Human-Centred Design

The Human-Centred Design group focuses on conceptualising, designing, and evaluating technologies together with people, especially in extraordinary scenarios. We make sure all stakeholders influence design processes, so that the created artefacts fit the practices and context of the people who will use them in the end.

At Fraunhofer AICOS, we apply research methods ranging from engineering, design and the social sciences to understand, frame, and solve problems impacting non-mainstream audiences.

The Human-Centred Design group is divided in three sub-areas, which coincide with the main phases of a design process.


/ Understanding people in diverse settings

When creating technologies, information about the people who will use them and their contexts of use is key for designers and engineers. Successful technology that fits and expands possibilities in people's lives requires a symbiosis between technology and the context in which it will be operating, including people and tasks involved, relations between actors or the cultural realm.

At Fraunhofer AICOS, we employ proven user research methods, such as interviews, observation, focus groups, surveys or probes to understand people and their context, and better inform product development teams. Our team specialises in understanding non-mainstream contexts, to generate insights for complex design and interaction problems, using mixed methods research. 


/ Co-designing meaningful technologies

We strive for creating democratic design environments where people can provide their perspective and influence the characteristics of the technology being designed. Our focus is inclusive, involving all those who will be using the technology, ranging from neophytes to professionals, so that assumptions are quickly validated, errors quickly corrected and so that the likelihood of users' appropriation of technology is high.

Using co-design guided by ethical and aesthetical values, we specialise in generating meaningful solutions for self-care, visualisation, gamification and serious games, as well as solutions to support the digitalisation process in professional or community contexts. 


/ Technology assessment in real life

Once a technology is developed, Human-Centred Design prepares an assessment methodology that can investigate its different impacts. We are experienced in evaluating wireframes, prototypes, and products together with their prospective users, in laboratory or in-situ.

Our assessment process strives to be participatory and to include all the prospective users and the stakeholders that might be affected with the introduction of the technology. Unique at AICOS is a long-track record in designing and implementing study protocols involving extreme users and new technology.



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 1000 participants from 76 partner institutions. Since 2011, we have conducted over 2600 research activities in 66 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


Mariano, J. , Marques, S., Ramos, M., Gerardo, F., Lage da Cunha., C., Girenko, A., Alexandersson, J., Stree, B., Lamanna, M., Lorenzatto, M., Mikkelsen, L.P., Bundgård-Jørgensen, U., Rêgo, S., & Vries, H. (2021). Too old for technology? Stereotype threat and technology use by older adults. In Behaviour & Information Technology. DOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2021.1882577. More info

Nunes, F., Almeida, J., Chung, C., & Verdezoto, N. (2021). Avoiding Reactions Outside the Home: Challenges, Strategies, and Opportunities to Enhance Dining Out Experiences of People with Food Hypersensitivities. In Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 208, 1-16. DOI: 10.1145/3411764.3445662. More info

Correia de Barros, A., Correia, C., & Ricaldoni, F. (2021). A gesture elicitation study to generate interaction design insights for self-reporting of mental and emotional states using a portable device. In Proceedings 12th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics, 893-900. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-80829-7_109. More info

Rêgo, S., Dutra-Medeiros, M., Borges, T., Bacelar-Silva, G., Soares, F., & Soares, M. (2021). Reprodutibilidade da classificação por oftalmologistas de imagens do fundo do olho usadas em rastreio relativamente a retinopatia diabética e qualidade da imagem. In 17.º Congresso Português de Diabetes. 

Rêgo, S., Dutra-Medeiros, M., Borges, T., Bacelar-Silva, G., Soares, F., & Soares, M. (2021). Reliability of classification by ophthalmologists with telescreening fundus images for diabetic retinopathy and image quality. In Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 15(5). DOI: 10.1177/19322968211000418. More info

Araújo, R., & Vasconcelos, A. (2021). Adapting a technological longitudinal study with older adults for remote application. In ACM CHI - Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 

Araújo, F., Nogueira, N., Silva, J., & Rêgo, S. (2021). Technological-based platform for risk assessment, detection, and prevention of falls among home-dwelling elderly: a study protocol. In JMIR Research Protocols. 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  Adjunct 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 Adjunct). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 893-898. More info

Nunes F., & Fitzpatrick G. (2018). Understanding the Mundane Nature of Self-care: Ethnographic Accounts of People Living with Parkinson's. Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. More info

Vasconcelos A., Correia C., Nunes F., & Carvalho A. (2018). Mobile, exercise-agnostic, sensor-based serious games for physical rehabilitation at home. In TEI 2018 - Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction: 271-278. More info

Nunes F., Silva P.A., Cevada J., Correia de Barros A., & Teixeira L. (2016). User interface design guidelines for smartphone applications for people with Parkinson’s disease. Universal Access in the Information Society, 15(4): 659-679. More info

Correia de Barros A., & Vasconcelos A. (2016). Human-centred design with older adults: Examples and recommendations for research, ideation and testing. Active and Assisted Living: Technologies and Applications. F. Flórez-Revuelta, Alexandros Andre Chaaraoui (eds.): 409-431. IET. More info

Vasconcelos A., Silva P.A., Caseiro J., Nunes F., & Teixeira L.F. (2012). Designing tablet-based games for seniors: the example of CogniPlay, a cognitive gaming platform. In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Fun and Games (FnG '12). ACM, New York, NY, USA: 1-10. More info