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April 16, 2021

E202 - First Human Use of HIgh-Bandwidth Wireless BCI

Recorded on April 15th, 2021, hosted by Nick Room…


Recorded on April 15th, 2021, hosted by Nick Roome and Blake Arnsdorff.

 

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  • Researchers demonstrate first human use of high-bandwidth wireless brain-computer interface
  • https://bit.ly/3mpz9x3

 

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Transcript

| Disclaimer: Transcript provided by OtterAI and YouTube automatic Closed Caption. Any inaccuracies or errors are not attributed to the Hosts or contributors to Human Factors Cast. |

Welcome to human factors cast, your weekly podcast for human factors, psychology and design.
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of human factors cast. This is Episode 202. We're recording this live on April 15 2021. I'm your host, Nick Roome. I'm joined by my good friend of yours, Mr. Blake Arnsdorff.
Oh, it's good to be here, Nick, how's everything going, man, everything's going just great.
Hey, I got some programming notes and some community updates here. Before we get into the actual show tonight, I want to go over it. At least and I've been doing some healthcare symposium coverage this week. If you're listening on the podcast feed, you will have noticed there's an extra episode in your
pod catcher this week, we did a preview of what we were hoping to attend this week. We'll be back later this week to do a kind of recap of the event. Tomorrow, which is Friday for anyone who's listening now and Friday for anyone who's listening later, we've done it. So it might already be in your feed. I don't know. But you know, it already may be out there. Speaking of conferences, there's one more conference coming up here that I do want to make sure everyone's aware of. There's the Chartered Institute of
ergonomics and human factors, their conferences next week, it's going to be from April.
What is it 6/19 through the 21st. It's three days.
If anyone who's listening to the show is going to either please send us a voicemail about your experience, we'd love to hear from you. You can go to our website, human factors, cast dot media, click on the microphone at the bottom right of the page. And we'll play it on the show. So it'll be it'll be fun. If anyone's listening. And it has anyone who's gone to either of these events, please, you know, leave us a voicemail. We'd love to hear from you. Blake, you've been working on some you've been cooking some up?
Yeah, so in the background of recording the podcast, we've been cooking up taking out the Reddit questions and basically putting them up as q&a sections of each Reddit question we answer from the week on our YouTube channel. So again, this is not really to replace being able to listen to the podcast or see us live, it's just more of a kind of streamlined way to be able to get some of the advice that we're putting out there in a really easy and digestible format through YouTube. And this was a nice kind of suggestion from one of our listeners prior so it's it's a cool way for us to kind of both, you know, enjoy doing the podcast have the longer format, but also provide, you know, quick pieces of content that people can go through. Yeah, a hot listener request we got we got multiple requests for that. So it'll be it'll be good to kind of make good on that progress. Promise. I don't know. Anyway, all right. We know why you're here. Let's get into it. Human Factors news.
Yes, this is the part of the show all about human factors. News. This is where we talk about everything related to the field of you guessed it human factors. This could be anything. robotics, Ai, transportation, you name it. As long as it relates to the field of human factors. It is fair game for Blake and I to sit here and Bs about Blake, what do we have up this week?
This week, we're like diving deep into BCI as a brain computer interfaces, something we haven't talked about in a while I feel like but so in an important step forward to fully implanting into a cortical brain computer interface systems. Brain gate researchers have demonstrated the first human use of a wireless transmitter capable of delivering high bandwidth neural signals. So bcis are an emergency emerging assistive technology enabling people with paralysis to type on computer screens or manipulate robotic prosthesis just by thinking about them and moving their own bodies. And four years investigational bs bcis have used been used in clinical trials to require cables and lots of management of cables to be able to reach in sense what your brain is thinking and transmit that to a computer to help you decode it, even you into an external hard drive. But now for the first time brain gates clinical trial participants with tetraplegia have demonstrated the use of entocort Cole wireless BCI with external wireless transmitter. So a system is capable of transmitting brain signals at single neuronal resolution, and with full broadband fidelity without physically tethering the user to a decoding system. And for the study published the two clinical trial participants with paralysis use the brain gate system with a wireless transmitter to point and clicked in type on a standard tablet computer. So he showed that the wireless transmission system use the signals with virtually the same fidelity as Wired systems, which is huge, and participants achieved a similar point click accuracy when challenged.
They're typing speeds. So Nick, this feels really ironic to me because I was just interacting with somebody else who was asking about the podcast and something that we had done on episode 200. It sparked their interest in motor impediments and how bcis were connected. And now we have a study that's like, kind of taking things away from the research lab, in terms of only really focusing on like tethered units, and now improving the technology in a research setting. So this is pretty awesome to see this far into the future.
