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Posts in category 'Disabled'

7 November 2014

Technology-enabled navigation and mobility for people with sight loss

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Getting around cities is a nerve-wracking experience for too many people, especially those living with sight loss. Too often it feels like public spaces and services – from parks to transport systems – are designed with insufficient consideration for the people they serve.

Cities Unlocked was created to help fix this. Guide Dogs, a UK Charity for the visually impaired, and Microsoft joined forces in 2011 to improve mobility and navigation for people with sight loss, and Future Cities Catapult, a global urban innovation centre, followed in 2013. Over the last year, the team has been working towards realising one ambition: to make cities more accessible for people with sight loss.

They have taken a holistic approach to identifying the challenges that urban environments pose for the visually impaired, and developed a demonstrator device in response. The result is a new headset (video) that allows a smartphone app to provide the wearer with 3D-soundscapes, augmenting reality to provide a richer understanding of their surroundings.

Testing demonstrated that the technology helps people feel more comfortable in their surroundings and better placed to navigate their environment. But this is just the start: the team believe that this research provides a new way of thinking about people, places and the information that flows between the two. By opening the flow of data within cities, we can help everyone move around their city with confidence.

More information:
> Blog post/essay by Dan Hill, executive director of Futures and Best Practice, Future Cities Catapult
> Articles and videos: BBC | Daily Telegraph | Dezeen | CityMetric | The Guardian

9 November 2013

All technology is assistive technology

lariat

All technology is assistive technology, argues Sara Hendren in a long and very insightful article.

“Honestly – what technology are you using that’s not assistive? Your smartphone? Your eyeglasses? Headphones? And those three examples alone are assisting you in multiple registers: They’re enabling or augmenting a sensory experience, say, or providing navigational information. But they’re also allowing you to decide whether to be available for approach in public, or not; to check out or in on a conversation or meeting in a bunch of subtle ways; to identify, by your choice of brand or look, with one culture group and not another.” […]

“Undoing the distinctions between design for disability and design in general yields a couple of goods: It brings new attention to technologies that are profound in their use and impact on physical and political accessibility. The advanced replacement limbs, all-terrain wheelchairs, and exoskeletons you can find now are evidence of this new attention.

It also brings a productive uncertainty and a powerful friction to the task of designing technologies of all kinds. Whether you’re designing for an established need or seeking an application for a technical novelty, you might take more time before confidently assigning it to a user, or to over-determining its modes of deployment—it might be for practical ends, or for play, or for something else you’ve not yet imagined.”

The author then goes on to suggest some possible dispositions for designers and artists taking a look at ability and disability:
1. Question invisibility as the assumed goal.
2. Rethink the default bodily experience.
3. Consider fine gradations of qualitative change.
4. Uncouple medical technologies from their diagnostic contexts.
5. Design for one.
6. Let the tools you make ask questions, not just solve problems.

15 November 2012

Upcoming workshop on designing innovative toys for people with special needs

spiel_kind1

“Toy Design and Inclusive Play”
Designing Innovative Toys for People with Special Needs
Invitation to join International Creativity Workshop in Bavaria, Germany

Play is crucial for all children, helping them to develop skills and to learn patterns of behaviour. Also for adults with special needs, materials for play and activity are an important aspect of everyday accomplishment, affirmation and interaction with other people.

The 17th International Creativity Workshop of the association Fördern durch Spielmittel e. V. (“Support and Challenge through Toys”) will be held from 28th February to 15th March, 2013, in Altdorf – Rummelsberger Dienste in Bavaria, Germany. The aim of the international and interdisciplinary Creativity Workshop is to develop new toys for children and adults who are in need of special assistance. Great emphasis will also be put on the development of toys and play materials for senior citizens.

For two weeks, participants will be in close contact with people with disabilities, learning directly and practically from their skills and needs, and in addition becoming inspired by this process so as to view the users as equal partners in future development processes. In close contact and communication with the children and adults it will be possible to develop wholly new toys, which bring pleasure, are adapted to various different needs and in addition assist in the development of sensory, motor and communication skills.

Designers, therapists, toy experts, teachers working with disabled children, architects, people with special needs and students are invited to apply to participate in the Creativity workshops. The workshops are co-located with live/work spaces of people with special needs engaging participants in direct observation and engagement, to then develop toys for these observed.

Participation is free, some travel grants are available. Deadline for application is 17.12.2012.

Application materials: in Englishin German

Disclosure: The conference organiser is Siegfried Zoels who is the father of Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels.

25 January 2012

Inclusive Design – a people centered strategy for innovation

customer_needs

The Norwegian Design Council has published a new resource site about inclusive design, to inform and communicate how this approach can be used as a strategy for innovation and development of more user-friendly products and services for the mainstream market.

Note also that the Council will be organising the European Business Workshops on Inclusive Design 2012 on 7-8 June in Oslo, Norway. The two-day sessions are conceived as inspiring, method-based workshops for business organisations and designers.

