The only child in a Chinese household is often a major influencer for decision making in the house. In rural Kenya, a neighbour who is literate is entrusted with personal secrets so that he/she can mediate between the user and interfaces (whether using the mobile or ATMs or even printed communication). And in high income Indian households, washing clothes using a machine is no less than a ritual.
These are some of the research finding of the Human Factors International, a usability consultant and trainer. On February 15, 2013 HFI’s not-for-profit Institute of Customer Experience (ICE) organized the UX Futurists Conference in Chennai, India where around 50 professionals from Sweden and India met to discuss “The Future of Mobile,” the theme of the first UX Futurists’ Conference. Apala Lahiri, the CEO of the Institute of Customer Experience and the Chief Oracle & Innovator at HFI shared the above mentioned research findings after Dr. Eric Schaffer, CEO of HFI narrated a short history of his work with UX right starting from the 1970s. ICE invited delegates from Mobile Life, Sweden and representatives from their partner organizations such as Ericsson, IKEA, and ABB.
There were many interesting scenarios discussed at the event. The story of M-PESA which is a great example of how UX blends with culture and how banks realized its power a bit too late in Kenya sparked a lot of discussion. Apala’s talk ignited an exciting discussion on the future of mobile, its growing significance for emerging markets and different research methodologies as
well. Though everyone had a different point of view, the thoughts converged on the fact that user-centered design is the way forward. One important factor coming out in terms of India was that the problem still lies with data collection to design the user experience on. The western countries (Sweden the case in point here) don’t have this problem as a lot of user data is available to design the experience.
Kristina Höök, founder of the Mobile Life Center explained that the philosophy of the Center is to focus on activities as leisure,
pleasure, and play. For example, hunting is a recreational sport in Sweden, and an interesting use of location-based activities involves using GPS to track your dog’s location on the hunt and even make a phone call to your dog! Kristina also highlighted the fact that ICE had captured the right trends through its posters for 2013– ‘Are you future ready?’ She specifically mentioned, ‘Internet of things’ and offered examples of the internet of art, play, well-being and recreation. This prompted a discussion on “big data” and how as an end user we are continuously feeding data into the cloud. Alongside, Kristina also passed along her phone with a mobile app running that had just indicated that her stress levels were normalizing after the initial jump on going up on the stage!
There were many such talks and the stimulating event was a great exchange of user experience and design ideas between the teams from Sweden and India. Stay tuned for more on UXFC and visit the website for more information or drop in a comment.