Yeah, so there's a lot to unpack here, I honestly don't know where to start here. So let's just, let's just start at the top. This is a wireless brain computer interface that a human has tried for the first time, that is the title of this episode, you can see it, that's what's going on here. And I am struggling to find
where to start with the Human Factors application. As soon as I saw this episode, I immediately are sorry, is this this new story, I immediately knew it was content rich, for us to sit here and talk about. So let's I guess I can just start talking about some of
user needs, as it relates to brain computer interfaces, right. So if you think about sort of these user centered design considerations for brain computer interfaces you need to have
there's there are a lot of things to think about, right starting with the person's well being,
as they are using a brain computer interface, right? They have, they need to be able to x, it needs to be accessible, they need to be able to
not trip over themselves with all these wires that a traditional BCI has,
you know, they need to think about the space organization ergonomic assessment of all this stuff. And there's also things that you have to consider, like safety, there's,
you know, that being able to use this in a daily life, there's
reliability maintainability functionality of this thing.
Basically, there's a lot going on with this. And I'm really struggling at where to start with breaking this all down. I'm just kind of rambling right now. Well, I don't know, Blake, where do you want to start?
So I think one of the coolest places and one that I was concerned for concerned about from like the the end user perspective, because like you talked about a big one about this is ergonomic concern. So somebody's having to be basically tethered almost in place. In some cases that we see, as we've seen in the past,
with the amount of like cords and different things you would have to be hooked up to. But the I was worried with the title, that it's, it's promoting a high bandwidth, right? So what does that really mean? Does that mean you can you can do stuff that in a similar fidelity, as you were able to when things were hard wired in, and that was really my major concern? Because it looks like yes, they've eliminated some of the the hard wiring aspects of it, that would be, you know, probably a little bit
cumbersome for you to move around, if you will, if you're, if you're dealing with a prosthesis on top of this or anything like that. So really, they've they have dealt with kind of the the functional, controlling your space aspect of it. But what does that really mean when it came to actually performing these functions. So being able to, in this case, type on something and, you know, accurately point and click and use stuff. And so from the end user side, I was worried about what this fidelity was gonna be like, was this kind of like, kind of like when you deal with UAS, when we deal with that transition of information between the flying unit and the pilot, you have to worry about that latency between where you're bouncing your your signals off from? So I imagined even though we're dealing with a much closer space, what does that look like for an end user, in this case in for us, and for this study, it seems like they were able to actually keep that fidelity, pretty high, like probably better than even my, my internet bandwidth kind of stays up throughout the podcast, which really blew my mind because that means there's a lot of engineering that's obviously gone in the background of this. But obviously, it's going to provide a much better experience for somebody who's now although they have some kind of unit that is working with their brain and on top of their head, they probably don't have that kind of like head tilt is caused by a lot of cabling behind you or anything like that. So I just think it's awesome that it's able to provide the same level of kind of efficiency in terms of you being able to do similar things that you were able to when you were hardwired in, if you will, and now you're kind of giving a little bit more freedom, and potentially the application being that more people can have this stuff. Because if you're not, you know, hardwire to a specific unit in your house, or you're not hard wired up to something that has to be maintained. If you have a wireless unit, it can just be
use it anytime. So it's, it's really cool to see how far this has come. Now in terms of where this goes from here, because I mean, again, we're dealing with a pretty localized study. And this is only going to the technology side of it'll only grow a little bit more. But I think one thing that I always wonder about is what's the what's the application from here, because this is obviously focused very, very locally on clinical trials. But I feel like this has wide reaching implications right outside of just even the clinical setting, like getting bcis to be a more traditional form of communication, or whatever it may be. Yeah, if we think about application, right, there's, there's a lot of different things that we can do with bcis, it can almost be an augmented way to interact with the environment, right? I think that's what neuro link is trying to do is they're trying to tap into the brain to read it passively. And kind of understand intent, right? It's not, it's not the read write function, it's the read function. And so if you could interact with your computer, by clicking with your mind, rather than with your mouse, you would have less issues because then you can just send it directly to where it needs to go, and not have to track with your hand and your mouse.
And if the if the system understands those inputs, right, then there's going to be less user error in the long term. Now, that's a very simplistic application of this type of thing. And it's something that could be accomplished in the near term, I can see a lot more application when you start looking further out in the future, when we have things like bcis and assisted living, where maybe somebody's sitting in their hospital bed, and they need to communicate something, maybe they can't verbalize or maybe they fall in and they can't get up. And they need to notify assisted living staff that, hey, I need help, or they need to communicate some complex thing to a caregiver, I can see that as one application, I can also see another application where this could augment,
you know,
pilots or something to that degree where
there's like this passive monitoring going on with attention. And if a pilot lapses in attention, maybe something
you know, gang gets their attention in the cockpit to where they, they are able to see it and and kind of maintain vigilance as they're doing some of these tasks, you know,
again, that's very long term in the way far future. But I can see those are some of the application areas. What do you think, Blake, what applications can you see for this?
