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May 20, 2022

E246 - Let's Kiss in VR

This week on the show, we talk about how new technology will allow us to feel sensations in and around our mouth, We also answer some questions from the community about lucrative sectors in HF/UX/HCI, our ideal work environments, and what to do if there’s a conflict between previous experience and a prospective employer’s business goals.


Recorded live on May 19th, 2022, hosted by Nick Roome with Barry Kirby.

Check out the latest from our sister podcast - 1202 The Human Factors Podcast - on their EHF coverage (Link will be live starting Monday 5/23)

 

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Transcript

 

Welcome to Human Factors Cast, your weekly podcast for Human factors, psychology and design.

 

 

What's going on, everybody? This is episode 246. We're recording this episode episode live on May 19, 2022. This is Human Factors Cast. I'm your host, Nick Rome. I'm joined today by Mr. Barry Kirby. Good evening, Nick. And hello from the UK. Hello from the UK to me, I guess because you're in the UK and I'm here. Hello from the US. We got a great show for you tonight. We're going to be talking about VR researchers and how they have found a way to potentially simulate the feel of things on your lips. And later we're going to talk about answer some questions in the community, really about lucrative fields in UX or Human Factors. We're also going to be talking about your ideal work environment and applying to UX research jobs at high profile companies, well known companies, big tech companies, we'll say that. But first day we got some programming notes for you all or community update just over the next couple of weeks, I wanted to let everybody know what the plan is. Next week, Human Factors Cast is going to have some ergonomics and Human Factors conference coverage that Barry was gracious enough with his time to sit down with me to talk about EHF. We also have some, I guess, clips from folks who went to the event, and those will be kind of stitched in. So I do want to mention, though, our patrons are getting the full interviews with those folks that went to the conference. Barry was nice enough to share those with our patrons as kind of added value. So that's next week. Following that, we're going to be off on the 2 June and then on the 9 June we'll be back. So really, we'll be gone for two weeks. But you'll only see us gone for one week. That's what it comes down to, Barry. I got to know what's going on over at 1202. Well, as you just mentioned, I finally got out of this hiatus of not putting any content out. I finally learned how to put video content together in a sort of meaningful way. And so on Monday, the conference, our coverage will drop where we've been talking to five, six different people who went and were part of the organization. And as you quite rightly said, the full interviews from each one of them, interviews the patrons will get. But this will drop on Monday. And I'm quite excited because that's coming up. But we've also got another interview that's happening tomorrow, one that we've been teasing about for a while. And I'm not going to mention exactly who it is, just in case it all falls through again like it did last time. But I'm really excited to be able to get some of these in the Cannon. Everybody who spoke to me for EHF coverage, which is obviously a really short interview compared to what I usually do. They promise to do full interviews as well. So I'm quite looking forward to them getting underway. Yeah. So wait, you're telling me that you have EHF coverage and we have EHF coverage? How are we making sure that there's no overlap? Barry? It's almost like we made this a collaborative, synergistic effort. They're very big words for saying we actually spoke to each other. Have they? Yeah, we talked to each other and made sure that there was no overlap. Okay. That's it. All right. Hey, we're going to get into this part of the show that we like to call human factors news.

 

 

