NordiCHI conference this year was held in my hometown Helsinki. Coming from the industry I had the luxury to go and just absorb all the interesting academic research findings and ideas. And hear gurus talk!
Keynote speaker and my favorite usability-guru Don Norman emphasized Human-Centered Design instead of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Norman said HCI community should start looking at larger, more important issues and think how design could help in those. To make a difference.
I liked that idea. I’ve always felt that working in HCI field to improve user experience is in itself important. Even when solving small issues, it’s about helping people and making a difference. What could be better than helping people and making a difference on a bigger scale!
I was pleased to hear many talks in the conference actually were about “important issues”. There were studies about how ICT can help e.g. elderly people, people with physical and speech impairments or even autistic children. Many topics were about the role of ICT in healthcare. All important stuff!
Now, I don’t think ICT can solve all the problems in the world, it can certainly do its share with some.
Wellness and health
Because of my sports background I was most inspired by the discussions about “wellth”: wellness and health. There are lots of good applications that motivate us to move on our free time. I know, I use many of them.
But most ICT tools we use during our work day make us just sit still several hours a day. And that’s not healthy. We know that and we know lots of other ways how body and mind are connected. Now how could we utilize this knowledge to design ICT that would keep our bodies moving and minds grooving throughout the work day?
What if certain parts of the interface would be controlled with gestures so you would have to move your body? Or what if every time you had to wait the interface to process something, the progress indicator would somehow encourage you to do some “deskersize”? All sorts of fun ideas came up in the discussions with conference participants.
The topics mentioned here are just a scratch of a surface, the ones that touched me the most. The conference covered many other fun, fast and foundational topics as well (see conference program for more details.)
I was inspired by the conference and will incorporate some of the new ideas to my daily work as UX designer. I also feel happy to be part of this human-centered design community that can potentially do lot of good. Be it big or small.
Overall NordiChi 2014 was an awesome conference: professionally organized, wonderful venues, skilled people, famous gurus, inspiring talks and excellent food. Well done and thanks to the organizers! :-)