Living Labs are linked to User Centered Design and User Innovation methods and techniques, but the ideal way for co-creating with end-users in focus group discussions is rarely discussed (Schuurman, 2015). In literature, some so-called ‘sensitizing’ techniques are described to overcome the cognitive barriers of end-users to facilitate the ideation and creation process. The usage of ‘boundary objects’ has been described within the design thinking literature (Carlile, 2002). Within Living Labs literature itself, the multi-contextual environment has been put forward as the crucial element to understand the tacit user needs (Ballon, Pierson, & Delaere, 2005; Bergvall-Kåreborn et al., 2015). This workshop will discuss sensitizing techniques involving boundary objects and context for living lab research methods, by means of examples that were used in research around City of Things in Belgium – City of Things, a partnership between imec, Antwerp and Mobile Vikings, is building a Smart City IoT research testbed where industrial and academic research can be performed in a realistic, city-wide setting.

The central research question for this workshop is “How to implement sensitizing techniques and boundary objects in smart city research?” and the focus is on learning from each other’s projects and finding new methods when co-creating with end-users.


Related projects:

Workshop organisers:

Kaatje Boury (user researcher @ imec.livinglabs), started as a junior researcher at imec.livinglabs in January 2017, after working on a temporary project of mict (UGent University) for 3 months with wearables in a sport context. One of the first SME-cases she conducted was also a smart cities case with smart street lighting where she made use of the existing technology (namely smart street lighting based on sensors) to take the context into account for the innovation (smart street lighting based on GPS signals).

Dimitri Schuurman (Team Lead User Experts @ imec.livinglabs and a Senior Researcher @ imec-mict-Ghent University). Together with his imec colleagues, Dimitri developed a specific living lab offering targeted at entrepreneurs in which he has managed over 100 innovation projects. Dimitri is responsible for the methodology and academic valorization of these living lab projects and coordinates a dynamic team of living lab researchers. His main interests are situated in the domains of open innovation, user innovation, and innovation management.

Pauline Dewolf (panel manager @ imec.livinglabs). After obtaining a Master’s degree in History and a Teacher’s degree, Pauline started working at iMinds Living Labs as a panel manager in 2015. In this capacity, she takes care of the recruitment of panel members for all kinds of living lab research projects, focusing on innovation in the cultural sector, innovation in education, innovation in health, data security, smart cities etc. Also, she has been involved in the realisation of several editions of the digimeter report, a Flemish research project that provides a yearly update on the possession and use of media (technology).

Annabel Georges (user researcher @ imec.livinglabs): In 2013 Annabel Georges graduated as Master in Communication sciences (specialization ‘New Media and Society’) at Ghent University. In 2013 Annabel started working at imec.livinglabs. Within this “Living Lab-as-a-service” she conducts user research to structurally support innovation development for SME’s. Her main research topics are drop-out and user engagement within field tests and working on improvements on current Living Lab practices. Next to this she is also involved in Living Lab projects concerning City of Things.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s