Vote in the SXSW PanelPicker and Help Send EchoUser to Austin

We're hoping to head to SXSW again this year! Check out our submissions this year.


Over the past ten years, SXSW Interactive has brought together thousands of smart minds to share, learn and inspire. Last year, Boaz Gurdin traveled to the conference and presented a new framework to help designers capitalize on the most misused design medium: time. This year, we’re looking to head back to Austin with even more EchoUser sessions.

Our team has developed five compelling submissions in hopes of presenting at SXSW. Between Mick, Amelia, Aaron, Seiko, Yalu, Rally and Yi-Ying, we’ve got a great assortment of topics, ranging from exploring asteroids to designing smart homes.

To get to Austin, we need your help! SXSW speakers are decided partly through crowdsourcing, and that’s where you come in.

Public voting on the SXSW PanelPicker is now open. Check out our five submissions below and vote for the ones you think deserve to go all the way to Austin.

Next generation asteroids (the real ones) UX

By: Mick McGee & Amelia Altavena

In partnership with astronomers and maker enthusiasts, we are planning a series of design jams and hackathons around a “typical” big data visualization problem. NASA and others have become quite good at identifying new asteroids. However, there is now an overgrowing database of partial information, unwieldy APIs, and a lack of usable UIs and compelling visualizations. The citizen-scientist, the true end-user and driver of tremendous space-related interest, is left with visions of blasting pixelated rocks in archaic video games. We can now work on top of an actual asteroids database to help save the planet for real. By early 2015 we will have completed at least two rounds of asteroids jams/hackathons. At SXSW we plan to present the latest apps, API info, and UX concepts. We hope to inspire an ideation conversation with a wider audience that advances the concepts presented and further meets the challenge of asteroids UX. In essence, big data visualization meets crowdsourcing, meets planet-destroying asteroids.

Vote for Mick & Amelia!

Everyone wants UX, but what is it?

By: Aaron Rich

User Experience (UX) is on the brink of mainstream understanding. Iconic companies like Apple, Google and Zappos have shown us that a key measurement of a brand’s worth is customer experience. They have been so successful that they have turned UX into a buzzword that nearly everyone says they want and need. But most people still don’t know what UX is, or more importantly, how to create great user experiences. UX is more than just an esthetic design or a simple user interface feature. It is a process just as much as it is a science, philosophy, and art; and it is quickly becoming a critical differentiator tool in business — one that has the power to drive sales, change industry landscapes, and take startups, products or services to the next level. As the concept moves toward mainstream status, join EchoUser, the Any Experience design firm that’s contributed to the design and usability of Google, Salesforce, Threadflip and Cisco, to get an insiders perspective on UX design and how to use the buzz around UX to your advantage. EchoUser will dissect the UX landscape and offer tips on how the UX community can take advantage of the momentum and apply the process to your startup, service or product.

Vote for Aaron!

So you want to design smart homes

By: Yi-Ying Lin & Rally Pagulayan

A smart home is like an ecosystem, or a network of interactions among everyday objects, people, and their environment. This kind of connectivity, many people believe, will make our lives easier and more efficient. But what does the emergence of the smart home ecosystem mean for us, as user experience designers?

One challenge is with taking a more holistic approach to the smart home space. Although by definition “user experience” is any aspect of a person’s interaction with technology, we usually focus more on web/software interface. To design effective smart homes, we need to address different aspects of an experience.

For example, how do we design “preparing ingredients for cooking at home”? Instead of focusing on apps we could have on a fridge, we should focus on the relationship of people with their devices in the context of their activities, and design systems.

In this session, we will talk about what smart homes we can expect, and what design strategies we could lean on.

Vote for Yi-Ying & Rally!

Can UX design create timeless experience?

By: Yalu Ye

Wearable computing, connected devices, biometrics, pervasive computing - in the digital era, technology is changing every day and with a blink of the eye innovations that have been created to make our lives better soon fade into the background. As the digital world becomes more analog, and the boundary of the digital and non-digital worlds is dissolving, new challenges arise along with new opportunities. Think about living in a house, talking on the phone, and riding a car - the core of the experience has outlasted time, what’s changed is the form and mechanism. We will dissect examples both past and present, physical and digital, to understand what makes an experience timeless. This session will highlight best practices and uncover blind spots UX designers need to be aware of to create timeless experience in this new era.

Vote for Yalu!

Designing wearables for success using prototyping

By: Seiko Itakura

How could the current crop of wearables have avoided languishing on the sidelines? For example, Google Glass is great at capturing that special moment conveniently and quickly with its front facing camera, but it has irked non-users who consider Glass a threat to privacy. Did Google realize the pitfalls before releasing Glass? We all know that making products available to end-consumers can be quite expensive. Wouldn’t it be useful to identify and avoid such potential problems before releasing a product? I spent the last seven months designing a new Pebble Smartwatch app, as well as new wearable devices for the Consumer and Enterprise spaces. From the experience, I learned that prototyping and user testing helped identify and address problem areas early. My prototyping was done fast and inexpensive. In my session, I would like to share my experience and talk about using prototyping for other real-life applications for wearables.

Vote for Seiko!