UI, UX, AR, VR… There are plenty of abbreviations related to user interface design and user experience, but where does the abbreviation VME come from? Read this blog to find out more about the birth of the VME lab.
There should be a place for students to use for free to test and research interfaces, and [a place] through which collaboration between companies and universities could also take place.
The need for such a place was clear even when students didn’t have the opportunity for eye tracking or testing of other user interfaces as part of a master’s degree or other research. This need was also noticed by Olli Raatikainen (a university teacher at the University of Vaasa at the time) in 2016, who needed equipment for his postgraduate studies.
The students were especially close to the heart of laboratory engineer Veli-Matti Eskonen, to whom Olli also mentioned the need for user interface testing. Veli-Matti led training groups for students of the technical faculty. He wanted to give students the opportunity to get familiar with modern devices at a low threshold as part of their studies.
Let’s set one up!
This idea eventually gave rise to a project to build a pilot environment for user interface testing at the University of Vaasa; a project to create a place where one could do low-threshold user interface and user experience design testing and research. Also, to create cooperation between companies, universities, and development organizations.
One of the significant initiators of the project and a tireless creator was Veli-Matti Eskonen. When looking for funding for the pilot environment, Veli-Matti was an active member of the working group promoting the project. There were bumps along the road, in particular a negative financing decision came from one party.
This didn’t discourage ‘Vellu’, with his experience and positive attitude. In fact, he created faith in success through his humour. The working group remembers an e-mail that Veli-Matti sent to others after a negative decision. Its content was roughly as follows:
Hello again, a rejection arrived. Complaining begins: dear, oh dear. Complaining over. I suggest we make a new application for the next round.
This is a good example of the importance of not giving in to adversity, but to learn from it, move on and strive to do even better next time. And without work, success is less likely to be achieved. This is easy advice to follow both in study- and work-life, as well as in design of user interfaces. You should not get too caught up in the task, but persevere in finding the most suitable solutions and dare to look outside – and outside the box.
The pilot environment for user interface and user experience design sees the light of day
The next application was made and the importance of the project was emphasised. Unfortunately, the father of the project, Veli-Matti Eskonen, passed away – just a few weeks before the application deadline. In addition to those close to him, Veli-Matti’s passing was a great loss for the working group of the user interface environment.
However, respecting the attitude of a respected colleague, there was no freezing. The application for the implementation of the pilot environment was completed and submitted on the last possible date, 4.3.2019. This time, the decision was positive, and the equipment purchases for the user interface testing were completed!
When the pilot environment was then set up for Vaasa’s Technobothnia, it went without saying that Veli-Matti would remain a part of the team – the realization of the project was largely due to his energy.
As such, the interface environment was named after him: VME Interaction Design Environment
We want to maintain the attitude and vigor of Vellu’s work in the creation and running of the user interface environment.
By doing, you learn, and adversity should not be discouraged. You should feel free to experiment and test to find the best solutions.
The University of Vaasa also wants to promote the development of the interaction between people and information technology and also support the needs of companies. An easily accessible VME is a place to develop and evolve through user interfaces, user experience, accessibility, and augmented reality devices.
One of the purposes of the VME environment is also to hold different workshops and hackathons and, thus, bring together different experts – both from companies and universities.
The VME team is honoured to develop and take forward this unique low-threshold user interface and user experience design testing environment with Ostrobothnian pride.