One of the many things I enjoy about my role at Futureheads is getting to attend digital industry events where I get to learn a lot about what our clients do and what’s trending in UX and Interaction Design.

One event I attended in April was the IxDA London April 2015 meetup. Futureheads were a co-sponsor to this event and support IxDA events throughout the year.  This was my first time attending an IxDA meetup and one of the things I immediately took to was the relaxed and laidback atmosphere. The theme for the evening was ‘Augmenting Space and Place’ and the stage was all set for three remarkable speakers to discuss how technology can be used to augment the world around us.

Navigating through sound

The evening kicked off with a talk from Umesh Pandya @the_uMe, Associate UX Director from ustwo on Wayfindr, an app-enabled ecosystem developed for helping visually impaired people navigate The London Underground unaided. In his talk, Umesh shared how the Wayfindr tech makes use of beacons to help the visually impaired around the tube and the steps they took to test the app.

The ustwo team set up a ‘live testing environment’ in partnership with the RLSB Youth Forum and the London Underground.  During a trial at Pimlico Station, they were able to investigate and further validate Wayfindr. Umesh concluded his talk by sharing how testing the prototype with users in a real context revealed valuable insights that helped them understand what visually impaired people need to navigate the tube confidently:

– Users prefer short and concise instructions
– Clear terminology is essential
– Most users like computer generated voice
– Beacon placement is important for better signals

You can read more about the Wayfindr app and its Pimlico Station trial here.

Sketching in 3D

Next up were co-founders Guillaume Couche @gcouche and Oluwaseyi Sosanya from GravitySketch. In their talk, Guillaume and Oluwaseyi shared how a group project between four innovation design engineering students from the Royal College of Art in 2013 led to the development of their high-tech sketch pad tool. GravitySketch is a project started to help people bring their ideas to reality – a task difficult to achieve through commonly used tools for drawing, designing and making things in 3D. GravitySketch is in fact a tool specifically designed for sketching in the augmented environment that would privilege spatial awareness. Want to see how it works? Watch this video.

Engaging people in public environments

The last talk was by Imeh Akpan @Imeh_Akpan, UX Designer from Cancer Research UK on her interactive environment research and design work. Following her research, Imeh shared her perspectives on the influence of physical space and social context on the way people engage with a public interactive display. She claimed that artists are the pioneers of creating public engagement as they refuse to compromise, are quick to make things and dispose of them while not holding on to things. Imeh concluded her talk by sharing her research findings which established good social context being more important to individuals over bad areas when interacting with public interactive displays. Conversely unsuitable social context prevented interaction in places that might normally encourage interaction.

This month’s IxDA event is yet to be confirmed but do keep an eye out for future events on the IxDA meetup group. If you liked this post, you would also enjoy the one written for the IxDa January event. Also if you’d like to learn more about UX events in London or chat about roles in the industry, please drop me a line at tania@wearefutureheads.co.uk.  

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