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Rapid Prototyping and Involving Users

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By Connie Harryman, Applied Concepts Creativity
Guest Blogger

Organizer IIR
LIVE Front End of Innovation Europe 2010

Speaker: Frank Kresin, Research Director, WAAG Society
Topic: Using Rapid Prototyping to Develop Solutions & How to Involve Users in the Process

'Waag Society develops creative technology for social innovation. The foundation researches, develops concepts, pilots and prototypes and acts as an intermediate between the arts, science and the media. Waag Society cooperates with cultural, public and private parties.'

These are our design principles:
1.) Innovate
2.) Collaborate
3.) Share
4.) Design for self-organization
5.) Avoid one-offs
6.) Accommodate interdependence

There are perceptions of quality. Different people have different perceptions. Some examples include business people, technical people, political, professionals, and users.

The trend is to go from a traditional approach and go to using living labs. Think of the development cycle described as a wheel.

We begin by asking the elderly 'What do you need'? You observe their home environment. You interview the children. You involve everyone including the caring organization, elderly, as well as their children.

A sample case is the 'Story Table.' We wanted to build something to allow the elderly to access the Internet. However, no one wanted it. We reframed and posed a different question. Can you develop something for the elderly that uses the Internet?

We designed and developed a 'Story Table' This allows three elderly people to come together around three computers situated on one table with access to the Internet. Now they can share and discuss their stories and images from the past.

The results included a positive effect on reminiscence and a positive effect for social interaction. The video is digital fabrication. We have Fab Labs all around the world. We are sending the means to tackle issues from the bottom up.

This is our mission: Fab labs are a global network of local labs, enabling invention by providing access for individuals.

In another example we have a prosthetics workshop. We are doing work in places like India and Indonesia, as well as other places. The goal is to lower the cost of prosthetics. The high point is our ability to replicate the labs.

Our principles include:
1.) The best producer is the user.
2.) He or she can build almost anything.
3.) All share blueprints and stand on shoulders of others.
4.) We are building a network of Fab Labs over the world.
5.) We are connected by video conferencing links.

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