November 17, 2019

Designers' role and impact in emerging tech field such as Machine Learning, AI or AR/VR is yet to be defined. But the change is unstoppable and AI will be prevalent in every product. Products like recommendations or task automation, conversational chatbot, voice solution and predictions will be applied to a wide range of use cases. If AI is as good as the data you put in there, designers can help hold it accountable and create an experience where the emerging tech feels like a copilot to humans. Here are a few things designers can do to be successful.

1) Apply the same rigor of user testing and feedback gathering to emerging tech. Utilize conferences and focus groups for usability sessions with a hybrid research method combining exploratory and evaluative user research to collect trending data and gather new desires. If you just apply known patterns, you might make design vulnerable. In testing, always ask for specific things that are good or bad to train the system.

2) Approach eme...

September 26, 2019

I am into Voice UI because it is the future of product design and it is challenging. It is extremely difficult to create a useful conversational experience because the front part of our brains are wired for visual processing. And we have not made very far in making users feel like they are interacting with a human - not a machine - in today's VUIs.

VUI does not need to have a visual interface - it can be completely auditorial or tactile.  This can be frustrating because a human brain can easily process a map interface that shows your 6 nearby grocery stores, but it is a pain to translate the same amount of information into a conversational experience. 

There have been a ton of resource poured into developing VUIs, but most products still fail to cultivate trust and ease of use between users and AI. This failure proves to be the most expensive mistake that any company can make. Why? Because VUIs might take longer to ship and therefore cost more money. Many of today's first VUI use ca...

July 8, 2019

​I became a Senior Product Designer this year. And here are the most common questions that I still get asked every day even by people in tech:

○ Do you design hardware?

○ Are you a UI designer?

○ Are you a UX designer?

○ Are you a UI/UX designer?

○ Are you an artist?

○ ...

The answer is none of the above.

In the context of early and growth stage startups, I wanted to share some thoughts about how I look at what product design success means and the core competencies of a product designer. 

There are key skills and responsibilities you can easily find in a  job description for a Product Designer, and they are not worth repeating here. But here is how I look at the inner thought process of a competent product designer. 

Step 1: Advocate for customers, and come up with design solutions

○ As I become more experienced, I realize that people are more cognizant of pains than going through pleasures. But it's not a bad thing. Pain is the starting point of making genuine connections and establishi...

July 23, 2017


On June 30, 2017, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) released the first-in-the-nation bike-share permit requirement. On July 6th, SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) released their nine-page permit. Other cities also expressed interest in following a similar process.

These two permit requirements are a great starting point of a scalable solution to bringing dockless bike-share programs to all U.S. cities and entities. Here is my initial analysis based on previous transportation and planning experiences.

Not Your Typical Market Entry: For Bike-Sharing Startups, It Means Helping Cities Achieve Their Goals  

Dockless bikes have had huge success in China, and there has been industry analysis and published reports done that show they are indeed a remedy to urban transportation issues.

However, U.S. cities have unique challenges: sprawling cities, reliance on cars, socioeconomic disparity, to name a few. To convince U.S. city officials, bike-share startups m...

June 6, 2017

(Screenshot from Lime Bike's How-To video) 

Investors are pouring money in bike sharing apps in the US after they’ve observed the success of such apps in China, and they are investing, hoping that the success will play out in the US, but there are particular obstacles to overcome that China does not have.

It is not the first time when tech companies become interested in changing how cities work. But it gets complicated when virtual meets the reality. Dan Doctoroff of Google Sidewalk Lab has admitted that he underestimated the complexity of cities, and although both hoping to improve cities, technologists and traditional urbanists (planners and policy makers) do not seem to understand each other.

Urban challenges

The challenges of bike sharing apps in the US are the same as challenges to cities: broken public transportation system, reliance on cars, urban poverty, public safety concern etc.. Therefore, dockless stations might work better than have stations as one can avoid making wrong...

December 17, 2016

Research and Conceptual Framework

In dense cities where land value is high, competition for acquiring the land to develop into direct profit generator is fierce. But there has been long tradition of viewing park as common goods. I have often heard landscape architects and environmental planners using ‘promoting public safety and decreasing crime rates’ as a generic term to argue for having more public park land in an urban environment because green spaces are more likely to be used by pedestrians and cyclists and create greater ‘natural surveillance’. For instance, Nottingham Trent University’s Trees For Cities interviewed city residents and they reported a stronger sense of safety because criminals are likely to be deterred by the presence of other community members. Some have proved that urban green spaces do not lead to increase in crime rates, if not decrease. In the study of Boston’s South-West Corridor (Linear Parks and Urban Neighborhoods: A Study of the Crime Impact of the Bosto...

November 2, 2016

I recently learned mapping with python geopandas package. It is an interesting experience as I am more familiar with mapping with GIS. GIS definitely allows more editing, formatting and analysis options however geopandas is an open-source package and I do enjoy the accessibility of it. 

In fact, ever since I started learning some coding last year, I feel lazy about opening up traditional design and analysis tools for architectural designers - CAD/AI/PS/GIS.. and spending hours to draft manually when I can get things easily done with code. 

But architectural design is a complicated and often times messy process that refined ideas do come from long hours of repetition. So I'm not sure if the way we work is ever going to keep up with the pace of tech - it may be a good thing after all. 

But I do need to ackowledge that tech can help us work more efficiently and offers endless possibiliites!

==============================geopands and maps==============================
The first map was creat...

September 9, 2016

Statewide Integrated Traffic Record System (SWITRS) data suggest that Native Americans are a disproportionately high-risk population for traffic injury, therefore it is vital to improve road safety for California’s tribal populations, as well as for all population groups in California that may travel to the state’s rancherias and reservations.

SafeTREC (Safe Transportation Research and Education Center) at UC Berkeley has been heavily involved in efforts to improve crash data reporting and collection as well as obtaining collision data from various sources.

SafeTREC project staff has geocoded the crash locations data gathered from the SWITRS, the primary source of state-level crash data for California agencies. The following maps are created with SWITRS crash data points from 2005 to 2014, clipped by tribal boundary shapefile with 5 miles buffer that is obtained from Bureau of Indian Affairs and further processed by project staff.

The crash data points have many layers of s...

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