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International design consultancy ustwo studios won Mobile Design of the Year in the 2020 Indigo Awards for their immersive mobile app, Headed South. ustwo developed Headed South in collaboration with Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group as a novel gaming experience meant to onboard Pixel 4 users to the device’s new Motion Sense features. 

Motion Sense allows users to control their mobile phone without touching the screen, via simple hand gestures like a swipe or wave. In Headed South, users play the role of a bird named Soli, learning tricks and new gestures as they fly with different flocks. The free soaring and flight expression are controlled by touch and gestures combined, and the story is brought to life in vividly illustrated scenes. To make the gesture-based interaction feel right, ustwo used a combination of visual, sound, and haptic feedback, and ensured the experience offered a sense of control without being overwhelming. Uniting the best of game and UX design for emerging tech, ustwo and Google created an engaging experience that establishes an intuitive way of interacting with a new technology.

Apart from winning Mobile Design of the Year, Headed South also received the following 2020 Indigo Award recognitions: Gold in Interactive Design, Gold in UX, Interface & Navigation, Gold in Innovative Use of Mobile Technology, Gold in Mobile Interaction & Experience, Gold in Mobile App, Silver in UX, Interface & Navigation, and Silver in Apps. 

Co-founder and president of Tessellate Studio, Emily Conrad spoke to Doreen Lorenzo in an interview for her Designing Women series in Fast Company. Tessellate is an integrated design and technology studio where Conrad and her team think about design for museums, exhibit spaces, and how visitors are going to interact in physical space in ways that are meaningful for them.

Conrad recounted her interest in design beginning at a young age when she got the chance to visit a product factory and likened the full creation process to a “magic show.” That interest led to her eventually moving to New York to work as a sculptor for many years, but after a poignant visit to the Whitney Museum where she saw their bitstream digital media exhibit on display, an interest in technology and interactivity sparked in her and she began to think that her sculptures could come alive in a really different way. 

She then attended ITP, the Interactive Telecommunications Program founded by Red Burns, an important influence on Conrad. Burns once pulled her aside and told her, “Emily, I want you to know something. As a designer who is understanding technology, you’re going to be faced with a lot of engineers and people who are going to tell you that something can’t be done. You just have to look them in the face and tell them that it can.” She recalled this unforgettable moment as the greatest piece of advice she ever received.

Tessellate is often tasked with designing a whole space. Conrad explained how their job is to determine what the master narrative is and design the best way to convey and teach an idea. Projects of theirs like BioBus and Mobile Food Lab have brought the thrill of discovery to children by sparking their imagination through unconventional environments curated for exploration.


Proprio announced the appointment of Dr. Takeo Kanade to its Advisory Board. One of the world’s foremost researchers in computer vision and robotics, Dr. Kanade is the U.A. and Helen Whitaker Professor of Computer Science and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He joined Proprio’s growing technical advisory board which includes Dr. Desney Tan, General Manager of Microsoft Healthcare, and Dr. Joshua Smith, the Zeutschel Professor in Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Washington’s Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering and the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“It has become clear that robotic-assisted surgery is the next wave of surgical performance. Imaging and navigation need to advance to fully enable it,” said Gabriel Jones, Co-Founder and CEO of Proprio. “As we approach commercialization of our breakthrough surgical imaging and navigation system, we are honored to have the guidance and support of world-class scientists like Dr. Kanade who has been a pioneer in computer vision and robotics.”

Proprio is developing a new type of surgical imaging and navigation system which provides a dramatic extension of the surgeon’s eyesight. The Proprio system integrates recent advancements in robotics,  computer vision, and graphics processing to let surgeons see and interact with patients as never before, reduce the complexity of surgical procedures, and create a valuable new visual data set to enhance medical training and drive healthcare innovation.

“I am impressed by the innovative and meticulous work Proprio has done to fully understand the challenges facing surgeons and patients in the operating room,” said Dr. Kanade. “Vision systems are critical to surgical performance, and the Proprio team has integrated robotics and computer vision in a novel way to address the shortcomings of conventional technologies. I look forward to working with them to bring their first system to market and develop future systems to improve both surgical efficiency and accuracy.”

Sink-integrated compost system Sepura Home garnered industry-wide recognition for its innovation in food waste and sustainability after making its debut at the world’s biggest tech show CES 2020. Manufactured by Anvy Technologies, Sepura Home is a garbage disposal alternative that collects food waste for composting rather than grinding and flushing it down the drain. 

