Problem solving and verification techniques as well as the scientific knowledge from academic and industrial partners are translated into new products focussed on human well-being and health care. This focus is supported by a dense regional partner network of care providers consisting of intra-university parties (such as other research groups or the University Hospital UZA), (bio-)medical spin-offs (Novosanis, IcoMetrix,...) and spill-over companies (Minze, Absintt,...).
On the one hand, new design methods can give rise to the development of innovative new products. On the other hand, the challenge to develop new products can reveal major shortcomings in the underlying design methodologies, which, in turn, can lead to the development of new tools and techniques.
Tools and techniques resulting from research ensure that the process of new product development remains manageable despite the myriad of knowledge and skills required for a successful execution of the design process. Knowledge and skills acquired through valorisation supports simulation, prototyping and validation efforts in design research and education, for example in CAD, 3D scanning and 3D printing, physical and electronic prototyping.
The research group is setting up three labs to frame and support its research and ensure the link with the educational program through an interconnecting cycle between ideation, observation and prototyping.
- The innovation lab is an environment that facilitates the strategic and creative process of innovation. It offers the proper setting to stimulate groups of people to think commonly on problems and opportunities. That requires an environment that stimulates creativity but also facilities to use proper tools: advanced visualization techniques, source of inspiration (data driven) and methods for communication.
- The observation lab aims to acquire insights in physical, sensory, cognitive and emotional aspects in the relation of humans to product. There are four factors in that relation: the human, the product, the human-product interaction and the context in which that interaction takes place. The lab monitors and models human-product interactions of physical, statistical and dynamical, physiological and cognitive and emotional nature. Observation allows to monitor and model these interactions in function of specific cases and to resolve open problems in design science. The lab allows evaluation and comparison of new and existing products and the underlying models allows the design of new products with enhanced efficacy. The lab is preferably adaptable to a real life context (e.g. living room, patient room or operation room in a hospital) to eliminate or minimize potential co-founding context factors. The lab integrates classical challenges in ergonomic product design with design for interaction and experience. Ideas are generated in the innovation lab and tested in the observation lab.
- The prototyping lab is used to transfer ideas into representations that can be verified. These representations can be virtual and/or physical. Digital prototypes enable to verify and model partial problems often at lower cost and faster compared to physical prototypes. Physical prototypes are required to verify complex mechanical and mechatronic aspects. Data for digital models can be acquired in the observation lab (e.g. 3D body scanning) while physical prototypes can be used, in turn, in the observation lab.