The end of “you’re not using it right. . . ” and other lessons in UX and design from Fluxible 2019

Have you ever had that experience where you’re looking at buying a new car (or any major purchase really) and you start to see that car everywhere you go? 

Over the weekend, Attila Schmidt, our Director of User Experience, and I attended Fluxible 2019 here in Waterloo. Over the two days of the conference, we couldn’t help but to see the impact user experience has on our daily lives. 

Alex and Attila at Fluxible 2019
Alex and Attila at Fluxible 2019.

Fluxible is celebrating eight years of bringing user experience professionals together to look at the present and future of user interaction design. Fluxible isn’t just a conference – it’s a week long series of brown bag lunch meetups and site tours around Waterloo Region that leads up to two days of speakers from around the world at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) building in Waterloo. 

Fluxible attendees inside the beautiful CIGI campus in Uptown Waterloo.
Fluxible attendees inside the beautiful CIGI campus in Uptown Waterloo.

Fluxible is a unique conference. It’s a user experience conference organized and run by user experience practitioners – including conference founders Mark Connolly and Robert Barlow-Busch. While the conference is a paid ticket, they offer free daily brown bag lunch meetups and evening activities during the week to bring more people into the conversations. 

Here’s our top three takeaways from our time at Fluxible 2019 – 

Stop saying “you’re not using it right”. You designed it wrong.

Setting the stage for one of our favourite talks, Fluxible organizers gave the conference’s first content warning before a talk. Based in London, Ontario, emergency physician Tarek Loubani works with the Glia Project who design high-quality, low-cost, open source medical hardware that can be manufactured anywhere.

Loubani talked about the harrowing work he and others do as volunteer emergency physicians in Gaza. Tools we take for granted, such as stethoscopes and tourniquets, are the difference between life and death in areas like Gaza. The Glia Project has produced a $3 version of the world’s best selling $300 stethoscope that can be 3D printed that works just as well (and in some cases better) than the $300 model.

Loubani’s talk focused on design problems with the tourniquet. One of the problems was the packaging. Based on price, a bag was chosen that opened at the bottom instead of at the top by the cardboard product tag. This confused physicians in the field whose cognitive memory of consumer packaging has you always try to open at the top. This added a five-second delay to the time it took to open the package – critical time when trying to treat a patient. We see unintended problems like this often when startups design MVPs using the Lean Startup method.

There was also feedback from the field that tourniquets were breaking – but the response was that they were not being used right. Loubani experience three out of four tourniquets breaking during his last time working in Gaza and was able to get the tourniquets re-designed. The original design had them working at four turns and breaking at five – but in the field under gunfire, physicians and volunteer EMTs were not counting. The re-engineered tourniquets can now support five times the force that is needed to work correctly.

Everything that is going to be invented will need design.

Fifteen years ago, no one specialized in designing interfaces for a five inch piece of glass that your touched with your finger. Ten years ago, interaction designers hadn’t begun to get into the intricacies of designing voice interactions for a cylinder that sits next to your couch. 

Zendesk’s Principal Designer Bill DeRouchey opened his talk with a look at how much technology can change during our careers. For those at their mid-career (~45 year-olds), technologies like the world wide web, mobile phones, and cloud computing hadn’t been invented when they began their careers. Over the last 20 years, these technologies have become commonplace – and user experience design has played a major role in how we use them every day. 

He then went through a laundry list of technologies emerging today; synthetic reality, deep fakes, autonomous vehicles, drones, 3D printing, nanotechnology, and material science to name a few. These are all technologies that will need to be designed – and the user experience professionals at their early-career (~25 year-olds) will be the ones who shape these interactions. 

Bill DeRouchey gave examples of what topics you could use for future tech topic book club.
Bill DeRouchey gave examples of what topics you could use for future tech topic book club.

DeRouchey’s advice: learn one new topic every month. His suggestion is to omit July and December for holidays and focus on ten topics a year. We’re going to start a “tech topic book club” and meet once a month to discuss our own deep dives into a new topic.

There’s no “right question”.

