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Gearing up! 
A Designer-Focused Evaluation of Ideation Tools for Connected Products 
Dries De Roeck, Pieter Jan Stappers, Achiel Standaert
2 
A Designer-Focused Evaluation of Ideation Tools for Connected Products
Connected products 
3
4 
Connected products
Connected products, the issue 
5 
• Technology dominant approach 
‣ needs to be stretched (Grufberg, Bannon) 
• Prototyping & sketching 
‣ Requirements of tools (Frens, Buxton) 
• Limited human centred influence 
‣ Lacking in literature (Koreshoff) 
⚑
6 
“There is both need and opportunity to 
develop understandings and design 
approaches that consider the deeper 
human-centred issues of the IoT.” Koreshoff, 2013
Designer focussed 
7 
• Core competences 
‣ Human dimension 
‣ Translation of contextual elements (Sleeswijk-Visser) 
‣ Importance of meaning (Verganti) 
• Products are increasingly digital 
‣ Physical and digital need to provide a coherent 
experience 
• Tools for designing connected products 
‣ Are too focussed on a final result (Frens) ⌖
Ideation tools 
8 
• Supportive during a creative activity 
‣ Creativity support tools (Schneiderman) 
• Support exploratory search 
• Enable collaboration 
• Provide rich history keeping 
• Design with low thresholds, high ceilings and wide walls 

An evaluative study 
9
Study setup 
Design assignment 
introduction 
move 
Your goal is to define a concept that stimulates people to consumption off-peak. This goal should be achieved 
their con-nected 
energy using power consumption data coming from digitally by power meters in people’s homes. 
consumption data 
Each household has a ‘smart energy meter’ in their homes. This 
means that the energy consumption of each household is logged 
digitally. Your product concept should make use of this data in 
some way. Do note that your goal is to re-interpret this data, and 
not (only) display it as a graph or other visualisation. 
4 important facts! 
1. The defined concept should be primarily used indoors. So 
focus on an in-house product. 
2. All customers of the product rely on traditional energy 
sources. This means solar panels or other alternative energy 
sources are not available within the context of this assignment. 
With the ever increasing people living in cities, the power grid 
becomes very stressed at a couple of peak moments throughout 
the day. In order to maintain a healthy power grid, there is a 
clear need to motivate and enable people to move their power 
consumption to other times of day. 
3. You can assume that all devices in the house can be switched 
on or off by a digital system. 
4. We focus on in-house prodcuts, but those can be used by 
other people living in the neighbourhood. 
9h00 
21h00 03h00 9h00 
What’s it called" 
How does it work? 
Describe your idea in one sentence 
This product is useful because Express it 3 ... 
claims about your product 
Storyboard 
9isualise the concept step by step using a maximum of  sketches. 
)ocus on the core elements of the idea who is involved what is the setting how does the 
interaction take place 
10 
• Evaluative study 
‣ 2 design tools 
• Lillidots (De Roeck, 2011) 
• tBPM (Luebbe, 2011) 
‣ Reference case 
• Nesta dynamic demand challenge 
‣ 30 participants 
• 15 per condition 
• Working in groups of 3 
• Master students industrial design 
‣ 3 hour session 
• Tool intro, ideation 
• Presentation on template
tBPM 
11 
Ideation tool : tangible process blocks 
Using tangible process blocks, a product 
idea can be mapped out in a structured 
way. 
Step 1. Determine the start and end of the 
process the product will help accomplish 
Step 2. Map the main activities in 
between 
Step 3. Enrich the process with gateways, 
documents and role information. 
Basic example 
Express yourself! 
How does it work? 
The event block. This 
block is used to mark the 
start and ending of the 
process or sub-processes. 
The activity block. This 
block is used to represent 
the work performed by a 
person or a system. 
The data block. This block 
represents information 
processed or required. 
Such as files, documents, 
digital information,... 
The gateway block. 
Gateways are used 
to split and join the 
process flow. The 
can be used to 
create parallel or 
alternative paths. 
Draw arrows to 
connect blocks 
together. 
Create groups 
(swimlanes) of blocks to 
assign a person, object or 
environment to specific 
actions. 
The blocks should be placed on a large 
sheet of paper. This underlying sheet can 
be used to draw arrows, make 
connections between blocks, or annotate 
whatever information you think is 
relevant. 
On the piece of paper you can also use 
group blocks together that are relevant to 
a specific object, person or environment. 
person 1 
Information 
about 
amount of 
water drank. 
Did I drink 
enough water 
today? 
