IXDA 19 Conference: Student Design Charrette
Inclusive Design

The IXDA 19 Conference is one of the largest Design Conferences held each year where designers from all over the world come together to share the latest topics prominent in the field. IXDA 19 was held in Seattle, Washington at Amazon Headquarters and the theme of 2019 year conference was Empathy. 

As a part of the conference, nine student designers from across the globe were selected to compete throughout the length of the conference in a one week competition. I was one of the nine student finalists selected to participate and was flown out to Seattle to be a part of IXDA 19. The Student Design Charette was sponsored by Microsoft and IXDA. We, the students were divided into groups of three and spent the week researching, ideating, and iterating. The final deliverable was a product proposal that we presented to designers from all over the world at the conference.
The Brief
Design a product or concept that scales empathy.

Talkie is a voice based learning platform that builds empathy by facilitating active listening and effective communication in real time conversations. Using Alexa, users can practice their communication by having real time conversations with individuals that have different perspectives on real world topics, such as global warming or homelessness. The platform provides users with constructive feedback on how users can improve their communication after each session.

Team Members
Akshita Mehta and Isabel Newsome


What is empathy? On the very first day, we had the pleasure of interviewing a panel of empathy experts from diverse industries who demonstrated how empathy is applied in the work they do with people and animals. The panel included: Dr. Patricia Worthey, a psychologist; Dr. David E. Smith, an ethics professor; Belle Archaphorn, a zoo trainer; and Zachi Hamid, a NPR radiohost. From the interview, we embraced the meaning of empathy when applied to different settings and populations. 
After the expert panel, we listed out all the data we collected, broke down the steps of empathy, and identified the areas where empathy can fall short. After breaking down what empathy means, we did rapid ideation exercises and decided to tackle the lack of resolution of the first step towards empathy: Conflict.

The goal of Talkie is to:
1. Practice active listening while having conversations
2. Practice having effective communication
3. Being aware of a different perspectives
We wanted to provide users with the tools to improve their communication to build a world where people are more empathetic towards others. Throughout our design process, we received feedback from Google and Amazon Alexa designers that helped us refine our concept. Talkie can be used on various platforms and a variety of settings to help build empathy in a simple and fun experience. 

IXDA 19 was truly an experience of a lifetime where I got to meet and be in the presence of the biggest designers in the world. What made my experience memorable was the amazing friendships I made with the eight other student finalists that I got to spend time with and get to know throughout the entire week. This experience truly expanded my mind as a designer by both working with designers from all over the world and by challenging me to design a solution that scales empathy.  

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