User Research UnitThe UR unit investigates the use of technology in everyday life and supports the development of innovative technologies that fit the envisioned context of use.
Our commitment: Context-sensitive and participatory research and design
The design of new technological solutions begins with a clear understanding of the situation at hand. User research helps expose people’s needs, attitudes experiences, and practices within a given domain.
The UR group is committed to:
(1) Exploring when, why and how media and digital tools make sense to people as they learn, work, relax and socialize, and
(2) Enabling stakeholders to weigh on decisions in the technological innovation processes that are likely to affect them in the future.
Our methodology: Cutting across disciplines and stages of innovation
Throughout the years, we have combined and advanced research methods from a variety of disciplines, in particular, Communication Studies, Sociology, Psychology, Human-computer interaction design, and Anthropology. Our human-centered methodological toolkit allows us to tackle critical research questions in different stages of technological innovation: From domain analysis and idea generation to short-term and long-term evaluation of research prototypes in controlled and natural environments (cf. Living Lab). For example, the innovation binder (to coordinate iterative prototype development in multi-disciplinary teams) and proxy technology assessment (to gauge future technology usage) were both developed in the UR group.
Our research: A collaborative investigation of living with technology
The scope of our research encompasses different facets of everyday life: Play and learning, care and wellbeing, privacy and trust, urban and mobile living, media consumption and production. We combine fundamental research tracks with applied research. In the past, this has led us to collaborate with industry (e.g. Alcatel-Lucent, BARCO, and Telenet), media companies (e.g. VRT, Medialaan, and SBS), hospitals, local and federal governmental institutions and cities (e.g. Stad Gent) and non-profit organizations (e.g. Wit-Geel Kruis and iDrops). Within SMIT, we link our research with business modeling and policy research activities to create an overall picture.
Your questions: Research output that is relevant to your organization
We welcome requests from organizations involving, but not limited to, the following questions and related research outputs:
- How can we (re-)engage our audience? – Problem definition, design space, long and short lists of ideas
- What is known about this practice or domain? – State-of-The Art overview
- Who is our audience? – User segments, personas and workflows
- Which opportunities and challenges are ahead? – SWOT
- Why are people (not) picking up or abandoning this technology? – Socio-technical drivers & barriers
- How can we match our technology innovation to user practice? – Evidence-based design requirements, guidelines, concepts and scenarios
- How do people experience our technology? – Quality of Experience measures