HCIM graduate student Rachael Marr reports back on her class's presentations in Marshini Chetty's INST 632 - HCI Design Methods.
On a spring Wednesday, our whole class is timidly putting up their work for everyone to see. The class, composed of about 25 students, has five group projects that aim to tackle different real world issues. The projects range from a new social media platform for the dull things in your life, instabland, to an application that would help emergency personnel find hikers who are in danger. At this poster session, some members of each group circulate to learn about the other projects while some stay behind to pitch their own work.
Working this way, we move through the room to learn more about the products and life-saving tools that our cohort is working on. My personal favorite, or the project that might affect me most, is an idea born out of frustration while shopping for clothes. Most of the time it is impossible to get custom fit clothing, but this group is working to change that. They are proposing a system that could be installed in stores which would take your measurements via camera (or give you an avatar, if you worry about privacy) and give you clothing choices (think the first scene in Clueless). These choices would then be tailored and handed to you while you are in the store.
Two weeks ago, I heard a talk at an HCIL BBL that referred to market "white space", a concept much like the design principle that you should leave white space around an element which you want to shine. When there is market white space, then the product or service has yet to be invented. This is exactly that product. Some people enjoy the experience of trying on clothes, but some absolutely do not. Enter this custom fit product.
Once I was done circulating and asking questions, it was my turn to pitch. Our professor, Marshini Chetty, structured presentations this way so that everyone could experience how to pitch a product while under pressure. Oftentimes, as in real poster sessions, people will mosey over, and you are forced to interrupt yourself and start from the beginning for the benefit of the group. I also gained practice in taking criticism, a valuable skill for any professional.
Being able to experience both sides of the poster session was amazing. And seeing my cohort's ideas in a tangible way was priceless.