Where to Start? A Framework for Ideating Tangible Things for IoT


The Internet of Things (IoT) provides connectivity for everything: connecting objects through IoT generates exciting opportunities, and the potential to disrupt how we interpret and interact with our physical everyday environment.
The Internet of Tangible Things (IoTT) moves IoT one step forward: IoTT refers to tangible interaction applied to IoT.
IoTT was introduced for the first time in 2016 and then it evolved to promote a shift toward the design of physical or tangible interactions with IoT.
IoTT design go through different stages, not necessarily separated or sequentially entered. During the ideation stage, alternatives are put forward, formatively assessed and reflected over. Then prototypes are created, the interaction with IoTT is programmed and, again, the results are reflected over and evaluated, mainly in a formative manner.
However, the ideation stage is always the most difficult stage: how can we make people ideate novel IoTT solutions?
Several researchers use different tool-kits for ideating IoTT solutions. For instance, specific card-based tool-kits have been recently conceived and employed in workshops for the ideation stage. According to several authors, they are useful for supporting the ideation and collaboration among different stakeholders in workshops.
However, cards or other toolkits, alone, are not sufficient; it is necessary to embed them in a framework for structuring the ideation process and leading to feasible and usable solutions, which can be effectively prototyped, programmed and used by their intended users.
This talk presents a framework which can be used for ideating and eventually prototyping innovative IoTT solutions.
It has has been already used in and adapted to different contexts, with different people, e.g., children and university students. The talk will show the framework “in action”: it will explain it in the context of the (per se) innovative Makerlab course of the Faculty of Computer Science of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, which challenges students to solve a real-life problem related to their environment.
If time allows for it, the talk will also showcase prototypes of IoTT solutions made by students.

The talk will conclude by drawing general and yet applicable lessons related to innovation in IoTT.