Category: Field Trials

AnathemaServices: design research to deal with taboo topics

Developing his master’s thesis – AnathemaService – at Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, Diogo Coutinho is exploring design research methods to deal with taboo topics such as sexuality. In this sense, and in order to prepare the market entry of the Anathema app, three workshops were organized with 11 participants. These sessions aim to help understand what people value in a product, becoming a valuable tool in defining the customer journey. In each session, participants (volunteers from the COLABORAR network) were asked to perform various tasks, allowing to understand the most valued services and features.

“To tackle the problem of stigma, designers need to work directly with the stigmatizing topics that affect users, which is difficult as some of the methodologies used are inappropriate. AnathemaService aims to contribute to fill this gap by giving new strategies to deal with stigma in design research activities”, explains Diogo Coutinho.

COLABORAR network is back…and with a new codesign space!

After more than two years of social distance, the COLABORAR network is back!

As a way of resuming usability tests, in person, a session was held at the new FhP- AICOS’ co-creation space. This space is now used for usability tests with end users, as it happened recently within the scope of the Anathema project.

In a session held with 4 users (2 couples), one of the project’s partners, SexLab, moderated the first part, a focus group with seniors on important issues of intimate and sexual life in old age.

In the second part, FhP-AICOS moderated a co-design workshop in which seniors gave their feedback both on illustrations that could be used in the application and on quotations from the texts that were created for the program.

The first of many sessions to be held!

Anathema is a European project for the promotion of sexual health, coordinated by the research center Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS (FhP-AICOS) which aims to develop a digital platform and a mobile application as a way to implement programs of promotion of sexual health, according to a plan outlined in conjunction with psychologists and therapists. The Anathema project focuses on monitoring sexuality in adults over 55 and with chronic diseases.

Guidelines for longitudinal studies

In 2019, our HCD team, with extensive experience in longitudinal studies, published the article entitled “Challenges and Lessons Learned from Implementing Longitudinal Studies for Self-care Technology Assessment”. Now, and based on that article, our experts have prepared a summary, with some tips and advice on how to conduct a longitudinal study.

Please, click here to access the document.

Study about how seniors use technology

This year, a psychology student joins the COLABORAR team to conduct a study about the use of technology by older adults.

The longitudinal study is starting to collect data about seniors’ use of technology. We want to know which technological devices participants make use of and what activities participants perform with each of their devices.

The student will be running a survey comprised of many questions regarding technology. He will apply questionnaires to seniors of our user network COLABORAR and we are looking forward to seeing the results! Users will be contacted to answer by phone, in person and through the internet. Their participation is of great importance to us, as the survey will enable researchers from the Fraunhofer AICOS‘ Human-Centered Design group to better understand specific needs and preferences of older adults. Thus, they will build even more accurate and useful solutions!

A link to answer the questions will be available soon so that users far away from Porto can participate as well and be represented in this sample.

Three tips to better manage a living lab

Actively and continuously engaging users is essential to drive a living lab that supports research projects. When a project identifies the need for users, whether it is to conduct user research or usability tests of innovative health and well-being mobile apps, COLABORAR should promptly provide users. Often we recruit the same user multiple times, if he/she fits in the inclusion criteria. Our statistics show that each participant have participated in 2.7 activities in average since the project started in November 2011. This implies that we are able to maintain the users in the network and it is one of the biggest challenges of managing a living lab.Throughout the last 8 years we tried and enhanced some strategies. Here are some of the lessons that have helped us being able to maintain volunteers “actives”, that is, willing to be invited to take part in research.

1 – Show appreciation of the importance of their contribution to research

2 – Maintain contact

3 – Building trust

We are pretty sure these tips will help you to successfully manage a living lab.

World Usability Day 2019

We are celebrating the World Usability Day 2019.

We congratulate all professionals in the field and all volunteer participants in usability studies.Whether they work on objects such as tables or cars, or they work on software for computer, TV, smartphone or tablet, they are very important as their study methods enable users having good experiences on using a device.

At Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, there is an entire team dedicated to these issues. They are engineers, designers, and other professionals working together within the Human Centred-Design team.


How to recruit research participants in 4 steps

We are sharing the steps we follow when it comes to preparing for the recruitment of research participants for a usability session. Participant recruitment can be difficult, especially for a researcher just getting into Human Centered-Design, so we are sharing a few things that we always do to make the recruitment effective and easier.

These are the 4 steps:

1 – Define target users

The participants’ characteristics depends on the context of the study and the target users of the technology in study. For example, you may need active older adults who still are engaged in many physical or social activities and are technology proficients. Or it could be useful for you to gain insights from older adults who not usually engage with technology.

2 – Plan the test materials

The materials you are planing to use in a usability session for users to interact with should be taken into account when you recruit participants. paper prototypes are a good option to use with non-proficient users, because they eliminate the barrier of using a smartphone or a tablet. Thus, participants will be able to concentrate on understanding the workflow and focus on the tasks. On the other hand, when you are planning to conduct a usability test in the validation phase of the technology and therefore more functional and interactive prototypes should be used, proficient users are required.

3 – Provide context

Explaining the aim of the project briefly, as well as the materials to be used, day, time and duration of the session is very important when approaching a potential participant. This information allow participants to have an overall understanding of what the research is about, why you are doing it and what you expect from him/her. Bear in mind that you should emphasize that there are not good and bad answers, you just need him/her opinion.

4 – Pay attention to national holidays and festive seasons

Older adults often take mini-holidays and city breaks, usually close to a national holiday, weekend or festive season so to they can spend time with family relatives who still work. Therefore, it is not a good idea scheduling test sessions in this periods. Adapt your schedule to the participants’ availability, providing several options in the calendar.

These are practical tips that you can use in your next recruitment for a usability session. Let us know if you find it useful by contacting us (use the contact form).

Scientific volunteering

Whether you are 18 or 80 years old, be part of innovation.

COLABORAR promotes a research approach that brings together scientists and stakeholders that have knowledge about a particular issue. It could be in the area of social assistance, healthcare services, public transportation or urban planning. Accordingly, social workers, healthcare professionals, ageing specialists and citizens are encouraged to engage in science. This is as simple as share their needs, priorities and preferences.

International organizations reccomend this collaborative model of research with the aim of improving outcomes. We are certain that our research is more valuable when it addresses the concerns of patients, professionals and users.

Be part of this initiative and influence the research we do. Shape technologies and technological services you will use. Your oppinion is important. To voluntarily engage in research, fill in the contact form.

Longitudinal study

New technologies are increasingly being used by older adults. Smartphones, tablets and apps are now part of the elderly’s vocabulary. But what impact do these technologies have on the daily life of older adults?

To find out, Fraunhofer AICOS’ Human-Centered Design researchers implemented a longitudinal study to get insights about the challenges and impact of mobile technology on older adults’ daily routines. The study includes people who already own a smartphone and people who do not.

This study will enable to depict how older adults experience the integration of technology in their everyday lives. Researchers will have access to real world data of technology use with the aim of designing interfaces for apps that overcome the barriers that these technologies bring with them.

3000 user research and testing sessions with users

We are happy to have achieved the milestone of 3000 user research and testing sessions!

In the last 7 and a half years, COLABORAR supported 3000 user research activities. Requirements gathering, user interviews, diary studies, prototype testing, card sorting, focus groups, in-person usability studies, surveys and pilot studies are the activities carried out.

The COLABORAR team could not be more glad. We learned many things during this time regarding the recruitment of people for research and testing, as well as about carrying research with users. For the next years, we expect to double this milestone!