Between October and December last year, Rens Brankaert visited UTS as a Key Technology Partner Visiting Fellow. In his work as an associate professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, Rens focuses on inclusive human-centred design, interaction design and multi-stakeholder innovation. During his visit to Sydney, the focus was on his work to improve the quality of life for those with dementia and the people in their vicinity. The aim is to design user-friendly products for people with dementia that help them live their daily lives and improve wellbeing and/or increase their autonomy.
In a recent interview with UTS’ Annabel Jeffrey and Alex McAlpin, both Rens and Gail Kenning (who invited Rens to UTS) acknowledge that a very people-centred design process in this area brings unique challenges. As Gail said: “A lot of the work we do is not just changing the system to improve quality of life, it’s figuring out how to engage the people in the design process itself. That ensures the systems we devise work for people in all respects.” Establishing a relationship is key to ensure a successful process, which Rens acknowledged in the interview: “It’s easy when someone’s able to communicate on the same level, but to have a balanced research relationship with someone with dementia, that’s challenging.”
Rens’ visit to UTS enabled him and Gail to continue their conversations and develop further research plans and build on earlier visits by Gail to Eindhoven University. The partnership between the universities helps both researchers to play a stronger role in the research on participatory design processes involving those affecting by dementia. While Rens has returned to Eindhoven since the interview was conducted, the research collaboration will continue. Both believe that the developing perspectives across Europe and Australia reinforce each other and stand to benefit an ever-broader group of people.
Read the full interview with Rens and Gail on the UTS website.
Last week, Daniel Herron was awarded a 2018 UTS HDR Directors Commendation. The Faculty’s Higher Degree Research director decided to award the Commendation to Daniel for his work on how to deal with broken relationships and their digital remains. With this award, Daniel wins an official certificate recognising the achievement and a modest cash prize.
The faculty uses the award to recognise work that illustrates the breadth and depth of its doctoral candidates, and it hopes to encourage candidates to look at how their work makes a contribution to their field and society. Daniel made various efforts to promote and communicate his work in the media, including radio interviews and an article in The Conversation. He also undertook a collaboration with the Museum of Broken Relationships to stage an exhibition at the CHI 2018 conference earlier this year. After that, he went on to Facebook for an internship that lasted several months.
We’re very proud of Daniel being rewarded for his research achievements! Daniel himself says that ‘as a Joint-PhD student, it means a lot that FEIT are as excited about my research as I am! Thank you to FEIT and UTS for supporting my work and recognising my contribution with this award.’