That's right. This is where we break down all things human factors. You all pick the news stories. We didn't pick it this one this week. Barry, what is the story this week? So the story this week that you kind of nudge people towards rather than some of the other ones was VR. Researchers have basically figured out how to simulate the feel of kisses. So a modified VR headset can create a sensation of touch either on the user's lips or even inside their mouth. Researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University Future Interfaces Group have modified an off the shelf virtual reality headset so they recreate the sensation of touch in and around a user's mouth. Finally, fulfilling virtual reality is inevitable one true purpose. We are generally used to handle controllers that Vibrate and most consumer ready virtual reality devices ignore senses like taste, like smell and touch, and focus on visuals and sound because it's kind of the easiest thing to do at the moment. It's enough to make virtual reality experiences far more compelling than they were decades ago, but not really enough to truly fool the brain into thinking that what your eyes are seeing is possibly a real life experience that you're fully immersed in it. You might not be able to reach out and feel realistic on a virtual dog just yet, but experience sensation of drinking water from a virtual drinking fountain could be just around the corner. In addition to other experiences that presumably don't require that much imagination, the researchers upgraded what appears to be a Quest two headset with an array of ultrasonic transducers. They're all focused on the user's mouth, and it works without the need for additional resources or any other hardware set up around the wearer. They create the feeling of touch on the user's lips, teeth, and even their tone while the mouth is open. The transducers can do more than just simulate a gentle touch by pulsing them in specific patterns. They recreate the feeling of an object sliding or swapping across the lips opposite of vibrations, such as the continuous splashing of water when they need down to sit from a virtual drinking fountain. So, Nick, can you see the potential uses of adding lip haptics to your quest? Yeah, lip controlled devices, clearly. I'll be honest, I totally missed the in the mouth part when reskimming this story, and so I kind of lost it back here. Anyway, I think what was going on here is the authors were very careful to word this as specific patterns across the lips, like splashing water. I mean, we all know what they really mean here and sort of what the application of this is. With that being said, Teladel Donna is one of my favorite words. This is that very good. I do love VR stuff, and I love the way in the different ways in which we try to mask our senses. And Bolton added functionality within VR to mask those certain senses with something like the lips. Those are a very sensitive body part. And so there's going to be perhaps more care and attention that needs to be paid to the device, actually stimulating the lips in these patterns to emulate real world situations. Barry, I am curious what your initial sort of thoughts on this article are. Well, my initial thought was that, well, if we start with the lips, then where do you stop? We've got to get a bit more grown up about this. I think it is a really interesting technology and from a science and technology perspective has clearly got a lot of application. And I think we'll probably talk about how this is key, just a start of doing more things. But isn't it weird how the application of all of these sort of things turn to sex based applications? First, things like this, it's automatically gone, not because of the main technology thing that they're doing, but it's how it can be used in that way. I just find that the child in me finds that very amusing. Yeah, I don't know. I mean, sex sells, right. And so when you think about sort of how can we exploit these new technologies to sort of appeal to people? I think that's sort of the next logical step. Right. Let's break this down. I think we tried something last week on the show where we kind of talked about it from a variety of different, I guess, slices of human factors, whether that's like domain areas or traditionally like the technical groups. But I think we have a good way to go forward. Let's talk about the people behind this. And I think this more of a discussion, Barry, who are the types of people that might use this type of thing? Yeah. I guess we sort of get into this, isn't it? Where do we want to keep the rating of this podcast? But it is clearly going to keep going. So there's clearly some obvious application that we're going to allude to in a very childish manner all the way through this podcast. But it's that if we can make the leap from not just talking about lifts, but assuming that it's going to go further, that you're going to get that whole haptic immersive capability is pretty much getting there. And so there is that broader application. I mean, if you've seen Ready Player One, this is kind of getting really down that line. There's always been a lot of criticism with VR and AI to a certain extent that you're only feeling some of the senses, and this takes us that one step further. So if there's anybody who's going to be involved in working in the immersive environment, I mean, the meta verse is now such a thing, but then so a Second Life, this sort of thing would have been equally applicable within sort of like that Second Life, anything where you're trying to get that full immersion in there. So it could be. We talked in episode 240 around artificial intelligence providing companionship. Is this just the next step of interacting with that? Because that's what led me down to that thinking of are we talking about people interacting with people? Are we talking about people interacting with artificial intelligence or just bots that don't necessarily be for the artificially intelligent? So are you talking about is it a true human machine interaction or is it a human machine human interaction, which I thought was interesting because you could use it. We have these things where if you're away from your partner for a long time, so you're working away or you may be posted away or you're doing the sort of job maybe working on all platforms or something that is really remote, like working out on chips, then will this actually allow connectivity between you and your loved ones and things like that? Even if just like at the slightly less blue danger scale, kissing your partner good night before you go to bed, what would that do to repair some of their relationships? I think it would be quite interesting or like even being able to virtually kiss my son's forehead as I'm out at a business trip or something like that. That would be awesome. I would love that. I think there's a lot to be said for the people that would use this, and there's obviously the applications that we keep alluding to, but there's a lot of practical ones as well, and that kissing your loved ones good night is one of those examples. But I think there's also sort of we historically on the show have sort of shied away from talking about VR games and gaming just in general because it's an easy fit VR and games. But there's this whole immersive storytelling aspect that we can sort of think about with this type of technology. If there were stories built around falling in love with, like you said, a digital avatar or sorry, not avatar, a digital agent, then you'd have this whole other interaction that opens up a whole swath of societal issues. Really not societal issues, I should say. Societal questions that need to be answered about Fidelity and all that stuff. Think about from a gaming perspective, you're like falling in love with an NPC or something along those lines. And you're able to actually kiss them. That might be one way. You have virtual books in here. Are you thinking something similar for that? Yeah. I love reading books. It is my sort of guilty pleasure that I don't get enough time to do. And there was the idea that I don't know if you ever used to use them, but you get the book that starts off with you read a bit, and then you can make a decision about where you go. And if you chose one decision, you turn to page 342. If you made another decision, you turned to page 463, for example, and you can have that sort of the adventure side of things. So could we do this actually take us down that way? So it's