Meet Microsoft’s FUSE Labs member and the UX designer of Xim: Sarah Needham

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Meet Microsoft's FUSE Labs member and the UX designer of Xim: Sarah Needham

We recently wrote about Xim, the interactive photo sharing app from Microsoft research. Now, meet Sarah Needham, the UX designer of the FUSE Labs team. She designed the Xim interference, but you won’t often think of her — if she did her job right.

She developed the design on research at how users used the app, leading to an intuitive and simple experience. And just to be clear, UX stands for ‘User Experience.’ This is not the same as the ‘User Interface,’ although that too is part of the UX. So if you have used the app, and don’t find it polished, that is because the FUSE Labs is a small team with limited resources. And this being a research project, it isn’t expected that the interface comes with all the cool animations, etc. that you see for other apps. Instead think of how you interact with the app and the work flow of use cases such as adding users and uploading pictures — this is what Sarah designed.

Sarah is currently at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing discussing Xim, while also being an inspiration to the young Computer Science students in attendance. Part of that entailed providing insight into her own journey to where she is now — a member of Microsoft’s FUSE Labs.

She studied in Los Angeles, Boston, and Still Water which culminated in a Master’s degree in Fine Arts in Media Design. Her studies focused on “design’s fictions and critical interventions.” Design fiction, or critical design, is meant to reveal new ways of treating an object or concept in a way that challenges currently-held assumptions. Sarah explains how her unique background aided her in this: 

“How I landed in that world of fiction can be directly linked to my background in architecture, where I learned to question the world from all angles—literally.”

You can read more about Sarah here. Microsoft Research is focused on pushing the boundaries, and there are always extremely interesting projects coming out. But we will be particularly keeping an eye on Xim to see where Microsoft takes this particular project.