Teaching session

Tuesday 8 December; 15:30-17:00 CET

Two years ago at ThingsCon we discussed in a panel the role of ethics in design education. This year we like to pick up that discussion by do a reflection on what has changed in the last years and where we are now. Next to that we like to relate this to the future developments of designing beyond Human Centred Design. What does that mean for the educational programs? And how does ethics play a role here?

We have three short presentations to kick-off the discussion. The session will be hosted by Andrea Krajewski & Iskander Smit

Heather Wiltse, Associate Professor at Umea Institute of Design will share experiences of the teaching program on Fluid Assemblages.
Heather is currently associate professor in design with a focus on the data-intensive society at Umeå Institute of DesignUmeå University (Sweden). Her interdisciplinary research centers around trying to understand and critique the role of (digital) things in experience and society in ways that can inform design, and it sits at the intersection of design studies, philosophy of technology, and critical technology studies. Heather have published and/or presented refereed work in philosophy of technology, science and technology studies, human-computer interaction (HCI), and design research.

Peter van Waart is a senior lecturer in the Communication and Multimedia Design (CMD) programme of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS). He works as a researcher at Creating010 in the field of Design in the 21st Century. Peter is the initiator of events aimed at connecting people from education, research and practice, such as the Global Service Jam Rotterdam, the Rotterdam GovJam and the International Internet of Things Day Rotterdam. His research and teaching at RUAS and his PhD research at TU Delft focus on how citizens can be involved in designing meaningful interactive technology in the public domain, such as in the Participatory City Making project. 

Michel Witter will share how design for the Void became a theme in the educational program at AVANS
Michel Witter is senior lecturer at AVANS with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry and multimedia development companies. Skilled in interaction design, user experience, user interface design, design thinking, and computing technology. Strong education professional with a Master of Arts (MA) focussend in Media Innovation from NHTV university of applied sciences Breda. Currently investigating design guidelines for sense-augmenting wearable technology from a perspective of pure experience.


Early Career Researchers: The Survival Guide

Tuesday 8 December 14:00-15:30 CET

Read the report made by Michelle Thorne at the OpenDoTT website.

This collaborative session anchors in the experiences of several researchers at different stages in their careers, some centered more in academia and some more in activism. From our shared reflections, we’ll write a survival guide for studying responsible technology and recommendations for how to make the most of your research career. 

Hosted by Jon Rogers and Michelle Thorne, OpenDoTT. 

OpenDoTT is a PhD programme  from Northumbria University and Mozilla to  explore how to build a more open, secure, and trustworthy Internet of Things.

The challenges of the Internet of Things (IoT) require interdisciplinary thinking. OpenDoTT will train five Early Stage Researchers with backgrounds in design, technology, arts and activism to create and advocate for connected products that are more open, secure, and trustworthy.

Prof Jon Rogers – Northumbria University

Jon is Professor of Design at Northumbria University. His work explores the human intersection between digital technologies and the design of physical of things. He balances playful technologies with cultural and societal needs to find new ways to connect people to each other and to their data in an approach that explores not just what is possible but also what is responsible. Jon was previously a Senior Research Fellow at Mozilla and has worked with organisations like BBC, Microsoft, NASA, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Michelle Thorne – Mozilla

Michelle is a Senior Program Officer at the Mozilla Foundation and leads the OpenDoTT PhD program with Mozilla and the University of Dundee. She regularly facilitates programs that advance innovation through open, collaborative practices and advocate for equality through digital empowerment and peer learning. She founded Mozilla’s Open Internet of Things Studio, the Mozilla Festival and Maker Party. She is currently interested in making the internet carbon-neutral.


Speculative energy futures

The transition to renewable energies requires new ways of designing. Success won’t come in the form of technologies alone – such as a more efficient washing machine or a bigger and better battery. Techno-solutionism/optimism can only take us so far in this transition. Instead, we need to also be revaluating how design positions the human/ or user / or consumer in this transition. Renewable energy technologies and infrastructures will require the humans to coordinate with nonhuman forces, such as wind, the sun, or perhaps even animals.

We suggest that the design of products and services need to re-evaluate its human-centered orientation and instead equally prioritize other types of agents. Instead of anticipating, catering to, and exceeding consumer’s needs, what if products and services balanced them with that of other nonhumans? Human-centric design has left all sorts of actors out of the loop: such as pets from smart thermostat systems.

