By Kessey Esteves
Dated: April 6th 2010

UPA 2010: What’s in store? 5 talks you might be interested in!

With the 2010 UPA International conference less than 2 months away, it’s a good time to get the word out about the exciting things you can learn by taking part this year. The theme is “Embracing Cultural diversity- User Experience Design for the World”.
With 70 talks in the regular UPA program and over 20 more in the German UPA track in addition to all the workshops, tutorials, posters and Idea Markets, it’s a real challenge to pick a few that will do justice to the breadth of topics and speakers. But we gave it a go so here are a few that caught our eye.

“Technology is a Cultural Practice”- Opening keynote, Rachel Hinman (Nokia Research Lab)
It seems only right to start with the opening keynote, especially as it represents the conference theme so well:
How do you design a mobile money service for people in rural Uganda who’ve never had a bank account?
How do you test the usability of a mobile phone’s address book for users in rural India who’ve never had an address… let alone an analogue address book?
As cheap PCs and inexpensive mobile phones flood the global market, usability and user experience professionals will encounter more and more questions like these. These questions challenge not only our research tools and methodologies, but our fundamental assumptions about how people engage with technology.
In this keynote, Rachel will share her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities presented by emerging markets and the metamorphosis our field must undergo in order to create great user experiences across different cultures.

“East meets West and West meets East”- Daniel Szuc & Jhumkee Lyengar
This talk is another great illustration of the conference theme and a must for anyone looking to participate in UX projects in Asia or with Asian companies:
With historical dividing lines between the ‘East’ and the ‘West’ blurring for the first time, working globally is challenging every profession. Economies have always driven work patterns and new history is being created through:
(1) For the first time Asia lifting the world out of recession instead of the USA
(2) A need for the West to understand and adapt to the complexities of the East
(3) Traditional perceptions in the West about the East, partly driven by the IT revolution, - the East as a ‘doer’ community for outsourcing rather than a thinker community
(4) Design for emerging markets meaning products designed in the West and then adapted for the East
(5) Eastern designs not being up to global standards
(6) Perceptions in the East about the West that design is led from the West without awareness of or regard for local thinking and a general unwillingness to give the time or a chance to incubate global work.

“Evaluating Touch Gesture Usability”- Kevin Arthur (Synaptics)
For anyone who last year at UPA 2009 in Portland passed the time playing ‘count the iPhone’ I assume you lost count, like me, at around number 250. With the iPad arriving at your local iStore as you read this and a general wave of success for touch screens, this will be a hot topic in 2010:
Multi-finger gestures on touchscreens and touchpads are becoming increasingly popular, but they don’t always work well for users. Kevin Arthur will discuss the challenges of obtaining reliable measures of gesture usability and will present techniques for testing gestures, with examples from tests that evaluated multi-finger pinch, rotate, and swipe gestures on touchpads.

“Games user research – A journey through the methods for testing “fun”” – Panel, David Tisserand (SCEE)
David Tisserand of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, fresh from speaking at the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco has put together a panel of the best in gaming usability, featuring Eidos, Microsoft Games Research, Sony CEE and THQ. Talks about the emerging field of gaming user research have always been hugely popular at UPA:
Usability of video games traditionally relied on quantitative studies. Although metrics will always be key to assessing players’ experience, new genres prompt the need for more qualitative and innovative methods. Key players from the industry explain why this move is needed and which methods they are currently investigating.
“Designing for a Multi-Channel Experience”- Megan Grocki (MadPow)
Increasingly we are talking about the end to end customer journey, convergence and service design. This talk by Mad Pow is essential for anyone working with multi channel products and services:
How many touch points does your brand have with your customers? Multi-channel experience design is accomplished by understanding how technology and interaction are entwined in real users’ context of use. Various types of research and analytical activities will help give you a healthier understanding of your audience and their behaviour.

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Published on: 4:20PM on 6th April 2010