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Designer in Residence & Social Psychologist Mikael Wahlström Leads Projects to Explore Autonomous Ships

Designer in Residence & Social Psychologist Mikael Wahlström Leads Projects to Explore Autonomous Ships

Designer in Residence & Social Psychologist Mikael Wahlström Leads Projects to Explore Autonomous Ships

The Design Lab welcomed Mikael Wahlström as a Designer in Residence this past fall. Wahlström hails from Finland where he received his PhD in social psychology from the University of Helsinki. While pursuing his doctorate, he worked at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) where he studied human-computer interaction. He currently works on complex systems including robotics and plants research at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a leading international research and technology company.

Wahlström was drawn to working at The Design Lab given that UC San Diego is a leading university for his interests in distributed cognition and context-focused research.  While at The Design Lab, Wahlström led an ongoing project to explore autonomous ships, a research initiative started during his studies at HIIT. The project examines the “ship-bridge” concept and specifically how user research can be leveraged to imagine futuristic bridges. Through speaking with expert navigators, Wahlström identified the needs and challenges of real-life navigation. One of the project’s main objectives is to analyze the communication and interaction between ships as unified entities. After presenting an article written about his work, Wahlström is excited for how the project will continue to progress.

Previously, Wahlström worked within the field of robotics surgery to understand how we navigate within our own bodies. Through task analysis, he studied a concept known as auto-confrontation, which describes explaining one’s own activities through different representations of media.

As he reflects on his work, Wahlström expresses gratitude for having had the opportunity to learn about how distributed cognition can be applied on a more profound level.

It’s been a very positive experience. I received good feedback from Don [Norman] on the autonomous ship project. I’ve also enjoyed meeting everyone and learning about their work to identify possibilities for future studies and collaborations.

The Design Lab welcomed Mikael Wahlström as a Designer in Residence this past fall. Wahlström hails from Finland where he received his PhD in social psychology from the University of Helsinki. While pursuing his doctorate, he worked at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) where he studied human-computer interaction. He currently works on complex systems including robotics and plants research at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a leading international research and technology company.

Wahlström was drawn to working at The Design Lab given that UC San Diego is a leading university for his interests in distributed cognition and context-focused research.  While at The Design Lab, Wahlström led an ongoing project to explore autonomous ships, a research initiative started during his studies at HIIT. The project examines the “ship-bridge” concept and specifically how user research can be leveraged to imagine futuristic bridges. Through speaking with expert navigators, Wahlström identified the needs and challenges of real-life navigation. One of the project’s main objectives is to analyze the communication and interaction between ships as unified entities. After presenting an article written about his work, Wahlström is excited for how the project will continue to progress.

Previously, Wahlström worked within the field of robotics surgery to understand how we navigate within our own bodies. Through task analysis, he studied a concept known as auto-confrontation, which describes explaining one’s own activities through different representations of media.

As he reflects on his work, Wahlström expresses gratitude for having had the opportunity to learn about how distributed cognition can be applied on a more profound level.

It’s been a very positive experience. I received good feedback from Don [Norman] on the autonomous ship project. I’ve also enjoyed meeting everyone and learning about their work to identify possibilities for future studies and collaborations.

The Design Lab welcomed Mikael Wahlström as a Designer in Residence this past fall. Wahlström hails from Finland where he received his PhD in social psychology from the University of Helsinki. While pursuing his doctorate, he worked at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) where he studied human-computer interaction. He currently works on complex systems including robotics and plants research at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a leading international research and technology company.

Wahlström was drawn to working at The Design Lab given that UC San Diego is a leading university for his interests in distributed cognition and context-focused research.  While at The Design Lab, Wahlström led an ongoing project to explore autonomous ships, a research initiative started during his studies at HIIT. The project examines the “ship-bridge” concept and specifically how user research can be leveraged to imagine futuristic bridges. Through speaking with expert navigators, Wahlström identified the needs and challenges of real-life navigation. One of the project’s main objectives is to analyze the communication and interaction between ships as unified entities. After presenting an article written about his work, Wahlström is excited for how the project will continue to progress.

Previously, Wahlström worked within the field of robotics surgery to understand how we navigate within our own bodies. Through task analysis, he studied a concept known as auto-confrontation, which describes explaining one’s own activities through different representations of media.

As he reflects on his work, Wahlström expresses gratitude for having had the opportunity to learn about how distributed cognition can be applied on a more profound level.

It’s been a very positive experience. I received good feedback from Don [Norman] on the autonomous ship project. I’ve also enjoyed meeting everyone and learning about their work to identify possibilities for future studies and collaborations.

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While Seda Evis participates as a Designer-in-Residence at UC San Diego with The Design Lab, and is VP of Strategy & Growth at FreshForm Interactive—an experience design and innovation consultancy—she also claims to have what she refers to as a superpower: her hybrid mind, which she describes as the combination of two worlds: the business side and the design side.

As a Designer-in-Residence at The Design Lab,  Evis enjoys working in an interdisciplinary setting, which she says enhances her existing skillset. “Academia tends to be quite separate from how the practice is done,” she explains. “I find ways of doing interdisciplinary work, as well as cross industry work, very important for innovation because that’s how you actually get seeds from different places.” As of now, most of Evis’s work at The Design Lab has been working with the Community Team on the now winning bid for the World Design Capital 2024 (WDC) designation. Her work dovetails with her role on the Board of  Directors for the Design Forward Alliance–a non-profit organization started by the Lab in partnership with the regional design community and one of the partners co-leading the HOME 2024 WDC efforts alongside the Design Lab, Burnham Center for Community Advancement, the City of San Diego and the City of Tijuana.   The designation puts the San Diego-Tijuana region in a prestigious international cohort recognized for the “effective use of design to drive economic, social, cultural and environmental development.”  Even the proposal theme is significant, Evis says. “Home” not only refers to the immense and diverse communities of San Diego and Tijuana that form one, but also serves as an acronym for Human-centered, Open, Multi-disciplinary/Multi-cultural, and Experimental. For Evis, participating in HOME2024 signifies her career “coming full circle.” 

How They Got There: Janet Johnson

Graduate student Janet Johnson is currently working towards her doctorate degree in Computer Science, while also conducting HCI research in the UCSD Design Lab, primarily focusing on XR (extended reality).

So, what is Johnson’s research?  Johnson conducts HCI research, primarily focusing on XR. As Johnson describes it, “XR is an umbrella term for augmented reality, augmented virtuality, mixed reality, and virtual reality.” She says to think of it as a spectrum where one end is the real world alone, the other is complete virtual reality, and everything in between is varying mixes of the two. Johnson’s research primarily focuses on this mixed middle ground. “The majority of my research focuses on how we can use mixed reality or extended reality to help a novice…get help from an expert.” She then poses the example of both surgery and CPR. Johnson’s research explores ways for an expert to provide instructions to the novice as if though they were in the same room. Her goal is to help bridge the distance between novices and experts, both physically and skill wise, while also decreasing the amount of time a person receives aid. “By the time a medical personnel arrives at the scene, it’s already been 7 to 10 minutes, so each minute counts for the person’s life,” she explains. “You don’t have time in that 10 minutes to train the people around to be able to do CPR or any other sort of resuscitation, same with surgery.” 

As Johnson continues to conduct her research in this field, she’s excited for what the future holds for this technology and the ways she can contribute to it.  

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