Design for Social Innovation through Social Computing
Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology
Tel: +31 (40) 247 8331
Eindhoven (TU/e), the Netherlands
Tel: +31 (40) 2474522
Address: HG2.51, Den Dolech 2, 5612AZ, Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Tel: +31 (40) 2478331
TU/e is a leading international university in engineering sciences. In 2001, TU/e started the department of Industrial Design. Based on discussions with industry, the department decided in 2001 to concentrate on the design of intelligent systems, products, and related services in a societal context, which addresses aspects such as adaptive behavior, context-awareness, and highly dynamic interaction. Students learn to integrate various areas into the design process, with emphasis on designs using new technology for people in the socio-cultural and business context, in the areas of health, energy and mobility. The ID department brings together expertise in the fields of intelligent lighting, design for social interaction, entertainment and cultural computing, cognitive systems and sensor networks.
At ID Research and education are strongly intertwined. There are ten competency areas, including for example integrating technology, user focus and perspective, social and culture awareness, form and senses, and business process design. Teaching activities include projects, assignments, modules, expert meetings, personal coaching, showcase and portfolio development and of course assessment. We employ both university staff and design specialists from the professional field. The interaction with the professional world outside the department is therefore well supported.
Themes are carriers for joint research and education. Close collaboration in projects is a powerful mechanism to learn to understand, respect and appreciate different disciplines, thus stimulating the growth of our department and the development of the inner section of our three paradigms (design, engineering and social science). Themes enhance internal and external links, and stimulate integration and community building. Themes aim at strengthening the link between the different people and parties involved, linking the expertise, motivation, identity & passion. By raising our integrated expertise level through our communities, we can develop and set the standard for intelligent systems, products and related services.
“Out of Control” is one of these themes. The theme “OoC” is searching for new ways to design open social systems that connect people with and in physical / digital realities in the era of social computing. The theme does not only design and research open systems, next to educating students on this topic, it also functions itself as an open dynamic, action-centric system that crystallizes from chaos. The theme “Out of Control” will be set up as a DESIS Lab, under the name of “Design for Social Computing and Social Interaction” (DSCSI).
 C. Hummels, D. Vinke, J. Frens, and J. Hu, "Competency-centered Education for Designing Interactive and Intelligent Products," Creation and Design, vol. 13, pp. 4-17, 2011.
This DESIS is both a research and an education facility. Education-wise, every semester the Lab accommodates 50-80 students, working on about 10 to 15 projects around the topics of design for social computing and social interaction. The students are from all years, from 1st year bachelors to last year masters. Students from the 1st and 2nd year bachelor studies will be working in teams of 4-6, supervised by 1 teacher, supported by several coaches. Students from the 3rd year bachelors and the masters will be carrying out the projects individually, also under the supervision of 1 teacher and several experts.
All these projects are proposed together preferably with an industrial client. The clients play an important role in the setting. Not only do the clients bring in the industrial and societal relevance, also the students will get much more motivated in conducting a “real” project for a real client. The clients are also invited to visit the projects not only at the mid- and end-term exhibitions, but also during the course of the project, providing requirements, insights and feedback.
Around the topics of social computing and social interaction, additional workshops and presentations are organized, for the students to get relevant background knowledge and theories as well as hands-on skills. Mid-term and end-term exhibitions are organized, for the students to show their designs to the teachers, clients, external visitors and to other students, to share the results and to get the feedback.
Many of the teachers are also researchers. Their research interests are mostly coupled to the projects by the researchers proposing and supervising the related topics. Researchers can benefit from the results and in turn the research results can be used as valuable input for the projects. Researchers are also encouraged to propose the projects together to incubate the further cooperation.
Primary Research Areas
“We are the beginning of a new era for social internet innovators who are re-imagining and reinventing a Web of People and places, looking beyond documents and websites”. In this DESIS Lab we explores the impact of Social networks, Internet, multimedia, and virtual reality on behavior and society, the impact of the bottom-up power and the much flattened structure of the social media on societal transformations, the impact of the social and systematic perspective of intelligent systems, products and related services on industrial design, and in turn, the possible impact of industrial design on these on-going societal and technical changes. The primary research areas are social computing, social interaction, linking between the virtual and the physical, the opportunity and challenge brought up by connecting the web of people and the internet of things, and the related cultural and societal issues. In the era of social networking and computing, the creation of intelligent systems, products, and related services in a social context are facing a number of technology supported social challenges.
- Social computing as a platform for service centric design. The merge of the Web of People and the Internet of things leads to a shift from product or system oriented design to service centric design. Systems, products and the related services are more connected than ever. Products have become the terminals of the services and systems have become the platforms to deliver the services. Social computing started in late 1990’s and early 2000’s serving as platforms not only for sharing online content and conversation, but also for processing the content of social interaction and feeding back into systems. The feedback into the systems has become quicker, driven by a more flattened and bottom-up social structure. Along with this development products with embedded connectivity and identification technologies have become part of the Internet of Things, and with embedded sensing technology these products have been integrated into people’s lives in a more adaptive and social manner.
