The Living Lab approach is a novel way of involving users in innovation and development processes. Living Labs are environments for innovation and development where users are exposed to new ICTsolutions in (semi)-realistic contexts, as part of medium- or long-term studies (Følstad, 2008). The Living Lab approach to user innovation has received much interest the last years, as is seen in the growth of the European Network of Living Labs which now have registered more than three hundred Living Labs.
An emerging trend, particularly within European Living Labs, is to see the Living Lab approach as a way to engage users and user communities in co-creation activities including interaction between developers and users. Living Lab researchers use a wide range of methods for user involvement in general, and co-creation in particular, as for example is seen by the methods presented in the Living Lab toolbox, an online guide to Living Lab methods.
An online Living Lab?
The methods used by Living Lab researchers for user-involvement typically require face-to-face access to users. Methods utilizing Internet applications and social software for co-creation are remarkably absent (though some exceptions include the Finnish Open Web Lab –OWELA and the partners of the SociaLL research project).
This is surprising given the potential of the Internet as a platform for co-creation. In 2011, more than half (58%) of the population of Europe was online (according to Internetstats) and about a quarter (27%) of the same population was present on Facebook, the world’s most popular social network (according toSocialBakers). For North America, similar figures were 78% and 41% (according to Pew Internet Research). Clearly, the Internet holds a great potential for accessing Living Lab user participants; participants that will be accustomed to provide input in an online social context.
The RECORD online Living Lab
The RECORD online Living Lab was set up in 2007 as part of the RECORD research project, supported by the Norwegian Research Council. Here, user participants are invited to provide feedback on ideas, concepts, prototypes or running solutions as part of design, development or innovation projects.
By 2013 we had run 20 cases in the Living Lab. Most of these conducted as part of ongoing research projects in collaboration with Norwegian partners within media and ICT. In a typical case, somewhere between 50 and 200 user participants provide feedback on designs or solutions: feedback that may be used directly in the subsequent development process.
The user participants are recruited from a panel of Norwegian internet users (we collaborate with NorStat’s panel.no) or from the case partners user base.
The RECORD online Living Lab is administered by SINTEF. Please, contact us if you may be interested in collaboration.