In this Licentiate Thesis, human-centric evaluation of innovations are investigated with focus on examining and gaining understanding of important issues that needs to be considered in the evaluation process. The intention of my research is to contribute to IT-design processes so that future products and services, that are in various stages of development, become more responsive to users' actual needs and wants. IT has traditionally been used within the boundaries for either work- practices or private use. Nowadays, however, these boundaries have become increasingly blurred. Today's technology should not only support work, but also leisure. This means that the use of IT additionally includes areas such as entertainment, education, news, and marketing. Furthermore, IT- products and services should also be supportive for people in their different, although concurrent, everyday roles, such as parent, colleague, friend, consumer, and partner. These changed use contexts and use patterns have made it even more significant to understand the importance of designing technology to support different use situations. To get knowledge about how technology can support use patterns and use contexts a means is user involvement and through continuous evaluations. The evaluations reported in this thesis are evaluations of innovations. Evaluation of use of technology has often focused on usability aspects. Now, the area has developed to include additional use aspects, such as interaction and use experiences. Hence, the area of user evaluation has altered to include a broader question, how technology fits within a broad range of human needs. In this thesis, the reported evaluations mainly have been carried out in a Living Lab context. Living Labs aim to support innovation processes among businesses and local and central authorities by offering human-centric evaluation of innovations in a real-world use environment. The Living Lab concept is rather new. Thus, the evaluation processes, performed within this context, need to be examined. The investigation in this thesis has been carried out following an action research approach within a Living Lab. In this course, four human-centric evaluations were performed: a piece of furniture displaying video-art, a mobile marketing service, a civic-service office, and a mobile-phone bus timetable. The investigation has illuminated that the context in which the evaluations occur is critical. Hence, it needs to be considered and intentionally studied. My study has also shown that the development context for innovations is complex; there are many stakeholders involved with different knowledge interests and therefore, to reach a common purpose of the evaluation is complicated. In addition, it is difficult for stakeholders to express their evaluation needs clearly. Hence, a focus on needs facilitates planning and designing the evaluation process. In this research, an aspect that have been identified as important to consider in evaluations of innovations is that users are reluctant to change their behaviour; hence, it is not possible to evaluate the actual impact of an innovation on people's lives. Instead, the focus of the evaluation should be on valuing users' attitudes and thoughts related to the innovation. In addition, evaluations of innovations are often formative in character, aiming to form the innovations in some way. In these evaluations, it is important to include users who are innovative and open to new technologies. It is also important to include active non-users in evaluations, since their attitudes could reveal necessary changes that would make them want to use the innovation. Finally, when evaluating how an evaluand fits into a range of user needs, it has been found that user needs can be met at different levels. This means that a product, or a service, can meet the need of a user concerning one aspect, but still, the user might not be aware of the need of the product or service, as such. So, a need of an innovation might exist, but the users do not use it anyway; the users fulfil their needs by a different means. Therefore, if an innovation does what the users need it to do, a change in user behaviour needs to be encouraged to help the users change their actions.
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2006. , 85 p.