MCE 2015 – Mobile with Human Touch
On February 4-6 Warsaw became the meeting place for the brightest minds in the mobile industry from all over the world, from the USA to Japan to Australia. 42 speakers shared their knowledge with over 500 attendees on programming, design and the overlap between the two in apps and other mobile technology. Polidea is the main organizer of MCE and provided the time of half of its employees to organize and support the conference. This year’s edition had the tagline “Mobile with Human Touch”. Below you can find an explanation of what that meant to us.
Creating Technology for Humans
We are, as we have been for the past 20 years, in a period of transition. Since the computer came in to our everyday lives, it evolved constantly and rapidly, entering new domains, becoming more powerful and changing its nature. What started out as a tool, has now become an extension of ourselves and is still far from reaching its final state, which we envision to be a true symbiosis between humans and technology. Mobile is now at peak popularity. The premiere of the iPhone 8 years ago introduced people to a new way to use computers and the market has been growing since. At the eve of the Internet of Things, apps are mature, sophisticated and woven into the fabric of our lives. The people creating them have become very aware of the subtle details that make or break an app and it is a glorious age for users – they have a myriad of similar tools to choose from and don’t have to compromise on quality, since the smartphone moved from novelty gadget territory to everyday object. For the teams behind them, however, this means vigilance and intense focus; staying at the top of the game means constantly changing the product and learning from each other.
The topic of this year’s conference was “Mobile with Human Touch”. This means two things: first and foremost, it means the end user. An app in itself is no longer innovative and has lost its initial charm, so it needs to have a smooth and pleasurable user experience to survive in the long run. This does not equal a flashy product – different users have different needs and designers and engineers should be wary of making things to impress other app-makers or making it onto the trendiest tech portals. A great product is one that stems from deep user understanding, making its users’ lives easier, allowing them to get on with things humans do best, like thinking, feeling and creating.
It has been said many times before and it will be said a million times again: great design is invisible. It aids, not occupies. This is equally valid for engineering: products that start with a solution and work to find a function for it are rarely successful, the best recent example being Google Glass; since its launch in 2011, Glass was being marketed as a smartphone replacement, which turned out to be disastrous as the many privacy and security issues surfaced since. Glass can be successfully used in many industries, including healthcare and sport, but this is being discovered by arrays of third party developers over a long period of time. It started out as a technology in and for itself, without a clear purpose or use scenarios. If you are not a multibillion dollar company, you probably cannot afford this kind of process. This is why, increasingly, products need to be built by interdisciplinary teams, with each member bringing a different perspective to the table.
This is the other side of “Mobile with Human Touch”: people working together, building amazing things. In order to create the best products possible, designers and developers need to communicate efficiently and learn to use each other as the great resources they are, spending more time on their common interest (a tailored user experience) and less time on protecting their individual interests. This years conference offered numerous talks on methodology, cooperation and communication between camps. As technology becomes more and more complex, single individuals will be less capable of executing the entire development process by themselves. Rather, it will be necessary to compose small groups of narrowly specialized experts, who will together come up with a complete solutions. This will be especially true when we keep moving from the external device age into the symbiosis age, when mobile technology will become gradually more embedded into our beings. Features like location services, iBeacons, Bluetooth Low Energy, accelerometers or health tracking, if used wisely and ethically, can make products blend in and not obstruct.
MCE is a mobile technology conference created by designers and developers in Warsaw, Poland with deep roots within the local and international community. Tech professionals are unique amongst other interest groups in the way they interact with each other: knowledge is truly shared and most of its members work towards enriching the collective know-how. Tips and tricks get exchanged daily at thousands of meetups and local events, companies actively contribute to open source or launch their own projects and lifelong learning is key. We are committed to bringing together today’s brightest minds in tech and creating a place where knowledge exchange is not bound by language – neither conservative nor binary – discipline or background, but by a common passion: using emerging technologies to build excellent products. We hope that these 72 hours inspired, stirred conversations and created relationships that will shape the future of tech in Poland and in the rest of the world.