It is greatly appreciated that Horizon Europe includes, for the first time, an extra cluster “Culture, Creativity, and Inclusive Society” in Pillar 2, highlighting the importance of cultural and creative industries. However, neither in the current draft of the Specific Programme of Horizon Europe nor in the Orientations for the first Strategic Plan is the role of “Creativity and Design” explicitly mentioned. Without an explicit articulation, it is feared that the envisioned strategic roles of “Creativity and Design” would be lost during the actual implementation of Horizon Europe.
We would like to argue the essential role that Design could play in Horizon Europe, in particular Industrial Design, which lies between Art and Culture, Technology, and Business. As a discipline, Industrial Design innovates by understanding emerging technologies, and translating them into novel products and services, with creativity, as well as with insights on cultural heritage, societal contexts, users’ needs and desires, and business viability — through co-designing with experts and stakeholders. Design’s contributions are twofold:
- As a technology mediator: to translate emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and smart materials, to cultural and creative industries. The intrinsic strength of many of Europe’s strongest brands is the cultural heritage, combined with the highest craftsmanship and leading technology innovations accumulated over centuries. It is essential to maintain the competitive edge by bringing in new technologies and redefining the boundaries of possibilities.
- As a perspective/thinking innovator: to “reframe” an existing problem, by finding a new perspective to solving an old problem and going beyond technology-only solutions. For example, problems with medical adherence might be better addressed by providing patients with a device that is fun and pleasing to use. Sustainability and circular material might need to be addressed by re-designing the materials from the very beginning.
The exponential growth of technological innovations is both a challenge and an opportunity. As AI matures in its ability to take over many jobs, it is in culture and creativity that humans can uniquely excel, and not be replaced. In addition, there will be a tremendous need for designers who understand these technologies and know how to translate them into people’s everyday lives, while minding the moral and ethical problems. Europe should, with Horizon Europe, take the lead to create the next generation of such industrial leaders, with a blend of culture, aesthetics, and technological sophistication that only Europe can offer!
Examples of Design as a technology mediator and as a perspective/thinking innovator from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) can be found below.
This new, smart Fidget Spinner is a heart rate variability (HRV) sensor, electromechanical respiratory sensor and an information display all in one. BioFidget detects stress in a playful, interactive manner. The wireless sensor also helps reduce unhealthy stress. The first tests with BioFidget show positive results. The respiratory training helps to reduce stress. Users also praised the accuracy of the built-in sensors.
Reference: Liang, Rong-Hao, et al. "BioFidget: Biofeedback for respiration training using an augmented fidget spinner." Proceedings of the 2018 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems. ACM, 2018.
A multi-functional blanket for premature babies - Swaddling blanket ‘Hugsy’ stimulates and facilitates the 'Kangaroo Mother Care' on the incubator ward. Hugsy helps mothers keep their babies close to their chest during examinations, resulting in less baby stress. In the incubator, Hugsy plays recordings of mum’s heartbeat, while baby is comforted with mum’s smell.
Reference: Claes, Sylvie, et al. "Hugsy: a comforting solution for preterm neonates designed to enhance parent-child bonding." 2017 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Connected Health: Applications, Systems and Engineering Technologies (CHASE). IEEE, 2017.
Wearable Solar started as a project researching the possibilities of integrating the solar panels into textiles. The multi-disciplinary team behind the research was composed by Pauline van Dongen , Christiaan Holland (Project leader Gelderland Valoriseert from the HAN) and Gert Jan Jongerden (Solar-energy expert).
Reference: Smelik, Anneke, Lianne Toussaint, and Pauline Van Dongen. "Solar fashion: An embodied approach to wearable technology." International Journal of Fashion Studies 3.2 (2016): 287-303.
Two million newborns suffer from the consequences of birth asphyxia each year, a condition depriving the body of oxygen. Depending on the duration of the asphyxia complications range from minor neurological sequelae to irreversible brain damage, or even death. The effects of birth asphyxia can in most cased be reversed by performing newborn life support (NLS). This procedure aims at the opening of the newborn’s airway, ventilating its lungs, and performing chest compressions to circulate blood. This procedure is currently trained in medical simulation environments. These environments are replicas of the hospital delivery room where the newborn is replaced by a manikin. The manikins used in these environments require further development in the area of haptic feedback as well as the area of physiological data feedback during training. Within this technological design, we design and build a complete manikin, based on a term newborn. Combining MRI imaging, 3D printing, and casting, we replicate the skeletal structure, airways and lungs, cardiovascular system, and muscle, fat, and skin tissues...
Reference: Thielen, Mark, et al. "An innovative design for cardiopulmonary resuscitation manikins based on a human-like thorax and embedded flow sensors." Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine 231.3 (2017): 243-249.