Ken Lonyai, Digital Innovation Strategist and co-founder

A 15 year veteran of interactive project development including some of the industry's most unique experiential systems. His skills span the on-line world and nearly every realm of human/computer interface used by brands and retailers - mobile, interactive kiosks, experiential displays, and more. Known as the man with the miniature R&D lab in his head, when he's not working on a client project, Ken can be found designing, tinkering, and developing some cool new experiential device in SPIA Labs.

Ken started his career as a Manufacturing Engineer in the metals industry, with a portion of his work related to electronic chassis production. He later contributed his skills for the development of professional race car components and chassis. After receiving an MBA in Marketing, he focused on the use of technology to enhance marketing strategies at about the same time that the Internet began to take hold. As a result, he has morphed his technical and marketing expertise into a unique skill set that's rare and valuable to brands and marketers.

He's a co-founder of the HUM:Ex project.

A Quick Q&A With Ken

Do you prefer to work with big clients, medium clients, agencies, or who?

Size doesn't matter. We do our most productive work when our clients know their brand, their market and what they want to accomplish. When they convey that knowledge to us we can keep the creative juices focused on the best path to the results they want to achieve. Otherwise, we'll still get to the right destination, but it may be the long way around.

What has SPIA accomplished that you're most proud of?

It's not a single project, but rather our record of taking on difficult and uncharted assignments that sometimes requires exploring new territory to deliver what the client is asking for. A great example is interactive fragrance: we committed to a project before all the technology existed. We made it happen in that case and others too, without even one situation where we couldn't deliver. And we plan to keep it that way!

You started your career in engineering then moved into marketing. Isn't that a complete turn-around?

No, not from my perspective. In both instances the underlying principal is to find the best solutions for the situation you're presented. There can be a lot of creativity in engineering and a lot of technical analysis involved with marketing, so, to me they're more the same than different. Besides, SPIA has a bunch of interactive systems that took a good deal of engineering, so I've really blurred the lines.

What's the future of technology as you see it?

In terms of computer/software/devices - definitely HUM:Ex and hidden and embedded devices that blend into the background and lifestyle of the people using them. In other areas, biotech is producing new concepts that will change what we accept as medical treatment today. Green technology will become mainstream, if only for the economic possibilities and every year moving forward, the oil economy will erode a little bit, with alternative energy sources making more and more sense environmentally and economically.

What's the most difficult part of your job?

The traffic. We visit many people in the city (NYC) every week. Being stuck in traffic and the time it takes to avoid it is frustrating. I know I would accomplish so much more if SPIA only had a budget for a piloted helicopter.

If you had to do something completely different for a living, what would that be?

Clean energy. Environmental issues. Animal protection/help.

Ken Lonyai


SPIA is a 2012 UX Award Winner!