Popular technology publications featured Sepura as a standout at the event including CNET, Techlicious, and Engadget, which also nominated the product as a finalist for Best Connected Home Product in its Best of CES awards. Sepura also received accolades from Sunset Magazine, which named it Best Eco-Conscious Design at CES 2020, as well as from leading food-tech publication The Spoon, which included the product in its CES 2020 Kitchen Tech Report as an innovative new concept in food waste reduction. Sepura continued to appear in several post-event roundups, cementing its status as a breakthrough food waste innovator from CES 2020.

In a Core77 feature, senior editor Rain Noe wrote about the launch of UT Austin’s new Master of Arts in Design in Health program. After his own recent experiences in well-designed hospitals, Noe recognized that the healthcare industry is now paying a lot more attention to design than they were twenty years ago. Despite this, no design schools had offered healthcare-specific programs until now.

UT’s new one-year degree program focusing on the application of human-centered design in health is offered jointly through the School of Design and Creative Technologies in the College of Fine Arts and Dell Medical School’s Design Institute for Health with the program set to start August 2020. 

“The Design in Health Master’s degree was uniquely constructed so that Dell Med students and innovative professionals could work collaboratively to solve real-world problems that impact the health and health care of millions of Americans every day,” said Doreen Lorenzo, assistant dean of the School of Design and Creative Technologies. “Learners explore the many facets of design to creatively design solutions that revolutionize the way people get and stay healthy.”

Noe shared an optimistic outlook for the future of the healthcare industry if the new design program was to be successful and emulated since it aims to address critically important health factors across the spectrum of conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, while taking a systems design approach to encouraging collaborations across sectors that were not designed to work together.


Dr. Joshua R. Smith, a Proprio Co-founder and Technical Advisor as well as a University of Washington Professor, became the 16th UW faculty member to achieve IEEE Fellow status. He was named a Fellow of the IEEE in recognition of his contributions to electric field sensing, far- and near-field wireless power, and backscatter communication.

A UW news release announced Dr. Smith’s achievement alongside other faculty and alumni. Dr. Smith, who is the Zeutschel Professor of Entrepreneurial Excellence at the Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering as well as the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, also leads the university’s Sensor Systems Lab. 

“I am so grateful for this award, which recognizes the impact of work with many wonderful students and collaborators over the years,” said Dr. Smith. “I thank my family for their support and enthusiasm over so many years.”

Dr. Smith worked with Jim Youngquist, who is one of his doctoral students as well as a Proprio Co-founder and Head of Engineering, to develop the technology that became Proprio’s immersive surgical imaging and navigation platform. 

Dr. Smith received his Ph.D. with Neil Gershenfeld at the MIT Media Lab, where he did groundbreaking work in electrical field sensing that has yielded real-life applications in areas such as automotive passenger sensing in smart airbag systems. His work on electric field sensing has also influenced the multi-touch capacitive sensing products that have been incorporated in smartphones since the iPhone. 

He began his career as Chief Scientist at Escher Group, a startup born at MIT. Prior to joining the UW faculty, he worked as a Principal Engineer at Intel. At the University of Washington, Dr. Smith’s Sensor Systems Lab has spun out two other venture-backed companies: Jeeva Wireless and Wibotic. 

Amid the release of the Google Pixel 4 and it’s experimental Soli radar technology, Fast Company’s Mark Wilson featured Headed South, a free new game developed by ustwo studios designed to introduce users to the Pixel 4’s new motion-sensing capabilities.

The Pixel 4’s new Motion Sense feature uses Soli radar technology to turn hand gestures into new touchless interactions of users. It can be used to skip forward and backward on Spotify or wave to Pokemon in the phone’s live wallpapers. Headed South turns users into a bird flying from a storm where you encounter other birds that join your flock once you catch up to them. By air swiping with your left hand, special tricks can be performed without touching the screen. With Motion Sense being such an early technology, “the project goal in itself was a mix between an onboarding experience and play experience,” said Anders Oscarsson, the ustwo design lead who headed the project.

Wilson described the game itself as a “masterclass in world-building” with fantastical, immersively rendered levels that celebrate nature. The experimental game was praised as a polished tech demo that points to the potential of what Soli has to offer to a new era of touchless computing interfaces.

Heather Wright, Executive Director of Partner Content at the four times Academy Award® winning animation studio Aardman Animations, spoke to Doreen Lorenzo for Fast Company about creating content that connects with people and how she manages teams to find the right balance of creativity.