Ai? So I feel like based on what we talked about last week, that we talked a little bit about augmented reality, and how do you make it real? And how do you start to immerse people inside of it? Well, even if we think about like, the VR aspect of things, like what if you were able to like provide through a BCI, a much more immersive experience by you know, basically, being able to pass neuronal signals to different parts of your body to help you feel like something was more real. Now, that's a far reaching kind of application here. But I feel like that's, that's like the whatever. What however best is to put it like the Elan musk fear of what a BCI will be and what AI can eventually be, it's kind of more of providing you different inputs, depending on the environment or the thing that you're doing. And so I could see that in the, you know, decades long time of being a true application. Now, I think the big one that I'm excited about is this integration between Okay, great, now we're taking bcis that are wireless. And we're able to, you know, basically pull in signals from people's brains transmission into something that's completely, you know, useful for them gives them much more mobility. But now let's, let's add that on top of, you know, exoskeletons. And that's kind of the connection that I'm really excited about to see. Because I've seen a lot of like, not a lot of it is promo right now. But I've seen a lot of
I can't remember the company's name, but it's very, it's very futuristic looking prosthetics that have a lot of functionality and in them, but I know that they're based off of, you know, very rudimentary programming. Now, if we can implement something like that in combination with a BCI. Imagine giving people not only like their ability to communicate, but maybe they have much more mobility than they've ever had or have had in years, especially when since a lot of the target here is an older population.
So and I think some of the research that's done here is actually done with some of the VA hospitals in wherever Brown is. So it's, that's my kind of like, exciting point is guests.
there's a there's a lot of work being done on the neuro ergonomics side with prosthetics. And now we're really diving deep into the application of a BCI. Yeah, I think that's great. I love that your mind immediately went to the read write function, because I'm still stuck in read, write, my applications were both read, and you went straight to read, right? You were like, well, how can we write to the brain to make something feel more real or to, you know, provide that feedback, like, if you were in a, if you were in an assistive
prosthetic, or if you had an assisted prosthetic or an exoskeleton and you needed feedback from those devices, you could wire that straight up to the brain.
I love that application. So let's talk, I want to talk again, about the human factors, bits of this right and what this wireless solution really solves and, and why it's such a big deal. So I think of two things when I think of the user, right, I think immediately of like user comfort with a device, because that's very important. And then not only the physical comfort of having something hooked into your brain, but also the mental comfort of having it there as well. Right. So you're thinking about,
you know, how easy is it for this device to read your intent?
What is there the users kind of mindset here? And and sort of what can they? What do the users focus on as they're using this device? Are they focused on the actual interaction itself? Or are they focused on this thing? That is kind of behind them? Right? I guess the question is, does this solve that problem? I don't know. But I think it goes a long way where you don't have the the less invasive something feels where you know, now you don't have all these wires and tubes hooked up to somebody, now it's completely wireless, there's going to be less resistance to feeling uncomfortable, you're going to feel less uncomfortable, you get my point here, it's going to be easier for the for the user to ultimately mesh with that device. And that goes for both user comfort and user mental comfort. Right. So I'm thinking about it from that perspective. But then also, you know, how does this sort of
the other human factors application is like, well, how does this interface with their everyday life? Right, and we've talked about some applications? I think we've kind of covered that. But the more interesting thing to me is, how usable is this right now? And we've talked about, well down the line, these things might be possible. But is this type of interface usable, right? And what kind of heuristics or design considerations Do you have to take into account for a BCI? And I don't know if wireless necessarily has anything to do with that, inherently. However, there is the latency issue, right? If If things are, or do take a long time to communicate the operators intent to the system, then it's going to provide a non usable system or something that is less than usable, if you will, right.
So those are the types of applications are not applications. Those are the type of human factors.
slices that I'm thinking about this in terms of, are there any other human factors application that you can think of your Blake? No, I do think there's some implication here, though, for where they're where bcis are at today, in the story that we're talking about, and kind of some of the ideas that we've thrown out there for the future. The biggest part being with his wireless system, I think you hit the nail on the head, the biggest overcoming point there is basically user comfort, like cuz in the studies we're talking about, we're talking about typing, pointing and clicking. Like very, very far from these farther reaching things that we we've gone on about whether it's like aiding pilots or you know, allowing you to feel different things in a virtual environment. So this is kind of the starting block, if you will, but I think what is nice about the study we're looking at, and the technology we're looking at on top of it is it has taken away a lot of that potential discomfort and potentially user distraction of I've got a I've got like a matrix setup coming out of the back of my head or it's it just feels weird. And so I can't even focus on the task that I'm being kind of tested to do. Although, of course, this system I think is very at the beginning stages. It probably still would take a lot of getting used to because if for those that are not watching or haven't read the article, like it basically puts two transistor in a receiver on your head now they're not in that as insane sounding as that is but they're they're pretty big chunks of you know, plastic that are kind of screwed on.