Start tracking 
water 
consumption 
Did the 
person 
drink? 
no 
yes 
Measure level of 
water in glass 
Send 
consumption 
data 
water 
usage 
saved 
data
Lillidots 
13 
Title sheet Basic example How does it work? Lillidot sheet(s) 
lillidot ___________ 
lillidot ___________ 
lillidot ___________ 
Where is this lillidot placed 
Why is it placed there 
Where is this lillidot placed 
Why is it placed there 
What does this lillidot do? 
What does this lillidot do? 
First... 
First... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
to finally 
to finally 
Ideation tool : lillidots 
Lillidots is a method which structures a 
connected products idea. Each idea 
consits of one title sheet and multiple 
lillidot sheets. 
Step 1 : Identify actors in context 
(objects, people or environments) 
Step 2 : Generate ideas through mockups 
and acting out 
Step 3 : Create sets of lillidots, recombine, 
adapt,... 
! 
lillidot ___________ 
then... 
lillidot ___________ 
then... 
lillidot on glass 
“tracks water level” 
first 
“checks level” 
then 
“shouts it to 
anyone listening” 
The lillidot sheets are used during the 
ideation process to structure ideas. In 
order to generate ideas, create quick  
dirty mockups to explore ideas. 
Title: 
Describe what you’d like this set 
of lillidots to do 
Describe/visualise how 
this set of lillidots functions 
Use this space to visualise the 
appearance of your lillidots or 
lillidot set - you can also use the 
back of this sheet (or use a 
seperate sheet) 
! 
! 
! 
Where is this lillidot placed 
Why is it placed there 
What does this lillidot do? 
First... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
to finally 
Lillidot 
A lillidot is something of variable 
size that can attach itself to any 
object, person or space. A lillidot 
can tell you everything about the 
object or person it is attached to 
or that it observes (i.e. it can 
sense, measure, track, etc...). 
A lillidot can work together and 
communicate with other lillidots 
independent of their location. In 
addition, a lillidot can 
communicate with you, for 
instance via sounds, lights, 
vibrations, a display,... By creating 
a set of lillidots, you can make 
elements of your environment 
interact with each other. 
Title: 
Describe what you’d like this set 
of lillidots to do 
Describe/visualise how 
this set of lillidots functions 
! 
! 
Where is this lillidot placed 
Why is it placed there 
What does this lillidot do? 
First... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
to finally 
Where is this lillidot placed 
Why is it placed there 
What does this lillidot do? 
First... 
then... 
then... 
then... 
to finally 
 
title of lillidot set 
“detects the amount of 
water and sends it to a 
mobile phone” lillidot on phone 
“talks to the glass 
of water” 
first 
“receives data” 
then 
“displays data” 
then 
“tells the owner 
how much s/he 
has been drinking” 
Mockups  
acting out
Analysis - process focus 
15 
•Quantitative 
‣ Creativity Support Index (Carroll, 2009) 
• Collaboration, enjoyment, exploration, expressiveness, 
immersion  results worth the effort 
‣ 27 questionnaires (13 lillidot, 14 BPMN) 
•Qualitative 
‣ Observation (recordings as supportive material) 
‣ Informal feedback after sessions
Analysis - result focus 
16 
•Quantitative 
‣ Novelty  appropriateness ranking (Sternberg  Lubbart) 
‣ Ranking by 7 external experts 
‣ Senior teaching staff, industry partners 
‣ Qualitative 
‣ Product or service dominant focus (Dewit, Rubino) 
#
Findings - Quantitative 
17 
•No significant differences 
‣ Mann-Whitney U  Kolmogorov–Smirnov tests 
•Differences in CSI factors 
‣ Collaboration (tBPM scores higher) 
‣ Immersion (lillidots scores higher) 
$
Findings - Qualitative 
18 
•Overall 
‣ Structuring of ideas 
‣ Keeping track after an ideation session 
• tBPM 
‣ Visual overview of the result 
‣ Group work (confirmation of CSI factor) 
• More focus on one activity 
• Lillidots 
‣ More accessible to get going 
‣ Higher immersion (confirmation of CSI factor) 
• Materiality 
• Low fidelity prototyping %
•Be actor centered 
•Allow expression in multiple ways 
•Provide an overview of the overall interaction 
between actor and actions 
•Balance tangible and service components 
•Trigger (detailed) interaction definition
Sure thing, but… 
20 
• Perceived usefulness of, yet another, tool 
‣ Be wary of touching the core values of design 
• Process should still be ‘designerly’ (Stolterman) 
‣ Recover / use parts 
• Structuring ideas (more widely applicable) 
• Connected products (actor networks)
@driesderoeck 
dries.deroeck@uantwerpen.be 
driesdr.ramdac.be
A. Identify actors B. Create  specify actor network C. Define outcome 
actor washing 
machine 
washing 
machine 
living 
room 
John 
John 
How is this done? 
firstly ... 
secondly ... 
thirdly ... 
fourthly ... 
