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The UC San Diego Design Lab

The UC San Diego Design Lab

The UC San Diego Design Lab

This is an exciting time for the field of design. The technologies that the research communities have worked on for the past 25 years have leapt off the pages of academic journals and into the daily lives of billions. What used to be our imagination is now our reality. These have enabled an extremely wide range of innovation in multiple arenas: healthcare and medicine, business, social interaction, entertainment.

But technology only enables: a practical application requires more than the underlying technology. If we build things for people, then knowledge of both people and technology is required. If we are to make them pleasurable, then the creativity and craft skills of artists and traditionally trained industrial and graphic designers are required. If they are to be understandable, then social scientists are required, including experts in writing and exposition. If they are to thrive in the world of business, then schools of management are required. Design aspires to combine these very different vertical threads of knowledge. Design is an all encompassing field that integrates together business and engineering, the social sciences and the arts.

Our goal is to create an exciting, vibrant design community that pervades the campus, cutting across disciplines, developing cross-campus projects, combining practice with theory, and making UC San Diego a world leader in design theory and integrative programs.

We propose a novel mix of practice and theory, of Thinking, Observing, and MakingTOM. We want to produce major works that advance the state of knowledge and leave a lasting heritage. Let TOM define our approach. Thinking and Making, but always for the benefit of people, hence the importance of Observing. The goal of design is to produce products, services, and systems. It is the science and practice of making.

This is an exciting time for the field of design. The technologies that the research communities have worked on for the past 25 years have leapt off the pages of academic journals and into the daily lives of billions. What used to be our imagination is now our reality. These have enabled an extremely wide range of innovation in multiple arenas: healthcare and medicine, business, social interaction, entertainment.

But technology only enables: a practical application requires more than the underlying technology. If we build things for people, then knowledge of both people and technology is required. If we are to make them pleasurable, then the creativity and craft skills of artists and traditionally trained industrial and graphic designers are required. If they are to be understandable, then social scientists are required, including experts in writing and exposition. If they are to thrive in the world of business, then schools of management are required. Design aspires to combine these very different vertical threads of knowledge. Design is an all encompassing field that integrates together business and engineering, the social sciences and the arts.

Our goal is to create an exciting, vibrant design community that pervades the campus, cutting across disciplines, developing cross-campus projects, combining practice with theory, and making UC San Diego a world leader in design theory and integrative programs.

We propose a novel mix of practice and theory, of Thinking, Observing, and MakingTOM. We want to produce major works that advance the state of knowledge and leave a lasting heritage. Let TOM define our approach. Thinking and Making, but always for the benefit of people, hence the importance of Observing. The goal of design is to produce products, services, and systems. It is the science and practice of making.

This is an exciting time for the field of design. The technologies that the research communities have worked on for the past 25 years have leapt off the pages of academic journals and into the daily lives of billions. What used to be our imagination is now our reality. These have enabled an extremely wide range of innovation in multiple arenas: healthcare and medicine, business, social interaction, entertainment.

But technology only enables: a practical application requires more than the underlying technology. If we build things for people, then knowledge of both people and technology is required. If we are to make them pleasurable, then the creativity and craft skills of artists and traditionally trained industrial and graphic designers are required. If they are to be understandable, then social scientists are required, including experts in writing and exposition. If they are to thrive in the world of business, then schools of management are required. Design aspires to combine these very different vertical threads of knowledge. Design is an all encompassing field that integrates together business and engineering, the social sciences and the arts.

Our goal is to create an exciting, vibrant design community that pervades the campus, cutting across disciplines, developing cross-campus projects, combining practice with theory, and making UC San Diego a world leader in design theory and integrative programs.

We propose a novel mix of practice and theory, of Thinking, Observing, and MakingTOM. We want to produce major works that advance the state of knowledge and leave a lasting heritage. Let TOM define our approach. Thinking and Making, but always for the benefit of people, hence the importance of Observing. The goal of design is to produce products, services, and systems. It is the science and practice of making.