- Social computing as a platform for social innovation. The growth and development of distributed and pervasive computing, social networks and mobile technologies have dramatically increased the complexity of the systems, products and the related services, but also the complexity of the design itself. Social computing that merges the Web of People and the Internet of things, on the other hand, brings up new solutions against the complexity, towards social innovation, by harvesting the collective intelligence from the Web of People, including the designers, the users and the organizations, and the collective intelligence from the Internet of Things, in order to realize greater value from the interaction between people and things, which in turn, inventing innovative and hopefully also sustainable ways of living. In this context, design has become a social activity – design is a result of social innovation; design drives social innovation and leads social transformation.
- Social computing as a “simulation” platform for design. The new development of social computing, especially in the interweaving integration of the Web of People and the Internet of Things, gives the opportunity to bring design much closer to the end users, to other stakeholders and to its social and situational context. It sheds a promising amount of lights on improving the validation process of design, as computational simulation has done to electrical and mechanical engineering when computer was introduced to these disciplines.
- Social computing as a competency and as a tool for design education. New types of designers have to be equipped with systematic understanding and perspectives, be competent in utilizing the social computing platforms to harvest the creativity, the input and the feedback through social interaction. The developments also bring up new opportunities in utilizing social computing technologies in facilitating the learning to make learning a more effective and more enjoyable social experience.
All these challenges imply that research and design in creating intelligent systems, products and related services have to pay attention to the area of social computing as a platform for social interaction and innovation. Traditional new product design and development methods and tools to deal with these new challenges become insufficient when dealing with the shift towards service centric design, the power from the flattened and bottom-up social structure, and the complexity of the social system of people and things. Adaptivity of the intelligent systems and services has to be reinvestigated in the context of social computing and social innovation in a larger scale eco-system in which the Web of People and the Internet of things are interwoven.
The research of this DESIS Lab shall confront aforementioned three challenges, focusing in social computing not just as a technology, but more importantly as an enabler (a platform or a tool) in a design context.
Social computing is firstly seen as the computational facilitation of service centric design that integrates the Web of People with the Internet of things, that shortens the feedback loop in adaptive systems and services, and that enables the service to be carried out in in a more flattened and bottom up social structure. With the facilitation service design can be carried out in an interactive and sustainable process. In this process data and input can be collected social interaction among the uses and the stakeholders and from the behavior of the users and the products, analyzed and quickly or directly fed back to the process. There is a need to investigate how to tightly combine and coordinate these computational, physical and social elements to facilitate the service and the design process of it.
Social computing is also seen as a computational platform for social innovation. The aim of the research in this respect is to develop methods, tools and techniques based on social computing to support design as social innovation and design for social innovation. In the case of design as social innovation, the research shall investigate how social computing can be used to support the collaborative design activities by the designers as well as other stakeholders including the end users and to enable collective creativity and intelligence in dealing with the complexity of the systems of today. In the case of design for social innovation, the research shall investigate how to use social computing for design to trigger and support social innovation that leads to societal transformations, by introducing design perspectives and design intervention in a social context.
Social computing could be used for validating design in earlier phases of the process. It is interesting to investigate how social computing could be utilized as a “simulation” platform for earlier concepts – in this case physical prototypes might be still be necessary but the situational context (people, other things and the environment) can be brought in or closer in order to quest the concept earlier.
The perspective and the competency of using social computing as an enabler in design should be implemented in the design education if the aim of the education is creating intelligent systems, products and related services in a social context. This research should investigate how this can be carried out in a competency-centered learning process, and how to utilize the social computing technologies to facilitate this process.
 John Doerr, KPCB
The programs, especially the projects, may vary every semester, depending on the interests of the researchers, the clients and the students. But the focus will be kept on design for social computing and social interaction.
At the faculty level, the department has established joint international cooperation in both undergraduate and postgraduate (masters / doctorate) level with universities in different countries, including Carnegie Mellon University and Georgia Tech in USA, National University of Singapore, Zhejiang University and Jiangnan University in China, Universiti Teknikal Mara in Malaysia, Tsukuba university in Japan, Victoria University Wellington in New Zealand, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and University of Technology Sydney in Australia, University of British Colombia in Canada.
Through the projects in this DESIS Lab we have also established industrial and societal partnerships. On the list are Strijp-S Eindhoven, Municipality Eindhoven, NEXTDOOR Brussels, OPENLIGHT TU/e, ERASMUS IP Ankara, HOUSE OF GINA, Stichting KIEN, etc.
Prof. dr. Matthias Rauterberg is the head of the Designed Intelligence group at TU/e. He is a leading expert in HCI and entertainment computing. He is a nominated member of the ‘Cream of Science’ in the Netherlands (the 200 top-level Dutch researchers), and in addition among the 10 top-level scientist of the TU/e. He has over 200 publications.
Prof.dr. Caroline Hummels is a full Professor within the Designing Quality in Interaction group and theme leader of Smart Environment within Health@TU/e, interested in aesthetics of interaction, ethics in design, tangible interaction and a variety of design methods and tools. In this project she is particularly interested in the perception of time in relation to the daily schedule and calendar, especially in situations in which the calendar seems to control the life of professionals.
