For a long time, ideas, solutions and products of the information and communication technologies (ICT) were developed behind closed doors, the consequence being that most products were hardly usable or even useless for end-users. In our opinion, it is possible to improve the development of ICT by involving users early on in the process. To do this, Living Labs has built up an open and integrative environment, in which the development of adequate, user-friendly solutions is supported. Additionally, the results achieved can be approved continuously in their recent field of application and through iterative development and design processes.
„Living Labs represent a user-centric research methodology for sensing,
prototyping, validating and refining complex solutions in multiple and evolving real life contexts.“
(Eriksson, Niitamo & Kulkki. 2005)
The Living Lab approach therefore offers advantages for different stakeholders:
Users and user organizations
… can actively contribute their own experiences, ideas and wishes to the design of future products and solutions. Participants are invited to test future-oriented technology in terms of prototypes in their daily life in order to expose the products to actual challenges. With the assistance of these experiences, technical developments will move towards the living environment of future consumers and can be better adapted to their needs.
Representatives of science, research and public institutions
… are given the possibility to cooperate with end-users in order to gain deeper insight into their living environments. Users’ needs can be identified specifically against the background of concrete everyday practices. Embedding this contextual information into the design process will inform ICT development in a sustained manner. The University of Siegen therefore enables the contact and cooperation with industrial companies in order to gather all relevant stakeholders for the development of adequate solutions.
… profit from the short distance to the end-users. They are able to find and solve problems and address the needs in the authentic use of their target audience at an early state of development. Beyond that, companies can easily use this closeness to evaluate and improve their products and solutions continuously. New ideas and user-friendly solutions can be developed together with consumers for better correlation.