Overijssel Province Goes Extreme

I wrote about a very interesting project we have developed together with the Trendbureau Overijssel, a future think-tank of the Dutch province called Overijssel. By now we have prepared and conducted the first phase, a pilot session together with the team from the Trendbureau and a group of representatives from different cities of the province and other organisations and creative teams.

The Future Probing session was kindly hosted by the Design Lab of the University of Twente, and the heads of the Lab also joined the session, adding additional expertise to already very diverse group of participants.

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Future Probing session with the students of the Design Lab of U Twente

Future Probing session at the Design Lab of the University of Twente was one of the examples of Summ()n’s ‘teaching activities’, when we present our tools and methods to students of various universities and schools. In this case it was a ‘very good one’. Unfortunately, we (and the students, too) are often given too little time for these exercises, while the goals are set too high (yet too abstract, too), and the results tend to be so-so.

In this case it was quite opposite: the students were all from a very particular course (Scenario Based Design), and had a number of specific business cases to work with. Knowing these boundaries, we had a chance to prepare a small, but meaningful set of ‘future signals’. Plus, the students had a good deal of time to go through theses signals (ok, it was still pressure-cooker kind of format, but most teams managed to handle the signals from all four domains that we have prepared: Professional Tools, Collaborative Practices, Smart Spaces and Business Models).

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Future Probing for Executive Council of [undisclosed]

Those strange moment when we present our Future Probing (and Summ( )n in general) at the board level (it was Executive Council at this time), of very large and interesting company, and our presentations are very well received (which may in turn lead to numerous projects) – and yet we can’t tell a word for a while.

We are ‘proud & happy’… but in a discreet way for a moment.

Extreme Futures with Overijssel Province

Ah, what an excellent news to start the year with! Our proposal for a Future Probing project Trendbureau Overijssel was approved and will be running the program with them later this spring.

It’s a great news in a number of ways: the work with governmental organisations is always an honour and stuff… but it is also always very difficult to get (or at least it takes a lot of time). In this case the approval of our proposal happened relatively quickly – also because our commissioner had a first-hand experience of Future Probing already!

Earlier in 2016 Hans Peter Benschop, a head of the Trendbureau, participated in our Summer School about Future Probing method. Despite the exercise was very basic, it was interesting and inspiring, to the extend that he later invited us to submit a proposal for a Future Probing program with this Dutch province.

And a cherry on a pie is the title of the program -Extreme Overijssel! Summ( )n was invited to facilitate the exploration of the fresh and novel ideas about the possible futures, beyond the today’s ‘trend litany’. A thrillingly interesting exploration is ahead, superb! More news to follow.

Future Probing session about (and beyond) ‘Smart Textile’

Based on a number of our recent projects related to ‘smart materials’ and ‘intelligent wearables’ and following our method of Future Probing, Summ( )n has developed the next edition of our open training/demo sessions, similar to what we were offering during our Summer School of 2016.

The new program is codenamed The Future of Fabric, Fabric of the Futures (and as the title suggests, its goes beyond the usual ‘e-textile’ or ‘smart wearables’).  We practice this broader approach in our ‘real projects’, and don’t want to loose it in more simple versions either. Summ()n is planing to conduct a few such sessions in 2017/18, some by our own team, and some others in together with our new partners in this exciting – and literally exploding – area. Read the description of the session here, and subscribe to the first (inaugural) session that will be held in Eindhoven on Dec 12.

The Epic Days in Nottingham

What an intensive session it was! Or it were, because at the end the planned strategic workshop with the team from the Nottingham Trent University transformed into two, lasting in total for 8 days!

Some of these days were full of sober analysis 

While other were filled with wild creativity:

But either way (or rather reinforcing each other) these two-wing session lead to a creation of a fantastic new creature, Epic Yarns,  a new type of movement that will be yarning the future of smart fabric. (I still have to keep it a bit secret, and wait till the official announcement by the team, and after that I would definitely plan to write more about this exercise, and its results)

NB: Even this posting should be fact doubled, because I would have to also write and the second wing of the workshop, that one that was already conducted with the guests and partners of the new non-centre.

Fabulous days, epic indeed!

Transforming the Future: An Interesting Day 2016 by the Dutch Future Society

An Interesting Day, an annual gathering of the Dutch Future Society, will be held this year in AmsterdamConnected on November 25th.  The theme of this year is “Transforming the Future” and the event is for (and by) the members of the DFS, but my previous experience says that both the theoretical presentations and practical workshops run during this day can be very valuable for broader audiences.

Summ( )n team will be presenting a demo-version of our Future Probing method during one of the parallel sessions. More information about the program and practicalities can be found here: Interesting Day 2016: Transforming the Future.

Does AI have a future? Does our future exist with AI?

One of those extremely interesting projects that we can tell very little about. We’ve been asked to prepare and run a Future Probing session for a large Dutch bank (which is very interesting itself), and also about AI (which is extremely interesting, since it’s one of the hottest technologies of today. It may have tremendous impact on many sides of our life (and yet right now is often diminished to the trivial talks about whether (or when) it will kill humanity.


We followed our proven approached and collected a wide variety of the ‘future signals’, not only from the core technological domains, but also from the ‘neighbouring’ areas, such as new media and even interactive art. We were happy to see that the client team has produced a lot of their own ‘signals’, too, and at the end we have created a truly ‘future thinking’ space, filled with information and inspirations.

But this was only a part of the process: the next stage was to convert all these ‘future glimpses’ into more articulated ‘future worlds’ and then produce a range of ‘future probes’, to test our ideas about these futures of AI.

I had to ‘pixelate’ the images from the first stage, and have to do even more hiding and diffusing with the results of the second part. The may look funny and toyish, but in reality they contain pretty serious ideas about possible development of the new services and products (as well as new partnerships to realise them.)