Human-Centred Design

Human-Centred Design is a multidisciplinary group with researchers from various design fields (industrial, graphic, service), informatics and healthcare. The group is focused on guaranteeing that the voices of users – especially of those who are traditionally unheard, such as older and disabled adults, people with chronic illnesses, or shopfloor operators – are included in the design of digital technology, ranging from screen user interfaces to tangible objects. Therefore, we use participatory methods so that the designs we propose are appropriate, meaningful, efficient, inclusive, and ethically sound, and we regularly teach these methods to researchers and practitioners through our ‘Learning from Users’ course. We privilege in-the-wild approaches to guarantee that we understand the context where technology will be used and longitudinal field trials to ensure that the technology performs well in that context. We specialise in designing for health and wellbeing at home, at work and in clinical settings. The Human-Centred Design group has three purposefully overlapping sub-areas corresponding to the larger questions that drive our scientific inquiry.


Design Research

How to improve design processes? This sub-area is concerned with how design methods and designed artifacts can be efficient means of scientific inquiry, as well as how design is done, not only by professionals, but also by users. Therefore, the sub-area is interested in investigating Research through Design, as well as methods to engage with complex issues or vulnerable populations, inclusive design, spontaneous design, and appropriation. As main outputs, it generates artefacts/prototypes and knowledge for designers and design researchers to use in their practice. The emphasis on prototyping establishes a strong connection with Connected Things, who also optimise the translation of user research into requirements. The inquiry into appropriation processes reciprocates Intelligent Systems’ concerns with models-in-use.


Human-Computer Interaction

How to improve human-technology interaction? With this sub-area we are interested in empirical studies that inform the design of features and components of digital technology’s user interfaces. We draw on ethnography-inspired methods to derive implications for future digital technology and we seek to understand how graphical user interfaces, namely through information visualization, influence users’ processes of meaning-making, which is critical in the domains of, e.g., clinical decision-making, employer decision-making, self-care, or protection of human rights, including safety. Meaning-making is a common point of interest with Intelligent Systems regarding responsible AI, while the development of robust software, hardware, UX improvement, and application retainability establish the main connection to Connected Things.


Health Technology Assessment and Implementation

How to develop and implement safe, efficient and effective health technologies? This sub-field establishes the link with clinical research and practice for healthcare technologies that may or may not be developed at AICOS. In particular, we are interested in assessing the performance of digital health technology, to contribute to best practices towards medical device certification, as well as to research efficient and effective ways of delivering healthcare through digital platforms. Improving practices for medical device certification is done in close articulation with Connected Things, while robustness, trustworthiness, and privacy-preserving methods are explored together with Intelligent Systems.



Methods and Case Studies


With COLABORAR we bring humanness to technology.

COLABORAR is our Living Lab through which we engage with people who use the technology. It is mostly composed of older adults and caregivers who take part in activities such as interviews, observations, focus groups, usability tests, ideation workshops, professional validation, human activity data collection, amongst others.

The Living Lab has over 1600 participants from more than 80 partner institutions. Since 2011, we have conducted over 3200 research activities in 83 R&D projects.


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Further information


Best Practices


Best Practices on Augmented Reality


Study Reports


Switch button usability testing GoLivePhone / SmartCompanion

Android application usability testing MalariaScope

Keyboards usability comparison testing GoLivePhone / SmartCompanion


Competence Articles


Invisible design research behind technology design

How to setup your own network of research participants


Relevant Publications


Oliveira E, Braga C, Sampaio A, Oliveira T, Soares F, Rosado L. (2023) Designing XAI-based Computer-aided Diagnostic Systems: Operationalising User Research Methods. In Joint Proceedings of the ACM IUI Workshops 2023, March 2023, Sydney, Australia. More info

Correia de Barros, A (2022). Inclusive Design within Industry 4.0: A Literature Review with an Exploration of the Concept of Complexity. The Design Journal, 25(5):849-866. More info

Mendes-Santos C, Nunes F, Weiderpass E, Santana R, Andersson G. (2022). Understanding Mental Health Professionals' Perspectives and Practices Regarding the Implementation of Digital Mental Health: Qualitative Study. JMIR Form Res.;6(4):e32558. More info

Rêgo S, Dutra-Medeiros M, Soares F, Monteiro-Soares M. (2021) Screening for Diabetic Retinopathy Using an Automated Diagnostic System Based on Deep Learning: Diagnostic Accuracy Assessment. Ophthalmologica; 244(3):250-257. More info

Nunes F, Almeida J, Chung C-F, Verdezoto N (2021) Avoiding Reactions Outside the Home: Challenges, Strategies, and Opportunities to Enhance Dining Out Ex-periences of People with Food Hypersensitivities. In Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '21). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Article 208, 1–16. More info

Vasconcelos A, Lopes I, Ribeiro J, Correia de Barros A. (2019) Challenges and lessons learned from implementing longitudinal studies for self-care technology assessment. In Proceedings of the 2019 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Proceedings of the 2019 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers (UbiComp/ISWC ’19). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 893-898. More info