If you’ve ever done a user research session, you’ve most likely spent more time than you’d like to admit coming up with the perfect questions. Meena Kothandaraman, a senior strategist at Boston-based twig+fish, challenged attendees to stop doing that – and instead focus on how we can get people to open up and share all the interesting nuggets, experiences, and insights that are what we really need.

Kothandaraman shared a few great ways that we can provide participants with platforms to help them articulate their thoughts – and create a fun and engaging space for them to do it.

“It’s your job as a researcher to get people comfortable to start talking,” said Kothandaraman, “the right question is ‘share your answer’”.

Meena Kothandaraman presents on stage at Fluxible.
Meena Kothandaraman presents on stage at Fluxible.

One way is by giving the user an empathy map and letting them take the time to complete it. Instead of starting with what you are interested in, let them start from whatever point they feel is important to them. An empathy map can also become a great shared artifact for both you and the user to continue to write on during the interview.

Later in the day, Carolyn MacGregor took the stage to share her favourite research tool – “the fly on the wall”. MacGregor is the Associate Chair Undergraduate Studies, Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo and identifies herself as an introvert. For her, “the fly on the wall” is her way of observing users to get their full, honest experience. Like Kothandaraman, MacGregor wants to give the user the freedom to express their feedback without judgement. 

Being a fly on the wall with Carolyn MacGregor
Being a fly on the wall with Carolyn MacGregor

Fluxible is not a conference where you come out with new tools to apply in daily practice. Instead, the speakers at Fluxible ask you to look at the emerging patterns in user experience design – and what those changes mean to the ethos of user experience.

We’d love to hear what your takeaways from Fluxible were – let us know in the comments.

Bringing remote teams closer together with cheeseburgers

What do cheeseburgers and outsourced development have in common? 

Today happens to be both National Cheeseburger Day and a scheduled weekly review meetings with one of our clients. Our client develops financial and human services software and are based in New York City. We’ve been supporting their outsourced development needs with a virtually embedded team out of our office in Kitchener-Waterloo. 

Our developers Ryan and Brad

We provide virtually embedded teams for clients who need additional development support for their internal projects. Virtually embedded teams are set up from the start to provide the security and privacy that our clients would expect from onsite, full-time employees. 

Once an engagement begins, we provide dedicated developers for the length of the project. In most engagements, our developers use secure connection to the client’s specification to access their networks. For a few high security projects, our clients provide development hardware for our developers to use. 

We suggested a burger lunch to our client to celebrate a few development milestones — and National Cheeseburger Day too. They picked up lunch at one of their favourites and our developers Ryan and Brad picked up burgers from Union Burger, our go-to spot in Downtown Kitchener.

VPCN - Virtual Private Cheeseburger Network

Like any remote employee or team, it’s always a great idea to find ways to connect. There are great tools available to make working remote as good as being in the office. For video conferencing, we use Zoom.us, Webex, Google Meet and Skype —  just to name a few. Being remote doesn’t mean you can’t drop by someone’s desk to ask a quick question either. Tools like Google Hangouts, Slack and Flowdoc make real-time conversation a snap.

While we think video conference calls are great, video conference calls with a tasty burger are even better.

Happy #NationalCheeseburgerDay!

Fresh out of the oven

We’re methodical when we work for our clients – it’s in the BitBakery DNA. We employ this mindset to all phases of a project from running through design sessions to reviewing mockup and wireframe to the development and testing process. 

Over the summer, we were beyond lucky to have a student from the University of Waterloo, Buu Chau, join us for her co-op. Buu is a talented designer and developer and we had the perfect project for her – redesign our website. 

BitBakery has grown over the last year to the point where not only have we outgrown our current office in Downtown Kitchener, we’ve also outgrown our website. 

This project was also an opportunity to use the same processes and methodologies we use for our clients on something very important to us.

Our new site is live now and we’ll have more posts soon from Buu on her experience building it. We’re excited to hear what you think.

Here we grow again!

We’re excited to announce a new addition to BitBakery: Nur Ipek has joined us as our Director of Customer Relations and Operations.

Nur is no stranger to the vibrant Waterloo Region innovation ecosystem. She began her tech journey at the Velocity incubator where she thought strategically about the community, planning events and managing programs. She later worked for Communitech, where she paired entrepreneurs with the resources and mentorship they needed to scale their business. Most recently she supported the City of Guelph with their Smart Cities application, where she provided insight on how the municipality can adopt technology solutions to improve resident well-being.  