6 July 2011

The iPad as support for people with disabilities

ZoomText Magnifier/Reader
The Apple tablet is helping people with disabilities by reading e-mails, voicing directions, and zooming in on text.

“Apple has added features that make the iPhone and iPad easily accessible, not only to visually impaired people but also to those with hearing loss and other challenges. The iPhone 4 and the iPad 2, for example, come with VoiceOver, a screen reader for those who can’t read print, as well as FaceTime, video-calling software for people who communicate using sign language. Apple has said that iOS 5—due later this year—will contain improvements to VoiceOver and LED flash and custom vibration settings to let users see and feel when someone is calling.

More such devices as the iPad and iPhone will make their way into the workplace to assist people with physical challenges in the next five years. Disability and aging go hand-in-hand: As baby boomers work past age 65, companies will increasingly face this issue. […]

“Boomers will demand products, services, and workplaces that adapt to their needs and desires,” says Rich Donovan, chief investment officer at WingSail Capital. Crossover technology such as the iPad, which works well both for people with disabilities and the broader consumer market, are the “holy grail” of business and disability efforts and will drive growth in disability-related capital spending, he says.”

Read article

11 October 2010

Experientia supporting Flemish applied research on mobility and sustainability

Flanders InShape
Experientia is excited to be working on two applied research projects for Flanders InShape, a Flemish design promotion agency that supports and advises small and mid-size companies in Flanders, Belgium on matters related to product development and design.

The ASSIST project, in collaboration with Enthoven Associates, is focused on improving mobility and communications for people with motor disabilities, whereas the EVENT project (conducted with FutureProofed) supports Kortrijk Xpo in becoming the most sustainable trade fair and congress complex in Belgium and one of the top five most sustainable fair complexes in Europe by 2020.

With these applied research projects, Flanders InShape aims to augment the efficiency and effectiveness of product development in Flanders and to improve the competitive position of Flemish companies through the development of products with higher added value for the customer.

ASSIST – Improving mobility and communications for people with motor disabilities

The Assist project, which Experientia conducts in collaboration with acclaimed Belgian design consultancy Enthoven Associates and care organisations Centrum voor Zorgtechnologie and In-HAM, aims to develop new concept ideas for assistive technologies for people with motor disabilities, using a people-centred design process. Although aimed at a Flemish context, the project focuses on international technological and design projects.

In the first phase of the project, Experientia has conducted a comprehensive benchmarking of current assistive device solutions for people with walking difficulties. The benchmark explores both on-body assistive devices, which are always in contact with motor disabled people, such as wheelchairs, rollators and standers; and assistive environments, including public transportation, mobile applications and accessibility.

Experientia will also contribute to the creation of scenarios for use during contextual observation to validate the design opportunities found in the benchmark. Enthoven Associates is currently conducting the user research and jointly the partners will then take the insights further, supported by a creative workshop to generate ideas, into design concepts.

EVENT – Sustainable event management project

The Event project sees Experientia team up with Futureproofed, a sustainable design consultancy, and Kortrijk Xpo, a conference and trade fair venue in Kortrijk, Belgium, to explore ways to make events more sustainable. The ambitious goal of this project is to make Kortrijk Xpo the most sustainable trade fair and congress complex in Belgium and one of the top five most sustainable fair complexes in Europe by 2020.

Trade fairs, congresses and events are key areas of concern for sustainability, because they involve a large number of diverse players both directly and indirectly (e.g. stand builders, lighting installers, textile manufacturers, etc.) and because time criteria often become more important during assembly, disassembly and transport, than any concern for sustainability.

This project will explore how impact can be best achieved, though good planning, preparation and usage of the right materials and products.

Futureproofed will carry out a carbon footprint analysis of Kortrijk Xpo, whereas Experientia will benchmark international best practice on sustainability for trade shows, expositions, and major public events. Together with Futureproofed, we will build a behavioural change framework, and conduct participatory workshops and concept development for more sustainable practices.

This exciting project builds on the themes that Experientia is currently exploring in our Low2No project in Helsinki, and is in keeping with our overall company commitment to sustainability.

2 June 2010

Videos of IIT Design Research Conference

DRC
Videos of the recent IIT Design Research Conference are currently being uploaded. Here is the list of the presentations (alphabetical by speaker’s last name), with video links (where available):

Tim Brown | IDEO (conference bio)
We’re all design researchers now (34:15)

Solving some of society’s biggest challenges today will require large scale behavior change. Tim will talk about putting design thinking into the hands of everyone to inspire change and tackle the world’s biggest problems.

Allan Chochinov | Core77 (conference bio)
First Person Plural: The value of getting it from the horse’s mouth (24:15)

In a maturing world of design research methodologies, the value of primary research cannot be overstated. This talk will move through a series of student-initiated projects, each triggered by a singular, profound insight or leveraged to an engagement with a community far beyond the designer’s anticipated reach. We will discuss specific techniques for soliciting input from target audiences, and ways to recognize the good stuff when you see it. It all starts with the first person.