not a game within a game, but it's an adventure. It's a journey. Sure. And so would this actually allow you to go on one of them journeys in a virtual way so that you've got that immersive storytelling element that you've got a certain amount of interaction over? But it's not a game. It's all about the immersion which this technology would sort of send you there? Yeah. It's almost like passive storytelling. Right. So there's active storytelling, which is more like video games where you are directing the sort of character that you are playing into certain actions. Right. I. E. Kissing and NPC, the virtual books and other applications I can think of as sort of this passive storytelling with you as a passive participant watching what's going on around you. That might be a sense that you might need in some specific application areas. Just saying. We're going to skirt it all night, folks. All right. That'd be a long evening. All right. Enough with the puns. Let's go. Next point here, Barry. You want to talk about how it might evolve? Yeah. Because again, this is going to be an interesting piece, isn't it? Because if you got this sort of technology and I think it probably fits into some of you as well. But as you get older, the technology needs to be able to, I don't know, age with you because you don't interact with technology the same way as you get older. So as we get always going to have to evolve with us. But if the way I would use this technology will be very different to the way our children would use the technology would be very different from the way that my parents would use the technology. Is there something there about having to work out how the different applications, how basically how that use case would change with each individual persona? And would it be vastly different, or is my assumption just wrong? Actually, the way that we would use it is probably just very similar. I guess there's just like intensities and things that would change. But I don't know. I think there's something there around evolving use cases. Yeah, I think you're right. There are different people that are going to use this for different reasons. I myself would use it for the like kiss my family Goodnight remotely. Right. I guess this is almost a concern, especially when we consider children being online in these really scary environments. What happens if there's a sexual predator online that is sort of manipulating the senses in some way, shape or form? That is a serious societal question, something that we need to think about. And how do we build in protections for our children and other vulnerable populations that may not have the same judgment, the same level of judgment, or the same awareness of what could be on the other end of this thing and sort of the tactics that are being used? That's a huge question and something that is awful to think about. But it's something that we do need to think about in terms of protecting our children. It is true. And I don't necessarily think we need to restrict you to children because how much do we hear about nowadays about people being taken in online by phishing emails, spoof addresses, all that sort of stuff? This is just that one sort of step away. So there is an element around that that I think that we need to think about. So should we just dive into talking about the organizational social issues that this could evolve? Yeah. Well, I think we're starting to open up that door of talking about who might be affected by this, that whole deception piece of who's on the other side of it. Right. And this is a larger issue with virtual spaces, virtual environments, avatars agents, all this stuff. How do you know who you're talking to is who you're talking to doesn't matter. All these questions. Right. And so we're starting to Peel open this social societal questions. So let's talk about it. Right. I don't know. I think the biggest thing for me is I already kind of talked about it. But the idea of you don't know who is on the other end of this thing most of the time, I shouldn't say most of the time. But it's possible that you don't know who's at the other end of this thing, what their goals are? I don't know. There's a lot to think about here. Do you want to talk about anything specific here? Well, I think for me there's a worry being on the back of my mind about the more we rely on technology to provide that sort of relationship mechanism. Are we just going to lose the ability for physical relationships because actually having a relationship online is just easier. So we go back to that. The previous episode we did where we talked about an AI companionship, and we both had a very brief go at downloading that based thing, very short affair. It was one of the things that I thought I read up a bit more about some other people who had sort of relationships with them. And it was really interesting that the more people who got involved with them, the less they wanted it, less they were bothered about being interacting with real people because you had this avatar of this AI based mechanism that was providing all the fulfillment you needed in terms of they were never going to argue with you, they were never going to give you any bad words or anything like that. It was just all the positive reaffirming stuff. There was some other negative things happening around that. But when you combine that with this type, I would then just stepping away even further from those people who really probably do need physical, real relationships, as we would call them. Are we stepping away from them? Is it just another reason for them not to come out of seclusion? So that's a bit of a negative view. But there is a flip side to that. I think we sort of touched upon it already around. We actually keep relationships alive that wouldn't necessarily survive over long distance and things like that. So as you've quite rightly said, if you're going away on business or on holiday or something like that, being apart from the family, being able to kiss the children good night, being able to kiss your partner good night will not provide an element of that, which that would be a really positive step, wouldn't it? That'd be really decent step forward. Yeah. It's almost connecting us in some of those ways in which we can't connect physically. Right. And this goes for other applications outside of this technology here. I know there are others that have been sort of working on technology that allows for the ability to hug others virtually through like an inflatable pillow. Think Baymax from Big Hero Six. Right. So there are other technologies being developed that will get at some of those other senses, some of those other experiences. And I think that desire to explore these technologies really does stem from this world in which is very different from the way in which we evolved when we evolved. Right. We kind of think about these close knit familial society structures where you have it takes a village to raise a child, and that's true. Right. Your village is your family and you have this really close, intimate connection with them. In today's society, we have sort of this interesting mix of people emigrating from certain locations because of cost of living, because of opportunities, because of one thing or another. And we don't have that close knit societal structure that we once had as we were evolving. To me, this is a way to patch that. If I could hug my mom and dad virtually through the other technology that I'm talking about here, that brings me a little bit closer to them, but without the physical distance, I don't know. There's just a lot to think about here. Right. Well, there is because there's another point that you made and further down, which I've just stolen and bought up here. One of the things that really bought out in Covet was the amount of people who went into hospital and the last thing that they thought that they were going to see before they were put into a medical coma or unfortunately, before they lost the loud, you couldn't go into hospital and be with them because of the infection risk. So the best that they could do was actually try and hold up an iPad or a tablet for you to have a video call with them. I mean, would this have been something just a bit more to allow you to take your loved one last time or just to give them a hug of reassurance before they go into what must have been really scary and really horrible experience? So this in terms of that type of thing would have been really empowering, I think. Right. I