Archive by Author | Leena S.

Storytelling – The next generation of narrative

In my Service Innovation and Design studies, I have heard and talked a lot about Storytelling as a tool for innovation. That is why I was excited to attend an event in London organized by General Assembly where Magnus Moar from Middlesex University was talking about Storytelling as the next generation of narrative.

At a General Assembly event we discussed different digital and design trends for 2018, which mostly centered around the major new player on the digital scene: Augmented and Virtual Reality. In the event Magnus Moar, the Head Creative of Technology at Middlesex University, gave a talk about Storytelling and how it will be used in the future, especially in Virtual Reality.

According to Moar, storytelling as a technique is a fundamental part of being human. Stories are designed to reach out and offer an emotional experience and they are the best tool for escapism. Nowadays there is also a close connections between storytelling and technology – in the form of visual immersion.  We don’t have to only use words any longer. Now, Moar says, with Virtual Reality it is now possible to enter these stories. Combining Storytelling with Virtual Reality lets you live the story, as opposed to usually only you’ve been able to hear and observe.

Storytelling has been used in gaming for years, but now it is being brought into marketing and service development in new ways by offering a completely new customer experience through Virtual Reality. In the travel business for example, imagine a 360 panorama of a holiday destination you could immerse yourself in.

However, Moar points out that in order to be effective, in a virtual world it is also important to construct a story not only offer visual experiences. This is why Storytelling is the key and it is what will drive the the medium of Virtual Reality. The challenge of creating a truly immersive customer experience is getting the user to truly engage in the story.

Read more: 5 of the most intriguing Virtual reality stories

Here is Anthony Geffen talking about Storytelling in virtual reality:


Written by: Leena Salo / SID student

Digital trends: Will 2018 be the year of Virtual reality?


Is 2018 going to be the year of Virtual Reality? Jeremy Dalton, the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Lead for PWC, wants to believe, but doesn’t think the public is ready yet.

Last week I attended a series of lectures in London about Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (VR) and how companies are using them at the moment and in the future to develop their services. The key speakers were Jeremy Dalton (Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Lead for PQC) and Sylvain Reiter (Cyber-Duck).

How are Virtual and Augmented Reality being used?

According to Dalton and Reiter, Virtual and Augmented Reality are quickly becoming effectives way of offering unbelievable customer experiences, but also for companies to develop their services. The speakers talked about many how VR and AR are being used by companies from the auto industry to journalism and movies. Brands like IKEA, Barclays, Star Wars and Volvo are already using them in creative and experimental ways.

Virtual and Augmented Reality elements are being used in production line testing and to drive consumer sales, for example with mobile apps that let users put furniture in the own homes in the right scare or in real estate projects for visualization of not yet built houses. However in the USA Walmart is also using Virtual Reality for training purposes by giving their employees the possibility to learn in real life situations, and a UK based company used it in high court to illustrate how a traffic accident had occurred.

Virtual and Augmented reality can also be a force for social change. In the UK it is used to fight racial biases by making the user by giving them a change to experience bodyswapping or dealing with people from different countries. Virtual reality has also been called “The Great Empathy Machine“. United Nations has used it to put people in the shoes of immigrants for them to understand their experiences in a completely new way.

Taking VR and AR to the next level?

Even with all the new VR and AR experiences the public is receiving from different players in the field, the speakers reminded us that there are still many barriers for people adapting this new technology. At the moment they list four main areas for further development.

  1. The Cost

According to the speakers at the moment there are three different ways of users getting the VR and AR experience: home based technology, VR headset units such as Oculus Go and portable smartphone based technology. Dalton and Reiter however believe that the cost of using and developing VR and AR needs to be brought down. The technology is complex and in order to receive a high quality VR experience one must have a high quality headset, which is still expensive.

  1. The User experience

At the moment the speakers feel that the user experience hasn’t been optimized in terms of the technical delivery.  Especially with Virtual Reality, the technology is still complicated to use, when is should be easy and intuitive. Moving in the virtual world doesn’t always work in the best possible way, and in order to get a high quality optical experience, one might need a large and heavy headset.