Joyce Chou | Core77
The steampunk solution to disruptive technology (14:04)

Martha Cotton | gravitytank (conference bio)
Accidents and Plans: A few good tools for collaboration (25:47)

Once upon a time, marketers saw truth mostly in numbers. But there have been some key shifts in the last 10 or so years: Design Research has broken out of its niche status and quantitative research has been stripped of its compulsory status. Design research has moved to the mainstream; quantitative research has become but one of many tools for decision making.
“Truth” about consumers is now found in many ways: stories, photos, video, quotes, anecdotes, sketches, conceptual frameworks, and more. Accompanying this shift our community has developed, and will continue to develop, more useful and interesting ways to gather qualitative data.
This talk explores a variety of compelling ways we are now able to gather qualitative data. She also expands the context to explore ways other phases in the qualitative research lifecycle can be done in more rich and effective ways including participant recruiting, analysis, and accessing project data over time.

Erica Eden | Smart Design, Femme Den (conference bio)
Sex Ed: Clients, Designers, and Everyone Else (27:40)

Why is gender important? Smart Design’s Femme Den explores the gap between assumptions and realities about women. As practicing designers and design researchers, we apply new ways to design for the elusive women’s market. To create products and experiences that women love, we must better understand their lives, as well as our clients’ objectives and designers’ perspectives. In this talk, we will be sharing our methodologies to meet the needs of and effectively communicate with these three interconnected groups.

Kim Erwin | IIT Institute of Design (conference bio)
Diane Fraley | D.S. Fraley Associates (conference bio)
Our world is flat, too: the paradigm shift of online research (30:08)

When Thomas Friedman declared the world flat, in his seminal book by the same name, he summarized the dramatic shift in commerce and competition across the globe brought about by the Internet. This technology, he notes, puts nearly everything within reach of nearly everyone, and our global economy is now essentially free of geographic restraints—it’s a level playing field. What’s to become of us of all, he asks?
We should be asking this, too. As with most professions, the Internet is reshaping the landscape of user research. This is happening on two levels: the business model of user research, and the practice model of user research.
On the business side, large online research houses are capturing a growing portion of research work, leveraging economies of scale and exclusive contracts designed to appeal to the finance people inside organizations.
On the practice side, research design has become a vastly more complex and interesting proposition. The Internet and digital media combine to form a powerful set of new data collection tools, while also giving us access to participants across geographies and time zones.
The new playing field dramatically expands what’s possible: Micro-blogging, asynchronous video, synchronous video, video diaries, remote activity monitoring—we can now do it all, all at once. As researchers, we can be everywhere at the same time. We can instantly review data collected remotely. We can have intimate contact with participants while miles apart.
All of this challenges our research processes and logic—“web work” now joins “field work” to reshape the paradigm for bringing producers closer to their consumers. How do we leverage this new paradigm to enrich research design and the resulting data? How might we use “web work” to deliver against objectives in an increasingly time-constrained development environment? How does our new reach inform user research for strategy development—one of the bigger frontiers of practice.
In this talk, Diane Fraley and Kim Erwin share a new approach that hybridizes “field work” and “web work.” Working with graduate students at the Institute of Design, Kim and Diane designed and executed the first phase of a multi-phase, exploratory project—integrating multiple online technologies to deliver a picture of how shopping behavior is rapidly shifting as early majorities adopt the Internet and smart phones to manage their homes.

Heather Fraser | Rotman DesignWorks (conference bio)
Design (Research) as a Shared Platform (video not yet available)

We live in a world where VUCA is the new acronym for ‘Holy cow, this is a tough nut to crack.” Faced with complex challenges, design, and most critically design research, is not only an important field for new methodologies and tools; it is also a shared platform for building a common campfire and a shared understanding of the purpose and actions for all organizations. Through our work at Rotman DesignWorks with students of all disciplines and executives across all functions, we have witnessed the power of shared discoveries and appreciation for design research as the foundation and fuel for creating new value and mobilizing organizations to rise to today’s challenges.

Usman Haque | Pachube (conference bio)
Notes on the design of participatory systems – for the city or for the planet (25:42)

Cooperation is difficult. Even when everybody agrees on an end goal, and even when everybody agrees on what is needed to achieve that end goal, it does not mean that everyone (or even anyone) will be able to take the first step, which is the most important step. The talk discusses the paradoxical structures of collaboration and ways that the paradoxes can be harnessed, illustrated occasionally with concrete examples from past work.

Cathy Huang | China Bridge International (conference bio)
Looking Inward: Design Research in China (25:17)

Conducting design research in an emerging market like China takes cultural understanding, patience, along with a level of empathy that is not normally gained overnight. In this presentation, Cathy Huang will take an inward look at China to bring forward key challenges that China Bridge International (CBi) is encountering while trying to gain insight through design research in China.
How does Social Conformity, Confucius, Utilitarianism and the belief that concealing ones economic status create obstacles for gaining insight in China? How does a research project navigate the many cultural, social, psychographic, and geographical differences when doing research in China?
These represent a few of the questions Cathy will discuss in her presentation. The background and foundation for her thoughts and perspectives are presented from the findings of many cases studies and experiences gained from her work at CBi — an insight-based innovation and design strategy firm.

