Interview by Marija Butkovic (@MarijaButkovic)
Eunjoo Kim is a principal UX designer at Samsung Electronics, working on Samsung’s wearable product UX. Eunjoo has worked in the UX design field for 20 years at major global IT companies including Motorola, and Qualcomm in the U.S.A. and now at Samsung in Korea. Throughout her professional career, she has done UX designs for emerging technology products such as web, mobile, AR/VR, and wearables. Eunjoo Kim was shortlisted as one of the top 18 women leading the way in wearable tech and VR in 2016 by Wareable magazine. Eunjoo holds a M.Des in Human Centered Communication Design from Illinois Institute of Technology in the USA.
Eunjoo, what does your current job role entail?
I'm the principal UX designer at Samsung Electronics. I lead the user interaction and experience design team for the Samsung Gear product lines, such as the Gear S3 and the Gear Fit2. My team has also developed the Tizen wearable OS design, which is the basis of the Gear UX. Working with a talented multidisciplinary group to create such new innovative products is fun and I’m very proud of it.
How has your career progressed since your degree? Has it been an easy industry to get into or have you had many challenges?
I studied Information Design at Ewha Womans University in Korea and was fascinated with the interaction design practices. I started my career as a web designer about 20 years ago, which back then was a new field. I had to cover multiple roles, from site planning to web programming, as well as visual and interaction design for the online website of the top newspaper in Korea – all at the same time!
Getting a job was not difficult, but exploring a new unknown field was a challenge, and kept me on the edge of my seat. After 3 years of learning on the job, I wanted to study the fundamental foundations of UX design, this included a deeper understanding of the human factor and user research. So, I studied Human Centered Communication Design and got my master’s degree from Illinois Institute of Technology in the U.S.A. Since then, I've been working as an UI/UX designer at major global IT companies including Motorola, and Qualcomm in the U.S.A. before heading to Samsung in Korea.
Has your degree helped in your product design process for wearable tech products?
I believe my degrees helped me positively shape my career. Having a strong interest and a broad understanding across a range of areas is very important. This is key as UX design can be complicated, especially in the wearables industry. You need to have a good understanding of the interplay between humans and technology. This includes user's behavioral patterns, device interactions, physical human factors and even business strategies. I’m still learning new things every day.
How long did it take you to be where you are now? What was the biggest obstacle?
Looking back on my 20 year career, it has been full of challenges and adventures. From web designs 20 years ago, to mobile UX designs 10 years ago, to AR/VR UX and now wearables. Being a UX designer is a fascinating space to be in, as it is constantly changing. This environment provides fresh and stimulating challenges and opportunities for myself and my team. It has always been exciting to work with new and emerging technologies. I would say one the greatest learning has been to be able to articulate tricky design concepts and highlight their value to a wider organization. My job has always been to help the team make the right decisions based on user values and what’s best for our consumers. At Samsung, that’s what we do daily, to provide meaningful progress to our consumers through our technologies.
What are your projects you are currently working on within your company?
I can’t talk about future projects, but I have worked on the Samsung Gear S3, Gear Fit2, and Gear IconX.
What does the #WomenInTech movement mean to you? What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur and woman in the wearable tech industry?
The #WomenInTech movement is a great initiative to increase diversity in the technology sector, which can only be a good thing!
I am a mother of twin girls. I am fascinated by how they interact with technology, and are growing up in an increasingly smart and connected society. They are constantly giving me a new sense of perspective, and inspire me to think differently about how we wear and use technology.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
I always take great pride in what I do, and am honored to work with such a strong team around me at Samsung.
My two biggest achievements to date, include being shortlisted as one of the top 18 women leading the way in wearable tech and VR in 2016 by Wareable magazine (www.wearable.com).
Secondly, it has always been a great moment when my team’s products are globally recognized. This includes the Samsung Gear Fit2 UX, Samsung Gear S2 UX and Samsung Gear Fit UX, which were awarded the iF Design award 2017, the IDEA Bronze 2016, and the Good Design award in 2014 respectively.
In your opinion, what will be the key trends in the wearable tech and IoT industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
Wearables is in its infancy and only just getting started, however, I strongly believe wearable devices will become even more mainstream in the next 5 years. At Samsung, our aim is to always push the boundaries of innovation, and place the user always at the heart of what we do. UX designers at Samsung are committed to understanding what our “wearers” needs are, and how we can help enhance and enrich their lives through meaningful progress. The best wearable devices will be the one that consumers don't even feel they are wearing.
I am very excited to see what will happen next and looking forward to the next five years. Let’s enjoy the future!
LinkedIn: Eunjoo Kim
A few latest works that Eunjoo's team has done:
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, co-founder of Women of Wearables and Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.