Now at BitBakery, she’s excited to join a team of top-notch software engineers, product managers and designers. In this role, Nur will help manage our projects, culture and focus on establishing processes to optimize our customers’ success.

When she’s not hard at work, you can find Nur planning her next vacation.

Follow her journey on Twitter @ntipek or connect with her on LinkedIn.

By BitBakery

Interview with Wes Worsfold, BitBakery Co-founder and CEO

Interview with Wes Worsfold, BitBakery Co-founder and CEO

Wes is co-founder and CEO of BitBakery, a software company which develops apps, websites and digital solutions. He leads a team of talented software engineers, product managers & designers. When he’s not working at BitBakery, he’s teaching Innovation and Entrepreneurship, volunteering in the community and working to improve his arial photography skills.

 

What sparked your love of entrepreneurship?

My interest in entrepreneurship started at a young age. My parents each ran their own business and they involved me in all aspects of their businesses.

When I turned six, my father let me use two acres of land to grow and sell crops. I decided to grow cucumbers and sell them for pickling and relishes. I decided on cucumbers because they grow quickly and I knew two customers who would take everything I could produce – Bicks and Willie’s.

The first year I did everything myself and quickly learned that was limited – I couldn’t scale. So, in my second year, I hired friends to help me grow the business, which increased my revenue and profit. My efforts paid off, I purchased my first motorcycle at the end of that summer.

These early experiences taught me the importance of hardwork, how to get along with others, the value of money, and how to scale.

 

How did you get involved in software businesses?

I discovered my interest in software development during my first year at University of Waterloo. I really enjoyed creating code, submitting it to be compiled and getting immediate results.

My first commercial application of software was an e-learning management system (LMS) and later in mobile and web applications.

 

What key lessons have you learned in your career about developing a business?

The key lesson I’ve learned is the power of persistence. Persistence allows entrepreneurs to defy the odds even when they seem insurmountable and to persist through extraordinarily difficult obstacles.

 

As a leader, what principles do you embrace when guiding teams?

The most important thing about leading a team is to recognize that each team member is an individual with their own strengths, weaknesses and interests. Your role as a leader is to help each team member achieve their potential.

I believe in small, high-performance teams. Productivity and results only marginally increase when teams are larger than three or four people. Small teams are lean and rely less on formalized processes to accomplish results.

 

What principles does a company need to operate by to last decades?

This is a big question. The simple answer is monitor and adapt to trends, the marketplace and customer interests.

A wise person once told me to “capture a corner on the obvious, and the world will beat a path to your door.” I think this is good advice on how a company can remain current and relevant.

 

What advice can you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Aspiring entrepreneurs should start by understanding themselves well – their strengths and weaknesses. They should look for co-founders and teammates to complement their skills and traits.

Next, it’s important to understand the marketplace and their customers – build something that people really want.

Lastly, once you have something to test with customers, don’t hesitate to get to market and be prepared to iterate quickly based on their feedback.

 

How do you harmonize your work and personal life?

Everyone has the same amount of time – 168 hours per week. Being productive in harmonizing work and personal life starts with understanding priorities.

Scheduling time for personal activities such as learning, personal development, exercise, nutrition, sleep and work priorities, is the key to striking the right balance. A great resource to understand this concept is Mike Kirkup’s TedX Talk: There’s only 24 hours, so what are you waiting for?

 

What is it you strive to achieve through your work?

On a personal level, a motto I live by is ‘find a job you love and you never have to go to work’.

I’ve been fortunate enough to always love my work and it’s never felt like a job. For me, work is pleasure.

I strive to create opportunities for others and to find opportunities to improve our community.

 

What resources would you recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Read books and blogs or listen to podcasts – a minimum of 30 minutes daily. Lifelong learning is an important attribute for entrepreneurs. Learning from others is a great way to accelerate learning.

Professional and personal friends – surround yourself with professional and personal friends who are supportive, can call you on your shit, and tell you frankly how to improve.

Mentors and Coaches – they can help you navigate through difficult times. These mentors may include family, friends, or ideally, someone who has more experience and offers advice from their experiences.

