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Design Expo 2011

Get Connected, Stay Connected

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The Microsoft Research Design Expo is a forum where student teams from top design institutions showcase their prototype interaction-design ideas. This year's theme, "Get Connected, Stay Connected," focuses on the merging of exceptional process with ideas.

On Monday, July 18, 2011, the following schools presented their best design solutions to an audience and selected design critics at the Design Expo portion of Faculty Summit 2011. Read on to learn more about the student projects.


Daniya Ulgen, Vu Chu, Jason Wong, Ben Mabry, Nicholas Smith
University of Washington, Seattle, WA, U.S.

A file management system that tags your data the way your brain does

In recognition of the shortcomings of current file management systems, Origin seeks to improve the way in which data is tagged, making its operation far more organic (or brain-like) than any typical system. By tagging data with contextual markers, it delivers users what they want, when they want it, without degrading opportunities to search for other data.



Alice Mortaro, Valeria Refratti, Amanda Rezza
Iuav University of Venice, Venice, Italy

A device worn as jewelry that enables communication
The Venice brief, "Thicker than Water," asked students to invent, design, and prototype a system that allows real-time, interactive, but non-verbal communication between dispersed family members. The focus was on sharing emotions, intimacy, and background sensation. Voglia is a connected device, designed as a jewelry pendant, allowing close bodily communication between a couple who are physically apart.


Nermin Moufti, Fareena Chanda
The Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto, Canada

Manage humanitarian needs after a natural disaster by using mobile technology
In-NEED is a system for managing the community’s response to natural disasters through the use of mobile technologies. In-NEED addresses the humanitarian need of pre-emptive survivor systems and networks that engage and mobilize people within the community to act and share existing resources to mitigate the impact of natural disasters in the all-important hours directly following an event. By using existing technologies, localized platforms, and developing low-cost community nodes, In-NEED serves as a virtual survival kit.


Jennifer Ho, Doug Thistlewaite, Jihyun Moon, Miguel Bermudez
New York University | Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York City, NY , U.S

Search, create, and share personalized neighborhood maps

Walk.It is an online platform that enables anyone to create and share neighborhood maps that mimic the same personality and charm of a hand-drawn map from a friend. Believing that the form of the map breeds comfort and familiarity, along with the connected power of community and curation, Walk.It is designed to foster exploration and investigation.



Fernanda Diez, Mariana Pintado, Julio Palomino, Ricardo Gómez
Ibero Universidad de México, Mexico City, Mexico

A crime-reporting tool for a community
It is well known that in many urban centers crime of any kind—but particularly those of a violent nature—are seldom reported. Porta Vox is a system that creates a community-reporting tool that helps track and reduce incidents of crime in urban areas. The belief is that by making the means of reporting present, simple, and connected, it can reduce the stigma and fear that is associated with reporting. The intended outcome is to reduce crime and the fear of crime, thus making cities eminently more livable.

Apart - Together

Wei Wang, Hong Chen, Choi Yuna, Ismo Sutela
Tongji University, Shanghai, China

A way for parents and children to bond when living in different cities

The Tongji University project team of interdisciplinary students has focused on the growing trend of parents leaving behind their children in second- and third-tier cities for the large first-tier cities in hopes of finding better economic opportunities. This trend is growing quickly, currently effecting more than 130 million parents and more than 50 million children who are now being raised by their grandparents. This separation between parent and children has a huge emotional impact and introduces some unique challenges of Chinese society today. The Apart - Together team has focused on a solution to improve the emotional bond between children and parents that are currently living in this situation.

About the Design Expo

Each year, Microsoft Research sponsors a semester-long class at leading design schools. Students are asked to form interdisciplinary teams of two to four students to design a user experience prototype. From these groups, a representative team from each school presents its work to leading academic researchers and educators at the Faculty Summit Design Expo.

This annual forum is designed to encourage creative, exploratory thinking and allow students to hone their presentation skills, while gaining valuable feedback from notable design leaders from inside and outside of Microsoft. Students engage with other student design teams worldwide, cross-pollinate ideas and research, and develop lasting ties through social and group activities.

Students from each school are mentored by a volunteer liaison from the Microsoft design community. This year’s liaisons include: Nathan Auer, Vince Ball, Richard Banks, Shelley Evenson, Joe Fletcher, Joshua Fisher, Monica Gonzalez, Mike Kasprow (co-host of Design Expo), Tim Regan, Yong Rhee, Asta Roseway, and Curtis Wong (Host of Design Expo).


Design Expo 2011 Critics

Bill BuxtonBill Buxton

Principal Design Researcher
Microsoft Research

Lisa Strausfield

Lisa Strausfeld

Information Architect
Principal at Information Art

Faris YakobFaris Yakob

Chief Innovation Officer|
MDC Partners