Future Probing with 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’, but it was ‘good one’. Unfortunately, we (and the students, too) are given too little time while the goals are set too high (yet too abstract, too).

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

Plus an amazingly creative atmosphere of the Lab itself (including plenty of creative materials available) – all that really helped the teams to construct interesting ‘future worlds’:

Again and again we see that when people are given less toy-ish and rugged and robust materials, they also build more imaginative world! True creativity is a not about a few splashed of bright prime colours!

And in fact these less-toyish worlds tend to lead to creation of more creative probes.

(or may be it depends on more creative teams?)

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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