Dissertation in the field of design: Lic.Sc. Louna Hakkarainen
The dissertation seeks to understand the potential of living lab platforms to tackle the challenges related to health care and elderly care. It takes a closer look at a smart floor that was developed in close collaboration with care professionals in a four-year living lab project that took place in a public nursing home in Finland.
Lic.Sc. Louna Hakkarainen will defend her dissertation Caring for Technology: Evolving Living Lab Collaboration on Wednesday 21 June 2017.
Opponent: PhD, director Hannele Hyppönen, National Institute for Health and Welfare
Custos: prof. Sampsa Hyysalo, Aalto University Department of Design
The lectio will be held in English and the discussion will be in Finnish.
The nature of technologies and their contexts of use have become increasingly complex, especially in health care and elderly care. In order to exploit the potential of technologies to improve care, we need better technological systems and better ways to integrate them into the work practices and the existing technological environment in the care units. This dissertation seeks to understand the potential of living lab platforms to tackle these challenges.
Living labs are co-design platforms for product and service development situated in real-life contexts. They bring together diverse stakeholders (public sector, companies, academia, and users) and engage them in mutually beneficial learning. In a living lab project users are considered active partners in product development instead of passive objects of study.
By combining document and interview data this article-based dissertation reconstructs the biography of a smart floor innovation. The smart floor is a floor monitoring system and a nursing tool for elderly care. It seeks to prevent accidents and help save resources by decreasing the need for routine checks in nursing homes. The smart floor was developed in close collaboration with care professionals in a four-year living lab project that took place in a public nursing home in Finland.
Even though approximately 400 living lab initiatives have taken place worldwide since the turn of the millennium, not much is known of the learning dynamics between living lab stakeholders on a detailed level. Research around living labs has been criticized for a lack of empirical studies and overly optimistic attitude towards the approach. The everyday realities of living lab collaboration have remained largely unexplored, and realization of learning between stakeholders seems to be taken for granted in many studies. This is where the present study contributes.
The dissertation draws from science and technology studies, design research and research on innovation management. The articles of the dissertation focus on learning between project stakeholders, tensions and conflicts, and the role of innovation intermediaries in co-design. The added value of the living lab approach and patterns of user-developer learning on a more general level are analysed by comparing the smart floor case to other innovations.
The work demonstrates that a living lab is not a panacea for information transfer and collaborative learning, and realizing its potential requires a significant amount of work and resources from all parties involved. Skilful and active intermediaries play a crucial role in mediating multi-stakeholder learning. Despite the demands, the living lab seemed to catalyse the resolution of the necessary learning challenges that would otherwise have caused significant strain on the early customer relationships. Through user collaboration a simple fall alarm evolved into a precautionary nursing tool, which ultimately generated more value for its users and the developer company than the original concept idea.
The dissertation notice and the published dissertation are placed for public display at the Learning Hub Arabia (Hämeentie 135 C, 5th floor, room 570), at latest 10 days before the defence date.