  1. Content

Since VR and AR are still new technologies, there is a limited amount of good content out there. Companies are developing more and creating new experiences, but lack of user base means lack of content which doesn’t drive commercial sales. This leads to companies not adapting this technology in the services.

  1. Education

Adapting to new technologies takes time. According to the speakers, even though Virtual and Augmented Reality have been around as concepts for years (you might have seen it in Star Trek when you were younger), it was 2012 when they really began to catch on. However, there are still many misconception and misunderstandings about the technologies. People might think VR is only for gamers, or that in order to enjoy AR you need expensive smartphones and other technology. This is why most of the public hasn’t really had a high quality experience with these technologies yet, and educating people about the wonders of VR and AR is the next step that needs to be taken.

So do the speakers think that the year 2018 will be the year Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality really become a huge trend? The less expensive and more easily adaptable AR is already being utilized by more and more companies, but Dalton still believes that the public might not be ready for Virtual Reality yet. Give it a few more years, he says…

Written by;
Leena Salo
SID student

Learning programming through the power of design and data



“Programming is boring”

With these words began a Design Lab lecture at Campus London. The two speakers Jenny and Regina were presenting a case study of developing NoobLab tool, an intelligent learning environment for teaching programming. The speakers had just concluded an eight month project at Kingston University, where the goal was to develop an existing service to improve student engagement and provide a better tool for students, through which they could follow their own learning path.

The speakers had researched how university students were learning programming and found that there were many challenges in the teaching.  Through research they found out that many students struggle with following and internalizing the teachings and only experience superficial learning. Many also suffered from the idea that “programming is boring”.

It was interesting to hear about this the development project where active learning was used as the framework. This is a form of learning in which teaching strives to involve students in the learning process more directly than in other methods and which mimics real life structures and situations.

Active learning is a process that has student learning at its centre. Active learning focuses on how students learn, not just on what they learn. Students are encouraged to ‘think hard’, rather than passively receive information from the teacher.” Source: Cambridge

Learning Experience Design (LX design), which was a new concept to me personally, was the design and research approach of the study. This holistic and human-centered design process focuses on the learner in order to find goal oriented ways of learning.


As research was done in three stages: Learn, Build and Deploy. In the image above all the different research aspects can be seen, but the speakers delved into just a few of the methods. The Learn stage included User interviews, Personas, User journeys, Learner Journeys, Learning analytics, Heuristic evaluation and Competitor analysis. Build stage included Content audit, Framework, User testing, Ideation as well as Wireframing and Prototyping. The research ended with the Deploy stage, where the service was piloted and tested. This data will be used for further iterations.

Learning experience design is the process of creating learning experiences that enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human centered and goal oriented way.” Source: Learning Experience Design

Using Service design tools

During the lecture, the speakers introduced two of the service design tools, which they used in their research: Personas and Prototyping.


Personas were created based on the interviews with 23 students, aged 18 to 35. Within the programming student group the researchers developed six different personas: 1) The Follower, 2) Medal Hunter, 3) Coding Enthusiast, 4) Expert Coder, 5) The Helper and 6) Anti Persona. These personas were then put in a matrix based on their motivation and personal plan for learning and four user groups could be identified.


Prototyping was done in three different staged. First a low fidelity paper prototype was created of the improved tool, where for example changes in navigation were included. After that a wireframe was created which was tested with real programming students. Based on the feedback and comments received, as the last step, a high fidelity prototype of the learning environment, which was close to the final product in elements and visuals, was presented and tested with students.


According to the speakers, the feedback from the testers was extremely positive, and a future project for implementation and piloting was given a green light. The new and improved learning environment will be launched and tested with students in the future in hopes that the testing results will prove an increase in student engagement and enhancement in their learning curve.

Below are images of the NoobLab tool before and after the research. The new version is more visual with better navigation and different ways for students to engage and follow the path of their learning.

