Form, Function, and Focus: A Conversation with Rich Gioscia, VP of Design
Hear Mojo's VP of Design talk about the challenges that make Invisible Computing so interesting to work on.Oct 20, 2020
As VP of design, are you responsible for hardware or software?
Actually, I do both. I head up the industrial design team, which is in charge of wearable aspects of the technology, but my team is also responsible for the user experience, which encompasses how someone will interact with our device and what makes it better.
Usually design is a combination of style and engineering. Mojo adds medical considerations into the mix. What's it like juggling those three disciplines?
When I was at Sony designing consumer electronics, I learned that a device can’t solely be physically appealing, it also has to work well; it has to be easy to use. Good design blends aesthetic with purpose. At Mojo, the medical aspect is another dimension we need to add to our development. For me, that just comes down to addressing someone’s expectations of product requirements, and when you have a strong engineering team and group of medical experts, it’s not difficult to consider these aspects.
How has your time in IT/consumer electronics influenced your approach at Mojo Vision?
You learn to think like your user and anticipate their needs. At Sony, I worked on digital satellite TV when it was new and had the task of putting electronic program guides on the screen. We had to think, what were the users expecting? What were the features that we wanted to promote? When I went to Palm, it was the same thing: what are people actually going to do with a PDA? What are the applications for the users and markets you are going after?
But, I also learned to simplify. Some products try to throw the kitchen sink in with every experience; they believe it should do everything: “Give me 10 different ways to access the same function.” But that’s overload. We need to consider; how do we make the product smaller and simpler to interact with? What can we leave out? Over all the products I’ve helped designed I learned that what's not in the product can be more important than what's in it.
And that's what we're doing here at Mojo. Mojo Lens is a whole new platform: a display built in a smart contact lens. You almost have to change how you think about wearables completely, but some questions are the same: How many features do we really want to include? How many features are enough? How much is too much?
Why did you decide to come to Mojo Vision?
In my last role, my team developed a camera that removed the lens and screen between a person and the action and let you wear it; you may know this as a GoPro Hero. When I heard what Drew and others were working on at Mojo, it was just the right thing for me. I wanted to get back to my R&D roots, where the goal wasn't to just make something that functioned well and looked pretty and get it out next year. Making technology for technology’s sake isn’t enough.
There's so much energy and advancement in the AR/VR space today that I just felt, something this far-out can actually be built now. And we’re actually doing it.
Beyond Mojo, what challenges do you see existing for AR devices in general, in terms of interface and control?
Control is a big one—how do you control something you can’t touch? In the movies you see this futuristic version of gestural control, where you’d have to move your hands in front of your eyes to control things. When you dig into those Minority Report aspirations in a movie, it's fine—you see the interface and it makes sense. But in real life I don't want to be out in public, waving my arms and grabbing at thin air. It feels so disruptive, not just to yourself but to everyone. How do we connect to data while being discreet, hands-free, and safe?
The data display becomes another issue. When it's on the eye and you're trying to interact with the real world, you can't just replicate what you've done before. I can’t take a smartphone or watch screen and cover my vision. We need to share information in a way that’s not disruptive, that's respectful of the user.
How would you describe your personal mission at Mojo?
A couple years ago, I took a sailing lesson down in the Caribbean. Best time in my life. Feeling that rudder and sailing, just being human and connected to something as amazing as that ship cutting through waves…it was awesome. On board was another gentleman that brought all his digital gadgets along to sail and navigate. One day on deck, he’s fumbling with his iPad and I'm like, what are you doing? Enjoy life and this experience, man, don’t let the gadgets and toys distract from this!
So that's my goal at Mojo: just to help people stay in the moment without their devices getting in the way. Designers can't ask for anything better than that to work on in their careers. It's awesome.