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Kicking Down Silos: Co-Designing Software & Hardware to Create Great Products

Andy Carle (Marvell Semiconductor)
Location: Conference Center - Golden Gate Room
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 1 rating)
Slides:   1-PDF 

We were a small group of software ninjas blissfully unaware of the challenges of creating new hardware. Then a major semiconductor company acquired us to accelerate its Internet of Things strategy, and our crash course in building consumer electronics began.

Very quickly, we learned that co-designing great hardware and great software leads to products that are far more interesting than the sum of their parts. The results can be amazing: user experiences custom tailored to exactly where, when, why, and how they will be used. But the transition from building apps to building full products is difficult, and has left some developers behind. We will explore how you can overcome these challenges to carve a clear path from concept to prototype to product.

You want to make connected, intelligent consumer electronics, but are primarily a software developer? This session is for you. We’ll share an approach we’ve developed to co-design software and hardware. This approach has improved our ability to rapidly prototype, user test early, and to create final products with manufacturability and profitability in mind.

You’ll discover how to:

  • Leverage your web and mobile app development experience to build the software that powers your custom hardware
  • Develop software for hardware that doesn’t exist (yet!)
  • Take questions of hardware component selection, pricing and manufacturability into your own hands, and make them good decisions
  • Save a ton of development time by building on existing hardware and software platforms
  • Make your product better by testing prototypes with your target users long before the product exists in final form

By kicking down hardware and software silos, you’ll more quickly prototype great products to bring them to market successfully. This session will give you the knowledge and inspiration to turn your product concept into reality.

Photo of Andy Carle

Andy Carle

Marvell Semiconductor


Andy Carle, PhD
User Experience Architect, Kinoma Software Platform
Marvell Semiconductor, Inc.

Core focus at Marvell:
Andy Carle’s top focus within the Kinoma group at Marvell is new product development and user experience design. He taps his strongly user centered design philosophy to invent new products that solve authentic user needs. As part of this responsibility, he heads prototype engineering, building the “first draft” of new, experimental applications and experiences. Dr. Carle also addresses the empirical aspects of product design by running rigorous user studies for Kinoma. He bridges the gap between computer science and the social sciences.

A vision for the industry’s future:
Dr. Carle proposes that, “The present for Kinoma, and the oncoming trend for our industry, is iterative user-centered design featuring rapid prototyping and frequent testing.” He believes that product development is heading toward shorter cycles of 1) design, 2) prototyping, 3) user testing, 4) redesign, and onward. Pulling in more user feedback more frequently is actually a means of risk mitigation, and it improves products while accelerating the process. The proliferation of 3D printing and related DIY fabrication techniques is making this approach (which emerged over the past decade in software design) practical for all types of product development. Dr. Carle calls on the industry to take advantage of these advances to create exciting new products tailored to specific user tasks. He is passionate about moving past the pervasive but deficient user experience of general-purpose computing platforms, such as smart phones.

Prior to Marvell:
Prior to joining the Kinoma group at Marvell, Andy Carle served as student director for The Berkeley Institute of Design (BiD) at the University of California, Berkeley. At this cross-disciplinary user-centered design lab, Dr. Carle focused his design efforts on problems of educational technology and instructional design. His dissertation describes a design approach and software tool that helps college professors move away from lecture-based curriculum design and toward learner-centric pedagogical techniques such as lab- and studio-based instruction. He also led interaction design for the UC-WISE project, developing a spiritual predecessor to today’s massively open online courses. Additionally, Dr. Carle lead the interaction design efforts on a revamp of the online AP computer science program for the state of California. He continuously applies this academic background to developer education and API usability concerns within Kinoma, as well as supporting the education initiatives of Marvell co-founder and president Weili Dai. Dr. Carle advances the notion that understanding human learning is crucial to good user experience design.

Andy Carle earned his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in Computer Science with an emphasis in Human-Computer Interaction. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a minor in mathematics from the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he graduated summa cum laude.

On a personal note:
Dr. Carle has always been fascinated by how to make technology more accessible and more useful. In high school programming classes, while classmates made games, he was more interested in adding peripheral features to enhance the player’s overall experience. His focus on the accessibility of technology was sharpened when his mother suffered from severely reduced vision and began relying on assistive technologies to entertain herself and stay in touch with the world. This lead to a core philosophy that guides Dr. Carle’s work: Good design for anyone is good design for everyone.