What does this actor do? 
keeps track of 
status and saves it 
somewhere 
washing 
status 
wants to receive 
information when his 
wash is done 
checks his device for 
wash status 
indicates that he 
wants a notification 
when wash is done 
receives notification 
on device 
Identify actors based on contextual 
analysis. Actors can be objects, persons 
or environments. These are written on 
circular discs. 
By placing the actors on template sheets, actions can be assigned to a specific actor. 
Firstly, a general action is expressed. Secondly, the template can be folded open and 
the action can be made more specific. By making each action explicit, the interaction 
between people, objects and environments becomes well defined. 
A consolidated version of the actor 
network can be created through a 
storyboard or (interactive) prototype. 
 
#$$$% 
 ! 
' 
' 
(

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Gearing up! A Designer-Focused Evaluation of Ideation Tools for Connected Products.

  • 1. Gearing up! A Designer-Focused Evaluation of Ideation Tools for Connected Products Dries De Roeck, Pieter Jan Stappers, Achiel Standaert
  • 2. 2 A Designer-Focused Evaluation of Ideation Tools for Connected Products
  • 5. Connected products, the issue 5 • Technology dominant approach ‣ needs to be stretched (Grufberg, Bannon) • Prototyping & sketching ‣ Requirements of tools (Frens, Buxton) • Limited human centred influence ‣ Lacking in literature (Koreshoff) ⚑
  • 6. 6 “There is both need and opportunity to develop understandings and design approaches that consider the deeper human-centred issues of the IoT.” Koreshoff, 2013
  • 7. Designer focussed 7 • Core competences ‣ Human dimension ‣ Translation of contextual elements (Sleeswijk-Visser) ‣ Importance of meaning (Verganti) • Products are increasingly digital ‣ Physical and digital need to provide a coherent experience • Tools for designing connected products ‣ Are too focussed on a final result (Frens) ⌖
  • 8. Ideation tools 8 • Supportive during a creative activity ‣ Creativity support tools (Schneiderman) • Support exploratory search • Enable collaboration • Provide rich history keeping • Design with low thresholds, high ceilings and wide walls 
  • 10. Study setup Design assignment introduction move Your goal is to define a concept that stimulates people to consumption off-peak. This goal should be achieved their con-nected energy using power consumption data coming from digitally by power meters in people’s homes. consumption data Each household has a ‘smart energy meter’ in their homes. This means that the energy consumption of each household is logged digitally. Your product concept should make use of this data in some way. Do note that your goal is to re-interpret this data, and not (only) display it as a graph or other visualisation. 4 important facts! 1. The defined concept should be primarily used indoors. So focus on an in-house product. 2. All customers of the product rely on traditional energy sources. This means solar panels or other alternative energy sources are not available within the context of this assignment. With the ever increasing people living in cities, the power grid becomes very stressed at a couple of peak moments throughout the day. In order to maintain a healthy power grid, there is a clear need to motivate and enable people to move their power consumption to other times of day. 3. You can assume that all devices in the house can be switched on or off by a digital system. 4. We focus on in-house prodcuts, but those can be used by other people living in the neighbourhood. 9h00 21h00 03h00 9h00 What’s it called" How does it work? Describe your idea in one sentence This product is useful because Express it 3 ... claims about your product Storyboard 9isualise the concept step by step using a maximum of sketches. )ocus on the core elements of the idea who is involved what is the setting how does the interaction take place 10 • Evaluative study ‣ 2 design tools • Lillidots (De Roeck, 2011) • tBPM (Luebbe, 2011) ‣ Reference case • Nesta dynamic demand challenge ‣ 30 participants • 15 per condition • Working in groups of 3 • Master students industrial design ‣ 3 hour session • Tool intro, ideation • Presentation on template
  • 11. tBPM 11 Ideation tool : tangible process blocks Using tangible process blocks, a product idea can be mapped out in a structured way. Step 1. Determine the start and end of the process the product will help accomplish Step 2. Map the main activities in between Step 3. Enrich the process with gateways, documents and role information. Basic example Express yourself! How does it work? The event block. This block is used to mark the start and ending of the process or sub-processes. The activity block. This block is used to represent the work performed by a person or a system. The data block. This block represents information processed or required. Such as files, documents, digital information,... The gateway block. Gateways are used to split and join the process flow. The can be used to create parallel or alternative paths. Draw arrows to connect blocks together. Create groups (swimlanes) of blocks to assign a person, object or environment to specific actions. The blocks should be placed on a large sheet of paper. This underlying sheet can be used to draw arrows, make connections between blocks, or annotate whatever information you think is relevant. On the piece of paper you can also use group blocks together that are relevant to a specific object, person or environment. person 1 Information about amount of water drank. Did I drink enough water today? Start tracking water consumption Did the person drink? no yes Measure level of water in glass Send consumption data water usage saved data
  • 12.
