Life-Based Design: A holistic approach to designing human-technology interaction

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    We need a multidimensional and holistic approach to human-technology interaction (HTI) design in order to understand what technology could really offer for people and in what forms and on what terms it would be welcomed and adopted. To answer this challenge, a new holistic design paradigm Life-Based Design is introduced in this book. The design of HTI should consider the additional value that technology brings to users. Technology should exist not for itself, but rather for bringing added value to the everyday of people, thus improving the quality of people's life. Therefore the aim of HTI should be to consider the human-technology interaction in a much larger context than within the context of using technology. In addition to physical usage environment, the impact of, for example, psychological and social environments of the users should also be taken into account in the design. This calls for a holistic consideration of the problem at hand, without necessarily getting off the ground with technology first in mind as the primary solution. As the grounds for the design should be in a richer and more comprehensive appreciation of human-technology interaction, the starting point of the design should be in comprehension of people's lives. This is especially important now as technology development is focusing more and more on developing services besides technologies. Design of service concepts, if any, has to be carried out with a much broader design approach than what the traditional approaches to human-technology design can offer. Mere investigation of the elements of life is not enough to guarantee successful design outcomes. We need to have well-grounded methods and tools for the design which can utilise our investigations of life and implement this knowledge into the design work. The basic concept in Life-Based Design paradigm is 'form of life'. With this concept it is meant any systems of rule-following actions in people's lives. Forms of life offer a simple but very usable approach to examine life in all kinds of situations. They define what people do by defining their rule-following actions and attributes in a context. With the construction of a description of a form of life it is possible to get an idea about what ICT-designers can do to improve the lives of the people sharing that particular form of life. Defining components of a form of life is a critical step in the design. It allows designers to understand how people could be supported in their pursuit towards the goals they have in participating in a particular form of life. Following the paradigm introduced, the rule-following actions and design-relevant attributes can be explicated and configured to technology-supported actions (TSAs). Creating the descriptions of TSAs enables designers to define problems accurately and to concentrate on designing solutions for them. The holistic perspective to ICT design is discussed in this book in a context of older adults and gerontechnology by reviewing the main ideas and findings of the field. This material provides us with a concrete conception of how forms of life can be investigated to direct the development of new technologies. The aim of Life-Based Design is the use of vital understanding about people's life as the basis of the creation of design ideas and concept design, to guide the whole development process of products and services. It is thus the kind of activity which should be carried out first in the development process. It will produce decisive information for further phases in the development process. This book is a synopsis of an academic dissertation: Leikas, J. (2009). Life-Based Design. Form of life as a foundation for ICT design for older adults. Jyväskylä studies in computing 105. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylä University Printing House.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationEspoo
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    Number of pages240
    ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-7375-2
    ISBN (Print)978-951-38-7374-5
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Publications


    • human-technology interaction
    • life-based design
    • design
    • form of life
    • human-centred design
    • gerontechnology


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