Earlier this month, MFA Interaction Design students Kohzy Koh and Song Lee won the student design challenge at Interaction 16 in Helsinki, Finland, for their project WristGuard, which developed out of an SVA course called Strategic Innovation in Product/Service Design.
“MFA Interaction Design was thrilled and honored to be in Helsinki to see Kohzy and Song win the competitive student competition along with a cheering community of MFA Interaction Design alumni and students who watched from the audience,” says MFA Interaction Design Chair Liz Danzico. “When interviewed on stage about how they did it, the pair cited, a few times, the support of their mentors. Instead of taking the spotlight, they humbly emphasized the importance of their network. The department is proud of the work, and equally so, of their tremendous collaborative spirit.”
The annual conference, organized by the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), brings together over 1,000 professionals for talks by industry leaders, workshops and an international student design challenge. The theme of this year’s design competition was “The future we deserve,” which challenged students to envision public services of the future.
Koh and Lee, the only group of students from North America invited to compete in the finals and one of four teams from around the world, decided to consider the needs of public service workers rather than envision a new public service concept. Thinking of vulnerable or at-risk public service workers, Koh and Lee realized that sanitation workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, with a fatality rate nearly double that of policeman and seven times greater than firefighters.
Their concept, WristGuard, is a wristband that vibrates to warn sanitation workers of oncoming vehicles, alerting them in real-time of danger. Paired wirelessly with a tracking system within the sanitation truck that detects approaching vehicles over a predetermined radius, the wristband reacts by buzzing to alert workers of vehicles that come within a dangerously close range.
One of the unique and challenging aspects of the competition is that before presenting their projects on the main stage of the conference, students are given the opportunity to refine their concepts over 72 hours, taking advantage of feedback from conference attendees, fellow students in the competition and local resources, such as the Finnish government. It was during this period that Koh and Lee retooled their WristGuard concept from its original design as a “smart glove” after realizing that sanitation workers typically wear-out several pairs of gloves a week.
SVA will be the official education partner of Interaction 17, which will take place at locations on campus and throughout New York City from February 4 – 8 in 2017. “As the preeminent place for connecting with interaction design leaders, ideas, and projects, SVA is pleased to be the official education partner of the 2017 conference,” says Danzico, who will serve as the conference’s education chair. “The event will commence with an education summit at locations across the College, and continue with the main conference at the Metropolitan Pavilion. We believe the 2017 conference will provide an engaged group of practitioners, faculty and students who share an enthusiasm for interaction design and the opportunity to connect on topics at a global scale.”