A Human-Centered Design Course by IDEO and Acumen

July 24, 2013 - 3 minutes read

A five-week online course introduces Human-Centered Design principles for Social Innovation.

Ideo has teamed up with Acumen, a non-profit fostering social entrepreneurship, to spread the practice of Human Centered Design. Their online course has just started, with more than 12,000 participants from 136 countries.

The course is based on the materials provided each week by acumen, self organized by local groups and supported by a Google+ community. We receive reading- and workshop materials along with specific problems to learn more about Human Centered design methods.

Our first challenge: Design a Better Commute.

Since all of our team members are all cycling to work, we first thought that there would not be too much space for improvement. But upon conducting interviews with each other, we quickly realized that a lot can actually be done. Here are a few insights and ideas:

Scenic Routes: Karoline would avoid roads with heavy traffic. Instead, she prefers routes through parks or back roads. Even if those might be more time consuming. What if there was an app that would recommend a new scenic route for our commute each week? Maybe each day, the app could give us something to discover while riding past a specific area, bulding… etc.

Traffic Lights: Each wait on a bigger crossing was perceived as annoying. As a cyclist you just want to ride smoothly- every stop and go means the use of extra muscle power. How about introducing dedicated bike routes between 8 and 10 am? These routes would be off limits for cars.

The introduction of Green Waves for bikes, as seen in Denmark, could also boost the convenience of your daily bike commute. When riding with a steady pace of 20 km/h, you would always get green lights.

Cellphone and location data could also be used to detect swarms of bikers in order to influence traffic light circuits. Once a swarm of, let’s say five cyclist, is detected, they will get green light priority.

Where is my Bike? Sometimes you forget where you parked your bike. The use of bike racks with certain color codings or symbols could help us remember the location where we parked our bike. Maybe our smartphones could jump in as well- tagging the location of our bike.

Interviewing each other and taking the brief seriously was key to discover needs and motivations behind our commutes. It was interesting to see how such a well-known ritual as our daily commute had the potential to improve- you only had to talk about it.