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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Understanding Multisensory Experiences

At the end of the last year I read a guest lecture at the University of Twente, in Enschede, by invitation from Anna Fenko, from the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences. It was a ‘closing event’ in a number of ways – the last for Summ()n in 2012, the last for students of the University – and many of the staff, too, who went to the Christmas dinner after the lecture.

The lecture also closed a loop of the ‘TU lectures’ for me: I used to teach in the TU/e Eindhoven, I made some presentations in the TU/e Delft in the past, but despite I’ve been to the TU/e Twente (the third TU, Technical University in the Netherlands), I’ve never actually ‘read’ or ‘presented’ something there; now I did.

The lecture was not so much about the ‘futures’, but rather about the pasts, about my earlier ‘sensorial’ research projects; it helped me to ‘summon’ many of those old projects, such as ‘understanding oral freshness’ or ‘skin smoothness’, for examples, but also explorations into the nature of human experiences (which contributed to the ‘experience design’ approach at Philips Design). As always, I tried to present not only the ‘data’ and ‘findings’, but also the flavor of doing research in business environments. To my knowledge, this was all very well received by the students.

There were some ‘futures’ in the lecture too: I told, albeit briefly, about the ‘future probes’ at Philips, at least those related to sensorially or sensuality (like the the Skin, or the Emotional Jewellery, or the Electronic Tattoo probes). Because of these insertions I also managed to develop – if not a diagram, than at least the first sketch of such a diagram, showing the growing presence and complexity of representation of human experiences in ‘innovation’ projects:


As a slight dent to the overall very positive experience , I didn’t mange to catch up with Peter-Paul Verbeek, professor of Philosophy of Technology at the faculty; well, there is something to plan for this year, then!

Ideefiks Seminar in U Twente

Last Friday I went to the Ideefiks Lustrum seminar held by the Center for Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Science (CEPTES) of the University of Twente. I learned about the event via my recent Facebook ‘friendship’ with Peter-Paul Verbeek, the Center’s director (and it was a pleasure to meet and thank him in person at the event). I didn’t know all the background behind the gathering, but as I discovered it was a celebration of the Center’s 25th anniversary, and quite a memory-able event, with a lot of alumni members of the center in the audience.

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