Designing energy futures that break with human-centric norms is challenging, is it ever possible to break through our own human lenses? How can we design for people and rivers, which have the same legal status as humans in New Zealand for example? In this workshop, we will conduct a short speculative design exercise and discuss the ways in which designing and developing must change in the future.


This informal workshop will last 90 minutes and will consist of a brief introduction to the subject, a short speculative design exercise, followed by a group discussion.


Holly Robbins is a postdoctoral researcher at the department of industrial design at the Eindhoven University of Technology where she explores posthuman design research within the context of the transition to renewable energies. Robbin’s blends design research with anthropology and philosophy of technology to explore how to make the complexity behind systems legible. Robbins is a co-author of the IoT manifesto, and also advocates for the responsible design of connected technologies.

Joep Frens is assistant professor at Eindhoven University of Technology. His research focuses on the question of ‘how to design for open and growing systems’. He teaches courses on (interaction) design on all academic levels and advises a number of PhD students. In the academic year of 2014-2015 he held the Nierenberg Chair of Design at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Design. When he sees a sheet of cardboard he makes a model out of it.

Lenneke Kuijer is Assistant Professor in the Future Everyday Group at the Industrial Design Department of Eindhoven University of Technology. Lenneke has worked at the touching points of social practice theories, design and domestic energy demand. She did her postdoc in the DEMAND Centre at the University of Sheffield (UK). Over the past four years, her focus has been on the HCI community and in particular the relation between ‘smart’ technologies (and their design processes) and changes in everyday life.


Walk and talk

Thursday 10 December 17:00-18:00

Physical audio spaces and voice things

The voice hype might have faded, but interacting through audio continues to evolve. Amazon, Google, Samsung and Apple assistants are not mere voice-driven search machines, they continue to improve their voice models for interacting with devices, others and your surroundings.

All large tech firms have their own wearable assistants in the form of wireless headphones, often with a level of comfort that makes the wearer forget they are wearing them, even when you’re not consuming media or are in a conversation. Apple already started to coin the term computational audio starting with the transparency mode on the AirPod Pros, much like computational photography now is a thing.
In this session we are inviting you to take a walk outside and listen to a live interview with some designers and thinkers of the audio shaped spaces. Of course we will make it possible to take part in the conversation.

3D Printing the Shell

Sam Warnaars will be the host of this special audio walk. Sam is one of the founders of Open Voice Netherlands, host of The Voicecast podcast and chaired the voice taskforce of the DDMA till recently.

Sam with talk to

  • Tijmen Schep, a critical designer that paid special attention to the design for privacy aspects of voice controlled systems in his Candle project.
  • Dr. Elif Ozcan Vieira, associate professor at Delft University of Technology, at the TU Delft Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, where she teaches and does research on `form and experience-driven’ and `sound-driven’ design. Like the research on the Critical Alarms Lab
  • Sophie Kleber, head of spaces UX at Google, utilizing user insights, people analytics, and ambient computing and spacial technology to create Google’s working environment of the future.

Join us in Spaces!

We will be using the app Space that runs both on iOS and Android. You can install it in advance or just before the session. You find the link in the schedule in the participants section.


Shaping future cities with Intelligent Things

Thursday 10 December; 11:00-12:30

Session to dive into the theme Cities of Things and discussing ingredients of a future field lab

With the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) combined with IoT (internet of things), the concept of what is a “thing” shifts from passive artifact to an active partner. Capable to perform tasks and make judgments, Things increasingly “work with us” to produce positive change in everyday life. The research program Cities of Things started in 2018 as a Delft Design Lab at faculty of Industrial Design Engineering Delft. The research has a focus on this changing relationship with intelligent things. Things that are services in the core. Things that are citizens. We build new knowledge through research projects and prototyping new products and services.

(image by Maria Luce Lupetti for paper on Near Future Cities of Things

The cities of Amsterdam and Munich have the intention to extend an earlier collaboration by setting up so-called “field labs”  where businesses and knowledge institutions effectively develop, test and implement smart industry solutions. Another element that will be explored entails the necessary urban/regional infrastructure for creativity and innovation based on reciprocity. Creative Holland and partners in Munich worked together to identify several high-opportunity themes for the field labs, which can be elaborated. One of the field labs will be on Cities of Things.