Read more: NooLab: An intelligent learning environment for teaching programming


Written by: Leena Salo, SID student


Advice for entrepreneurs: Is you business disruptive, adaptive and scalable?

Screenshot from Youtube

John Lee, the CEO of Wealth Dragons (Screenshot from Youtube)

At the Lifestyle Business Convention in London, co-founder and CEO of Wealth Dragons, John Lee gave a talk on “How to start a business and become an entrepreneur”. One of his topics was Why do 50 percent of all businesses fail in the first year?. The most important aspect for him was that these businesses all have the wrong business model.

How to pick the right business model?

According to John Lee, a potentially successful new business should be disruptive and adaptive.

– When you start a new business, it’s got to disrupt the market. When you look at Airbnb, it is disrupting the hotel market, Lee said.

– It’s also not the smartest nor the intelligent species that survives. It’s the most adaptive.

As an example he gave the deal which the then DVD-by-mail rental company Netflix tried to make with Blockbuster with the purpose of starting to stream videos online. Blockbuster rejected the deal since “no one will stream videos on their computer”. Netflix ended up revolutionizing the industry.

Lee also pointed out that the scalability of the business is very important. Your business model has to be scalable in order to create growth and value to the customer.

Advice to new entrepreneurs:

  1. Base your business model on your personality

Lee talked about the importance of the business model regarding your personality type as an entrepreneur. For example, if you are not social, you shouldn’t base your business model on service that requires you to be involved in meeting people. If you don’t enjoy uncertainty, don’t choose a market that is notoriously volatile. Lee also adviced all company founders not to hire someone who is like them. You should hire someone who thinks differently than you and challeneges you everyday.

Do the Humanmetric test to find out your personality!

  1. Network

Never be afraid to ask: has it been proven, who is your competition, who is your audience and what are the margins? Lee emphasized the importance of networking: if you are the smartest person in your network, you are going to fail. His advice was not to reinvent the wheel, but find someone who’s got the right model already and ask for their help and mentoring.

  1. Stand on the shoulders of giants

One of the most important advice Lee gave is for everyone to find a mentor. He described how early in his career, he made an effort to find established  entrepreneurs in order to pick their brain. But you shouldn’t limit yourself to only people who work in the same industry or market. Find any successful person and ask them these questions:

  1. What do they do daily?
  2. What are their thought processes?
  3. What do they eat?
  4. What do they read?
  5. What mistakes did they make?
  6. How do they overcome challenges?
  7. How did they get started?
  8. What did they learn?
  9. What ways did they find to accelerate the process?
  10. What AHA moments did they have?
  11. What keeps them going?


Text: Leena Salo

Yves Béhar: Design is the driver for technology

Copyright: Leena Salo

Yves Béhar at the Global Design Forum in London 2015

I had the great forture to see Yves Béhar give a talk at the London Global Design Forum. Béhar is a design entrepreneur and the founder of FuseProject. He was named one of the Top 25 Visionaries by Time Magazine. His humanitarian work includes One Laptop Per Child and See Better to Learn Better.

Béhar believes that technology is evolving so fast, it’s changing the role and responsibility of designers. In Béhar’s opinion technology equals design.  The difference is that technology is about performance, efficiency and features while design is about the human experience.

– Technology has to move from something that has to be learned into something that fits seamlessly into our lives. Design can and will equal technology. It’s not only about making things pretty, but shifting our perception of the world, creating new experiences and shaking the limits of what’s possible. The future of technology depends on us – the designers, entrepreneurs.

Why does technology scare us?

Today design is becoming a driver of technology: what’s possible and what is responsible?  At the same time technology scared us – why?

– Maybe it’s because technology brings upon change and with changes comes a lot of uncertainty. But so does design. It brings social, economic, material and life experience change, says Béhar.

– What have I learned about technology in the last 20 years? It mergers big ideas – big ideas in the technological sense which design has made better.

Béhar believes that design accelerates the adoption of new ideas because design has a central role in implementing of these ideas and making them liveable.

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