do want to focus on sort of the bringing people together aspect of it because I feel like we really, I don't want to say exhausted the conversation, but we were thorough in the episode that we did on living our lives in the Metaverse, we kind of touched on a lot of these similar topics about what does it mean to lose these physical relationships, what does it mean to do? How do we have bathroom breaks and all that stuff? Go listen to that episode if you want more of that discussion. But yeah, I think there's a lot of things that we need to consider from society. And again, a lot of these sort of Echo that conversation. So go listen to that. If you want to hear more of that. I think we should jump into we have training here. And this is interesting because when you think about this technology, you don't necessarily think about training. How do you train to kiss or how do you train to use this device to feel something on your lips or in your mouth? You mentioned calibration here, but beyond that, there's probably an intuitive experience. Well, one would like to think, I mean, the way that we develop things now, your phone, whatever we're using, you generally don't use the book. In fact, you don't get a book anymore. The idea that whatever you have, it should be intuitive. You should be able to pick it up and use it straight away. But if you're going to I mean, obviously with the one that we've seen and if you go and look on the YouTube, it is bolts onto what we believe is the quest, and it just works. But I'm assuming it's going to need a level of calibration because people have different face shapes, they have different face colors, they have different pigmentation, their lips look like all that sort of stuff. So there's going to be an element of that which is going to need to be very easy to use. So for anybody who's used a quest before when you put it on for the first time, it does lead you through a calibration process, and actually I think it does it relatively well. So what more are we going to need to be able to use this type of system and as it gets more expensive. So if we're looking at it in terms of maybe gloves, if you're looking at maybe whole suits, putting them on, then you're going to be able to presumably it's not just going to be something you just be able to take on and off. You will have to put it on in a way to make sure it's connected. You don't break it and things like that, because if it's anything like me, I'll probably stand on it and break it. And maintenance. How do you maintain such a system given what it is? Is it going to need cleaning? How do you do that without breaking all the senses and things like that? So I think there's all sort of elements of training that you have to think about, but then flipping that on its head is would it become a vector for training itself? So there's a lot of work being going on in simulation and all that sort of stuff to provide training to the military now to blue light services, first responders, things like that. Will this type of thing be able to give a level of training there but for more immersive simulation training? So one of the other things that popped into my mind when we talk about health earlier was actually we know that remote surgery has been a thing in health care, so we're surgeons who essentially can't get anywhere, can do this remote surgery that combined with this idea of tell your existence, the idea of you being able to basically inhabit a robot body to do what you want to do, then that's going to become a big thing here for remote surgery and take that to the next level. Are you going to be able to use this type of sensor technology to give you an even better feel experience for doing that sort of remote operation, be it surgery, be it in another critical domain, could be the nuclear industry, for example, and things like that. So I think there's a lot there actually around training when you look at both sides of coin that I think is going to be could be quite a real game changer. Yeah. I mean, I hear you for VR in general, but I'm just asking, Barry, I'm just asking the question here. What sort of professions need to use their mouth on a daily basis that they might need to do remotely? I'm just asking questions. Yeah, I see where you're coming from and just trying to be musicians. There you go. You saved the show. Look. Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. There are some instances in which using this as a training tool for things like being a musician would be really valuable, especially when you don't maybe have the instrument in front of you. You could imagine what that might feel like on your lips and your tongue as you're trying to play something like a saxophone. Right. And obviously it'd be easier if you had something physical in front of you to use, but that's probably the next best thing, especially as you're trying to use your mouth to make these sounds. And I don't know, I think that's a great application, and you really saved that question. Thank you, Barry. I'm really glad you picked up on what I was asking. There another one. First aid training. There you go. Yeah. Cpr. We don't have to live in the gutter all the time. No, we don't. That's not where this show lives most of the time. Okay. We talked about training. Let's talk a little bit about kind of the human factors side of this. Right. I want to jump straight into SP sensation perception because I think there's something really unique about the lips that sort of exists on the rest of the body. But maybe I'm talking about the sensation and sort of distance between the receptors on the lips in the body. If you think about. Right. We're looking at maybe 2 mm between receptors. I'm reading that correctly. Anyway, there's a chart here. But if you think about the distance between two receptors on any part of your body, the lips are an erogenous zone, which means they are very close together. There's a lot of sensation. You can tell whether your finger is here versus here. And I'm just moving my finger along my lips very not a far distance between the two points. And you can tell those. Right. And those are the same thing that you feel on your fingertips. Right. If you were to take something and touch the tip of your fingertip, there's a very high resolution of touch there. And so when you're starting to develop these systems, you need to be able to take in those resolutions of your sensory neurons to sort of emulate some of these things. Right. It needs to be a very high resolution, higher resolution than other things on your body, like your back. You can feel two points on your back. The distance between those points can be really big, actually, like six inches before you think about sort of them as two different points on your back. Right. Put two fingers on your back, move them about six inches apart, and you'd still feel them as one point. That's kind of what I'm getting at there. So there's a lot of sensation perception going on here. What are some of the other human factors key takeaways there? So for me, one of the biggest hitters is going to be the anthrometric fit of the shape, the fit of whatever it is that you're using. So if we go into that element of we look in more of the suit and things like that. That's what you got. But even just with the application we're talking about just on the face, is it adding that extra of weight? Is it going how do you size it for different people? How do you make sure that one of the big things that's coming out at the moment with a lot of research, which I think possibly a lot of us have been quite guilty of, not truly realizing that a lot of the anthrometric data is all based on based on males, and there's not very much female and parametric data in the data that we're using and standards for build. And that needs change. And if this type of application is going to work, we need to really get on with developing better anthrometric tables for this type of thing. So the VR itself doesn't have its virtual reality. You can be whatever you want to be, you can do whatever you want to do. But the physical kit that you're going to be wearing really needs to fit. Well, it needs to not only be fit with who you are now, but as we spoke about earlier, people age, people, their body changes and things like that. So there's going to be a whole bunch of stuff around the actual fit of the physical equipment that I think it's going to have to be reversed. It's going to have to be well calibrated, and it's going to have to fit.