Cities of Things is aiming for the establishment of a field lab in 2021 and like to discuss the requirements with practitioners and industry. The concept of the Cities of Things field lab builds on the experience and network of existing, successful field labs and capitalises on this relationship. How new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) combined with the Internet of Things (IoT) will become part of everyday urban life. The creative industry will help find solutions for the increasing influence that technology has on people, organisations and society as a whole.

In the session at ThingsCon we like to share the state of  the research we did on cities of things in the last years and we shaped some possible futures that can inspire and kickstart the shaping of an agenda for the field lab. We will zoom in on a couple of themes we like to link to the cities of things; sustainability and energy, mobility, the built environment, fashion, and discuss in smaller groups the agenda for the field lab.

The preliminary program of the session:

11:00 – opening and background of Cities of Things with all participants
11:10 – presenting design fictions of 2 of 3 themes (all participants)
11:25 – short break and divide into break-out rooms
11:30 – break-out room per theme: introduction of participants and sharing impressions of the theme, discussing the design fiction
11:50 – break
12:00 – second round in break-out rooms: formulate first agenda; questions or projects that should be part of the field lab
12:15 – back in the room with all, sharing the agendas 
12:25 closing of the session, follow-up

This session is organised by Iskander Smit, Eva van der Born, David Valentine, and Mareile Zuber


Shape the Trust Toolkit

Thursday 10 December; 15:30-17:00

August 27 a number of experts and practitioners joined the online collaborative workshop (designed in Miro) to kick-off a series of discussions around the frameworks and requirements for more acceptable technology, data, identity, and privacy practices.

This series continued with 3 more open invitation workshops enabling a deeper dive into each step of the flow from the “Code of Trust” and “Trust by Design” to the “Trust Toolkit”. The output will be further presented and discussed during this seminar and workshop where we will further evaluate the different roles and technical possibilities available to start rebuilding trust in the technology business.

The session will be hosted by Lorna Goulden. We invited Kai Hermsen and Peter Bihr to reflect on the results.

Kai Hermsen

Kai is an expert in digital transformation, cybersecurity, trust in digital technologies, and leadership within this space. 

For technology to serve its purpose, he believes trust in tech is a prerequisite. Kai makes technical topics relatable through storytelling and sharing his expertise. He believes all people need to understand current digital topics and how they impact their lives, to enable democratic decision-making and good stewardship of our societies. He also loves to engage in the conversation and be inspired by other leading personalities within this space, learning a bit more every day. 

At Siemens, he demonstrates in practice how to transform and build trust through leading the “Charter of Trust”, a global initiative of 17 Fortune 500 companies collaborating to strengthen security of the digital space. Kai is also co-founding the TWINDS foundation aiming at rethinking digital identities and collaboratively demonstrating technical solutions to make our digital world more trustworthy. 

As a father of two, he is passionate about finding balance in life as the only way to fuel our best work and most rewarding personal lives. 

Peter Bihr

Peter Bihr co-founded and chairs the board of ThingsCon.  Peter is the founder and Managing Director of The Waving Cat, a boutique research, strategy & foresight company. He explores how emerging technologies can have a positive social impact. Peter is a Mozilla Fellow (2018-19) and Edgeryders Fellow (2019), and Postscapes named him a Top 20 Influencer in IoT (2019).

Lorna Goulden

Lorna has 20+ years’ experience working across industries from smart city developments to customer-centric digital innovations, with particular focus on the impact on society. She organizes the Eindhoven Internet of Things Meetup and is a UX team lead and Steering Group member of a non-profit foundation developing an SDK for decentralized identity+data as a foundation for COVID19 applications.


From Good Things to Good Systems – The Shift in Design.

Wednesday 9 December; 11:00-12:30

The role of design has changed repeatedly over the past decades. From artistic craftsmanship to the support of industrial production, to user-centred design, the field of activity has grown from designing objects to shaping processes and interactions.
Today, current design research is once again concerned with the question of which topics design should address in order to shape the future. The landscape ranges from “Beyond User Centred Design” with a focus to a live in networks supported by technology, to “Social Design“ with a focus to the cohesion of global or local social communities, to the care for the livelihood of our planet which we destroy in the Antropocene.
Many new terms are currently circulating again for topics that design should address. They all seem to be similar in two things: 1. A broader view of problems and solutions that as result requires more than a product or service for a consumer. 2. A systemic approach.