Stokes Jones | Lodestar (conference bio)
Stokes Jones: Getting Embedded: In Search of Alt-innovation (video not yet available)

Whatever innovation process you favor, chances are it’s a relatively ‘top-down’ one. In this presentation, I will explore the roots of, and a working model for, an alternative type of innovation that is ‘bottom-up’ and anthropologically grounded. What we call “embedded innovation” is not something companies do to the world – after a staged series of research and workshop events – but a cultural process that people are continually unfolding in the world over time. In this approach, the key focus for design research and strategy becomes ‘attunement’ not invention – identifying the embedded innovation already taking place in a context or marketspace, then aligning to and enhancing it.
We look at cases of how this method has been applied cross-culturally by Lodestar; for researching with P&G the design of new over-the-counter medicines in South Africa; for social networking in Brazil, as well as by comparison to a familiar household product in the US. We will then consider the implications of complementing the usual ‘heroic’, company-led innovation with this more humble form. We believe research into embedded innovation leads to solutions that are truly human centered and empathic because it connects people to the value inherent in proposed products and services by designing offers from the inside out of their own ‘folk models’ and situated practices.

Anjali Kelkar | Studio for Design Research (conference bio)
Getting the most out of design research in Asia (24:46)

How can the Design Research practice uncover and understand cultural nuances of consumers in new markets better? Also, does this practice the way we conduct it in the West, really work in China and India? Do we need new tools or do we need to approach this practice differently? The talk will address the above questions with case studies from various projects.

Gerald Lombardi | Hall & Partners (conference bio)
The deskilling of ethnographic labor: an emerging predicament and a possible solution (11:10)

An oft-stated rule in the world of design has been, “Good, fast, cheap: pick two”. The success of ethnography as a support to design, branding and marketing has forced this rule into action with a vengeance. Companies now demand that more and more ethnographic knowledge be produced in ever-shorter timeframes and on ever-lower budgets. Our work output has become a mass production item, and the pressure is on. Ethnographers like me find that our Ph.D.s and cosmopolitan outlooks are scant protection as we undergo the same process experienced by many other highly trained workers over the past two centuries: job deskilling.
Job deskilling is a two-edged sword that brings opportunity and misery at the same time, though not always to the same people. Without taking a position on merits or demerits, in my talk I will first review the mechanisms of professional deskilling as the manufacture of ethnographic output has expanded. I will also give examples from my experience as someone who is on both sides of the issue, often finding my own work situation deskilled, and sometimes required by business objectives to submit others to that kind of regime.
The resulting picture is a bit grim. Are those of us who practice ethnography for industry condemned to the same fate as the skilled automobile craftsmen of Detroit circa 1908? (They were replaced by machines, and now there are 680 million motor vehicles on Earth.) And are the outputs of our creative research destined to be commoditized, to the sad detriment of the products we help bring into the world? Perhaps not. So much is made these days of the need for disruptive innovation — what if we apply that outlook to the conditions of our own labor? I have in mind a collusion between ethnographic laborers and their more enlightened employers, in the service of a better paradigm, a realignment of “Good, fast, cheap” so there’s a chance for more “Good” to peek through.
But that’s impossible, right? Business would never stand for it…. To the contrary, I assert that the material conditions of global production are soon going to require a disruptive change regardless of what the business world thinks. I explain what and why that is, and urge that we make our new professional motto this one: “Why pay less?”

Doug Look | Autodesk (conference bio)
Up in the Air (15:54)

What’s next? Perhaps we need to go beyond the discovery aspects of design research and now focus on ways to go beyond, to figure out ways of executing and delivering real business success. Instead of declaring that Design Research has won or that there’s widespread acceptance, we might want to pause a bit for some reflection on how to take the critical next steps toward implementation and execution. And here’s a hint–it isn’t easy.
What have been effective methods and tools from within a corporate environment? What are some of the challenges you might face within an engineering-centered organization? Where is the scarcity and what skill sets provide utility? Doug Look will reflect on insights gathered over the past five years in his journey from an academic setting at the Institute of Design to an engineered-centered corporate culture.

Bill Lucas | LUMA Institute, MAYA Design (conference bio)
Encouraging everyone (from K through CEO) to look with care (video not yet available)

As the field of design research matures, an exciting new activity is emerging. Seasoned practitioners are extending their knowledge and passion to non-specialists of various ages and backgrounds. In this talk, I will present stories from LUMA Institute, an educational venture dedicated to helping everyone from K through CEO learn and apply the practices of Human-Centered Design (including the critical activity of looking and listening with care). I’ll talk about the wonderful things that happen when experienced professionals facilitate workshops aimed at raising the awareness and competence of people from all walks of life.

