Positioning of research

TU/e ID is a department that develops design engineering and design research expertise. We contribute in the field as scholars, engaging in design and technology development. From its early days the department has used a truly multi-disciplinary approach in education and research. The main contributing disciplines have been design, engineering, and social sciences. In recent years the role of health sciences has been growing, as health increasingly becomes a focal application area for our research. 

Making is key to our research. We have intensely and consistently led and shaped the RtD paradigm, in many respects more so than other design research programs. RtD typically involves a constructive element to address a design challenge and develop novel directions and opportunities for design, coupled with empirical studies involving individuals or groups interacting with the created artefacts. The artefacts designed at our department are smart products, systems and services involving ICT: we see ourselves thus as creative technologists, our focus on technology being one that traditionally concerns embedded systems following the visions of ambient intelligence/ubiquitous computing. We explore interactivity, focusing on aspects such as physicality, playfulness, user experience, etc.

We address design research challenges where the main objective is to create value and opportunities in systems with emerging technologies and materials. Additionally, we leverage new forms of interaction where the main objective is to realize and study networks of systems in a societal context and to design and analyze the emerging interaction patterns using recent developments in data acquisition and data analysis technology. These two research streams are reflected in our research clusters Future Everyday and Systemic Change.

While design research is closely tied to the different application domains where it is exercised, our efforts aim to develop a more fundamental and general understanding of how to design for such interactivity, how to evaluate it, and how we learn from these experiments to generate knowledge by designing and thus contribute to the developing epistemological discourse in our field. We priorities this fundamental understanding of design over topics that are typically researched in design departments. For example, studies of design processes, innovation management, manufacturing processes and developing new materials are only occasionally examined when they relate to research endeavors closer to the core focus described above.

The department combines a focus on people, grounded in social sciences, with a focus on smart products that embed computing and communication capabilities. However, we clearly distinguish ourselves from departments in human technology interaction (also in this university) that are primarily analytical, aiming to develop theories that apply to human technology interaction, while staying clear of designing and engineering new technologies.  We also are different from traditional human-computer interaction departments given our holistic approach to design, the embedding of our research in a social context, and the prominent role of constructive design research.

In summary, we are multidisciplinary, design researchers, creative technologists, people-centered designers, who contribute to defining and exploring physicality in interaction and its embedding in a societal context.