingers.
Two particularly interesting points that Dan brought up — the compelling UI concept shown in the Minority Report is known to be unergonomic since the days when light-pens were used as input devices. It is uncomfortable to hold an object in mid-air over a long period of time. There is also emotional and cultural meanings to gestures. In one of Dan’s example, a participant resisted strongly about turning an television set by throwing their cross arms in front of it.