To a transistor. But the big the big thing here is this to remember is this is definitely the beginning stages of research, because even in the article they talked about, although they're diving into this wireless application, and a lot of the rationale there is so that people can do this, take it home, they can do longitudinal studies, because we still don't really understand neural signals and how they evolve over time. So really, we have to continue almost taking this first step, getting the technology to a place where you can take it home, you can have it at home, we end people in labs or at different companies can analyze what the signals are actually doing to help you kind of create something more utilitarian or do something like almost be life alert for through your brain, like you had mentioned that. But the biggest thing is now we have to really just allow for the time to happen. so that people can start analyzing, like, Okay, what, what can we take these neuronal signals and do outside of the things we're able to do now? And what does that really look like?
Yeah, one last application that I can think of are human factors application here is is kind of the safety aspect of this right. And we've kind of mentioned, you know, obviously, this story is, is being disconnected from tubes and wires to your, to your face. And so, like, when you when you think about safety, there's there's a couple things going on here, right? There's obviously safety issues going on with
the BCI itself, right? Is it going to hurt the operator? Because it is wired into a very sensitive part of the body?
So there's that to deal with, but but the more obvious thing, I think, to me is the sort of like OSHA side of things, right? Is this gonna be
without wires, you are less likely to accidentally hurt yourself by running to the end of the tether.
You're also I mean, that won't even happen, right? Your your input just won't get read by the distance if it's too great.
And then there's also you know, the you won't trip over it, any of that stuff. And it will help with some of the physical side of things. I don't know how much a wireless will will sort of impact some of the other safety considerations like errors and unintentional mistakes, poor judgment, decision making that type of thing, disregard for procedures, you know, that type of stuff, I don't know how much it'll impact that type of thing, but at least the physical safety, I can definitely see a huge benefit to being wireless, right? Absolutely. Yeah, the part of this study, that's kind of it's so the study itself is remarkable, right? Because we're talking again, about bcis being wireless, allowing you to basically translate neuronal signals to doing actions. But because of COVID-19, continued studies on these kinds of things were going to be zero. But because people were able actually actually able to do this wireless technology and use it.
Basically, the way that it happened is they trained caregivers over you know, internet calls to be able to help, they're the person who had the BCI actually transmit data from home. So a lot of this stuff was done inside the home. So the the safety aspect that I was considering is like, Okay, what does this look like outside of the lab? or What does it look like when you're at home by yourself or you know, a caregivers around because there's that extra training aspect. Now, potentially you have, you know, nurses who visit homes or anybody that works in a nursing home, potentially a BCI has become a bigger thing. And the next however long, that kind of adds a different skill set. Now you're interfacing with a different type of technology that has potentially a pretty intense impact if things go wrong, or things are not working correctly. So the safety aspect, Nick is 100% a big one that I think a lot it'll have far reaching implications, not just for, you know, the person who's using it, but the companies who develop them and then how to Petey basically train others to be able to know how to use them if it's not you yourself that has BCI
Yeah, I love this story. I think it was a great pick. Do you have anything else to add to this before we head out? Now this is just awesome Brown. So some cool work with basically neuroscience plus everything else we have to deal with in terms of security, safety and user experience. It's just really cool story. Yeah, thank you to our patrons this week for selecting the topic and thank you thank you to our friends over at Brown University for our new stories this week. If you want to follow along, we do post links to the original articles in our chat community slack and discord as we find them and it's in this like little nice, concise news roundup that I've been doing during my office hours. So you
can check that out. We're gonna take a quick break and then we'll see what's going on with the Human Factors community right after this. Human Factors cast brings you the best in human factors, news interviews, conference coverage, and overall fun conversations into each and every episode we produce. But we can't do it without you. The Human Factors cast network is 100% listener supported all the funds that go into running the show come from our listeners. Our patrons are our priority, and we want to ensure we're giving back to you for supporting us. pledges start at just $1 per month and include rewards like access to our weekly q&a is with the hosts personalized professional reviews and Human Factors minute, a Patreon only weekly podcast where the host break down unique, obscure and interesting Human Factors topics in just one minute Patreon rewards are always evolving. So stop by patreon.com slash Human Factors cast to see what support level may be right for you. Thank you. And remember, it depends.