 

 

I think there's probably a lot of other stuff we can get into with the engineering side of things. But do you think there's any sort of system safety and health things that we should be considering with this? Yeah, I think sort of the big thing for me is at first glance. Right. It's like, what do we have to consider? There's sort of this device that pushes air against your mouth. What could possibly go wrong? Famous last words. Right. Because there could be a lot, I think, that we can consider from health you have in here mental health, and I do want to talk about that. Right. And this goes alongside everything that we talked about with the society and cultural discussions that might need to happen around this technology being implemented. So with that, there can be sort of this loneliness that people experience. And does this more immersive technology patch that does it make it better or does it make it worse? That's something that we can think about. Right. We can also think about sort of the example of kissing your child Goodnight. Does that make it worse? It might feel like it's better, but does it make it worse because it's not the real thing. There's a lot of other questions in terms of mental health that we have to think about. Barry, I'm curious on your take on the safety and health perspective here. Yeah, I guess it's an extension of the mental health. Please to a certain extent. We sort of alluded to it earlier. Is this actually providing a healthy relationship now? I think there's an element of what does a healthy relationship look like with an artificial intelligence entity, a bot, an MPC, that sort of thing. It doesn't exist, but yet you're investing or you could be investing a whole lot of time, effort, feelings, love, whatever within a relationship that it doesn't exist. And then the application of this technology just intensifies that because there is much less ability to delineate between the two. But then the flip side of that is, does it matter, actually, if you're getting one of the things that we find destructive within people is not having loving relationships, not being alone rather than being in a good relationship. Is this another way of people who maybe can't or for whatever reason don't get into good relationships? This will provide one for them and actually make it a bit more meaningful and bit more engaging. I think it would be really interesting to see future research into that. If anybody's listening who wants a research topic, you can have that one for free. But then I think the other bit of it that I'm quite interested in as well is if we do take this further and we do the implementation of it, we talk about bodysuits and things like that, how do we link them together? How do we deal with the there's going to be some really basic stuff, right. If we're in this, how do we make sure we don't electrocute ourselves? If these type of sensory things, if we to believe what we told, they'll become quite addictive. So you'll spend more time in the immersive world than in the real world because they just feel so immersive. So what about the basic things of remembering to do things and you're not wanting to come out and do real world activity? I think there's a lot there to play on, but I don't necessarily want to be too down on this thing because I think this is clearly a massive step forward. And a lot of the things I think we perceive as issues that we normally bring up in the safety and health, I think a lot of it will be at the forefront of the people who are developing it. But I think there's still a long way to go. You'd hope. We did talk a lot about those physical sort of issues in that Metaverse episode. Again, I'm going to plug that episode. It's such a good episode for us to talk about in relation to this. I do have sort of one loose round as we're kind of wrapping up this story here. We've been skirting around the applications that I think all of us go to straight away. Barry saved the day with the music example, but I do want to bring up a couple of other examples that were sort of illustrated in this video that the research has shown, and this is future interfaces group on YouTube. You can go watch the video yourself, but just for everyone's awareness, there are other experiences that this might be practical. And this really comes down to sort of that immersive storytelling that we were talking about. So whether it's gaming or sort of these passive environments in which things are happening to you, there's other sensations that you can emulate on your lips that are less scandalous. So let's talk about them. Right. Things like rain. So if you're walking through an environment and there's rain, you might be able to feel some of those on your lips as you look up. Right. Or feel something in your mouth, like raindrops coming down from the sky. There's also the act of smoking, putting an object in your mouth and sort of inhaling toxic chemicals and then blowing that out of your mouth. You can do that, too, like Spider webs if you're walking through a spooky. Again, this thing is mounted right below the headset. And so it can probably target not just your lips, but the rest of your face, too, which also has a very high sensitivity. When we bring that back to sensation perception, there's other things like shrapnel. So if you're in a combat zone in a war game or if you are breaking boxes is the example that they have. But you might be able to feel something hit your face as you're going through an environment with lots of debris. There's also toothbrushing, so you can brush your teeth. You can sort of emulate that sensation. And then there's also wind. Right. So you might be able to feel the wind on your face through this device that's mounted to the bottom. Right. So you're not getting anything from your nose up, I guess. But that might be enough to sort of give that sensation of being on a windy terrace or something along those lines. Right. So there are other applications we've been skirting around the scandalous ones. Barry, any other loose rounds for you before we wrap this up? Only one. I don't want to be doing the Spider webs one. I don't like spiders, so that wouldn't work for me. No, I think it is a really interesting technology. I really like what the idea of what they've done with it. I think it's going to set an interesting starting point for where we go next with it. I think the idea of the next sensors that they build will be the true measure of where the growth of it's going to be. But, yeah, good work. Well done. Well done. Thank you to our patrons this week and everyone on Twitter who thought it was a great idea for us to talk about this. And thanks to our friends over at Gizmodo for a new story again this week. If you want to follow along, we do post links to the original articles on our weekly roundups on our blog. You can also join us on our discord for more discussion on these stories. Or we don't necessarily have to keep a PG. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be back to see what's going on in 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% listenersupported. 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 one dollars per month and include rewards like access to our weekly Q and A's with the hosts, personalized professional reviews, and Human Factors Minute, a Patreon only weekly podcast where the host breakdown unique, obscure and interesting Human Factors topics in just 1 minute Patreon. Rewards are always evolving. So stop by Patreon. Comhumanfactorscast to see what support level may be right for you. Thank you. And remember, it depends. Yes, huge. Thank you. As always to our patrons, we especially want to thank our Human Factors Cast, our honorary Human Factors Cast staff patrons. Michelle Trip, patrons like you keep the show running. Seriously. You keep the lights on for us. And that extends to our digital media lab as well. We have one of those. I haven't mentioned that on the show tonight. Anyway, we have one of those. It keeps light on over there, too. I do want to bring up Patreon has some other cool stuff that you might not know about if you are not one of our Human Factors Cast crew over there. We have full audio versions of every show. So Barry and I sit down every Thursday night for two. Was it 2 hours? Yes, 30 minutes before, 30 minutes after, and all that is packaged up as a separate podcast for all of our patrons. So if you're unable to watch the live shows, we do the audio version for our patrons. There's also weekly Q and A. This is a great opportunity to ask us questions directly and get some targeted feedback, especially it kind of elevates in the line above our discord. We kind of look at that first and say, okay, who's coming here? What's being said, there's also early access to the show. We do post our show just a couple of hours early over there. It's not too much of early access, but if you're looking for something Thursday night, you might get it at like 06:00 P.m.. Pacific instead of 09:00 P.m. Pacific. So that's another consideration. There's also bonus content over there. So things like our EHF coverage that's coming out next week, our patrons will get all that stuff, including the full interviews with all the people who called in and talked to Barry. They'll get all those as one separate piece. So there's plenty of reasons to become a patron. First and foremost, you do help the show, and if that's your goal, then awesome. Thank you so much. We really appreciate it. If you want something in return, we have all this stuff for you, too. Consider it. Anyway, I think it's time we get into this next part of the show we like to call

