The Living Lab , or Living Lab nowadays seems to be a new magic keyword for success in research and innovation. In reality, its definition is rather unclear. And for most people, Living Lab is still an alien term. Yet such a living laboratory is a valuable tool for science and innovation. Not in the least because of the collaboration between different disciplines.
For more information, visit Science.nu .
The real world is complex. And that means that in the social sciences in particular, research results are difficult to translate into daily reality. The real world, in contrast to a controlled laboratory environment, consists of many factors that are often related to each other and that can significantly influence human behavior and well-being. Researchers cannot all measure these factors, let alone check them. Take aggressive behavior, for example.
Aggression is emotion-driven and very impulsive behavior that is strongly influenced by personal circumstances. For example due to a bad day at work or a fight with a loved one. In addition, physiological reasons, such as the use of drugs or alcohol, or the presence of aggressive signals in the environment, can influence factors.
The fact that aggression is extremely context-dependent means that in order to understand and prevent it, we must study its dynamics in the context where it happens: the real world. But because so many different factors evoke aggression, recording in practice, and especially in public spaces, is a huge challenge.
Scientists can do research 'in the wild' in a Living Lab
Recent technological developments have led to the concept of a Living Lab. An innovative phenomenon with a lot of potential to support research into human behavior. Based on my research experience, I follow the view that Living Lab is not located at a specific physical location.
A living laboratory is a realistic research situation, with clear social and / or physical boundaries, where technology is available to measure and intervene in our lives. In this way we can answer well-defined research questions and, most importantly, tackle social problems.
The great scientific advantage of such a living laboratory is that scientists can conduct research 'in the wild' there. In the example of aggression in public spaces, scientists in a Living Lab can investigate how aggression develops, for example at night in the city. The trick is then to convert that knowledge into technological and social adaptations. Think of intelligent solutions for street lighting to prevent aggression.
The ultimate goal is to improve the living environment through responsible research and design
This requires a wide range of knowledge. We have to investigate outside our 'comfort zone'. This means that we must learn from each other by adapting and adopting each other's methods, theories and models. That requires changes in the collaboration between scientific disciplines, and actually more.
But, just like in a mathematical comparison with an increasing number of unknown variables, more partners lead to more complexity. As a result, collaboration in the living laboratory is often a major challenge in itself. So more research is needed into the collaboration and tools that could further improve a Living Lab.
The ultimate goal of a Living Lab is of course to improve our living environment through responsible research and design. Research and design intended to contribute to our physical and mental well-being and to make our fast lives easier.