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Sean Cross

Sean Kross explains the uses of The Wizard of Oz Technique in Design | Design Chats


Sean Kross, Graduate Student at UC San Diego, explains The Wizard of Oz Technique in design and what benefits it provides for designers.

Design Chats is a video series where we sit down with design practitioners to answer questions about how they utilize human-centered design.

View our Design Chats playlist on the Design Lab YouTube Channel

Interdisciplinary Powerhouse: Pinar Yoldas is a Perfect Fit for the Design Lab

Pinar Yoldas describes herself as an interdisciplinary designer, artist and researcher whose current research revolves around speculative biology, in which she designs and creates what could possibly be the next steps of evolution regarding human tissues, organs, and bodies. Evolution, in the eyes of Yoldas, includes the potential for humans in the future to possess modular bodies in which humans can interchange or add on additional sexual organs. 

She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Visual Arts Department at UC San Diego and a member of The Design Lab. While she earned her PhD in Visual and Media Design from Duke University, her interests and credentials don’t stop there. Yoldas also holds a MFA in Game and Interactive Media Design from UC Los Angeles; a MA in Visual Arts from Bilgi University; a MS in Information Technologies from Istanbul Technical University; and a Bachelors of Architecture with a minor is Sociology from Middle East Technical University. Combining her passions for science, art, and undoubtedly, education, Yoldas has impressively served as a bridge throughout her career between five different disciplines and serves as an inspiration for the pursuit and practical application of interdisciplinary science and art studies.

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.  
UCSD Design Lab Fingerprint Biometrics

How many billions are the last billion’s biometrics worth?

Kidprint is a research project run out of the Center for Health at the University of California at San Diego’s Design Lab, which developed the ION device to provide identification for very young people to enable effective immunization and early childhood health checks. The KidPrint research team has achieved functional true acceptance rate of 99.9 percent enrolling and authenticating children as young as 3 days old with ION, KidPrint project lead Eliah Aronoff-Spencer told Biometric Update in an interview.
Smart Streetlights Data San Diego

San Diegans Shouldn’t Be Lab Rats for Innovation

Voice of San Diego Editorial by Design Lab Faculty Lilly Irani

In 2016, San Diego installed thousands of General Electric cameras, microphones and telecommunication devices on streetlights around the city. The City Council approved the project with little investigation, looking no further than the city’s casting of the project as environmental “sensors” and “nodes” that would analyze traffic and the atmosphere.

The city finally held town halls this year to explain the program to communities, but by then it was too late. Once installed, technologies of this type will outrun the uses for which they are designed and publicly justified. Over and over, researchers like myself have seen data creep — like mission creep — take hold as companies try to add value to data and monetize them.

The Design Lab’s Srishti Palani Wins Google’s PhD Fellowship

In continuing excellence among UC San Diego Design Lab researchers, Srishti Palani, a PhD student and Department of Cognitive Science at the Design Lab, was named a 2021 Google PhD Fellow for her work in Human Computer Interaction focused on improving web search and intelligent guidance during creative work. The fellowship is open to researchers in computer science and related fields. Palani was one of 60 students throughout the world to be selected for a Google Fellowship–an award that supports outstanding and promising PhD candidates of all backgrounds who seek to influence the future of technology by providing funding, mentorship, collaboration and internship opportunities.

Palani’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach involving cognitive, computer, and learning sciences to better web search and intelligent scaffolding of complex creative information work. “We use web search almost every day to search things, and it affects how we learn and work and create and collaborate. I’m really passionate about researching this area and building novel computational techniques that integrate web search into people's larger work context. Google, of course, has the most state-of-the-art web search technology that has existed in my lifetime, so I’ve always wanted to collaborate with the researchers, software engineers, and data scientists there to understand how we can get a better web search when people want to search for more complex information needs.”
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