Dominick J. Misino | NYPD (conference bio)
Building Rapport: Lessons from a Hostage Negotiator (30:42)

Don Norman | Nielsen Norman Group (conference bio)
The Research-Practice Gulf (40:22)

There is a great gulf between the research community and practice. Moreover, there is often a great gull between what designers do and what industry needs. We believe we know how to do design, but this belief is based more on faith than on data, and this belief reinforces the gulf between the research community and practice.
I find that the things we take most for granted are seldom examined or questioned. As a result, it is often our most fundamental beliefs that are apt to be wrong.
In this talk, deliberately intended to be controversial. I examine some of our most cherished beliefs. Examples: design research helps create breakthrough products; complexity is bad and simplicity good; there is a natural chain from research to product.

Sona Patadia-Rao | PDT (conference bio)
Lisa Yanz | PDT (conference bio)
A Case Study: The Collaborative Redesign of the Perkins Brailler (28:28)

“Good Design” means something different to everyone, especially to an audience that experiences the world through their fingertips. As designers we are accustomed to immersing ourselves into the lives of our targeted users and pulling out meaning, values and aspirations. However, when the targeted audience interprets the world in an unique way, the design team’s methodology need to be flexible, conclusions are never final and bringing the users into the fold of the process is essential.
Through this discussion attendees hear the development story of redesigning the fully mechanical Next Generation Perkins Braille Writer for the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown MA. This device is the “pen and paper” for the visually impaired community, making it an essential teaching tool worldwide. The original Perkins Brailler was designed in the 1940’s, has over 600 moving parts, and has remained the unchanged, extremely reliable workhorse for decades.
We look to tell the story honestly, addressing successes, stumbles, surprises and how we were changed both professional and personally by the experience. This is a case study in blurring the formalized lines between research, design and engineering to create a product that meets the needs of a very adaptable and impressive user group.

Ron Pierce | Stuart Karten Design (conference bio)
360-Degree Research (video not yet available)

The power of design research lies in its connection to the end user. But too often, the focus on the end user is watered down as a product passes through many hands on its way to production. Ron Pierce proposes an alternate model of 360-degree research— an ongoing process in which researchers engage with the client and the end user throughout product development, putting solutions through rigorous testing at multiple phases.
Sharing the story of Stuart Karten Design’s engagement with hearing aid manufacturer Starkey Laboratories, Inc., Ron will show how a 360-degree research process can provide better results for the end user and significant financial returns for the corporation.
During a three-year strategic partnership with Starkey, Ron and his team at SKD have collaborated to develop products that greatly improve a frustrating end user experience. By continually engaging with stakeholders, distribution channels and a wide range of hearing aid wearers during various stages of the product development process, from foundational research through evaluative testing of functional prototypes, Ron and his team have reinvented Starkey’s product line with a focus on the user.
He shared SKD’s 360-degree research process, which recently culminated with the introduction of Starkey’s S Series hearing aid, featuring a touch-activated control proven to solve one of users’ most poignant frustrations. The first-of-its-kind innovation has increased Starkey’s market share and cemented the company’s position as a global leader.

Heather Reavey | Continuum (conference bio)
Envisioning Breakthrough Ideas (video not yet available)

A deep understanding of people is one lens that inspires designers to envision new experiences. Moving from inspiration to impact is another matter. What is a breakthrough idea, and how can you deliver it in a way that makes your audience believe? This session is all about big ideas: where they come from, how you know when you might have a game-changer. And how you can use design and storytelling to communicate a new opportunity in an experiential, emotional, human way that motivates clients and organizations to become advocates of change.

Rick E. Robinson | Sideriver Ventures (conference bio)
Crankiness is Overrated: Good Work is Harder Than Grumbling (28:15)

When we take hold of a powerful tool and use it to shape the daily lives of real people, we are laid under an obligation, a responsibility, to understand not only how that shaping could affect those daily lives, but how it should do so. The “good” in “good design” has, in the last twenty years or so, migrated from the relatively simple appreciation of an end-product’s formal properties to include the ways in which a product becomes what it is: the process of designing. In the course of that migration, “users” and “experience” have become central to the way design works, to how the things which it produces are evaluated. Under any number of labels (“user-centered design research”, “ethnographics,” “anthrojournalism” and so on) the (largely) social sciences-derived research which informs the work of design has grown into a small industry of its own. Taken as a whole, design research has resulted in a collective paying of more attention to people rather than less. That’s a ‘good’ in pretty much anyone’s book. But it is also, in practice, a bit like supposing that because an M.D. is doing rounds, looking into patients’ rooms and signing the charts, good medical care is being practiced. If designers have been less than explicit about the values that inform the choices they make, it seems that design research as a whole has been even less so. The most widely accepted ‘point’ of design research is to inform the work of design. To provide a basis from which the work of design, development, and strategy can proceed. It is a bit circular: we do research to inform the process of design, which requires that we understand the users. Circular or not, it would be just fine if what was required to “inform” design were no more than a scan of current conditions. A pH strip dipped in the pool. A thumb licked and held up in the breeze. But the best design work doesn’t need the thumb in the air; good designers or teams or practices are usually plugged in and working at the ragged front end anyway. What we need from research is more than description, and especially, more than a list of “needs,” explicit or implicit, met or unmet. We need a way to explicitly articulate the values that inform those decisions, and a basis on which to do so.

