Pontus Wärnestål, PhD

Short bio

Pontus Wärnestål (he/him) is an award-winning Service Designer and Human-Computer Interaction researcher, with 20 years of work experience in User Experience, Service Design, and Human-Centered AI. He is the author of 40+ scientific papers and the book Designing AI-Powered Services (available at Studentlitteratur in Swedish and English). Pontus is passionate about teaching and an experienced public speaker and writes about design, value, and AI.

As Head of AI Design & Innovation at Swedish AI agency eghed, Pontus fuses design strategy with AI, focusing on devising deep, human-centric solutions that not only make sense but make a difference.

In addition to this thrilling adventure at eghed, Pontus continues to serve as Deputy Professor at Halmstad University. This dual role creates a unique synergy, marrying cutting-edge research and innovation with responsible and practical application and learning. Since June 2023 Pontus is also spearheading the AI and Design track at Ambition Empower.

Pontus Wärnestål. This image can be used for speaker promotions.

Longer bio

Pontus is bridging the realms of artificial intelligence (AI), service (and UX) design, and innovation. His journey began during his Cognitive Science Master at Linköping University, where he designed and developed a spoken dialogue AI system for Nokia Home Communications. This promising debut led to a Ph.D. dissertation on user-adaptive spoken recommender systems.

Upon earning his doctorate in 2007, Pontus played a diverse range of roles in the design industry, contributing his UX expertise to Volvo Cars and web agency Daddy, and co-founding a tech startup. His career took an exciting turn when he spearheaded a new UX department at Crispin Porter + Bogusky Europe as Director of User Experience.

In 2012, Pontus returned to academia, joining Halmstad University’s Informatics department. His research and teachings on digital service innovation struck a chord, leading to award-winning research on peer support for child cancer-survivors. He also created and directed the Bachelor program Digital Design and Innovation at the University, his dedication to teaching earning him both the Accomplished Teacher Pedagogical Merit in 2014 and the Excellent Teacher Pedagogical Merit award in 2019 and 2023.

In 2016, Pontus transitioned to the role of Design Director at inUse, where his focus was Service Design and Human-Centered AI across the Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, and Denver (US) offices. Concurrently, he continued his scholarly pursuits at Halmstad University, earning his Associate Professor degree in 2018 and Deputy Professorship in 2023. His passion for AI and UX Design has contributed to developing innovative educational programs, including the MAISTR program for professionals, and the pioneering AI.m program for companies in Halland.

His international reach extended in 2022 when he became Adjunct Professor at Woxsen University in India. Pontus’ book “Design av AI-drivna tjänster” came out in Swedish in 2021 and the English version “Designing AI-Powered Services” was released in September 2022 — one of the first textbooks on the subject, bringing AI and design knowledge to Swedish and English readers alike.

Now, in 2023, he’s excited to take the helm of the AI and Design track at Ambition Empower, while also holding the baton as the Head of AI Design & Innovation at the Swedish AI startup agency, eghed. Always keen to share his thoughts and insights, you can occasionally find him contributing to Medium.

Pontus’ vision? Leverage AI to drive the circular transition and ensure the responsible deployment of AI-powered humanity-centered services.


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My writing is on Medium