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From Anywhere and Anytime – To Here and Now: Imagining the Future of Technology in Culturally Relevant Local Contexts

City Tech
Location: Crystal Room Level: Novice
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Four phrases come to mind while summarizing the last decade of computing: “anywhere and anytime,” “always-on,” “open source and available to all," “social networks that reach beyond geographical borders.”

These phrases all imply a sense of freedom, of breaking borders, a notion that technology is finally catering to what people have always asked of it – to be ubiquitous and available everywhere to everyone. And more importantly, they suggest the notion of “one world” and people that desire the same things from their technologies.

But what if “being different” is the only thing that drives Harish, a 15-year-old that lives in the slums of India, to make his technology choices, not access or being always on? What if Deepa, a 25- year-old in one of the largest urban centers in India thinks that the Internet is the only safe place in the world to store all her content because it’s the only technology not accessible to her parents who she wishes to hide it from? What if physical social networks, collocated in the same city as you, are the only way to gain access to quality experiences you love with your technology? What if quality of content had nothing to do with HD? How can we imagine the future of our technologies if we challenge some of our current assumptions about them?

This talk explores the importance of localized experiences with technology, using a variety of examples from India, China, Brazil, and many other countries. It will challenge some of our traditional notions of what we imagine people want from their technologies; it will explore what seems like infrastructural limitations to technology adoption in certain geographies, as a basic lack of desire and value of those technologies. Ultimately, it aims to refocus our attention on the “next 1 Billion” living in the cities and urban sprawls of the emerging markets to help us envision alternative routes for new and emerging technologies.

Photo of Ashwini Asokan

Ashwini Asokan

User Experience Group, Digital Home Group, Intel® Corporation

Ashwini Asokan is a design researcher in the User Experience Group of Intel’s Digital Home Group. At the crossroads between research and design, Ashwini’s work spans from conducting ethnographic and design research to translating insights into consumer experiences which the designs of Intel’s digital home platforms are then imbued with. Her work at Intel is inspired by her interests and studies of cultures around the world. At various times in her career at Intel she has led the definition of future PC & CE consumer experiences, and worked with her team to establish key user experience processes and a culture informed and inspired by research from across the globe on people, homes and their daily life. She is constantly engaged in identifying new strategic opportunities for Intel’s digital home platforms. Her passion and current focus is on leading explorations in middle and upper class emerging markets, with an extensive focus on India, China and Brazil. She leads the emerging markets strategy in the Digital Home Group, driving what she considers to be critical to the future of computing.

Ashwini completed her Bachelors in Visual Communication from India and moved on to graduate from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design with a Masters in Interaction Design. Passionate about her own origin as a dancer – designer from India, Ashwini’s work from her younger years at school to her work presently at Intel has been an ongoing exploration of the threads of culture that run through movement, behavior, design and management.

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