Much is known, also through earlier research and teaching efforts of the people involved in DQI, about Human Product Interaction (HPI). The approach starts from human skills, i.e. perceptualmotor, cognitive and emotional (Gibson), and the fact that people are acting-in-the-world (Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Dewey). Models have been developed based on coupling inherent feedback-feedforward information to allow for intuitive interaction (PhD projects of S.A.G. Wensveen and J.W. Frens).

This knowledge is also applicable in the new and broader field of Ambient Intelligence, as far as the same processes play a role. However, the new ID context in Eindhoven calls for the use of new approaches, models and underlying theories. The inclusion of ambient intelligence, sociocultural processes and highly interactive systems dramatically increases the complexity of the modeling of interaction. This modeling is needed to answer the basic research question of the DQI group: how to design for highly interactive systems?

Design of systems

From a design perspective, there is very little experience with the design of systems and there are no readily available methods. To formulate a method is to simplify and abstract the design challenge into a defined set of subsequent steps. In the case of the design of systems this is problematical because it is difficult, if not impossible, to gain an overview of a complete system before it exists, or of its impact on society (see figure 1). Not only is our grasp of the system limited by our point of view, but systems also allow for many different, valid points of view due to their inherent complexity.

Figure 1. The limited view on a given system.

To overcome these issues it is necessary to start exploring the design space for systems. As we have little experience with this, it is essential that we start designing ourselves and let our insight in these matters grow until we can compile it into a relevant methodology. Furthermore, we need to take an experiential approach to the design of these systems. In other words, we need to undergo the experience of living with such systems while we are designing them to enable us to make value judgments on the direction the solution should take. The uncertainty of method and the complex nature of systems therefore necessitate a research-through-design approach, with doing as the mechanism for gaining insight into the process at hand, guided by relevant theory and a vision of what we want to achieve. The similarities of this approach to that taken in education are apparent; we both value and exploit the mechanism of reflection on action