All right, and we're back. A huge thank you as always, to our patrons and especially our honorary human factors. Cast staff Michele Tripp patrons like you keep the show running. And thank you all so much for your continued support. Blake, I do want to mention something if if you want to support us, but not through Patreon, there's something else you can do. We do have a merchandise store, and I
and I want to bring up a couple designs man. So we have an independence shirt, you saw it. And now it's bigger and better. It kind of takes up the full space now. I think I was the only one that bought the smaller font. So no one missed out on that.
I'm really proud of this next one man. So we have a
joke, I guess internally about this one star review that we got where this person said like so like you like and like so as the title of the review. And they referred to us as sophomore IQ Bros. and us representing human factors in a profession is truly terrifying. So we have actually turned that review into a shirt. And we're gonna own it. We love that review. It's our best review out there.
So it's funny to think about like, especially since I came up after Episode 200. It's like we're still doing this 200 episodes later. And we say even after that really rough one star.
Yeah, I mean, forget, I'll never forget the day you sent that to me in a text as well. I thought I thought I was gonna die laughing because there Shay was so tough to read.
It was it was a it was back in 2019. So you know. But it's something that we have always kind of joked about internally, we also have a couple other designs up there. So please go check out the store if you want to support the show without actually, you know, there's more than just the stuff that we talked about here. So go check it out. We're always throwing new designs up there.
So why don't we go ahead and switch gears and get into this next part of the show we like to call that came from?
It came from?
It came from Reddit. Yes. This is the part of this well actually hold on, not just Reddit this week. We got stuff from all over. This is the part of the show where we search all over the internet to bring you topics the community is talking about. So we actually do have a one of our patrons has submitted a question for us. This is from Michelle trip, our honorary Human Factors cast staff, she writes, hi, oh, I have a question for you. I've been interested in evaluating the user experience of places like malls, airports, train stations, bus stations, etc. I've been researching different human factors, engineering tools and principles that I can use to create a heuristic evaluation report for each place I visit. Most of the principles I've seen researching are about digital and physical products. But are there any principles that are specifically for spaces and places? So we're talking about, like heuristics for spaces and places? Blake, do you know of any heuristics for spaces in places? So funny enough, Nick brought this up earlier on. And I do not i'm not big on physical design, although that may change here in the future. But one thing that I did find is a chi paper that actually goes over developing and taking HCI principles and stuff that you would typically see in those digital spaces, and applying it to a physical space and doing and creating social interaction. And in some of those places that you're mentioning, this framework might be helpful to go over and just read their thoughts on translating some of the, you know, best practices from what you may know is usability heuristics are stuff that you would know as HCI guidelines and translate them to physical products. But I don't know like great standards or specifics for this kind of stuff. And I'm quite interested in what Nick has to follow up with this stuff for, but Nick so what do you really have that is good for trying to tackle some of these problems or understand the physical
space. Okay, I have two answers. One is not really an answer to the heuristics question. One is an answer to that question. So what I have is there's,
I would imagine a good starting point for spaces in places is to take a look at standards. These are not heuristics in the sense that there are very specific standards that a lot of places have to adhere to, especially when it comes to something like OSHA, right? I mean, if you look at the OSHA regulations, for spaces, they're there, they cover everything from like, walking and working surfaces to exit routes, powered platforms, man lifts, occupational health and environmental control, hazardous materials, personal protective equipment, fire protection, materials, handling and storage, there's a lot of stuff that goes into these standards.
How do you condense that down into heuristics? I don't know. I'm sure somebody has done it. But the the second answer I have is sort of the principles of universal design. And these are almost like system, or space or place agnostic. If you think about what makes something usable, you have equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, size and space for approach and use. So those are the seven principles of universal design. And if you think about those heuristics, as it relates to spaces and places, that might be a good place to start.