Kevin Starr | Rainer Arnhold Fellows (conference bio)
Design for (Real) Social Impact (24:56)

Designing a product that will make life better for the poor isn’t easy. You can’t just design a cool product that works; you have to make sure it will get into the hands of those who need it most and that it will be used to good effect. As investors in tools and products to benefit the poor – and get them out of poverty – we’ve developed an approach to vetting product ideas that is based on the successes and failures we’ve seen over the years. We’ve found that using it in the design phase can help avoid the pitfalls that waste effort and money, and ensure that good ideas turn into real impact.

Rob Tannen | Bresslergroup (conference bio)
Design Research Tools for the Physical World (25:28)

In 2008 Rob presented an overview of the latest in digital user research technology, including the FieldCREW tablet concept. This year he is back to discuss tools and techniques to capture physical behavior, which is essential for the design of gestural, interactive devices.
The presentation includes:
* An introduction to “observational ergonomics” so researchers can qualitatively identify design problems and opportunities
* Demonstrations and reviews of the latest tech tools for conducting user research, including tactile sensing and wireless information tagging

Helen Walters | Bloomberg Businessweek (conference bio)
Wrap-up of Day One of DRC 2010 (13:36)

Eric Wilmot | Wolff Olins (conference bio)
How Fast? 21st Century Approach To Speed & Innovation (24:58)

Over the past decade design-thinking and user-insight practices have grown to become integral process within the worlds top organizations. This has lead to product, digital, and brand innovation consultancies to differentiate their services by framing new ways of doing things.
During the last decade we have witnessed a layering of methodologies and activities in an attempt to differentiate how we discover, define, design, and deliver new solutions. Ironically, over much of this same time, the process itself has remained an assumption for practitioners across the business community.
Overall, what challenges exist for the next generation of research methods when applied to a process model that was born before the Internet? Nimble clients are making it difficult for consultancies to keep up. Demand for faster launches is challenging the effectiveness of traditional processes. Technology is shifting control where offerings can be “pulled” into the market, reducing risk from the traditional “push” model.
The business environment is demanding change. This talk will highlight new client demands and market forces that are reframing the question from “How might design-thinking be better used within the current development process?” to “How might the process itself be changed to enable new and better uses for design-thinking and research?”

16 April 2010

Innovating for all

Innovating with People
The book “Innovating with people – The business of Inclusive Design” provides an introduction as to how Inclusive Design can be used as a strategy for better business and as an opportunity for profitable innovation – and aims to inspire and motivate readers to use the techniques to create better products and services. It will be launched at the upcoming Innovation for All 2010 conference (20-21 May, Oslo).

The book is published by the Norwegian Design Council as part of The Innovation for All Programme, together with its strategic collaboration partner the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the Royal College of Art.

“The idea is to inspire, motivate and to show how industrial and commercial enterprises can integrate a people-centred approach in their own design and development processes. It is a practical guide and manual that contains the basic information you need to understand, debate and practice Inclusive Design.

The content is complied by individuals who have had extensive, practical experience in working with Inclusive Design in a business context. The book shares insights and learnings gathered over the years and presented in an ‘easy-to-read’ format. Case studies and examples explain how other companies have benefited from Inclusive Design.

A practice-based guide details nine research techniques for engaging with people and bringing their points of view into the design process.”

It is not yet clear where non-Norwegians can buy the book (besides by going to the conference), but I am sure the website will soon inform you.

4 December 2009

Designing the Intel Reader

Intel Reader
In a long article, the people in charge of the Intel Reader discuss the entire user-centred process of designing a new device for the blind or visually impaired which is aimed at making printed matter accessible to millions of people who find reading difficult or impossible, either because of vision problems or learning disabilities such as dyslexia [see also this Business Week article].

“When we started developing the Intel Reader we talked with end users who allowed us to gain insight into their needs, and who gave us the opportunity to hear how they use current technology in their everyday lives. To obtain a deeper understanding for end-user needs, we began with usage research. As part of this phase, we interviewed targeted users, followed them through a day in their lives, and observed their daily challenges at home and at work, and asked for their insights on the challenges of daily living. Over the course of this project, we have interviewed and tested the product at various stages with over 200 individuals.”

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17 March 2009

A participatory website supporting families with disabled children

Di.To
The Turin-based non-profit organisation Area, which supports families with disabled children, just launched its new website, developed with the intensive support of Experientia.

The site, named Di.To (Disabilità a Torino), offers information and orientation to families of children with disabilities aged from 0-10 years.