  • 13. Lillidots 13 Title sheet Basic example How does it work? Lillidot sheet(s) lillidot ___________ lillidot ___________ lillidot ___________ Where is this lillidot placed Why is it placed there Where is this lillidot placed Why is it placed there What does this lillidot do? What does this lillidot do? First... First... then... then... then... then... then... then... then... then... then... to finally to finally Ideation tool : lillidots Lillidots is a method which structures a connected products idea. Each idea consits of one title sheet and multiple lillidot sheets. Step 1 : Identify actors in context (objects, people or environments) Step 2 : Generate ideas through mockups and acting out Step 3 : Create sets of lillidots, recombine, adapt,... ! lillidot ___________ then... lillidot ___________ then... lillidot on glass “tracks water level” first “checks level” then “shouts it to anyone listening” The lillidot sheets are used during the ideation process to structure ideas. In order to generate ideas, create quick dirty mockups to explore ideas. Title: Describe what you’d like this set of lillidots to do Describe/visualise how this set of lillidots functions Use this space to visualise the appearance of your lillidots or lillidot set - you can also use the back of this sheet (or use a seperate sheet) ! ! ! Where is this lillidot placed Why is it placed there What does this lillidot do? First... then... then... then... to finally Lillidot A lillidot is something of variable size that can attach itself to any object, person or space. A lillidot can tell you everything about the object or person it is attached to or that it observes (i.e. it can sense, measure, track, etc...). A lillidot can work together and communicate with other lillidots independent of their location. In addition, a lillidot can communicate with you, for instance via sounds, lights, vibrations, a display,... By creating a set of lillidots, you can make elements of your environment interact with each other. Title: Describe what you’d like this set of lillidots to do Describe/visualise how this set of lillidots functions ! ! Where is this lillidot placed Why is it placed there What does this lillidot do? First... then... then... then... to finally Where is this lillidot placed Why is it placed there What does this lillidot do? First... then... then... then... to finally title of lillidot set “detects the amount of water and sends it to a mobile phone” lillidot on phone “talks to the glass of water” first “receives data” then “displays data” then “tells the owner how much s/he has been drinking” Mockups acting out
  • 14.
  • 15. Analysis - process focus 15 •Quantitative ‣ Creativity Support Index (Carroll, 2009) • Collaboration, enjoyment, exploration, expressiveness, immersion results worth the effort ‣ 27 questionnaires (13 lillidot, 14 BPMN) •Qualitative ‣ Observation (recordings as supportive material) ‣ Informal feedback after sessions
  • 16. Analysis - result focus 16 •Quantitative ‣ Novelty appropriateness ranking (Sternberg Lubbart) ‣ Ranking by 7 external experts ‣ Senior teaching staff, industry partners ‣ Qualitative ‣ Product or service dominant focus (Dewit, Rubino) #
  • 17. Findings - Quantitative 17 •No significant differences ‣ Mann-Whitney U Kolmogorov–Smirnov tests •Differences in CSI factors ‣ Collaboration (tBPM scores higher) ‣ Immersion (lillidots scores higher) $
  • 18. Findings - Qualitative 18 •Overall ‣ Structuring of ideas ‣ Keeping track after an ideation session • tBPM ‣ Visual overview of the result ‣ Group work (confirmation of CSI factor) • More focus on one activity • Lillidots ‣ More accessible to get going ‣ Higher immersion (confirmation of CSI factor) • Materiality • Low fidelity prototyping %
  • 19. •Be actor centered •Allow expression in multiple ways •Provide an overview of the overall interaction between actor and actions •Balance tangible and service components •Trigger (detailed) interaction definition
  • 20. Sure thing, but… 20 • Perceived usefulness of, yet another, tool ‣ Be wary of touching the core values of design • Process should still be ‘designerly’ (Stolterman) ‣ Recover / use parts • Structuring ideas (more widely applicable) • Connected products (actor networks)
  • 22. A. Identify actors B. Create specify actor network C. Define outcome actor washing machine washing machine living room John John How is this done? firstly ... secondly ... thirdly ... fourthly ... What does this actor do? keeps track of status and saves it somewhere washing status wants to receive information when his wash is done checks his device for wash status indicates that he wants a notification when wash is done receives notification on device Identify actors based on contextual analysis. Actors can be objects, persons or environments. These are written on circular discs. By placing the actors on template sheets, actions can be assigned to a specific actor. Firstly, a general action is expressed. Secondly, the template can be folded open and the action can be made more specific. By making each action explicit, the interaction between people, objects and environments becomes well defined. A consolidated version of the actor network can be created through a storyboard or (interactive) prototype. #$$$% ! ' ' (