I know it's not quite the answer you're looking for. But I think, you know, there, there's a lot there that you can dig into. There's a resource that I have from, I think it's UX matters. So I'll post that in the show description below. I'll also post that OSHA standard I mentioned as well, for anyone who's interested in these types of things. But you know, I mean, thinking about that universal heuristic, or that universal design heuristics, right? You can think about equitable use in the sense of user control and freedom, aesthetic minimalistic design, and how those apply to the physical environment as well, right? There's a lot of those. There's a lot of the usability heuristics that actually might matter from the perspective of spaces and places. Now, I will say there's there's a lot of good information here, maybe not all of them map to the to the physical space, but there is a good chance that most of them will. Alright, is there anything else you want to add to that? Blake? I don't, Nick, I'm really stoked to check out these universal principles, though, because that's not something I'm super familiar with, or have heard of. And I hope that
this is actually useful to our patrons to ask the questions. And I would love to know how they plan to apply it, or what they uncover as they go through the journey of understanding physical space design. Yeah, we'll have to follow up for sure. All right, we have two more. Why don't we do this next one here. So this one is how to remain connected with a mentor. Blake, you're a mentor yourself. I would love to hear your perspective on this. This is from the real Izzy on the user experience subreddit. I have. I contacted a mentor several months ago to have a quick meeting and ask about their advice. I really liked their expertise and personality, it is awkward to ask them, can you be my mentor? So I just asked after the call if I can contact them for future advice. And they agreed. I messaged them a few times about my portfolio. But that's it. I'm at an early stage in my career and add a new country by myself and need some mentorship and advice. I don't know how to stay connected and develop a mentorship connection. Would it be better to ask them to have a monthly call? Blake, how would you handle this situation? Both from the person who wants the mentor and from the mentor perspective? Yeah, so this came into my inbox the other day, and I thought a lot about it. So I don't know, hopefully, this was helpful. The biggest thing that I'm seeing here is it just might be that you weren't clear enough upfront with this particular mentor, if you will, that that's what you're looking for. It sounds like although it's a it's an awkward conversation to have. I think it's better to have it than not to set expectations of what you're looking for from a specific relationship here. Because it sounds like you talked to them one time, they you had mentioned that you would follow up with them about like portfolio feedback or if that was okay. And most people will often say yes, and they genuinely meet it. But like most people right now who are in a senior a mid to senior level in UX, they do have a lot that may be going on, whether it's work, extra mentorship they're doing with other people, both inside a company and on their own free time. So people unfortunately just get busy and it's hard to stay on top of all of your obligations as well as like keeping in contact with them.
So for from this person's perspective, I would say the best thing you can do is look for and be kind of upfront with somebody about this is really what you're looking for. I'm looking for mentorship throughout my career, I don't really want this to be like a once once every once in again thing I'd rather do like either something monthly or something every couple of weeks to either talk about my portfolio stuff going on at work, advice, that kind of stuff. So that way you're setting the stage. Also, and I'm not going to plug any of the stuff that I do, because I don't, I don't feel like that's right here. But there are a lot of services both paid and free, that offer you an ability to find mentorship and user experience design, especially.
I wish I could remember this guy's name, the last kind of thing from the mentor mentee perspective, there is a really cool user experience designer and very, like guy that's worked in, I think it's Instagram and Microsoft, he now works as a senior designer at Facebook, there is a lot of stuff that he puts out on his LinkedIn for free that I will find and put in our show notes. But basically checking out LinkedIn looking for mentors that way is another great thing. Because again, user experience and human factors, there's a lot of people out there that want to help those earlier in their career, figure out their way forward and what they should be doing to kind of build their career or what trajectory they want to take.
So I think that hands on from the mentee side. Nick, do you have anything that you wanted to touch on there?
Yeah, so I'm thinking about this from the perspective of the person writing this post. Let's start there. Right. So the,
the question is, how do I get back in this person's
on this person's radar? Right? I think the strategy here is to reach out and say something along the lines of, Hey, I really appreciated the feedback that you gave me. I would really like it if you know, we could meet a little bit more regularly. And honestly, just explain what you just posted here in this subreddit, right? Like, I'm in a new country, I'm by myself, I need some mentorship and advice. And I really liked what you know, we talked about last time, is there any way that you can spare a little time for me each month to chat through some of the stuff I'm working on? And I think that would be the approach, right? I think honesty is key there. Because people are humans, and they can see when another human needs help. Unless you're heartless, then in that case, it's not going to be a good time. And it's almost a benefit for you. If they say no to that, because then you know, it's not meant to be the only thing you have to lose is I wouldn't even say it's a burnt bridge between this person, but you have more information on this person. If they say no. If they say yes, you have everything to gain. So yes, I would just reach back out to them and say, absolutely, not. When it comes to that mentors perspective, if I was going along, and I had somebody reach out to me once. And you know, they weren't quite clear about their intentions. That's like no big deal for somebody like me, you know, it's like, oh, they actually did want more mentorship, that's fine. But you know, again, Blake and I are a little different in that regard. We really like that aspect of it. And so, you know, from my perspective, if somebody were to come up to me and say, Hey, you know what, like, I really appreciated the conversation we had, would you mind chatting with me some other time, I absolutely make the time to do that. I think
from a mentor perspective, it's kind of dumb to not do that, because you are making a connection that could someday be valuable to you. And you know, if you think about it from that perspective,
and if you're a robot and don't think about humans having needs, then that's another perspective that you can think about, and have it be meaningful to you in some capacity, but you should think about them as a human and that they are in need and that you at some point, were early in your career and got advice from somebody else. So that's where I'm coming from. Anything else?