 

 

that is right. This is the part of the show called It Came From. And this is where we look all over the Internet to bring you topics the community is talking about. If you find these answers useful, no matter where you're at watching, listening, give us a like or whatever the heart, I don't know. Whatever it is, it'll help other people find this stuff and it's all word of mouth anyway. So let's talk about three tonight. We got the first one here. Lucrative fields in UX research. I'm going to go ahead and expand on this and say human factors. This is by user philosophical razor on the UX research subreddit they go on to write. Hi, I'm currently in the government consulting sector. Oh, good luck. While the projects are very interesting, I am looking ahead for a role where the money is a little bit better. Are banks or financial institutions the best paying options, or should I be looking at tech? Appreciate any advice, Barry, what are some of the sectors with high yield salaries and what are the factors should folks maybe consider when they're looking at breaking into a new sector? Well, someone could tell me which sectors have them. I'm quite keen to learn. I don't know. Is HF and UX the place to be going for high salaries? I'm not entirely sure, to be honest. I think obviously there is that the whole tech piece, the social tech in particular, is very much on the up and that mobile element is kind of there, particularly from the U X piece. But yeah, I've got to admit with this when it came up, I'm struggling to think of areas where you're going to go and make truly big books. We are a niche discipline that in safety critical industries we do get used very well, but even then it's still a struggle, I think. So I'm going to tap out. I'm not entirely I don't think I can give a satisfactory answer. What about you, Nick? Do you have more of an insight to me? Where would you go for the big books, American based big tech companies? I mean, that is where you're going to find the most competitive offers, mainly because they have the money to spend. That being said, there's some other considerations that I think you need to make right, especially at those big tech companies. Are they providing you a good work life balance? Is it something that you're going to be able to maintain long term? What kind of other benefits do they offer? A lot of them have sort of a relatively high base salary and then great benefits on top of that and great stock options on top of that. So you're not only looking at sort of a base number, but if you look at that whole package, it's quite lucrative. I think if you are looking just for money, there you go. But again, you need to kind of consider where you're going to enjoy working. If you enjoy working on these varied projects, if you don't have a problem with being closer to the tip of the spear, that might be for you, especially if you're maintaining a good work life balance. That's my two cent. It may not be the best advice, but if you're looking for lucrative options, go with the Fang or May or whatever they're calling themselves now that their Meta and Netflix is out. Right? Is it MAGA? I hope not, because you've written the acronyms down. I don't actually know what they mean. So Fang or Mang, that's like it used to be Facebook, Apple. I forget what the other A is. Netflix and Google. And now that Facebook has changed their name to Meta, F is now an M. And then the Netflix is now out, I think. I'm not sure. I don't keep up with it. Why is Netflix out? Oh, have you seen their stock lately?

