Get to Know Us! Featuring Product Manager, James Tu

How long have you worked at Educational Insights?

For a very short period of time, actually. I started last February.

What drew you to working here?

Actually, a connection! Nancy Balter is related to my wife. We moved here to California from New York last June. So I left a user-experience design job there.

For that company, we worked on a lot of non-traditional user experiences. One of the biggest projects that we worked on was for the World Expo in 2010. Our company was tasked to design the visitor experience for one of the pavilions, the Shanghai corporate pavilion. We did everything from the queuing experience, lining up to get ticket, and figuring out what to do while you’re getting tickets. We had to design something to do while they were waiting. So we did things like videos and interactivity, where you can control some of the lighting patterns for that building. All in sort of preparing visitors for the inside of the pavilion. So they go inside and they were treated to this multi media show. Some of the stuff is interactive, and in the end, they get lead into this big theatre where they experience this interactive film.

When I relate my past experience to my experience here, I say that I make large-scale toys. Everything is a user experience. Kids will manipulate things, press on buttons, and listen to the content. When you’re designing a product, you’re really crafting a user experience. I’m just taking my experience from designing things in spaces to products.

How do you like it here so far?

Its great! The people are great; the things I work on are really cool.

What was your favorite toy growing up?

I liked Lego building blocks, and I liked some of the electronic toys like speak and spell with the funny electronic voices. The interesting thing is that now in the age of high fidelity with amazing sound and images, if the use experience isn’t there, it doesn’t matter how good your media is. So although back then those toys were “low tech”, the designs of the products were still pretty good. The speak and spell really taught you how to spell things, and there were others like speak and math.

What’s your favorite toy here at EI?

I haven’t experienced all the products, but we used to carry Blokus. It was a board game that I first connected a product with EI and that’s how I got to know EI. I like KaBam! It’s really cool. Play foam is an interesting product. BBQ Blitz is a good product that I’ve seen kids really gravitate towards. I gave it to my niece and she really loved it; she was flipping the burgers and matching them up. I think that it’s just a nicely designed game for that age group. Blurt is also pretty good.

What is life for you outside of work?

Well right now we have an 8-month-old daughter, and she’s basically everything right now, like our lives center around her. She’s actually an inspiration to me. Well, she’s too young right now, but eventually, hopefully I’m designing things with her in mind. Also, I’m trying to be fit. I used to play a lot of volleyball. I’m a big competitive volleyball player in high school and college, so coming out here to the beach and seeing all these volleyball nets makes me kind of want to get into it. I sort of did, but I need more time!

List of Favorites:

Favorite animal?

This is kind of silly and simple, but I really want a dog! It’s kind of a boring answer.

Favorite color?

Blue

Favorite season?

I really like Fall. I like the changing colors of the leaves, and I actually like fall fashion. Fall is a nice in between where you see people layering.

Favorite team?

I don’t actually follow professional sports in that way, so I don’t necessarily have a favorite sports team. But I’m rooting for Brazil for the Olympics volleyball team.

Favorite food?

I love Ramen.

Favorite movie?

I really like Cinema Paradiso. It’s an Italian movie about this kid who really loves movies. Eventually he becomes the projectionist in this theatre, but they would censor movies take out all these kissing scenes. But in he end, he takes all the kissing scenes and turns into one big movie. It’s good.

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