Nice to have you here. Let me introduce myself: I'm Pier aka werpi279. I'd like to define myself as
an experimental designer and code (ab)user, but up to you to give me any label after reading through
this. I use those words to describe myself because even if my academic path was in design, I've
always been a designer among engineers. It's strange for me, because now I gained mixed experiences
and knowledge, but I feel like I don't have a professional identity, and sometimes this may be
annoying. I just know what I do, but I have issues describing it even to close friends. By the
way, through these experiences, I have gained expertise in mixing various tools or quickly learning
new ones (at least the minimum I need for a specific task). The only important thing is to make
what's in your mind possible. Or to demonstrate that even if it works, it works badly. That happens
too. But this is a good way to learn, I guess.
Before talking about my job and projects, I owe you some apologies: I will not go much into deep detail because some of them are confidential or ongoing. That said, let's move on.
What I like to do while working is to learn. And there's no better way than pushing modern
technology to its limits - at least in my opinion. Crafting something brand new with what we have
makes you think in a different way, and I do like to misuse stuff to give it new life. Years ago I
asked myself: people have used their hands to communicate since ever and designers spend years
improving 3D modeling skills. Why don't we combine these two info to solve a problem? It was more
complex than this, but you get the idea. I've designed and teamed to prototype a system able to
translate people's hand movements and translate them to the 3D object they were describing. From
that project, the company I worked for5 made a simplified and commercial
product6. Amazing result, I couldn’t imagine a company pushing one of my ideas to the market! But in the end, I wasn't satisfied. For months there had been just that, and no meaningful
free time... I began being proud of that several months later. I guess you can enjoy your job, but
still need something else to really appreciate everything. At least I do.
Currently, I'm working at Politecnico di Milano university7, where I had to face one of
the biggest challenges ever met: loneliness. One full year of research alone. One full floor with
nobody, but me. Hardest time ever. But working with driving simulators I couldn't work-from-home that
much (that is being alone, but at home). Music somehow helped me. My main field of work is
researching and prototyping new interaction modalities. In particular with gesture, haptic and
autonomous vehicles. Here I have the opportunity to work with driving simulators (and built one, the
internal vehicle interface sensor part at least), where I conduct my research and prototypes. The
main project I've worked on was BASE5G8, a regionally funded project about 5G potential.
Imagining autonomous carsharing in 2030, we decided to use the whole windscreen to project
infotainment - movies, presentations, or whatever people do with a tablet or phone. In this
scenario, the seat will be in a comfortable position: further away, more sloping. So, how are we
going to interact with the new interface? We won't be able to reach the instrument cluster from that
position. Gestures and voice control may solve it. Within this project, I've designed a way to
interact with the projected interface through custom gestures. I then added haptic feedback to
simulate the touching of icons or elements of the infotainment interface. The project ended with a simulated
experience in an immersive scenario and a quantitative. That was important to define if
the new gesture pattern was intuitive and if the sensor position was correct and mark differences with state of art interfaces9.
(PS: now the lab is full and sometimes colleagues from other departments ask us to be hosted. I
guess that means there is a great environment down there!)
With Politecnico, I'm collaborating to help Huawei Automotive10 design, prototype, test,
and implement their future in-car interfaces, improving the passengers' experience as much as
Lastly, I care about ethics, inclusivity, and the correct use of technology. This brought me to
teamwork and write a book chapter11 about autonomous vehicle ethics and vulnerable users.
We finally arrived at the part where I'm supposed to tell you what I've learned from all of that,
right? Well, I'm not sure if it's easy to say or trivial, but here are my main three. One: Working
with different people from your mindset is hard but great. It pushes you to learn something new, see
things from a different perspective and it creates cool conversations. Two: having different assets
in your toolbox is useless if you only use them as they are designed. Hack things, bend them under
your logic, and not vice-versa. Three: work shift is pointless and working whenever you like is
priceless, but it is important to have time to decompress by doing something you enjoy. During
and/or after the shift.
In my free time, I bring on several personal projects. Some of them go into the trash can (most of
them actually), and some survive. I enjoy doing audio-reactive visuals (something that frees my
creative side and truly relaxes me), creating simple experimental apps (I enjoy doing this because they bring my ideas or concepts to life), making electronic music (sounds are amazing, and
combining them makes me realize that what I like to make is not what I like to listen to), and much
more. Or simply, hang out.
Ok. I've talked for too much. If you feel like it,
tell me about yourself.