Monday, November 20, 2006

World Usability Day 2006 - Bangalore



One of my main objectives of moving to Bangalore was to shape the third innings of my career by being a part of the Software User Experience (UX) Design community which is very active in this part of the country. I had understood from the past one year of being in the blogosphere that socializing with the community is as important as doing some good work. Bangalore hosts a number of events and they are the perfect occasions to meet people who are in the same line of work and keep updated about the happenings in this arena.

I had missed the last SIGCHI event as I had just come to Bangalore and was not quite settled here. The second one after that was the World Usability Day (WUD) event on 14th November hosted by Oracle and I didn’t want to miss it.

The event started off with a brief talk by Amit Pande (Manager, Oracle UX) about the significance of WUD followed by a welcome address by Jeremy Ashley (VP, Oracle UX) through live video. Dr Joe Goldberg (Senior Research Scientist, Advanced UI group, Oracle) then talked about his findings on the interaction design challenges for wideband displays. Usability perspectives from the healthcare industry was the subject of Parameswaran’s (UX Architect, GE Healthcare) presentation and it was interesting as I was also involved in a product design for the health care industry. He talked about how complex the machines are in the medical industry and the number of data captured by those machines and how complex is it for the doctors and nurses to go through them and take life saving decisions. It just reminded of the Paper Kills presentation at the e -medical conference which I had attended in Pune and according to Param the scene is still the same even in the automated conditions.

Then came the next interesting part, The Speed Meeting community event in which I could meet a lot of people present there. We could spread the name of July Systems to them to an extend but the only sad part was that I didn’t have a business card to support me. Also we figured out that Sid, Abhishek and me should have been in separate rows which would have increased the number of people we could meet and talk about what we are doing and also to get introduced to the maximum number of people. Snacks and refreshment followed that.

The second round of talks started with Udai Singh Pawar (Microsoft Research India) talking about his team’s innovations in computing in Rural India. His talk about how photo studios in rural Karnataka heavily made use of digital photography and image editing tools to manipulate the images which were kind of the most happening thing there. He also talked about his findings of rural schools teaching computer to the students and how a bunch of them had to share the same computer when only one could really use it. He showed how the kids reacted to their multi mouse model where each kid was given a mouse for them to use and how they designed educational games for them to make use of the new model. After that came perhaps the most interesting talk of the evening by Pankaj Jhunja (Product manager, Homeflow Ltd and VP, Business Development and Head Design Studio, Dilip Chhabria Design) revisiting usability from an Industrial Design perspective. He opened his speech saying how he realized that the new words like usability and user experience he was hearing for some time was just a new terminology for something all the product designers always did while designing new products. He talked about his design process of a water dispensing machine project when he was working for Thermax and also about how they designed a luxury bus in the lines of a business jet when at DC. He made the presentation and the interactive session really interesting by his deep knowledge in product design and his sharp wit.

Next was the panel discussion about catalyzing usability and design in India and there were many point arouse saying how to go for it. Some of them were to start awareness programs from the school level, more educational institutions offering courses in HCI design, and also to spread the word by blogging about it. The major problem of everyone was that nobody; even their parents could ever understand what they did for a living. I felt that I’m not alone as I’m also facing the same issue.

I could meet a lot of people during the event and also at the post event party at Hotel Royal Orchid Central; some of them being Muthukumar (XDesign, Sun Microsystems) – I knew Muthu before but met him at the event for the first time, Amit Pande, Madhuri Kolhatkar (Senior Manager, Oracle UX), Sreekumar (Principal UX Designer, Infosys), Param, guys from Honeywell, Yahoo, GE Healthcare, Intuit, OMobile, Trilogy and young designers from National Institute of Design. Overall it was a nice event and a nice party which went on till 11 in the night. The only downside was that they hadn’t said that the party only served drinks and starters, I had to come back home late night without having dinner only to find that there is nothing to eat at home either.
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