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The Road Less Travelled
by Ankita Kumar

An interview with Tabita

Challenging the status quo is never easy. In today's world where most people are rodents running a race to no where there are some brave young minds and hearts who take the road less traveled.

One such bright, vibrant and passionate young lady is Tabita Kurien. She is following hear heart's call and doing it with panache.

A graduate in Media Studies from the prestigious Christ College, Bangalore, Tabita completed her advanced diploma in Multimedia from Arena Multimedia Bangalore. She followed it up with a PG diploma in New Media Design from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.

She has also had the distinction of presenting a paper on Tink Tank at "Áartabilitation -Helping through art" conference in Denmark.  She was also awarded a Ford Foundation Scholarship for her final Diploma Project.

I caught up with the 25 year old creative live wire and the result was a cyber tete a tete with a difference.

Ankita: Tabita what you are doing is quite different from the beaten track. What made you choose this field.

Tabita : I truly believe in the statement by John Maeda, "Now more than ever we need people who can lead humanity towards technologies that improve society , rather than technologies that simply improve over technology." This ethos and the fact that I have always loved to work for children, people with special needs and the underprivileged was I think ultimately responsible for me to choose this rather different calling.

Ankita: That is truly inspiring. Tell us something about the projects you took up during your educational career.

Tabita: As a part of my final post graduate diploma project at the National Institute of Design, I devised a companionship accessible tool for children with and without disabilities to learn and play together. My project aims in bridging the gap between them. This device FABLE - An interactive computer based edutainment table focuses on collaborative learning thus bringing children together. In today's day and age as children become loners sitting in front of the computer and playing various video games, Fable takes its inspiration from the traditional board games which encourage children to play together and build a sense of companionship .The Research for this project was done in Association of People with Disabilities, Bangalore and wouldn't be possible without their support.  I have also worked on animation films, designing of brochures, posters, logos, splash screens et al.  Ankita, a project which is very close to my heart is Tink Tank. I designed and made a working prototype of a multi sensory device to make exercise fun for children with special needs. It is presently being used at SETU(www.setuindia.org/) for the past 3 years.

Ankita: That's really fantastic. What about the current work you are doing?

Tabita: At present I am working for Human Factors International. I am a part of the Intel design team designing an educational device for children

My role requires me to work on the initial brainstorming and concept ideation of the next version of Classmate PC. Secondary research of the various devices available in the market. Participatory design sessions with parent's teachers and students. Scenario building. Developing protocols and questionnaires for usability testing. Designing posters. User touch points in school with teachers and students which included (direct interview, group interview, class room observation and usability testing). At present I am designing a simplified interface for the Classmate PC keeping children from grade 3 to 9 as the target user. This is a challenging role as it is a live project and one has to deal with the software development team, the marketing team as well as the user requirements.

Ankita : You and the work are truly awesome. I feel like reaching out for slam book and taking your autograph. What keeps you going?

Tabita: Its amazing to be a creator and the satisfaction you get by seeing your product being used is unexplainable. Each product is like a baby and you don't make it alone. You have angels who come into your lives in the form of people to make your baby come to life. It is this feeling which keeps inspiring me.

Ankita : One final request. What is your advice to our readers.

Tabita : I can't give any advice as I guess I don't have that much experience but would surely like to say that they should believe in their dreams be it any field. Diligence makes dreams come true.

Thanks Tabita and from me and all our readers wish you all the very best and may you conquer many more peaks.

Tabita : Thanks. 

4-May-2008
 
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