Evaluating Users’ Creativity for Service and Needs Identification in the Field of Emerging Technologies: A Comparison of Two Methods and Two Production Conditions
The “probe” technique aims to support user-centred design by facilitating the exploration and collection of new ideas concerning technology use and services with a participatory design orientation. This technique consists essentially in introducing and providing targeted “potential” users with one (or more) simple artefact(s) illustrative of the considered emerging technology so that the participants can put and use it at home, in their daily environment during a long time, i.e. several days or even weeks. The main assumption is that users’ ideation is stimulated by handling the artefact and projecting possible uses from their individual’s daily physical and social environment. This study examines to what extend the «probe» technique can support users in their elicitation of creative uses as possible precursors of «latent needs» related to an emerging technology. The technique was compared with a standard prototype exploration situation where subjects came to the laboratory to be introduced to, to manipulate and to test the artefact before eliciting creative uses. Additionally, two eliciting conditions (individual vs. group) were contrasted in order to investigate the effect of social construction on the generation of creative ideas. The results suggest that the “probe” condition significantly exceeds the in-laboratory prototype-based production condition both in terms of quantity and quality of ideas. We also replicated the result that individuals working alone produced significantly more idea than those working interactively within a group. We finally discussed the factors that may explain these results and the perspectives.
KeywordsUser participation Emerging technology Probe technique
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