Experientia played a key role in the project, investigating key values and researching information needs of all stakeholders (families of children with disabilities, social services, etc.), developing the information architecture, guiding the design process and supporting the implementation.

Area is a regional volunteer association that has been active in the Piedmont region in the field of disability for more than twenty-five years. The DiTo website is based on the successful printed guide of the same name, by Che Fare [“What to do?”], Area’s counselling service.

The website offers access to realistic information with no costs or queues, and is interactive, visually attractive and simple to use, with a Turin focus. As well as filling informational and support roles, the website has a participatory nature. In the Sogni segni e disegni [“Dreams, signs and designs”] section, collaborations with famous authors and artists offer families a creative space to read and design with their children. The Community section offers a mediated and facilitated space for families to exchange ideas, experiences and objects.

31 October 2008

Designers challenged to include disabled

Universal toilet
CNN reports on how Donald Norman wants designers to be more inclusive:

The future of design could see the divide between able-bodied and disabled people vanish.

Don Norman , design Professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, and the author of ”The Design of Future Things,” is issuing a challenge to designers and engineers across the world: Create things that work for everyone.

“It is about time we designed things that can be used by ALL people — which is the notion behind accessible design. Designing for people with disabilities almost always leads to products that work better for everyone.”

Once the champion of human-centered design — where wants and needs of individuals are the primary consideration in the design process, Norman now believes accessible activity-centered design is a better approach.

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13 August 2008

Deafness and the user experience

Dartboard
Because of limited awareness around Deafness and accessibility in the web community, it seems plausible to many of us that good captioning will fix it all. Lisa Herrod argues on A List Apart that it won’t.

“How many times have you been asked this question: if you had to choose, which would you prefer to be: deaf or blind? The question illustrates the misconception that deafness is in some way the opposite of blindness—as though there’s some sort of binary representation of disability. When we look at accessible design for the deaf, it’s not surprising to see it addressed in a similar fashion: audio captioning is pretty much the equivalent of alt text on images for most designers.

Captioning by itself oversimplifies the matter and fails many Deaf people. To provide better user experiences for the Deaf, we need to stop thinking of deafness as simply the inverse of hearing—we need to understand deafness from both a cultural and linguistic perspective. Moreover, to enhance the online user experience for the deaf, we must understand how deafness influences web accessibility.”

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22 September 2007

EU benchmark shows mixed results on user experience of online public services

I2010_eeurope_logo
Every year, the EU Benchmark Survey assesses the quality of online public services in Europe. For the first time, the survey also looked at the users experience when accessing on-line public services, in recognition of the growing importance of this topic, and found mixed results.

From the press release:

“The survey examined three elements which are important to the user experience: the provision of a legally recognised, secure electronic identity, whether the service could be accessed via alternative channels such as call centres, kiosks, mobile phones and TV, and compliance of the websites with the International Accessibility Guidelines. The overall result for this indicator is more mixed and reaches 19%, with Austria, Bulgaria and Norway scoring above 30%. The most striking finding was that only 5% of websites make a specific reference to their compliance with international accessibility guidelines (WAI).

National portals fared much better. The report looked at the number of basic public services which can be accessed from the portal, the existence of personalised options, ease of navigation and whether its presentation is targeted at different kinds of users (businesses vs. citizens, around life events or around the structure of the administration). The overall score of 75% demonstrates that national governments consider the national portal as one of the cornerstones of their eGovernment plans.”

However the report itself puts some further qualification (page 27) on the above optimistic assessment of the user experience of national portals:

“We conclude that the national portals are well developed as user-centric gateways to public service delivery points.

However on the level of the transactional services itself, the agencies, the e-services delivery is still primarily organised around the needs of governmental organization more than around the needs of the users, being citizens and business. [My emphasis]

The survey, carried out for the European Commission by consultants Capgemini, examined over 14,000 web sites offering 20 basic public services in the 27 EU Member States plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Turkey. In 2007 the online sophistication of public service delivery reached an overall score of 76%, while 58% of the measured public services are fully available online.

Austria stands out both on sophistication and full on-line availability, with scores of 99 and 100% respectively. Portugal has made major progress since 2006 and Malta and Slovenia stand out as countries that have embraced eGovernment and advanced online service delivery and therefore top the charts in 2007.

- Read press release
Download report (pdf, 15 mb, 123 pages)

5 August 2007

As the vision fades, the indignities grow

Eyesight
As baby boomers grope their way through middle age, they are encountering the daily indignities that accompany a downward slide in visual acuity: trying to read a road map in a car at night; cellphones designed for 20-year-old eyes; the minuscule letters on a bottle of aspirin; nutrition information squeezed onto a bag of peanuts.

And unlike their parents and grandparents, they are not shy about expressing their displeasure, in some cases, taking matters into their own hands or prompting some companies to pay attention.