 

 

They banged out. Yeah, I'm just Googling it right now. I think it's Mama M-A-M-A-A. So you have Meta. Let's see here. Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon is the other A and Alphabet. Right. So Google is no longer Google. It's Alphabet Mama with two A's. There you go. Mama company. Yeah. All right, next one up here is from Shayita on the UX research subreddit they write, what does your ideal work environment look like? That's it. Barry, what does your ideal work environment look like? Well, for me, if you look at the environment in the whole society, like what my desk is now. I like screens. I like big screens so you don't feel claustrophobic in your workspace and what you're trying to do. I like multiple screens so you can hand things off to different bits and have one for monitoring, have one for your active workspace, things like that. But taking it outside of just what I want on my desk, because it's going to have buttons and it's going to have gadgets. You can have access to people. Now, that could be virtually, but ideally my ideal sort of office plan. I don't like big open plan offices, but I don't like single offices either. So I like small open plan offices. So maybe three, four, five to a room with small teams based type thing and a lot of them, but also having other places to break out too. So you can go. So there's like conference rooms. You can do things like that when you then look at some other bigger things then in my work environment, I want time and I want the budget and I want resources to be able to do the job properly and not having to skrimp and skimp and save and try and do that, that's always a bit of a massive nice to have you decide to come back now. Okay. I thought I told you that the time period was also the other thing I think works for me is something I do try and do with my team is to have ongoing internal projects. So no matter how busy you are trying to do the external stuff, the day job, having a different project alongside what you're doing is I think is really useful because it allows you to dip into something else. It allows you to do something and it might be pro Bono work, it might be something along that it almost doesn't matter what it is. But having something that is not purely profit driven at that time to change as good as the rest. So allowing you to go to have something going on that you can go and dip into at any time. So, yeah, I think that's screens and people and inappropriate size rooms on whiteboards. I didn't put whiteboards in there. Whiteboards everywhere. You have whiteboards everywhere with working white pens. With whiteboard pens. Not the ones that are kind of half dried out. Yeah. Okay. And the squirty stuff, that means you can clean your board properly because when you go back to it, you can never get everything up properly. And the proper wiping materials too. Right. You need either a rag or something. Not the chalky block. I'm right there with you. For me, it's very different from yours, actually. I really do like the remote position and I really do enjoy traveling to go to user events. And it really does sort of limit in terms of what domains I'm able to work in. I find that I can get a lot of my answers through quick calls with people and that's probably just the domain I'm working in and that's fine for that. But in some you'll need to go do more regular contextual inquiries or something like that. Actually visit in person. I can do most things from home. I really do appreciate the flexibility of having a remote position. That's what works for me. And I really love this question because you and I differ so greatly on this. But there's no right or wrong answer to this. Everyone works differently. And so from my perspective, in terms of a physical space, I like three monitors. I like one big one right in the middle, and then two kind of offshoots that have various information on them that I might need to reference my primary workspace. Right. So if I have a Zoom meeting up, it's over here. Sorry. It's over here. All my communication is on this one, right. And all my sharing is over here. So if I'm sharing my screen, I'm looking right here because it doesn't have any of my workspace up. It's not sloppy. It's made for sharing the primary workspace being so big, too. I can split the screen and look at two different things. Like, I'm looking at you over here and I'm looking at the notes over here. I'm looking at the audience right here. Right in the lens. Do you see that looking at you? Yeah. It differs for me, right? And ideally in this space, I share this space with both my personal stuff and my works stuff. And so for that, I need a dock that I can change modes with by one USB C. I plug out of my work and plug into my personal, and it switches modes in my head for me, when I'm able to unplug my personal and put in my work, it's such a hassle to get back into. I mean, it's a hassle by unplugging and re plugging it back in, but it's a hassle to go back and forth. And so I tend to stay in one mode versus the other. The other thing is that I would really like to prefer an environment confined, dark, almost kind of like a storage closet. I don't know if maybe this environment kind of reminds you of anything, like where I'm currently at. I built it because of that. I liked being confined. I don't like a lot of distractions. Adhd doesn't work for me when I have outside distractions creeping in, looking at things. And so that's the physical space, right. When you think about digital lots of organized folders and making sure that that structure is mirrored across everything that you're using. Right. So things like transcription software, document storage, information repositories, these types of things, making sure that everything kind of matches and plenty of redundant links to each of those things. So that way, if you need to find your way, you can. That's me. All right, I think we got one more. This last one here. Applying to UX Research jobs at Meta question about my dissertation topic. This is my Blues maker on the UX Research subreddit. This one's a really interesting one. I'm glad you pulled it, Barry. I'm soon to be a PhD in sociology looking to get into UX research. From looking at the job market, it seems that Meta is the company that seeks many recent University goals. Because of this, I'll be applying there. However, because my dissertation