Technology and human-centered design: 3 things we learned from PauseFest 2019

There are two kinds of events: the ones you leave and never think about again, and the ones that change you. Pause Fest 2019 falls into the latter camp.

Imagine bringing together a unique blend of industry bodies, government agencies, startups, experts from all over the world, across a wide range of sectors with a common goal to inspire innovation.

Now, imagine all of this happening at Federation Square (Melbourne).

The Neighboulytics team (Esmeralda Garcia, left and Gala Camacho Ferrari right) on the ground at Pause Fest

The Neighboulytics team (Esmeralda Garcia, left and Gala Camacho Ferrari right) on the ground at Pause Fest

Neighbourlytics joined Pause Fest for full three days.

We left realising how much we’d learned, excited about the new connections we’d made and inspired by all the fantastic ideas and companies out there making a positive change in the world.

Now, a week later, having had a chance to reflect, here are our three stand-out takeaways from the event:


1. User Experience is everywhere

User experience design, or UX, has completely changed the way that we use technology in recent years. But, have you ever thought about how these same principles could change the way we experience cities?

Ricardo Prada, a Silicon Valley psychologist making technology more people-centred and Director of UX at Google, proposed that everything that surrounds our life makes up the quality of experience that we have in our cities.

From his talk we were left thinking about how simply collecting information is not enough, we also need to determine how this information is going to be interpreted and made useful.

But, have you ever thought about how these same principles could change the way we experience cities?

The panel on smart cities really resonated with us. City-Lab, Active Integrated Matter Future Science Platform from CSIRO, and Ramus Illumination came together to discuss how to leverage technology and create better places for people.

They elaborated on how smart cities help us engage better offline as well as online.

pause fest

2. Find the human value

The idea of design thinking for a healthy economy is something we are really excited about. Laura Ryan, Strategy Director at Mentally Friendly argued that we need to consider wellbeing as the overall measure of how comfortable, happy and healthy we are now and in the future. Their “well being” economy outlined the need to shift the way that we create value.

Their “well being” economy outlined the need to shift the way that we create value.

We couldn’t agree more!

The talk also highlighted the need to create opportunities for connection: between people, between people and their devices, between people and a product.

The closing keynote by Mark Brand, CEO MB Inc, brought the whole event back to everything that it means to be human: the importance of building community, of looking out for each other, respect and giving.

Julia Khusainova, experience design manager at Airbnb also expressed how design is uniquely positioned to unlock communities, it will help your business grow and develop into new opportunities.

The main principles of any business should be to build trust within your team and the community you are working with.

You can listen to some of her other talks here.

Also, our friend Megan Flamer from BlueChilli raised the hidden practice of mindfulness in the tech sector. She reminded us how to be mindful at work. In her experience, building a startup with all your senses on it can mark the difference between the success or a long series of tries.

Laura Ryan from Mentally Friendly

Laura Ryan from Mentally Friendly

3. Supporting innovation partnerships

It was exciting to see the breadth and depth of the innovation ecosystem that has emerged in the past few years, and they were all here at Pause Fest.

We heard from dozens of entrepreneurs pioneering new challenges to global problems through the pitching competition  - including our friends at Bindi Maps who took home the prize together with carbon trading blockchain startup: EMMI.

Bindi Maps is a mobile app which locates and guides users, accurately, within indoor spaces. They apply a simple natural-language audio system to describe where users are and what’s around them which helps all of us navigate, but especially those who are visually impaired.

There were also startup accelerators in all shapes and sizes offering help, support and funding to entrepreneurs.

We were also particularly excited to read about CivVic, a new initiative and partnership between LaunchVic and the Victorian Government’s Public Sector Innovation Fund offering new pathways for startups to engage with government.

Neighbourlytics at the final pitch competition

Neighbourlytics at the final pitch competition

Despite the events role in highlighting and showcasing emerging technologies, the common thread throughout all of it was, surprisingly, its humanity.

We’re looking forward to next year.