The fundamentals of an intelligent design observatory for researching the impact of tools, teams and technologies on information use and design performance

B. J. Hicks*, S. J. Culley, H. C. McAlpine, C. A. McMahon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

6 Citations (Scopus)


Central to improving and sustaining high levels of innovative design is the fundamental requirement to maximise and effectively manage design performance. Within the context of design in the 21 st century, where the process is largely digital, knowledge-driven and highly distributed, this involves the creation of tailored design processes, the use of best-performing tool sets, technology mixes and complementary team structures. Managing these important elements can only be achieved through a fundamental understanding of today's complex, dynamic design environments. However, such detailed understanding is presently unavailable or at least very difficult to obtain. This is due to the lack of research methods for analysing the relationships between tools, teams, technologies and design process performance, the lack of capability to undertake in-situ analysis of design teams, and the limitations imposed on data acquisition and processing. One approach for overcoming the lack of research methods, is to consider what can be thought of as the design information itself and in particular its generation, representation, communication and use. To address the issues of holistic in-situ analysis and data acquisition, an intelligent design observatory is proposed that is specifically focussed on supporting observation and real-time analysis of design teams. This paper describes the underlying information-based strategy to overcome the lack of existing research approaches and reviews the state-of-the-art technologies for data capture, analysis and realtime processing. The paper then sets out fundamental requirements of a design observatory from the designer's perspective and presents a possible laboratory configuration. Following this, the issues and barriers to designing experiments involving the observation of practising designers are discussed and the paper concludes with examples of possible experiments and how such a laboratory might be used to support a global research programme.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of ICED 2007, the 16th International Conference on Engineering Design
VolumeDS 42
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007
Event16th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2007 - Paris, France
Duration: 28 Jul 200731 Jul 2007


Conference16th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2007


  • Design information
  • Experimental data
  • Observational studies
  • Performance
  • Teams


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