 


Jack Mitchell
Jack is a Laurier Business student and is passionate about all things tech


 


Wes Worsfold
Wes Worsfold is CEO and co-founder of BitBakery Software located in Waterloo Region


App Economy Forecast and Trends

“We’re spending 2 hours/day in apps, or one month each year.”

In a recent report, App Annie forecasted the 2018 app economy. The publication celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Android and Apple app markets. The predictions cover consumer spend, AR, P2P, voice agents and plenty more.

Here’s an overview of Matt Miller’s work:

Update on 2017

      1. As of November 1st, 2 and 3.5 million apps were available
          on iOS & Google Play, respectively.

      2. In October, over 50,000 and 150,000 apps were added
          to iOS & Google Play stores.

      3. China is leading consumer iOS App Store spend.

      4. We’re spending 2 hours per day in apps, or one month
           each year.

Consumer app store spend will pass $100 billion in 2018?

Consumer spend will increase “30% year over year to exceed $110 billion in 2018.” Games will account for most spending. That said, the growth rate of non-game apps will exceed games, forming a larger spending share. This is largely due to subscriptions and economic maturation.

Watch China, India and Brazil

For app stores, the growth rate of Chinese consumer spend will outpace all other countries. India and Brazil will lead time-spent on Android phones. “Increases in smartphone penetration in these markets will fuel future growth of total time spent, which will lead to higher mobile commerce spend.”

App curation, more revenue and independent publisher attention

More apps can mean less discovery. Apple and Google will tackle this issue via more app curation/editorial content. These changes will impact leisure and entertainment apps, while “needs-based” apps (ie. food, banking) are “far more likely to be downloaded based on word of mouth recommendations or focused searches.” This platform will help independent publishers while boosting in-app purchase (IAP) revenue.

More AR!

Facebook, Apple and Alibaba, will drive future AR efforts. They’ll enhance the developer experience and further spur consumer interest (since September 2017, there’s been a surge in AR app downloads). Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Google Translate, MLB.com At Bat and other apps which layers into the real world are likely to boom and become the entry channel for most new AR apps.

app annie graph

More fragmentation of video-streaming services

Video-streaming services took off in 2017. Consumer viewing increased 85% and 70% for iOS and Google Play, respectively. Their popularity “appears to be driving the installation of multiple apps.” The result will be industry fragmentation, despite higher revenue and engagement. Eventually, consolidation will prevail, forcing some companies to succumb to profit pressures. Consumers will also rationalize about their uses of time and money.

app annie graph of streaming useage

Mobile to dominate retail

“In the US and UK, consumers spent nearly an hour on average in shopping apps each month.” More often, stores will be used as pick-up locations and cashiers will become less common. Mobile will become a core part of the shopping experience.

Restaurant aggregators and DaaS growth

Restaurant aggregators (ex. Grubhub) will continue to develop into underpenetrated markets and sway intermediary users. Delivery as a service (DaaS) providers (ex. UberEATS) will gain market share in premium markets. Rapid-service food providers (ex. QSR) will further partner with DaaS providers. Like video-streaming, this industry will see fragmentation and consolidation.

More in-home voice assistant sales

In 2014, Amazon’s Echo opened the in-home voice assistant market. Since then, Prime Day and holiday sales have skyrocketed. This year, sales will speed up during these dates (and for price promotions). Developer interest will increase, though “use cases (ex. music listening, web searching) will remain largely consistent in 2018.”

App Annie graph of downloads

Simplified Banking

PSD 2 will let more parties “provide comprehensive, app-centric, financial-related services, while providing users with security from government oversight and legitimacy.” Wells Fargo, for example, is launching Greenhouse. This app will take a mobile-first approach to spending analytics. This directive will simplify the banking value chain globally.

Diversification of P2P Parties and Services

Venmo, and similar person-to-person payment apps, have revolutionized the exchange of money. Expect more services from these apps to decrease bank competition and improve engagement. “We expect P2P payment apps to see increased transaction volume due to growth of instant bank transfers and third-party payments, with the latter bolstered by increasing adoption of these services as payment options by retailers and sellers.” As well, messaging and social networking apps, like WeChat, are likely to enter the space.

