How I chose HCI and what drew me here !!!
Let me brief a bit about my golden days in high school. For all my class tests, I used to try remembering textual content from my book to write it in an answer sheet. However, that was always hard for me to remember all information, though I spend a lot of time remembering and understanding the subject. This pushed me to think of some other alternatives to remember the concepts of the text book. And that’s when it strikes that I could draw relevant pictorial representation that are specific to some textual information. In other words, Text Content to Image or Diagram replacement. I immediately tried to implement this and for some reason that I did not know at that time, I was able to easily remember all that I wanted to remember from my books. I realized that I was actually conceptualizing textual information into its related representation, so called Infographics. I used almost all sorts of shapes and symbols and colors to shade out what I wanted to remember. It helped me to score good grades in school very easily. I shared this finding to some of my friends and it worked for few of them as well. I started following it all the time from that point in time.
From then on, I have always been a visualizer of many things around me, as to how things were and how things could be. I always tried to connect and visualize products that we use in our day-to-day lives. Somebody would have visualized how a Washing Machine, Fridge or a Television Set or a Cell Phone or a DVD Player could interact with Humans. So, every product I noticed had by all means been visualized, designed, and developed for interacting with human beings. From then on, Visualization and Human-Technology Interaction became my prime interest.
I realized that every product was carefully designed for use by a skilled visualizer. I was impressed with the ATM machines, car dashboards and almost every product in this world. Well, I was actually getting drawn to all the items that were visualized and designed. I’ve seen a number of Hollywood movie scenes that keep adding intuitive yet amazing interaction experiences with computing devices especially Avatar, Ironman, Star Wars and many more. This also induced some effect in me to get into the Interaction Design field. So I have decided to step into the field of Computer Science to enhance and prepare myself on technology interaction and I got successfully graduated from one of the premier universities in India. I did carefully chose to work in the field of User Interface Design and Development, to pursue my passion that I loved the most.
During my tenure as professional web designer and developer I upgraded my skills on user interface design and development. The skills that I honed during my work helped me develop real-time web applications in Adobe Flash Platform. One of applications I worked with the banking client team was awarded the Most Usable Rich Internet Applications of 2009 by InsideRIA.
Apart from work hours I chose to work on Augmented Reality (AR) projects using FLARToolkit (Flash Augmented Reality Toolkit). This toolkit gave me an initial step to enter into real-time User Interaction through Augmented Reality. And I then planned to use FLAR with Mobile Camera to create a Mobile AR applications. But after some point in time I came to know that the full fledged support of Flash Platform did not came into the Mobile Eco System. However, I got “Point and Find” AR application in my Nokia 5800 Xpress Music mobile device and used it to find some cool information about the places using a mobile camera. And another important place where I nurtured some knowledge on AR is LAYAR.com, which is an Augmented Reality Browser. LAYAR.com has played a catalyst role in my interaction design journey. I also did a couple of Proof of Concepts on Brain-wave Computing using Brain Computer Interface (BCI) from Neurosky called Brainwave headset. This is where I realized the real usage of Human Technology Interaction. Like, how you can take advantage of technologies and build something amazing for humans that simplifies the way of living.
Some of the people who have inspired me greatly include Matt Mullenweg, who has changed the entire blogging system through his WordPress Blogging Software during 2004-2005. He was one of my great inspirations to start my career in Interaction Design. Another person that I would admire the most is Pranav Mistry, the man behind Sixth Sense who is also my inspiration to get into the field of Human-computer Interaction. And I had built some small level Sixth Sense project using his Sixth Sense API way back in 2010 – 11.
Most of the things happening in my day-day to life is closely related with User Interaction and User Experience. So I have decided to contribute something valuable and needed by a majority of users. I strongly believed that this contribution cannot be easily done by undergrad education along with few years of work experience; it requires expertise in various things that studies the Psychology, Usability, User Experience, User Testing, User personas and many other things that are related to build a better product. This is where I end up deciding to go for Master’s education that hones my UX skills not only from design perspective, also an engineering aspect.
So here I’m at Rochester Institute of Technology and about to complete my Master’s in HCI in few months and looking forward to work again with the industry that is humanizing the products.