Finding a Korean Steve Jobs

2011-10-23 : 16:14

Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs

'Interaction Science’ seeks to create human-centered technologies

By Kim Jae-kyoung

On Oct. 5, Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs died of respiratory arrest caused by pancreatic cancer. Although he is gone, he left many things behind, such as iPods, iPads and iPhones, which have entirely changed the lifestyle of the 21st century.

People talk about a lot of tangible factors that drove the success of the late IT guru. However, what made it most possible for him to create all those amazing products was his philosophy ― the way he viewed things around the world.

Last March, when unveiling the iPad 2, Jobs said, “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”

His comments suggest that one of the reasons Steve Jobs made Apple so special was that he understood that it wasn’t just a technology company. In other words, in order to become a champion in this complex, rapidly-changing business environment, it is essential to understand both human and technological sides.

“What made Steve Jobs special was his innovative approach to combine technology with the humanities,” Shin Dong-hee, the Chair of Interaction Science at Sungkyunkwan University, told Business Focus.

“What’s common in popular products, such as Apple’s iPad, Nintendo’s Wii, and Facebook is that they all tried to develop human desire and needs into technology services,” he added.

According to Shin, the subject of interaction science is a multidisciplinary study of how humans interact with information and communication technologies (ICT) with a special focus on industrial applications, which he believes will help foster a Korean version of Steve Jobs.

Interaction science is the only social science field selected for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s World Class University project, which is a higher education program that invites international scholars to collaborate with Korean faculty members.

“We are trying to understand how people individually and collectively use technology and are affected by them. Knowledge gained in the process will be utilized in developing new technologies that contribute to human well-being and welfare,” he said.

Shin, who leads the department of interaction science at Sungkyunkwan University, points out that in order to create a Korean Steve Jobs, the country should make more efforts to foster talents with knowledge and insight both in technology and the humanities.

“The real problem our technology industry is faced with is not a lack of advanced technologies. It’s the lack of a humanities outlook to technology,” Shin said.

“We plan to educate and produce experts in human-computer interaction, human robot interaction, and digital media and contents. We are looking forward to creating human-centered technologies by conducting systematic studies of ICT users. Our ultimate goal is to foster a Korean Steve Jobs.”

He explains that his department focuses on investigating users of, and technologies for, ICT products, such as robots, mobile technologies, human computer interfaces, digital media and games.

“For example, we are seeking to develop a human-like robot by standardizing the interaction between human beings and robot. Also, we try to come up with a social networking interface tailored for Korean users,” he said.

However, Shin points out that Korea is one of the most difficult societies for a multidisciplinary study, such as interaction science, to take root in.

“Since there are big barriers between departments, as well as school systems, it is really hard to promote interdisciplinary integration. In Korea, discussions regarding interdisciplinary activities weigh mostly on technology, such as production of hardware and improvement of technology functions,” he said.

“Like U.S. and European countries, the nation should make further efforts to create a framework to promote interdisciplinary integration of human activities and knowledge on nano, bio, information and cultural technologies, with the aim of improving human intellectual abilities and environments.

Prior to joining Sungkyunkwan University, he was on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Information Sciences and Technology from Syracuse University.

What is Interaction Science?

Interaction science is a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive digital technologies for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them such as the areas of robotics, ubiquitous computing, and digital media. It aims to produce experts that are needed in HCI (Human-Computer Interaction), HRI (Human Robot Interaction), and DMC (Digital Media and Content). The mission of the Department of Interaction Science is to promote scholarship pertaining to human-interaction with computing technologies. The program has been developed through the support of the World Class University project sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

The department offers Master’s degrees and Ph. Ds in Interaction Science. Its Master’s program is a two-year full-time program, with an emphasis on research-based learning, and designed to train students for professional careers in industry and advanced degrees in academic fields. The doctoral program is a research-oriented program which prepares students for careers in academia.


“한국의 스티브 잡스로 키워 드립니다”

한국판 스티브 잡스가 되고 싶다면……

한국판 스티브 잡스 육성하는 ‘인터랙션 (interaction)’ 학과

얼마전에 애플의 창업자인 스티브 잡스가 세상을 떠났다. 그는 떠났지만 그가 창조해낸 획기적인 제품들은 여전히 우리와 함께하고 있다.

사람들은 잡스를 성공에 이르게 한 요소들 중 눈에 보이는 요인들에 대해서 칭송하고 있지만 사실 잡스와 애플 성공의 핵심에는 사물을 독창적으로 바라보는 그의 철학에 있다. 올 3월 아이패드2를 출시하면서 “애플 성공의 뒤에는 기술만 있었던 것이 아니고 기술과 인문학의 결합이 있었다,”고 말한 잡스의 발언은 그의 철학을 잘 대변해 주고 있다.

성균관대학교 인터래션 사이언스 신동희 학과장은 "애플은 단순히 기술을 개발하는 회사가 아니며 인문학과 기술을 결합하는 회사"였다 라고 말한다.

애플과 스티브 잡스의 성공 비결은 바로 기술과 인문학의 결합, 즉 사람에 대한 연구였던 것이다. 신동희 학과장은 인터랙션 사이언스가 인문학과 예술, 기술을 아우르는 융합형 창의적 인재 양성이 목표라고 강조한다.

인터랙션 사이언스는 인간과 기술이 상호작용하는 방법과 현상에 대한 이론을 다양한 학제간 접근을 통해 연구하는 학문이다. 미래산업의 핵심 영역인 스마트 기술, 디지털 미디어 분야에서 필요로 하는 인터랙션 전문가를 배출하여 국가 신성장동력 산업발전에 기여하고, 인간과 기술이 상호작용하는 방법과 현상에 대한 이론을 다양한 학제간 접근을 통해 인간 중심의 기술을 연구하는 것이다.

애플의 기술이 성공을 거둔 이유는 바로 인간중심의 기술 이었기 때문이다.

인터랙션 사이언스 학과는 교육과학기술부의 융합진흥정책에 따라 World Class University란 프로젝트의 지원을 받아 2009년에 생긴 융합학과이다. 학과에는 다양한 배경의 학생이 입학하고 있으며, 학과에는 3가지 트랙 _ Human-computer interaction, Human-robot interaction, Digital Media Content 전공을 제공하고 있다.