Inderscience Publishers

Making the future palpable: Notes from a major incidents future laboratory

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In this paper, we describe experiences from a future laboratory.Future laboratories allow users to experiment with prototypes of futuretechnologies in as realistic conditions as possible. We have devised thismethod because, to realise the potential of advanced ubiquitous computingtechnologies, it is essential to anticipate and design for future practices, but forprospective users, it is often difficult to imagine and articulate future practicesand provide design specifications. However, they readily invent new ways ofworking in engagement with new technologies and, by facilitating the realisticuse of prototype technologies in future laboratories, designers and users candefine and study both the opportunities and constraints for design. We present11 scenes from a major incidents future laboratory held in September 2005.Many raise tough questions rather than provide quick answers. In addition,many also bring desirable and realisable sociotechnical futures into relief,illustrating the value of the future laboratory approach.

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