No, I think that covers it. All right. We have one more here.
This one's gonna be fun is my manager that horrible? This is from Suzy echo. On the user experience. I read it again. I recently started a new job as a UX or UI designer.
And it I'm not sure if I'm overreacting, because I'm not interested in the industry or if my manager is really horrible. I'm the only designer on the team and my manager assigns me tasks. I'm an organized person, so I need to know what I'll be working on for the week in advance. I've been getting tasks during the day and my manager has zero design experience, will call me want me to share the screen and will complain about the colors and icons. She recently wanted me to make changes on the project while we're on the call and she sees me making the changes there.
is no user testing in the process. She also calls me for a 30 minute meeting, but ends up being more than an hour. And every time I show the design, she will ask for new changes.

last week she told me to work on the final changes for friday and send the screens in an email however she suddenly assigned me a task of changing another screen as well so obviously this will take more time i then contacted her and said that i will be able to submit everything on monday rather than friday and her response was a passive-aggressive uh is this normal or am i right in the in my reaction um there's a lot to unpack there uh i think if you think about this from the design perspective there's there's that perspective but i'm thinking about this from the human factors perspective as well uh you know what what do you do in a case where there is a a person above you that does not take the things that you are doing at face value and they feel like they need to have control over it blake i'm gonna pass this over to you yeah so i mean regardless of who you are or even what job you work i think there's a couple of things you can take away from a situation like this and the biggest one being i don't think this is absolutely a normal set of things you should be experiencing no matter what if you're human factors if you're a developer if you're a designer although it does seem to happen a lot when you end up in these soul positions where like you have a manager and you're the only human factors person you user experience designer whatever it is where you you end up with kind of an inefficiency in how the process is run and i think the biggest thing that i'm seeing here is i would be careful in this person choose because if they're like we talked about kind of last week if they're feeling this i'm not even interested in the industry anymore that's not a good sign and i don't really think that's necessarily your fault i think there's a lot of tough stuff going on here from your management perspective the biggest thing i would say that you could do is you probably need to set some boundaries with this person and that would be having the tough conversations about these are the things that i am experiencing at work up to the the fact that you're not getting clear tasking tasking comes kind of at the last minute and then you're there's no clear design process that you feel like is being executed now from the design side nick you can talk from the hf side in a moment but the big thing here that i would keep in mind if you're the sole designer it becomes your job to put that design process in place and to be an advocate for it you can't just expect that a company is going to know what to do with a designer and that they're just going to have some process in place especially if you're the only person doing the job so the more that you can try and define and set up a process and really get invested in the work that you're doing i think the better off you're going to be and the more control you're going to have over your tasking and things that need to get done leaving less time for your pm to be assigning you things or giving you random tasks because you already know all those steps need to be executed now the portion that does bother me here is the amount of feedback that you're getting that doesn't sound like at least from this post that there is a lot of rationale for why there's a lot of opinions potentially being thrown at you for things you need to change and i would say here again this is in some ways normal but you have to be able to kind of fight for your designs if you will or fight for your work give rationale for why you put something together the way that you did why did you design it in such a way colors that you used whatever it might be that you're kind of going back and forth to the person over um so that's it does sound like this person is a little bit of a tough uh pm and could use a little bit of your help to understand the situation as it is for you so that you can both work together to come to a good solution at the end of it doesn't mean that that'll happen but you kind of have to do your due diligence on your side to try and create a better environment for yourself but nick what would you do in this situation okay uh there's a lot to unpack here i i'm gonna answer the question at the top is my manager that horrible yes uh key attributes of a good manager one constructive feedback two um appreciates and understands their employees skill set and and pairs them up appropriately this is an inappropriate uh relationship with their um employee because it does not exude trust it is a micro management uh aspect that really shows a lack of understanding of what this person is is aiming to do in their role um blake i think you said a lot there uh for setting up these clear um boundaries when it comes to this person's role in this company i think um this is a delicate situation to uh to navigate here especially when you're trying to um explain to the person who is not being that great that you need them to back off a little bit um i think there might be something larger here with um them not having any design experience or or really any experience regardless of the profession right if if some sort of manager is coming after your work uh i think you know you owe it to them to explain your process and how you got to that point uh and kind of prove them wrong why are the things that they're doing um complaining about colors complaining about icons i mean why are they doing that there there's two reasons they could one they don't understand the reason why you incorporated certain things two they might you may not have done your due diligence and they might actually have a point i'm not saying it's the second one i'm saying that's a possibility um so introspect a little bit and see there i