Wendy Van den Broeck
As the world of media and television is ever changing, it’s something I’ll never grow tired of. My first research project was on interactive digital television and it is unbelievable how rapid the industry and the technology have evolved since. New services like time-shifted viewing, Netflix, personalised advertising and immersive media applications have entered our everyday lives. At the same time, these trends are often not as disruptive as expected. For example when iDTV was introduced, it was announced that broadcasters would disappear and the 30 second commercial would die a silent death. Users are often surprising in their habits and practices. On the one hand, old habits die hard and user patterns tend to change slowly. On the other hand, surprising or unexpected usage of technology can lead to fascinating new developments. That is why user research is my biggest passion. I like to interact with users and unravel their motivations and expectations. I really believe in our living lab approach that puts the user in the centre of the design and development process. By involving users from the very early stage of an innovation process, we can help to develop technological services and products that are really user-friendly and society proof. This also helps the media industry to face the different challenges and disruptions they have to cope with today.
I am currently head of the Living Lab cluster at SMIT and assistant professor at the communications studies department of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel where I teach several international and national courses, most of them related to research methodology. My current research projects relate to personalised and immersive media and include the EU projects Immersia TV, CPN and HRadio. I joined SMIT in 2003, after completing a master in communication sciences (VUB-2002), and obtaining a postgraduate diploma in management and economics (VUB-Solvay-2003) and a teaching degree (VUB-2003). During my time at SMIT, I finished my PhD in communication sciences in 2010 entitled: “From analogue to digital: the silent (r)evolution? A qualitative study on the domestication of interactive digital television in Flanders”.