Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Wim Vanobberghen

Senior Researcher

Personal Description

As a little boy, I was always fascinated by technology, hence pushing every button around me to see what would happen. No wonder that at SMIT, I am currently studying a wide variety of people’s response to new technologies, both today as in the past. These reactions range from broad dreams about the impact of a new technology on society (e.g: the Internet will be bring peace and prosperity) to everyday responses of citizens about new ‘smart’ technologies into their daily life (e.g: How to use the Internet to save food by exchanging leftover between neighbors?). Investigating and understanding such reactions and aspirations is a necessary task. I do this via Living Lab trials in Brussels and historical research. Living lab research allows taking users’ concerns and needs into consideration throughout the design process from start to end. A historical perspective reminds us that our technological world is and will be in essence human-made.

As part of EU projects I was involved in the co-creation of a relocation app for expats (EPIC, 2010-2013) and a parking app (ECIM, 2014-2016), two concepts that became reality a few years later in the Belgian capital. Within the field of digital social innovation, I was involved in the IA4SI project which made an impact assessment toolkit and methodology for digital social innovation projects. I graduated as a Historian (2001) and a Communication Scientist (2003) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and I also obtained my Teacher’s degree in 2002. I joined the SMIT team in 2004 ,where I am currently responsible for coordinating user trials within smart city projects (EPIC, ECIIM, U4IOT) and performing social and behavioral change research within digital social innovation projects (IA4SI, SavingFood).