Interaction 16 is a wrap

Interaction 16 opening session, photo by MJ Broadbent Interaction 16 kickoff. (Photo by MJ Broadbent)

Headed back from co-chairing Interaction 16 in Helsinki, my head is still spinning with all the conversations, talks and experiences of the last week.

The UX community is great: Welcoming, inclusive, interested in a huge range of topics. It was like being adopted by a whole new family.

Ever since Sami Niemelä invited me to co-chair this gathering, one thing I’ve been particularly interested in was to see how the more emerging tech-focused topics we included in the program would resonate with this design-focused community.

Interaction design meets emerging technology

The people in the room are the ones who will be designing large parts of the interactions with emerging tech, including robotics, algorithms, conversational interfaces, Internet of Things (IoT), connected homes… This has wide-reaching consequences. And with this power comes huge responsibility.

I’m happy to report that this mix of topics and tribes couldn’t have been more productive or well-received. For example, a whole lot of speakers and participants from ThingsCon were present. And these tribes got along just great.

To me building these bridges is a top priority. All too often the conversations around tech and design happen in their silos, separated from one another through personal networks, reading lists, budget allocation, different language. Yet technologists and designers have lots to talk about, and lots to win through collaboration.

Some personal highlights that showed me that there’s huge potential and interest in this cross-fermantation:

  • Tricia Wang explored perspectives and biases in tech & data, and how to design for a more inclusive world.
  • Kate Darling explored robot ethics in a talk that wasn’t just highly entertaining but also will be relevant for years to come.
  • Marko Ahtisaari explored the importance of music and personal connection for our well-being and the importance of education.
  • Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino explored future interactions in connected homes. (Shameless plug: Alexandra and I are collaborating on the Good Home project.)
  • Kyle Outlaw spoke about the responsibilities of UX designers in a post-Snowden world. Even a few years ago could you have imagined the VP of a design firm to be pushing for security as a top priority for designers?
  • Simone Rebaudengo and Nicolas Nova explored smart frictions: The interesting things to be learned from ways how connected products and services fail.
  • Caroline Sinders explored how online services can be designed to inherently prevent/minimize harassment.
  • Cameron Sinclair used his closing keynote as a call to arms to designers to put their rare skills to use to design for the other 6 billion on the planet.

These are just a few brief examples: There were many more talks and workshops that explored the intersections of tech & design. More importantly, in breaks, on hallways, during dinners and parties there were more conversations around these topics than I could list here. It was mind-blowing, and fills me with hope that we’re headed into an era of smart, responsible, delightful application of tech for good.

It’ll take me a few weeks to catch up to all the talks on video, and I can’t wait to get started. (The videos will be available on the Interaction 16 site soon.)

For now, I want to thank the whole IXD16 team for all the fantastic work as well as the great fun and ease this whole huge thing came together: Sami Niemelä, Otto Virta, Liisa Benmergui, Jonna Rantanen, Ville Tikkanen, Jane Vita, Maria Lumiaho, Harri Kilpiö, Antti Onttonen, Niko Pettersen, Vesa Härkönen, Joonas Jahkola, Jukka Koops, and of course Brenda Sanderson & Danielle Malik.

Kiitos, Interaction 16 Kiitos! Image by IxDA.

Kiitos to all the participants and speakers! Kiitos Team Helsinki! Kiitos Finland!

ps. Photos over on the IxDA Flickr, Instagram and some of my own also at Flickr (more to come soon).

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