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2 August 2007

“My New Leg”

My New Leg
Steve Kurzman is a user experience researcher with a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

He is also a below-knee amputee.

My New Leg is a blog, or online diary, about his experience of getting a new prosthesis and the process involved in how amputees get prostheses. The goal of the blog is to document the delivery of prosthetic limbs in the American health care field as well as to report back from the clinic on the personal experience of wearing one and getting a new one.

13 April 2007

NESTA call for user-focused solutions to mental health problems

NESTA width=
The UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) is calling for innovative project proposals from front-line workers, carers and people with direct experience of mental distress, to tackle some of the key challenges surrounding mental health in the UK, reports the eGov Monitor.

The initiative forms part of the first stage of NESTA’s wider ‘Innovation Challenges’ initiative.

NESTA Chief Executive Jonathan Kestenbaum explains, “The rising cost to the economy of mental health problems alone is enough to support the need for us to find new ways of addressing this issue. We need to empower people at the grass roots to come forward and work together to develop more innovative, user-focused solutions.”

NESTA will look to fund and develop local projects from individuals or teams with experience in mental health (including user- and carer groups). The organisation will be looking for projects which, with the right support and guidance, will have the potential to grow into national projects with real impact.

Project ideas can address any aspect of mental health, across all life stages and in any setting. Projects are likely to range from ways to break down the stigma of mental illness to encouraging the involvement of users in re-designing their own care. They may focus on new and improved processes and services, but could also take the shape of new products or technologies. NESTA is particularly interested in ideas that involve collaboration between different disciplines or different areas of mental health practice.

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17 November 2006

France Telecom on disability and innovation

i-mag
France Telecom has launched i-mag, a new interactive e-magazine on innovation.

The first issue looks at the Group’s involvement in the field of disability, from the designing of new communication services, to working on new interfaces.

This initiative is part of France Telecom’s strategic programme NExT (New Experience in Telecommunications), which aims to “make the customer the centre of his or her communications world”.

France Telecom takes a design for all approach: “Facilitating access for all customers to all its products and services”.

The Group is developing new communication services “that use the communication mode most suited to the person you are calling”. They are also developing new interfaces, including those that use haptic technology. The longer-term goal however is “to come as close as possible to real face-to-face conversation between two people”.

14 August 2006

Participatory design – and why it’s more than user-centred-design

Pdc06
In a reflective article written as a follow-up to the Participatory Design conference held a few weeks ago in Trento, Italy, Ann Light dissects the difference between participatory design (PD) and user-centred design (UCD).

“What is the status of the ‘users’ you are working with?” she asks. “Are they treated as providing inspiration for design or are they treated as co-designers?”

Citing Patrizia Marti of the Communication Science Department at the University of Siena, Italy, Light writes that with the ‘user-centred inspiration’ approach “there is no accountability to the people who are the source of this material, or return to them for further engagement.”

According to Marti, “the origins of PD are deeply intertwined with trade unions’ efforts to bring democracy into work domains. So there is a political energy in the philosophy of PD about engaging people in the designs that affect them. This desire to democratise is not apparent in much current UCD work. […] She pointed out that end-users are still often considered as Human Factors rather than Human Actors.”

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17 July 2006

Human integration and the death of the device

Brain interface
In an article on the website of MEX – the PMN Mobile User Experience conference, editorial director Marek Pawlowski writes about the future of user interfaces, mobile handsets and human integration.

“Technologies exist today to help evolve mobile devices towards more natural, seamless interfaces.”

But, Pawlowski ponders, “if technology [were to] negate the requirement for a physical handset, will users eventually abandon mobile devices? Is the handset fundamentally a barrier to a good user experience? Is the best user interface one which doesn’t exist at all?”

“The primary barrier to more ‘human’ mobile interfaces is humans themselves. We are creatures of habit and followers of fashion. We are accustomed to interfacing through keypads and soft-key confirmation buttons and we will be slow to change our ways. Indeed, there is an argument the last 20 or so years or ‘keyboard culture’ have fundamentally changed our perception of what is natural. For many young teenagers, key-based input is their first language: they text in preference to voice calls, they instant message in preference to group discussion and they type in preference to handwriting.”

“Owning the mobile device itself may also be additive to experience. In a society which values consumption and where marketing messages convince us to aspire towards physical ownership of the latest technology, we have come to naturally associate the best experience with the most expensive devices. Vanity, competitiveness, fashion – all of these thoughts govern our willingness to invest time in learning to work with inefficient interfaces.”

Read full story: part 1part 2

5 July 2006

Older people ‘missing out’ online [BBC]

Elderly online
Older people are missing out on critical services because they do not use the internet, a report says.

Just 28% of people over the age of 65 have home internet access, compared to a UK average of 57% of households.

As a result, pensioners cannot access government services as well as the most competitive deals on commercial goods.

The findings are part of a wider survey by a consumer panel at telecoms regulator Ofcom looking at the online access of marginalised groups.

The survey also looked at online use by disabled people and those living in rural areas.

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