topic is about QAnon conspiracy theory on Twitter, I wonder if hiring managers at a social media company be concerned that I'm coming from a perspective that's highly critical of their industry. Do you think that there's any reason for concern on my part? If so, is it something that can be addressed by how I describe and talk about my dissertation research? Be interested in any related thoughts people may have. Barry, do you have any advice for folks who have conducted research maybe in the past that could conflict with a prospective employer's business goals. So somebody who works in the defense industry and is an employer in the defense industry. I've come up across this a couple of times now, but my biggest piece of advice really is embrace it. Don't hide it. You did whatever you did. And this isn't actually just for research either. It's actually anything that's going on in your past, I think to a certain extent. But in terms of this particular bit around the dissertation, you also conducted that research for a reason. It interested you and that type of thing. And you've obviously learned a lot that would be helpful to the social media industry based on what it is that your research has found out. So tell them why your work is valuable. Tell them what you've learned and they could apply if they were to hire you, because the research you will get, you must have learned some really interesting things because I think the topic is fascinating. So tell them why it's valuable. Embrace it. Yeah. I have a very similar mind to you, Barry. I think just ensure that your rationale for wanting to work there is sound. It sounds like this person is wanting to apply there because there's availability and is it somewhere you want to work? Just make sure you know in your heart of hearts where you want to be. But also they will likely ask about something like this if they see it on your CV, resume, whatever you submit. Right. And I think the framing of your answer will be critical. I think, like you said, Barry, explaining what you learned and sort of embracing that. But then I think there's obviously skill to doing an interview. And I think the piece that I will offer, in addition to what you said, Barry, is how can you reframe it to help the company goals? I've learned all this stuff about QAnon, and therefore I think I can make changes to the company by doing XYZ because of this background that I have. That's my two cent on it. All right. Let's just go ahead and get into this last part of the show. We call One More Thing needs no introduction. Barry, what's your One More Thing this week? So I'm going to be a bit more with it this weekend. I've only got One More Thing this week. So our daughter started her exams, so she's doing them a year early. But after our elder daughter did their exams, this leads me to reflect again, why do we pursue such an antiquated education system that we still have a bit where we get educated, then you go and go to work. And I just don't feel now that actually the way that we deliver education in this modern society really fits the way that we live. I think we should reform the entire lot. There were some really good talks that were done a couple of years ago that shows that the education system was generated around basically Victorian, Victorian needs. And we haven't really moved on from that yet. Society is moved on so much that I think we should burn it all down and start again. Sounds like great post show topic, probably. Yeah. It makes me frustrated not only as a parent, but as an employer as well. Yeah. Anyway, I'll save that run for the posh. What about you, Nick? What's your One More Thing? Next week? We've alluded to it. Summer hiatus, all that stuff. I'm going to the wonderful world of Anaheim, California for Star Wars celebration. It's a Star Wars convention. I'm going to get my nerd on. And last time I went, it was a spiritual experience. It was like I keep saying this in some way, shape or form, but it was when they said that the Chewy were home, trailer for The Force Awakens came out and just everyone was like in tears and it was awesome. And everyone was on stage. I'm super excited about it. We have made the costume for our son and it is almost complete. We're still putting on some last minute touches. It's going to be a little bit tight on time, but, man, I'm excited. That's my One More Thing and that's going to be it for today. Everyone. Let us know what you guys think of the news story this week. If you like this episode, enjoy some of the discussion on simulating the feel of kisses, I guess. Then I'll invite you to go and listen to our episode on the Metaverse, where we talk a lot about those other issues of being in VR for a long time. There's a comment wherever you're listening with what you think of the story this week. For more in depth discussion, you can always join us on our Discord community. Visit our official website. Sign up for our newsletter. Stay up to date with all the latest human factors news. If you like what you hear, you want to support the show, you can do a couple of things. One, leave a five star review. You can do that right now. Pause whatever you can finish listening. Just go. Five star review. That's fine. Two, tell your friends about us. That really helps us grow and helps us sort of invade other people's lives. We love that. And then three, if you do have the financial means, we do offer a lot in Patreon and we'd love to have you join us. Support the lab that way. As always, links to all of our socials and our website are in the description of this episode. Mr. Barry Kirby, thanks for being on the show today. Where can our listeners go and find you if they want to talk about other applications for VR kisses? If you're going to talk about kisses, then there's other people available for that. But if you want to go find me on Twitter, I'm at Bazamasko, K and across all my social but if you also want to hit listen to the interviews that we've been doing, then twelvefix podcast is where you want to go to twelve Podcast.com. As for me, I've been your host, Nick roam. You can find me on discord and across social media at nickrome thanks again for tuning in to human factors cast. Until next time.

 

 

Barry Kirby Profile Photo

Barry Kirby

Managing Director

A human factors practitioner, based in Wales, UK. MD of K Sharp, Fellow of the CIEHF and a bit of a gadget geek.