The Takeaway:

Consumers, developers and businesses alike have plenty to expect this year. Consider these forecasts to get the most from the app economy to aid your 2018 strategy.

Thanks for reading! Check us out on Twitter, LinkedIn or our website.

By Jack Mitchell


Jack Mitchell
Jack is a Laurier Business student and is passionate about all things tech


Waterloo Garbage & Yard Waste App

“I was always surprised by how many people had their yard waste at the curb out on the wrong days,” Wes Worsfold

Inspired by Google’s 20% policy, BitBakery Labs is where we solve our own problems and experiment with new technologies.

We built the Waterloo Garbage & Yard Waste app because too much yard waste was out on the wrong days. We wanted to help Waterloo Region – and ourselves – build a cleaner community with better yard waste (and now garbage) management. The app uses four principles: specificity, simplicity, reliability, and anonymity.

Here’s how it works:

      1. Download and install the app. Launch it

      2. Select your city/township and the pickup date

      3. Get notified the weekend and the night before pickup

The Garbage & Yard Waste App is reliable, specific to our community and doesn’t need any account. 1500 Waterloo Region households use the app making local living easier.

Download our app for free on iOS and Google Play, and spread the word!

Thanks for reading! Check us out on Twitter, LinkedIn or our website.

By Jack Mitchell


Jack Mitchell
Jack is a Laurier Business student and is passionate about all things tech


Interview with Attila Schmidt, BitBakery’s Director of UX/UI

“Your skeleton is your skeleton, no amount of makeup is going to change that.”

 

We interviewed our Director of User Experience and Interface (UX/UI), Attila Schmidt, about his work designing for web and mobile applications.

When he’s not designing, Attila spends time with his wife and two daughters. He makes a mean loaf of sourdough bread and DJs at a club on the weekend. He’s also a staunch defender of the Oxford Comma.

 

What are UX and UI?

“User Experience (UX) is about how you interact and flow through an application. It’s mostly independent from the aesthetics of the app. Where the goal is to help users navigate effortlessly. To do that, you need to understand a users’ intuition. UX could be how a user completes a login form or uses a chair.

“User Interface (UI) is the way something looks. The goal is to engage users with your design. Well-made UI has the ability to direct a users eyes to where you want them to go.

“To sum it up, UX is your skeleton, UI is how you look. Your skeleton is your skeleton, no amount of makeup is going to change that.

How do UX and UI overlap?

“They have to be discussed together. Both must be of a certain caliber to have a good experience. If you have a well-made UX with a UI that has tiny buttons for example, the experience will be frustrating. The UX almost doesn’t matter, because the person can barely interact with it. Conversely, if the interface is gorgeous but the UX is bad, the user will get stuck.

How do you first approach new UX and UI projects?

“With any new project, I first try to understand the requirements both for the client and their users. Then, from those requirements, provide a quality user experience. I try to wear our user’s shoes so they can traverse our designs effortlessly.

What is your core philosophy for UX and UI?

“Don’t reinvent the wheel and don’t do things just for the sake of being clever. What is well-established works. For every platform, there are patterns users expect. It makes more sense to use those patterns than something new. New ways of doing things keep people from using their instincts. For example, if you select date fields on Android and iOS, different interfaces will come up which users expect. To give them anything different is to slow them down. Give people what they already know when appropriate.

What common challenges do you run into when designing?

“There are always tensions between business needs and optimal UX. For example, sometimes business demands require users to answer more questions during the sign-up process than what’s standard because more data is needed. Finding a balance between the two is key.

“Another challenge is tackling the unexpected when deep into a project’s implementation phase. I often ask myself, how can I adjust this without upsetting the plan too much? Staying flexible is important.

What’s your take on UX and UI trends?

“They’re hard to predict. There will always be something that somebody comes up with that others start adopting. That’s when it becomes a trend. For UX, fly-out menus were once new. Now they’re common. In UI, everybody started adopting flat design, now we rarely think about it. When I have a project to complete, I’ll look at alternatives patterns or aesthetics, but I won’t use a trendy new pattern unless it solves a problem which isn’t solved better another way.

How do you approach design for web and mobile?

