Colloquium announcement

Faculty of Engineering Technology

Department Design, Production and Management
Master programme Industrial Design Engineering

As part of his / her masterassignment

Valerie Mencke

will hold a speech entitled:

DYNAMIC BALANCE: Designing for the emotional being-in-the-world of people on the autism spectrum



Recently, the Dutch healthcare system emphasizes empowering people with disabilities. As a result, the number of assistive technologies and E-health applications increases. However, the assistive technologies that are being designed are not necessarily effective in practice, as one-third of all assistive technology is abandoned. The target group for this assignment is people with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Many people with ASD struggle with the regulation of their emotions, which can result in overstimulation and meltdowns. Products currently on the market mostly focus on the practical support of people with autism, such as their daily activities and planning. The aim of this thesis is therefore to design a product that supports people with autism in regulating their emotions. The project starts from an embodied perspective, paying close attention to the being-in-the-world of the person, in particular, a person’s routines and lifeworld. The assumption is that this can make the difference between the adoption or abandonment of the product. The concept is developed using participatory design over four design-research iterations.

This assignment, conducted as an internship at interactive bureau Kaliber, has two end results. The first result is the concept ‘Dynamic Balance’; an interactive watch with an accompanying app, consisting of different tools to support the user through the entire process of emotion regulation. Dynamic Balance supports the user to ‘flow along’ in daily life, takes the user out of the moment when the user is too stressed, hands the user self-defined tools to regain balance, and helps to gain insights into one’s emotional being-in-the-world by supporting reflection in and on action. The second result is a theoretical framework that explains Dynamic Balance from an embodied perspective. Seven principles are formulated that are used to create the concept. These principles are combined with the problems people with autism face during the process of emotion regulation and the empowering effect it may have on the clients. This framework can be used for other designers that want to design for empowerment by supporting people with autism with the regulation of their emotions. Additionally, this framework might form the beginning of a more general view on how to design for someone’s emotional being-in-the-world when applied and altered to more design cases.