i'm highly suspect uh suspecting that it's the first one there where they uh just want to feel like they're part of the design process and so another thing you can do is include them in that process um set up a meeting with them and say hey look i'm thinking about this or this and give them the choice to uh to make that final call um and that way that'll give them a little bit more ownership over the uh the thing the product when you know ultimately the design comes down the final design uh and i think that's true for a lot of things if you can incorporate people into your process i think it goes a long way for making others feel that ownership and that's in human factors too right if you can explain hey there's a user interview going on i would love for you to watch what this is like on a on a camera don't be in the room with me i'd love for you to watch what this is like um then people will feel more invested in the thing that you do and understand the value that you bring to the team that's where i'm at with this blake anything else to add yeah the only other thing that i would really suggest is trying to see if you can take a little bit of control of the meeting structure because if there's no structure that exists try putting one in put a 15 minute stand up in on mondays like add in you know design kind of sprints if you will for when they know they're gonna meet with you because again like nick's mentioned this seems like somebody who seems seems nervous about the product and is overbearing so if you kind of try and implement a structure in there it may also help you a little bit but who knows maybe maybe this person's just not meant to be a pm yeah i agree all right we got one more thing uh so this is this is the part of the show formerly known as banter um so like what do you have for one more thing man one more thing i really don't have a whole lot one more thing wise the one thing that i've been really focusing on in the past couple of weeks that's been more interesting to me from the just learning skill wise has has been trying to incorporate a lot more you know meditation into my daily life because i feel like with this new cycle although i've enjoyed working uh remotely because it provides me a lot of freedom it also provides me the freedom to get up right out of bed and get on my laptop and so building in these kind of like times of either meditation or staying away from technology for specific hours of the day has been super beneficial just to my middle mental health and how i'm approaching any kind of situation whether it's at work if it's playing guitar if it's interacting with my dog girlfriend so it's been a fun practice to kind of get back into as well as kind of like limiting when i can touch my phone in the morning like an hour and a half after i get up or can't touch it an hour and a half before i go back to bed uh but yeah so that's something i've been experimenting sticking back into my life and it's been been a fun time for sure feeling a lot more energized how about you man what's been going on good i'm glad you're finding time for yourself um so i've also been trying to find time for myself in a in a different way um my child is at the age where he loves uh listening to the same us read the same book over and over and over again to the point where he will get frustrated with us if we do not read it um now here's a little parenting hack for anyone i i thought about this because i was like man if only i could just record oh wait i can record it so i recorded these and maybe we'll put this in the post show but i recorded a book for several books for my son so whatever he comes up to me and says hey read this book i can actually just pull out my phone and play it uh it's kind of hysterical and so um you know it's it's uh i don't do it all the time but when man when he just wants to read the same book over and over and over again i'll usually read it the first time and then just kind of hit play but you know i went all out i did all the voices the elmo the grover the uh cookie monster i did all of them um so like it's good stuff if you're listening you should check out the post show excellent now that's that's a funny one man so does he get the same kind of gratification from hearing this story recorded versus you doing it live i mean he he's uh what's the word i'm looking for he's advanced enough to understand that um there's a certain pace to books and he will try to keep pace with the recording which is really interesting to watch because he doesn't always line up but he knows roughly based on where you're at in the story where it should be and so it's it's uh it satisfies the need um if he hears me reading the thing on the recording with all the voices and everything uh he understands that it's me reading not live but he can follow along with it and uh understand where we're at in in the book um so yeah that's that's my one more thing that's pretty cool man nice one all right well that's gonna be it for today everyone let us know what you guys think of the news story this week you can hang out with us on our slack or discord or get to us on any of our social channels you can visit our official website humanfactorscast.media and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with all the latest human factors news if you like what you hear you want to support the show there's a couple things you can do one it's completely free for you you can leave us a five-star review on your podcast medium of choice if your podcast media of choice doesn't do it just leave it on our website two you can tell your friends about us that really helps the show grow um you know having other people tell people that the show is good and does something i don't know three if you're financially able consider supporting us on patreon uh you know that's all i want to say about that and as always links to all of our socials and our website is in the description of this episode i want to thank mr blake garnsdorf for hanging out on our show today where can our listeners go and find you if they want to talk about brain computer interfaces y'all you can come and hang out with me every sunday at 9 30 pst at twitch.tv human factors cast that's a good place to ask me any questions that you had from the show about ux about human factors whatever it may be but if you want to get in touch with me and just shoot me an email or leave me a comment or a dm dm you can find me at don't panic ux as for me having your host nick rome you can find me across social media at nick underscore rome thanks again for tuning in to human factors cast until next time it depends!