Technological innovations in the area of big/small data, data mining, and artificial intelligence contribute to the development of cost-effective solutions with societal impact on healthcare and sustainability. For example, smartphones compete to become your next health manager, promising to keep complete track of your health performance, connecting different aspects and suggesting how to improve them. Similar, smart energy meters, building automation, smart grids and energy distribution systems, are offering cost-effective solutions to reduce energy while maintaining desired comfort.

In practice, these technology-driven innovations have not yet provided satisfactory outputs. People often experience these technologies as disruptive, negatively affecting relevant aspects of their daily lives. Consider an automatic blind at your office that changes every time you do not want to, or the asthma app that reminds the user to take their medication every time the user does not want to be reminded that they are patients. These technologies are expected to coexists in people’s living and working environment, where people manage different values. For some, at one moment it is comfort and at other moment it is to save money. For some, it is about resuming their social activities and for others it is feeling independent. Therefore, the field of energy and healthcare innovations face the need to connect to the social context they are placed in, in order to obtain a sustained impact.

As a design researcher, with a technological background and HCI formation, I’ve developed an interest in understanding how information technologies are used, adopted and appropriated by people in their daily lives. I’ve adopted a pragmatic viewpoint, to be able to describe and explain a phenomena from the context that is situated in. Therefore, I bring prototypes to people’s direct contexts as research tools to explore, assess, and communicate the various forms of use, and processes of adoption and appropriation they experience with it. This built the basis of my research’s focus on developing contextual methodologies with an active involvement of users.

In my research I adopt a user-centric innovative approach from the field of Living Lab methodologies, to investigate how data practices can be appropriated by people in their daily life as relevant and meaningful activities. By means of data-enabled tools I let people explore how to report on the what, when, how and why of their actions. I consider this a relevant strategy a) to generate contextual knowledge for design and experts in the domain field I apply my tools, and b) to design for technologies that will embrace people’s ability to self-manage their daily activities and therefore being able to influence the impact that their actions have on sustainability and well-being.

My main outcomes so far on this endeavour are:

  1. a vision of an in-situ mixed methodology for Living labs (Romero Herrera 2017) in which people are conscious and reflective actors of their activities and are directly connected to design activities by ideating, prototyping, experimenting and evaluating solutions. It introduces three layers of user participation; and the research, participation and technological challenges.
  2. a vision of an adaptive experience sampling platform (Vastenburg and Romero Herrera 2010) that allows researcher to work with a flexible sampling protocol that adapt to the dynamics of reporting in real contexts
  3. a concept of experience tags (Vastenburg and Romero Herrera 2011) to explore triggers, benefits and costs of reporting experiences when sensing data is visualised
  4. a design framework on motivation in self-reporting (Rek, Romero Herrera and van Boeijen 2013) introducing five factors that influence motivation to self-report in older adults
  5. data-enabled tools to support self-reporting in the context of thermal comfort and energy related practices in home (Romero 2017; Romero, Almahmud, Beella and Keyson 2013) and offices (Romero Herrera, Doolaard, Guerra-Santin, Jaskiewicz, and Keyson, 2016) settings to generate contextualised and reflective in-situ knowledge about their daily life behaviour and experiences
  6. a taxonomy of reporting styles at work based on different organisational cultures (Romero Herrera, Doolaard, Guerra-Santin, Jaskiewicz, and Keyson 2018)

My research bases on and contributes to the following research fields: research through design, mixed methods research, experience sampling methods, personal informatics, self-management technologies, user (dis) engagement models. I apply my work in and contribute to the following fields of expertise: energy sustainable consumption and comfort at home and work, independent living of older adults, and healthy living by encouraging physical and social activity and healthy food behaviour.