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PhD CANDIDATE & RESEARCHER
August 2018 - Current
Hi! I am Myrte Elise Thoolen, currently a PhD candidate at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, cooperating with TRANZO scientific center for Care and Wellbeing, and a design researcher at Pleyade, a care organisation in Arnhem. With my background in Information and Communication Technology and Industrial Design, I am interested in designing HCI and novel technologies to enrich the lives of vulnerable populations, and add value to people's well-being. I am passionate about understanding the diversity of individuals and their vulnerabilities, and how we can empower each individual through person-centred and adaptable (self-learning) designs.
In my PhD, I am exploring the potential of designing sustainable technologies for people living with dementia. In my research, I investigate how to adapt novel technologies to the individual, and changing needs and circumstances. The emphasis is on finding a balance between personal monitoring and self-learning systems that adapt to the person with dementia and to the relationship between pwd and relevant actors. In doing so, I am embracing a design research approach in which experience-centered design interventions are evaluated in-situ (in the wild), together with all vital stakeholders.
current featured projects
Dementia Dynamics in Design: Exploring the Design of Sustainable Technology to Support Social Health in Community-dwelling People with Dementia
In collaboration with TRANZO - scientific centre for care and well-being
The Dementia Dynamics in Design project focuses on the design of sustainable technologies that could improve social health and promote agency and quality of life of community-living people with dementia. As dementia progression is heterogeneous within and between persons with dementia and originates both from the disease and individuals’ characteristics, technology should be designed in a way that enables its continuous adjustments to the changing needs and circumstances.
We have conducted an exploratory co-creation session with four of our participants. Three methods were used during this session: a leisure time canvas, technology mapping tool, and a diary game. By using these tools, we aimed at an active engagement of the participants and we wanted to encourage them to share their daily experiences. The insights from these co-creation session have been analysed, and have resulted in a novel designed technology that will be evaluated in-context.
User and Context-specific Design: Exploring Interactive Media Experiences in the Context of Residential Dementia Care
In collaboration with PLEYADE - care organisation in Arnhem, the Netherlands
Although research in HCI and dementia have shown that person-centered design yields positive results, little is known about designing media experiences in shared care spaces. To investigate this, we designed AmbientEcho, an interactive system that offers bespoke and curated media content through different modalities. AmbientEcho thereby aims to provide enriching personal experiences in residential dementia care. A prototype of this design was evaluated in a real-life care setting.
Data on residents’ responses, the design’s social role, and its use in practice were gathered through participant-observations, interviews, and a post-trial focus group. We found that a combined media approach triggered rich personal associations, facilitated revival of identity, and stimulated participation in shared experiences. Finally, we suggest designers should consider sensitive inclusion, adapted levels of interaction and variety in use when designing media interventions in dementia care.