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The Design of Everyday Smart Things

Research Group: Situated Art and Design

This research project focuses on design methodologies for designing smart products. 

In close consultation, the two researchers work on their respective studies to ultimately provide answers towards their shared overarching research question: Which design model(s) and / or design principles can help designers towards finding (improved) balance between the interests of the user and client of ‘smart’ (physical and digital) everyday products.

From the client’s point of view, a ‘good’ design of an everyday product might be measured by how often the product is used, while, contrariwise, a user might rather that the application distract them as little as possible. Within the user-centred design paradigm, good design is defined solely as ‘a design that is intuitive and promotes the intended use’. Any additional social, behavioural and emotional implications of the design is (often) deemed irrelevant, as long as they do not hinder or interfere with direct use. With the significant increase in the use of ‘smart’ products in our homes and everyday lives, and the impact they have on our daily lives, questions surrounding such social, behavioural and emotional implications are gaining new urgency. With this research, the Situated Art and Design research group is therefore taking a critical look at one of its key principles: user-centred design. User-centred design was once introduced to incorporate the broader social, behavioural and emotional context of the user into the design, but perhaps the paradigm needs to be expanded with new or modified design principles?

Experiments

In October 2018, a first experiment with students from the 3rd year of the Communication & Multimedia Design programme was conducted in the form of the workshop Driving blind, in which students were asked to design a ‘smart car radio’. While Koolen observed how students dealt with underlying ethical challenges (such as conflicts in the driver’s attention between driving the car and the additional ‘smart’ functions), Croes focused on the design principles applied by the students (such as variation in the attention ‘smart’ functions demand). Initial findings from this workshop led to follow-up research with students in 2019. This took the form of two workshops: Customised production (led by Koolen) and Design for Attention (led by Croes), during which students were asked to create a physical interaction model, designed for the Philips HUE system. The first workshop led to a dissemination moment within the Studium Generale programme, while the second workshop led to the conference paper ‘The Interaction Attention Continuum: An education case study’ which was accepted for presentation at the leading ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2020) and publication in the conference proceedingsarrow.

Completed project, 2018 – 2019. 

Principle investigators
Misha Croes
Ivo Koolen

Professor
Michel van Dartel

Collaborators
Avans CMD AI&I 

Institute
Avans University of Applied Sciences 

‘Attention during interaction is personal, not a given fact.’

Misha Croes was a researcher within the Situated Art and Design research group from 2018 until 2019. He is also a tutor at the Communication & Multimedia Design programme at Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. 

Misha Croes arrow

‘Who benefits?’

Ivo Koolen was a researcher within the Situated Art and Design research group from 2018 until 2019. He is also a tutor at the Communication & Multimedia Design programme at Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. 

Ivo Koolen arrow

Publications

Croes M. & van Dartel, M.  (in preparation) The Interaction Attention Continuum: An Education Application Study.

Croes M. & van Dartel, M. (2020) The Interaction Attention Continuum: An Education Application Studyarrow. Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’20.

Research Group: Situated Art and Design

Living in cities developed around data and acting within the inscrutable structure of our techno-society demands art and design that can help understand how we relate to these rapidly changing surroundings and to reflect on that relationship. The research group Situated Art and Design responds to this exigency by fostering a situated turn in art and design through a diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary research projects in partnership with academic and cultural partners, as well as with government and industry.

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