IxDA's Interaction13 Student Design Challenge: Observations from the Jury

The IxDA's Interaction13 Conference theme of social change and innovation probably best manifested itself in the Student Design Challenge sponsored by Intel. This year's challenge centered around the idea of "Playful Technology." We were honored that Nathan Moody was asked to be a part of the final jury panel in Toronto! The theme closely aligned with much of our playful work like LoopLoop, BlissBomb and TouchTones, and the middle ground between work and play that much of our work inhabits.Students were challenged to explore the paradigm shift occurring with the ways we interact with technology. It's no longer about using technology to simply satisfy a user need; it’s becoming further embedded into our daily lives and extends into ways we connect with one another. Students were also encouraged to explore a number of sub-themes identified by Intel Labs including; Social Sense Making and Play, Playful Data, and Open Platforms for Playful Making.Five finalists were selected to present their concepts in a 5-10 minute presentation. It was interesting to observe that all concepts were tempered in realism. Students did not try to invent new technology but envisioned solutions using technology that already exists today. As one of our hiring managers, Nathan was excited to see a balance of big, outside of the box ideas that still retained a high degree of feasibility. Students were thinking about the broader social impacts of interactivity in their concepts.Challenge winner Bethany Stolle exemplified this year’s theme by investigating the social impact technology can have as a medium for better understanding autism. Her concept was designed to encourage a child with autism to share and interact with their family through technology and in turn, this helped unlock the visual stimulants that make the child happy. Using a simple habit loop (Sense - Trigger - Capture - Share) and a camera synched to a tablet, the child captured the images that made them happy throughout the day. A specialized app encouraged and rewarded socialized interaction with a positive feedback loop each time the child chose to share snapshots of their day with their families.The winning entries from the IxDA’s Student Design Challenge can been seen here. Congratulations to all of the finalists!