In the session we will …

  • sketch the landscape of currently discussed design approaches.
  • question and discuss some of the design approaches with experts and our participants
  • finding out what the red thread for design is in the new approaches

Look forward to discussing it with our lovely guests:

Sarah Gold, projectsbyif
Elisa Giaccardi, TU Delft
Heather Wiltse, Umeå University
Elise Marcus, Mother Earth Network
Max Brandl, The Butterfly In The Room
Philipp Kaltofen, The Butterfly In The Room


Rural Mobility

Wednesday 9 December; 13:30-15:00

Rural Mobility

New mobility products and services for cities are launched (and disappear) every few months. But since 41% of Europe’s population is living in cities, what about the countryside and towns where more than half of people live?

In this session we want to travel the countryside and together explore what mobility habits, developments and opportunities can be found there.

Learn from experts

For this 90 minutes session, we invited a small group of experts to share their knowledge on rural mobility:

Stefan Zoll, Ioki will talk about Connecting the country to the city with the help of algorithms

Mathias Großklaus, neuland21 will talk about the why mobility is such an important part of their vision for a future country side

Lieke Ypma, – Mobility in life contexts / people-centred mobility – will talk about Life changing situations and triggers for mobility behaviour change

Ideate to facilitate behaviour change

These short presentations will provide inspiration for all of us to ideate on how we can make (future) rural mobility to be more inclusive and sustainable. The focus will be on how people can best be supported to change their mobility behaviour.

We look forward to seeing you in the session,
Pieter Diepenmaat & Andrea Krajewski


Better connected cities

Wednesday 9 December; 9:00-10:30

We love a good city. But what does that mean? What makes cities livable? Since we’re at ThingsCon: What roles do technology and data play? What are the interrelations between data, governance, policy, and quality of life? How can we make sure that as cities get more connected, citizen (not vendors) are front and center?

The Better Connected Cities session will be an informal, open and safe space to explore these questions together. Capped at around 30 participants, this session will last a total of 90 minutes and consist of two parts: Two brief opening conversations between up to 3 experts will set the stage and tone, followed by an active group discussion.

As topical “flag poles”, we think of these areas as particularly worth exploring in our conversation:

  • Equity & Fairness
  • Policy & Governance
  • Data & Power Dynamics
  • Resilience & Participation
  • Diversity & Inclusion

This session will be hosted by Simon Höher (ThingsCon, Hybrid City Lab) and Peter Bihr (ThingsCon, The Waving Cat, Berlin institute for smart cities and civil rights).

We will have introducing presentations by Usman Haque and Maaike Harbers.

Maaike Harbers

Maaike Harbers is a professor of applied sciences in Artificial Intelligence & Society at Research Center Creating 010 at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. Her work focuses on the ethical and societal implications of artificial intelligence, and she researches how designers of AI-applications can account for the implications of their concepts on human values, like privacy, freedom and equity. Maaike Harbers holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, and a MA in Philosophy.

Usman Haque

Usman Haque is founding partner and creative director of Umbrellium, designing and building urban technologies that support citizen empowerment and high-impact engagement in cities; and a search engine for the Internet of Things. Earlier, he launched the Internet of Things data infrastructure and community platform, which was acquired by LogMeIn in 2011. Trained as an architect, he has created responsive environments, interactive installations, digital interface devices and dozens of mass-participation initiatives throughout the world. His skills include the design and engineering of both physical spaces and the software and systems that bring them to life. He has also taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture, including the Interactive Architecture Workshop (until 2005) and RC12 Urban Design cluster, “Participatory systems for networked urban environments”. He received the 2008 Design of the Year Award (interactive) from the Design Museum, UK, a 2009 World Technology Award (art), the Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence prize and the Asia Digital Art Award Grand Prize. • •

Simon Höher

Lead Public Design zero360 Simon heads the Hybrid City Lab, the public design unit of Berlin-based innovation firm zero360. Since 2014 he co-chairs ThingsCon. In his work, he explores systemic concepts of technology, culture, and society in a global context. As a serial entrepreneur and strategy consultant, he works with organizations to co-create their future, fosters connections between people, ideas, and products. 

Peter Bihr

Peter Bihr co-founded and chairs the board of ThingsCon. Peter is the founder and Managing Director of The Waving Cat, a boutique research, strategy & foresight company. He explores how emerging technologies can have a positive social impact. Peter is a Mozilla Fellow (2018-19) and Edgeryders Fellow (2019), and Postscapes named him a Top 20 Influencer in IoT (2019).