“For mobile design, you know how people will view it; through a small screen and probably slightly distracted. When native, I’ll often create comps, describe them and offer instructions for recreating them. This usually requires pixel peeping once implemented.

“On the web, there are many browsers and platforms so it’s harder to ensure a common experience for all. I create the front end patterns. That means developers can hook into them without recreating my designs.

Can you discuss designing for accessibility?

“BitBakery complies with accessibility standards, as outlined by the internationally-adopted WCAG 2.1. That means we describe images, use big and appealing fonts, provide lots of contrast, icons and other features for the visually impaired. Alerts, hints and errors are read aloud for the hearing impaired, as are forms with cursors hovering over them.

“When designing for iOS, we follow Apple’s Human Interface and Accessibility Programming Guidelines. For Android, we follow Android Design Guidelines. These are rules developers must follow when building for iOS and Android. We also take material design principles into consideration to improve the user’s experience.

What do awesome UX and UI look like?

“UX and UI work best when the design is seamless and mostly unnoticed. The best experiences happen when users don’t even know they’re being guided. Context matters too. You have to think about where and how a user is using your app.

Bring! is awesome. It’s interface is simple and tile-based. It considers the context of being in a grocery store. Tiles have two different colours for what you do and don’t need. They’re organized by what you’re likely to see as you walk through the store, starting with produce. It can also link accounts. So, when my wife and I split up shopping our unified list is immediately updated.

UI, UX, User Experience and Interface, Bring! app, mobile, phone
UI layout of Bring!

“Other grocery apps I’ve used had long, unordered lists which require two hands. This has big buttons and needs only a thumb. When you pocket your phone, it won’t lock (because it’s annoying to unlock ten times). That UX design transcends just the screen. It’s an example of putting a thoughtful spin on something common.”

The Takeaway

UX and UI are probably what you love about your favourite apps. They’re responsible for your experience when using them. The best apps have great UX and UI, and support your intuition.

 

Thanks for reading! Check us out on Twitter, LinkedIn or our website.

 

By Jack Mitchell and Wes Worsfold

By Jack Mitchell


Jack Mitchell
Jack is a Laurier Business student and is passionate about all things tech


 

Our 5 True North Highlights

“If not us, then who? If not here, then where? If not now, then when?”

 

True North was something special. Communitech CEO Iain Klugman was right, it wasn’t a conference, it was a movement. We’re stoked to be involved, to support the Tech for Good declaration and to attend next year.

Here are our five favourite highlights from last week’s event.

 

Tech for Good Declaration

Former Governor General David Johnston unveiled a guiding Tech for Good philosophy last Thursday. The principles are open for all to amend.

1. Build trust and respect your data.

2. Be transparent and give choice.

3. Re-skill the future of work.

4. Leave no one behind.

5. Think inclusively at every stage.

6. Actively participate in collaborative governance.

7. Continuing the discussion: Questions that still need answers.

What this means to us:

We pledge to continue to use data responsibly and to clearly tell our clients why and how their data is being used. We will meet the changing tech landscape and be inclusive. We will support this declaration to further dialogue about ethical uses of technology.

 

Siya Xuza’s Chant

“If not us, then who? If not here, then where? If not now, then when?”

Galactic Energy Ventures CEO Siya Xuza led audience members through this chant. Xuza asserted that everyone is capable of greatness and that “in doing what you love, the world will love what you do.” His story from a failure-stricken boy trying to fly to an engineering tycoon showed that grit and passion are essential for success. He hopes to inspire Africa with this mentality.

 

‘Badass’ Bozoma Saint John

Uber’s CBO showed that she honours her nickname with a discussion on human connection and motivation. She said moving to Uber was a challenge to rebuild a “lower than the bottom” brand amidst several scandals. Bozoma also explained that “talented women and people of colour” deserve more recognition for their workplace competence, “not just because it’s the right thing to do.” As well, and inspiringly, she discussed a time she brought her Uber driver to meet his favourite singer over dinner.

 

From Doolittle to Didlots

Robyn Doolittle, an investigative Globe and Mail journalist, passionately spoke about her article, “Unfounded.” The story featured dozens of dismissed sexual assault cases in Canada, which prompted police forces nationwide to reform their investigative practices. She’s since helped several victims receive justice. Doolittle credits data and the internet’s power to democratize for this effect.

