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Design fictions


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  Prof J Giacomin  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

With the dramatically increasing rate of technological and societal change it is becoming more-and-more difficult to estimate future trends and to design complex systems which take many years to develop. Further, there are well known characteristics of human memory and human cognition which make it difficult for people to visualise and to imagine personas and scenarios which have not been encountered previously. Colloquial expressions such as “see it to believe it...” or “a picture is worth a thousand words…” are symptomatic of the difficulty in understanding matters which have not yet been experienced via sensory perception. Further, human responses such as “fear of change” and “nostalgia” are symptomatic of the difficulties associated with understanding new environments and new experiences. Despite the difficulties, however, there is no avoiding the need to design complex systems which become operational many years into the future. Approaches for simplifying the design process and for reducing risks and costs are thus urgently needed. One approach is that of “design fictions”. Design fictions are representations of possible future realities which are immersive and engaging to a sufficient degree to permit today’s stakeholders to become citizens of the future scenario. While extremely promising, there is currently a need for research regarding the characteristics of “design fictions”, regarding their degree of immersion and regarding the length of time which the people of today need to inhabit the scenarios in order to become well versed in the world of tomorrow. The proposed research will investigate the key issues of “scenario selection”, “degree of immersion” and “exposure duration”.

Programme of work

Literature review of human memory, human cognition and human responses to change.
Literature review of trend analysis techniques and design scenario generation techniques.
Literature review of strategies for human immersion with particular focus on the parameter of time.
Development of multiple “real fictions” for use in the design of complex mobility systems.
Testing of the multiple “real fictions” with a minimum of 15 individuals varying gender.
Testing of the multiple “real fictions” with a minimum of 15 individuals varying age.
Testing of the multiple “real fictions” with a minimum of 15 individuals varying nationality.
Testing of the multiple “real fictions” with a minimum of 15 individuals varying the exposure time.
Development of criteria for the definition of optimal “design fictions” in relation to mobility systems.
Final reporting

Value of the research both commercial and academic

The proposed research will substantially and decisively extend the knowledge of the issues involved in “design fictions” and is expected to produce important clarifications regarding how, when and why the approach might be applied. Further, the research will develop new evidence of the ability of “design fictions” to enhance customer experience and to deepen customer loyalty.

Funding Notes

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.)
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