View the latest event here:

9–11 September 2015

McGrath Centre, St. Catharine's College, Cambridge

Beyond the screen - UX research methods for novel technology

Swetha Sethumadhavan System Concepts

Session type: Tutorial
Session duration: 90 minutes

About this Tutorial

The world of technology is constantly evolving, and more and more novel technologies are being introduced. Many of these are situated in the real environment (like the Internet of Things eg smart meters, iBeacons, parking sensors), and wearables are being used in day-to-day life (eg Apple Watch, Fitbit).

In recent news, we've read that beacon technology is being used to improve visitor engagement at museums. There's also a new Wayfindr app that helps the vision impaired navigate the Tube using iBeacon technology.

Whilst technology is at the heart of many recent innovations, it's important to not lose sight of our target audiences. This tutorial will help attendees from a variety of backgrounds (students, designers, product managers, and developers) get an overview of the new and upcoming technologies and an understanding of the research methods currently being used.

Towards the end, the session will involve a hands-on activity where you will collaborate in smaller groups to develop a research approach for a particular novel technology. As part of this activity, you'll learn how to determine research goals and identify challenges. You'll also learn how to prioritise research goals and adapt the research approach to meet any budget/timeline constraints or challenges.

The format of the tutorial will be:

  1. Ice-breaker and warm-up activity - acquaint people with the larger group so they feel comfortable, ready to learn
  2. Introduction to novel and upcoming technology products - quick presentation to provide an overview on what's out there
  3. Building blocks of research - presentation to introduce you to a selection of different types of research methods and their benefits
  4. Hands-on activities in groups - to focus on the same or different novel technology to develop an ideal research approach, using the learnings from this tutorial. This is likely to involve:
    • identifying the research questions and challenges
    • developing an ideal research method
    • developing an alternative research method given a budget/timeline restraint

About the Speaker

Swetha is a senior consultant at System Concepts, a user experience agency based in London. She is driven by her curiosity about understanding people's needs and behaviours as well as her passion to try out new technologies. She has built up a strong portfolio of experience, working on a wide range of projects across mobile, web and connected TV platforms and by applying a variety of suitable research methodologies.

Swetha holds a BSc in software engineering and an MSc in user interaction design. Before starting her career in UX, she gained experience as a front-end web developer. Her background in development inspired her to further understand how people use technology, with a focus on meeting their needs.

Swetha also puts her sociable side to good use, helping organise the Research Thing, a London meet up for fellow UX geeks.


Session Types

Need help planning which sessions to attend? We've provided a breakdown of our various session types below.

Case Study/Experience Report

A presentation and discussion of real-life (not theoretical) experiences of the application (or mis-application) of service design techniques. Case studies and experience reports include some discussion of lessons learned and an indication of how novel the work is.


Participants learn a new approach, tool or technology through using it to solve one or more practical exercises. Any software/hardware requirements are disclosed in the session description.


A session focused around some specific tool, technique or issue. Primarily led by the speaker, tutorials usually include some elements of interactivity or individual / group exercise.


An in-depth working session on a specific topic. May include paper presentations.