Handige Beestjes - Design for Social Inclusion
Social and empathic design, context-mapping, academic writing, agency analysis.

Project description:

With the product line Handige Beestjes, we aimed to embody the traits and characteristics of domestic pets into smart objects to promote social inclusion amongst elderly in retirement homes. The designed concepts brought together the main values of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Robot Assisted Therapy (RAT) to prevent or alleviate the feeling of emotional loneliness, resembling generic products where their animalistic traits emerge through their interactions. An empathic design approach has been used to extract the key values and user needs, and Actor-Network Theory has been used to iteratively analyze the products and their interactions in the context of use throughout the different prototype. This  has led to the development of a paper, submitted to HAI 2017 Conference , see below.


Paper:  Handige Beestjes: applying the ANT framework to empathic design processes to design for social inclusion in retirement homes (submitted to HAI 2017 on 05-06-2017)

Abstract: In this paper we explore how the Actor-Network Theory (ANT) can be used in the empathic design process towards designing responsive products that relieve or prevent social isolation among elderly. We designed the interactive product line “Handige Beestjes” consisting of three smart objects that embody traits and characteristics of domestic pets, intending to increase emotional well-being, value of companionship, and to become a social catalyst. Our design goal was to investigate human-to-product interaction as a way of addressing emotional loneliness among elderly. We thereby integrated ANT principles to deliberately design the level of interactivity and found that the use of the ANT framework helped to contextualize the use and interaction with the products. It specifically provided a tool for analyzing the level of acceptance of the smart objects among elderly.