18.3 Design Study for a European LIVING LAB Research Infrastructure to stimulate the adoption of, sustainable smart and healthy innovations around the home

Martin Krekeler , Sustainable production and consumption, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Wuppertal, Germany
Michael Lettenmeier , Sustainable production and consumption, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Wuppertal, Germany
Christa Liedtke , Sustainable production and consumption, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Wuppertal, Germany
Extended abstract
Presentation:
Design Study for a European LIVING LAB Research Infrastructure to stimulate the adoption of, sustainable smart and healthy innovations around the home.
The LIVING LAB project is a design study within the 7th Framework programme for research and technological development of the European Union. The aim of this project is to develop the conceptual design of the LIVING LAB Research Infrastructure that will be used to research human interaction with, and stimulate the adoption of, sustainable, smart and healthy innovations around the home.
LIVING LAB intends to bring together Europe’s top research institutes and companies and aims to stimulate co-operative projects in the fields of user centred research and product development.
Living Labs address some of the difficulties that occur in the course of an innovation process. Worldwide, 85% of development efforts are spent on products and services that never reach the market. At the same time, the experts often totally underestimate the market potential of many products and services. Living Labs are an approach to stimulate user-driven innovation, which can lead to better understanding of customer needs and thus to more successful innovations.
The LIVING LAB project tries to utilize the advantages of a European research infrastructure to foster sustainable products and services. Sustainable products, or eco-innovations become more and more important in the face of the challenges Europe is confronted with: climate change and energy use, overuse and depletion of natural resources, ageing populations etc. The trends in all these fields are developing in unsustainable ways, leaving a need for innovative technologies, products and services that contribute to energy conservation, sustainable consumption and a high quality of life. Many of such innovations were developed in the past, but the social acceptance and market uptake of these has not been very successful. Home domotics, PV systems and water re-use systems are a few examples of promising domestic technologies that are still waiting to happen.
The LIVING LAB research infrastructure will explore the consumer’s point of view of sustainable and quality-of-life-enhancing innovations. The project is supposed to gather insight in the consumer’s motivations for using (or not using) these innovations, and work with industry to develop alternatives with a better chance of succeeding in the market. Considering consumption and production as parts of a systemic entity, research can be placed along the whole value chain and comprise all stages of the innovation process.
Hence, the objective of this design study is to address all key issues related to the feasibility of a new research infrastructure with a clear European dimension that will:
* advance the field of user centred research
* test, evaluate and improve sustainable innovations for the home,
* foster societal needs such as sustainability and quality of life,
* stimulate competitiveness of European industry.
Breaking new ground in the fields of consumer adoption of sustainable products, applied ethnography and participatory design & architecture, the LIVING LAB research infrastructure will provide the ground for generating new methodical insights into user-centred development, alpha-testing products and services in physical LIVING LAB houses and beta-testing in the field.
the LIVING LAB core infrastructure will look like an ordinary house, but invisible to its inhabitants who are all volunteers it will have sensors and other equipments that record every aspect of home life. The behaviour and interactions of the inhabitants can be monitored at any point in the day throughout the duration of their stay. One key advantage of the LIVING LAB over other simulation setups is that products can be evaluated in a real-life environment, over a prolonged period of time. This way, researchers and product developers can achieve a deeper understanding and uncover valuable insights about how people interact with products, leading to the development of better products, with real benefits for consumers and a better chance of succeeding in the market.
As the LIVING LAB research infrastructure will be made up of several LIVING LAB centres and affiliated research institutes and corporate labs, networked across Europe, parallel research in several facilities can be done, as well as studies into cultural diversity of European consumers.
At the moment, the project is in a very intensive phase, elaborating a Strategic Research Agenda and, thereby, developing and charting a whole new research landscape.