Wright recalled her interest in 3D animation actually being sparked by Ardman themselves after she saw a film created by them in the 80s. She found herself intrigued by the idea of bringing things to life and really believed in the way the craft connects with people at a heartfelt level. When designing in animation, Wright explained how the character’s appearance, personality, and actions are all interconnected, making design a critical aspect of storytelling. Aardman creates a wide range of content from movies and TV series to games and AR/VR apps. Wright explained how at Ardman they work with small brands to large theme parks companies and anywhere they can add energy, characters, and storytelling. 

With the democratization of design and animation and the introduction of technologies like AR/VR, Wright described the challenge of constantly evolving to find new talent and explore new mediums all while retaining quality. When finding new talent, she encourages people to “go bigger than the script, bigger than the idea, revisit it from a fresh perspective and try and buy just a little bit of time, because that’s what your real added value comes from.” She explained that at Ardman they find that working in smaller “trust groups” encourages this atmosphere of creativity, experimentation, and free-thinking. And that’s where the best ideas come from

Gabriel Jones, CEO of surgical imaging company Proprio, spoke at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference, GTC DC, on November 6, in Washington, D.C. 

Gabriel’s talk was entitled, “Synthetic AR: How modern GPUs are blurring the lines between physical and digital worlds.” He presented how NVIDIA GPUs have enabled Proprio’s systems to capture and reconstruct immersive, volumetric video streams, fuse them into a single environment, and enable multiple users to interact with multi-modal imaging data, like CT and MRI scans, during surgery. 

NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference is the premier event on artificial intelligence. The conference brought together experts to get hands-on technical training and insights into the latest AI and data science approaches, applications and breakthroughs while featuring 100+ talks, panels, posters and demos covering deep learning, machine learning, cybersecurity, autonomous machines, healthcare, 5G, VR, and more.


Gabriel Jones, CEO and Co-Founder of Proprio, delivered a talk entitled, “The Amplified Human: Using Computation and Robotics to Augment Doctors” on November 3, at the 2019 House of Beautiful Business in Lisbon

Jones appeared in the “The New Senses” track alongside Moon Ribas, the Spanish avant-garde artist and cyborg activist, David McCandless, the British data-journalist, information designer, and author of the visual blog and subsequent book, Information Is Beautiful, and Pauline Brown, former Chairman of North America for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

The 2019 House of Beautiful Business took place November 2 – 6 at The Academy of Science in Lisbon and brought together 500 participants from business, public sector, science, technology, the humanities, and the arts to envision and experience new models for the future of our economies and societies at human scale. 

Nicole Castro, marketing content writer for NVIDIA professional visualization solutions, featured surgical imaging company, Proprio in a NVIDIA blog post titled, “The Real Cutting-Edge: Proprio Fuses AI, VR, Computer Vision for Precision in Surgery.” In the post, Castro highlighted how Proprio fuses human and computer vision to create a 3D immersive visualization systems for surgeons in the operating room.

Powered by NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, Propio’s system captures the live surgical field and fuses it with preoperative imaging to create interactive 3D visualizations for surgeons to use in real-time. “Doctors no longer have to look at multiple screens or bring in different machines to get the information they need, our NVIDIA GPU-powered system makes real-time, accurate visualizations possible,” said Gabriel Jones, CEO of Proprio. 

Proprio uses the latest Quadro RTX 6000 GPU and others for tasks like multi-modal image rendering and registration, image processing and correction, 3D geometry reconstruction and CT segmentation. With the speed and performance of Quadro, Proprio has developed a light field camera array and graphics processing pipeline that captures a high-definition volumetric representation of the surgical field that can be magnified and re-focused anywhere. Castro explained that with this technology, surgeons can use a VR headset to zoom through tissue and navigate freely and fluidly as they operate, and even train more effectively by using virtual environments.

Proprio CEO Gabriel Jones hosted a Fireside Chat with Vinay Narayan, VP of HTC Vive at Cleveland Clinic’s 2019 Medical Innovation Summit (MIS). During their session entitled, “Building the Immersive Operating Room of the Future” they discussed how emerging technologies like computer vision and extended reality can augment and scale surgeons, let them collaborate in real-time from anywhere, and create a new visual data platform to power the next generation of healthcare robotics and AI. Their session took place on October 21 as part of the Summit’s first-ever CLEVR Health track, exploring the state of AR and VR in healthcare. 

Cleveland Clinic’s 2019 Medical Innovation Summit focused on ‘Caring for Every Life Through Innovation’ where it tackled artificial intelligence (AI), new drug discovery, non-traditional participants and personalization in healthcare. The 17th annual summit brought together more than 100 healthcare speakers and leaders from over 500 organizations and 20 countries to downtown Cleveland from Oct. 21 to 23, 2019.