School/business/institution partnerships are essential for experiencing the world of work
To achieve this, the school has put in place special project methodologies that are specific to each structure in the various design professions.
Working in the field of HMI, French company Tuito is a start-up specialized in intelligent human-machine interfaces for professionals which worked collaboratively with our students in spring 2018. Description of the process and the expected outcomes of a 4-phase prospective study with its co-founder, Jérôme Vial.
Start-up specialized in HMI
Jérôme Vial and Laurent Molac are the co-founders of Tuito, a young start-up based in Marseille specialized in interactive solutions for professional applications in which data visualization and human-machine interfaces are key factors. Smart screens and natural interfaces (speech recognition, movement or facial recognition, affective computing) provide us with a host of use innovations which can bring productivity gains and a more streamlined use of control, monitoring and decision-making tools.
“From the outset, we knew that design (UX/UI) would be critical for us not only to showcase our services and products but above all to launch genuine solutions on the market. A lot of our technologies are derived from interactive applications that can be found in the consumer electronics world (tablets, smartphones, etc.) It was logical for us to turn to a team of young designers who are au fait with these technologies.” And so was born the partnership, in the form of a prospective study, a long project consisting of twelve 4-hour sessions supervised by Edouard Durand, designer and course leader of the Game Design Bachelor’s program, with consultants and 18 Interaction Design Bachelor’s students.
A 3-phase project with a twofold objective for students
Once the initial challenge was set (“Imagining new use concepts based on technological innovations in HMI”), the students were given a dual objective:
1) understanding both the needs of Tuito’s clients (system integrator for complex solutions in highly technical spaces and environments such as submarines, etc.) and opportunities to transform their practices.
2) illustrating these concepts through demonstrators (working models or videos) which will give Tuito the possibility to mediate and demonstrate their technologies. The goal being that the end client can project it onto his own uses, and define them precisely without being limited to what he knows and thus facilitate the decision-making process to opt for this type of device.
As for the students, the aim of the exercise is to learn how to manage a long project in a coherent manner, to organize their thinking and production in accordance with a precise timetable and within the set deadlines, to create a service taking into account industrial uses of control, monitoring and decision-making, to communicate on a project and finally to produce a demonstrator that makes it possible to visualize the design choices and to test the user experience.
Working in 3 phases means it is possible to refocus the project comprehensively and align the interests. 8 groups were created and brought fresh perspective to the research question. “Each pair explored different segments. They sometimes confirmed some of our assumptions but often provided a new vision. This design approach, far removed from our technological vision, was very fruitful.”
An overview: getting away from pure technology
Proposing several working groups working on the same product at the same time but with different applications is often a very positive thing for the partner. The concepts often address their need to deal with several applications.
“We hoped to come out of it with new concepts to showcase our solutions and their benefits. We were delighted with the results. Certain pairs were working on very complex and challenging segments, but all of them came up with a new vision, a solution and an approach. We wanted to put the human-operator back in the foreground and not the technology, and the students really understood this ambition. They helped us get away from our purely technological environment.”
The ability to see the bigger picture generated by these new concepts is momentous. It often helps alert a company about the soundness or validity of a technological point. “Historically, our group has always been led by technology. The work with students from L’École de design made the product teams and management sit up and rethink how they addressed our solutions, thinking and designing from a broader perspective.”
In terms of communication, things also progressed. “We realized that our selling style was too advanced, too technical for our prospects. We therefore had to adapt it, to explain little by little, step by step, which stage of development we were at.” We adapted our discourse to the market and thus made a fresh start.
“It had a really positive impact internally, with our teams going further in their analysis and reflection, and also externally, as the students’ work helped us demonstrate the value of our solutions to our prospects and the benefits of our approach,” concludes Jérôme Vial.