This area is an extension of the user cooperative design approach established in Scandinavia for the
development of computer systems. It aims at engaging people in creating technology support in respect
of their work practice and culture.
The goal of this research is to expand our understanding of the user driven innovation process and
to support it with tools and methodology.
For designers, pervasive computing requires new forms of engagement with users and use contexts. The
ethnographic approach to studying users and their work practices, pioneered at Xerox PARC, has proven
extremely powerful when designing complex machinery and computer support. In previous work the MCI group
has shown how participatory design techniques (design games, scenario enactment, movie making) unleash
a huge innovative potential, when used in the users work context.
Yet much needs to be learned about combining (visual) anthropology with design activities and interventions
in use context.
1. Patterns of work practice:
In traditional computer systems development, designers typically search for information processes in real
life to automate. With pervasive computing, this concept breaks down. We have to look for different patterns
in use context.
2. Beyond work:
Designers need to move beyond merely understanding work practices. Users are real people with
feelings, dreams: Experience modelling, cultural probes
3. Users systems perceptions:
Moving from discrete components to webs of functionality in large systems means that users perceptions
will change. To what?
4. Bringing together use culture and design culture:
When establishing design partnerships with users, there is a potential tension between the practices of
design and use. A cultural approach will help us understand and act in respect.
Activities in the newly established network for Design Anthropologists in Denmark.
The establishment of the new IT Product Development graduate course (IT-Vest, from September 2001 at
MCI) is closely linked to this research activity. It has modules on both Ethnographic Fieldstudies &
User Collaboration and on Video as Design Material.
The project family Pervasive Computing in Industrial Plants serves as a primary empirical test bed for
This research area is located at the Mads Clausen Institute in Sønderborg:
University of Southern Denmark
Danfoss User Centred Design Group
Responsible: Jacob Buur, professor, mechatronic engineer PhD, SDU
Mette Kjærsgaard, anthropologist, Danfoss
Kirsten Bagger, HCI scientist, Danfoss
Brendon Clark, applied anthropologist, SDU