Future Tense

Feb 9 2018 - 3:25pm

IDSA Fellow Charles Austen Angell will be speaking Future Tense at IDSA's West District Design Conference, which will be held from April 23 to 24, 2017 in Portland, where his Modern Edge design firm is based. Angell will take a closer look at "Virtual, Augmented and Autonomous."

Earlier this year, he served as the keynote at the first TiECON Northwest 2017, also in Portland. The conference brought together entrepreneurs and investors and highlighted three disruptive technology sectors: artificial intelligence/machine learning, life sciences and augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality. Angell delivered "Virtual, Artificial or Real: Defining the Next Wave in Tech," focusing on enhancing the emotional content of these technologies as well as how to prioritize innovation strategies to reflect the true needs of end users:


  • Technology is still falling short of standards set by medical practitioners, i.e., Watson diagnoses with 82 percent accuracy. 
  • A 300 percent increase is expected to be seen in AI investment in 2017 over 2016, with $6 billion coming from venture capitalists. 
  • Considerable concern continues as to how AI will be incorporated within FDA complaint devices because of the current FDA guidelines for device development.


  • Dominant and compelling consumer platforms have not been identified. Even in the gaming industry's successes such as Pokemon GO, interest faded quickly.
  • The implication is that much of current AR/VR trends toward novelty-driven experiences, rather than emotional experience prioritizing long-term human needs and behaviors.
  • Entertainment companies are considering strategies with significant impact on their business model, i.e., Six Flags is providing riders with Samsung VR headsets rather than building new roller coasters.
  • AR/VR is facing similar challenges in FDA compliance as AI. 
  • Applications for consumer-level innovation in medical AR/VR are under-represented.


There is a frightening gulf between the public's perceptions of what is coming and the actual industry roadmap. But is society ready for the profound changes that the autonomous vehicle revolution will bring?

“The opportunity is for companies to reorganize development strategies to be human centered, prioritizing long-term human emotional concerns over a shorter-term wow factor," Angell says. "The investors themselves have a role to play in helping to steer these company strategies towards a user-centered focus, if for nothing else, simply to protect their investments.”

One of Angell's top priorities as CEO of Modern Edge is assisting technology companies in human-centering their development strategies through research and design thinking. He is a noted and globally known designer and innovator and recognized in IDSA's INNOVATION magazine as one of 50 Notable Members in the 50+ year history of the Society. Angell also served as Chair and Chair Emeritus of IDSA's Board of Directors, among many other roles.

Angell has led research and design programs for the world’s most innovative companies such as Intel, Procter & Gamble, St. Jude, Medtronic, Gillette, Harley Davidson, Johnson & Johnson, John Deere, BMW and 3M, among others. He has keynoted conferences and talks at IDSA, NASA, IEEE, TIE, TAO and other leading organizations on innovation and technology.