 

Stranger Than Fiction Panel

“Black Mirror” creator Charlie Brooker, Oscar-winning filmmaker Spike Jonze and MIT Media Lab roboticist Kate Darling closed the event with a fun discussion on the ethics and inspirations behind technology. Each contributed fascinating insights. Darling noted that we sympathize with robots like we sympathize with other people, and suggested we consider the ethics of “torturing” machines; Jonze claimed that his movie “Her” wasn’t about the state of technology, rather, it was a product of it; Brooker responded that to “unsettle people,” it’s preferable to have “one foot based in reality.”

 

The Takeaway:

True North was inspiring. It was an expertly-crafted celebration of what rocks about Waterloo region. Continue to support the True North movement by following Communitech and the Tech for Good declaration.

 

Thanks for reading! Check us out on Twitter, LinkedIn or our website.

 

By Jack Mitchell and Wes Worsfold

 


Jack Mitchell
Jack is a Laurier Business student and is passionate about all things tech


Wes Worsfold is CEO and co-founder of BitBakery Software located in Waterloo Region.


4 Ways Tech Continues to Flourish in Waterloo Region

We’re excited about the True North conference happening next week.

Next week, Waterloo Region will host one of the largest tech conferences in Canada – True North. We’re excited about joining the conversation about how to use Tech for Good. And, there is lots of good happening in Waterloo Region when it comes to tech.

1. We’re making AI our friend – 3 Waterloo companies using AI for Good

Formed in 2017, Kiite helps sales professionals to be more productive using AI. Siblings Joseph Fung and Donna Litt founded Kiite and have raised over $3 million and currently employs 15 individuals.

Greta Cutulenco co-founded Acerta to use big data and machine learning to help car manufacturers. Acerta uses deep learning to analyze the safety of each vehicle before release. Feedback is continuously processed to improve the software. In doing so, Acerta has helped clients “achieve a new standard of quality and improved KPIs.”

Emagin is another key player. Their focus is using AI to manage water and wastewater facilities. They specialize in emergency preparedness and anomaly detection. Their methods – which harness the power of the cloud, big data, and virtual assistants – have shown to reduce operational costs. Emagin was also nominated as a top ten global digital water company.

2. Thriving startup ecosystem

Startups are supported by a strong network of organizations such as Communitech, the University of Waterloo’s Velocity programs, the Accelerator Centre, Wilfrid Laurier’s LaunchPad and Conestoga College’s Centre for Entrepreneurship.

These organizations offer business advice, hands-on help for recruiting and innovating, workspaces, as well as investment and networking opportunities.

3. Fostering productive AI

The recently announced Waterloo AI institute embodies this spirit. The center intends to transform “how we work, how we travel, how we treat disease, how we communicate, and how we learn.” The research will accentuate the work of AI enthusiasts such as Dr. Alex Wong and Dr. Fakhri Karray. A core focus will be uniting disciplines, teachers, and students in the investigation of AI.

Waterloo has an important role to play as the heart of Canadian AI innovation. Moving forward, more research into machine learning will help tech advance safely and productively. This institution is well-positioned to allow Waterloo to further support its vibrant community. Learn more about it here.

4. Join the discussion at the True North conference

Waterloo Region is home to the True North conference, running May 29-31. Join other leaders to discuss the state of the tech sector and how it is impacting society and our daily lives.

The conference features Craig Silverman (the guy who coined “fake news”), Ed Catmull (co-founder of Pixar), Bozoma Saint John (CBO of Uber), Siyabulela Xuza (founder of Galactic Energy Ventures) and Spike Jonze (director).

Evenings feature #TNDTK festival events such as tours of startups and other points of interest, a concert by the Beaches and an incredible night of technology, sound, and electronics at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener.

Betakit has a great post covering all the True North events. Help make True North awesome and join the conversation. Buy tickets here.

 

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By Jack Mitchell and Wes Worsfold


Jack Mitchell
Jack is a Laurier Business student and is passionate about all things tech


Wes Worsfold is CEO and co-founder of BitBakery Software located in Waterloo Region.