Prof.dr.ir Aarnout Brombacher is dean of the department of Industrial Design. He has a background in Electrical Engineering and Engineering science, and he worked in industry for many years. He has extensive experience in industrial quality and reliability improvement projects and the development of quality and reliability analysis methods and tools. He is currently focusing on developing quality and reliability analysis methods and tools for designing disruptive innovative systems, products and related services.
Dr. Jacques Terken has a background in cognitive psychology (MA degree 1979, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands). From 1979 till 1983 I was employed in the Speech Research group of the Institute for Perception Research (IPO), Eindhoven. In 1985 he received the Ph.D. degree from Leijden University on a thesis about Communicative functions of pitch accents. In 1985 and 1986 he worked at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. In 1986 he joined the Speech research group of IPO again, which was later renamed the Spoken Language Interface group. After the dissolution of IPO he joined the newly-founded User-Centered Engineering group with a couple of colleagues from IPO. In 2002 the User-Centered Engineering group joined the Department of Industrial Design.
Dr. Jun Hu is an Associate Professor in the Designed Intelligence group, interested in social networks (internet of people) and Internet of Things, and the connection between these two, where the digital and the physical realities merge and blur in everyday living in a sustainable manner.
Dr. Joep Frens is an Assistant Professor in the Designing Quality in Interaction group. He is broadly interested in everything design and also has a background in design. The questions that keep him busy as designer/researcher revolve around meaningful interaction in the context of intelligent and adaptive systems.
Dr. Mathias Funk is an Assistant Professor in the Designed Intelligence group, focusing on remote data collection and adaptive systems, but enjoys working ‘out of control’ with technologies from sound/video processing to the web. In this project, he is most interested in the way people interact with and take ownership of intelligent everyday systems. He is also co-founder of the TU/e spin-off UXsuite.
Everyday Living: Blurring the boundaries Everyday living defines our life more than we often think; it consumes 99% of our lifetime and is on one hand structured by natural rhythms, bodily needs, and supporting activities. On the other hand, everyday living within our social networks and communities is characterized by many relationships and the desire for balance between meaningfulness, joy, and achievement, the wish to “go out and make it”. Yet, when we look back, every life often appears miserable compared to extraordinary activities and events. Living is a process of growth, development and perpetual change. Every day we encounter many context switches, mainly introduced externally, by the media and our social community. This can easily blur our sense of belonging and home. To improve everyday living is the most effective way to improve our life as a whole. This project aims at intelligent ideas and concepts that connect people, things, and information in our everyday life.
Cultural interventions Culture needs to be experienced, lived and shared. Cultural interventions are not neutral or objective. They have an impact on society. Your challenge is help questioning people’s preconceptions and prejudices, make them do things together, create bonds and, by doing so, raise new interests, create new meanings, new values. In this project you’ll become actors in the process; you’ll be part of the social structures you are designing for. You will actively discover, participate and reflect in situ. You will develop sustainable business models and design meaningful interaction points for an active dialogue and collaboration.
Everyday Living: Web of Light Every day, hour, minute, second data about us, our interaction, and our living spaces is collected, often without our knowledge and consent. Sometimes, we do have the access to such information, e.g. from open streams (see Pachube). How can we design interfaces for such data and let people take back ownership of ‘their’ data. The aim of this is to utilize open data sources over the Internet that represent data about living conditions, light, humidity, noise, and temperature (there is more!) and design an interface or even a tangible device that visualizes relevant data for everyday use.
Smart Cities: Internet Café 2020 Cities are places for people to live, work, shop, enjoy cultural activities and so forth. All these activities create diverse, and have often conflicting needs and interests. On the other hand, the city as a space for so many diverse activities by so many diverse people also creates great opportunities. Your challenge is to find out how opportunities can be exploited and how different needs and interests can be satisfied. The design space is very broad, and may be narrowed down towards services integrating virtual and physical meeting places, and services for managing flows of people and transport means to support sustainable living.
Beyond your walls Today, many organizations are faced with an explosion of data, information, knowledge, expertise and skills which is unstructured and widespread through the organization. Moreover, these ingredients for innovation are often hidden in the minds of the people – inaccessible for others that could benefit from it. Here lies your design challenge! How can we support professionals inside an organization to seek, generate, manipulate, collect, integrate, communicate, organize and / or scaffold relevant data, information, knowledge, expertise and skills? You will find a broad solution space here. For example: will you design a portal, exhibition or maybe a workshop? Will your final design be a system or a physical interaction point? The aim of this project is to create an open knowledge culture in which valuable data, information and knowledge are actively shared. One approach you might take is the research through design method where you will use design action as creator of knowledge. In this project you will understand the context by being there.
The Walden Utopia Protocol This project is the design of a social protocol of roles of "actors" according the utopia from HD Thoreau ("Walden" 1854, see http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/205). This utopia is all about a sustainable lifestyle according the idea of the duty of civil disobedience. This new protocol is a set of rules, rituals and regulations applied to all [or parts] of the members of the OoC Theme. This regulatory set is characterized as a role-playing game, in which the different roles of "actors", their way of communicating and the relationships to the environment (the department ID) is specified, all relevant services described and the required supporting product family including props and the organization of the space is designed.