Design & Research


As a design researcher, I carried out different design work in the field of health and wellbeing. Design is a valuable mean through which people's needs, behaviour and perspectives can be investigated. Living lab, or in other words, in the context explorations can result in interesting new insights and inspire new designs.

Co-creating Design Opportunities for Social Technology in the Context of Dementia

proceedings of the 2021 Dementia Lab 

Maintaining social participation in late life is an important component of general well-being. For people with dementia, participating in social interactions may become increasingly challenging with the progression of the condition. Social technologies can potentially support and empower them in this setting, yet there is a need to get a comprehensive understanding of how their social participation is hindered and facilitated through technology. This paper presents the outcomes of four co-creation sessions conducted together with four couples. We explored their experienced social challenges and identified opportunities for design to improve their social participation. These focus on compensating for internal and external barriers through design, enhancing agency through the social and physical environment, and learning from previous experiences with existing social technologies. Furthermore, we provide recommendations for future research in the context of social technologies for people with dementia. We argue that design-research should focus on embracing the importance of a broader social context, sharing meaningful activities, and incorporating social contact into the everyday routines. The significance of these outcomes indicates the relevance of well-designed novel social technologies to enrich people’s with dementia experience in the social context.

AmbientEcho: Exploring Interactive Media Experiences in Residential Dementia care

proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems

There has been a growing interest in designing interactive media experiences in residential dementia care. 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.

Presentations, Talks & Workshops

Invited Pitch: Brainport voorronde Nationale Zorginnovatieprijs 2021 February 2021

Paper presentation online: Dementia Lab 2021 22 January 2021

Invited talk: Design Cares: Ontwerpen voor Welzijn 2020 10 December 2020

Invited talk: Kennisnetwerk Dementie 2020 19 November 2020

Invited talk: Mobile Healthcare Event 2020 18 November 2020

Invited talk: Embassy of Health - Dutch Design Week 2020 12 October 2020

Invited talk & workshop: 17de bijeenkomst Lerend Netwerk Dementie 5 October 2020

Paper presentation video: DIS - Designing Interactive Systems 2020 20 July 2020

Demonstrator presentation: DIS - Designing Interactive Systems 2019 July 2019

Invited talk: Pleyade Kennisnetwerk March 2019

Invited talk: 29th Alzheimer Europe Conference October 2019

Invited talk: Netwerkdag Vilans February 2019

Paper presentation: Dementia Lab 2018  August 2018

Designing Sentic: Participatory Design with People living with Dementia

book chapter in HCI and Design in the Context of Dementia, 2020

Building on a growing interest in HCI for designing technology for dementia, this chapter will focus on how to provide people with dementia personal and direct access to a music system. This paper presents the design process of Sentic, a music player with an interface that can be tailored to fit its users’ needs. An interface can be selected that suitably matches with the capabilities of people living with dementia. The design is the result of using a participatory design approach. A strategy of adaptation was found to be the most appropriate in designing for people living with dementia. This chapter shows the potential of tailoring interactions so that they support and maintain autonomy and facilitate personal access to technology, for people with dementia, and offers considerations and opportunities for future design and research.

Springer publication

doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-32835-1_17

Sentic: A Tailored Interface Design for People with dementia to Access Music

companion publication of the 2019 on Designing Interactive Systems

We investigated how a user interface could support people with dementia in having personal and direct access to a music-playing device. Despite a growing interest in designing technology for people with dementia, personal and direct access to systems are not always considered. We introduce Sentic, an interface concept of a music player of which the user interface can be tailored to fit the ability of people with dementia. This paper reports briefly on insights from the design process of Sentic that was informed by workshop sessions with people with dementia. Then, the rationale behind Sentic is presented, and a realization of Sentic is proposed as an example of an alternative approach to design interfaces that can be tailored to the abilities of people with dementia.

ACM publication

doi: 10.1145/3301019.3325152


Eve: A Combined  Physical-Digital Interface Design for Insomnia Sleep Diary

Insomnia is a medical condition with high prevalence and negative impact on quality of life. As a part of various therapies, sleep diaries are used as a tool for diagnosis and patient self-management. Traditional diaries are essentially paper forms, which are cumbersome, error-prone and time-consuming. Application (app) based diaries have been proposed, but they are screen based and have their disadvantages. We report on the design of EVE, an alternative type of sleep diary. The design is based on a combined physical-digital interface. Three prototypes have been built, and two of which (PINS and RING DIAL) have been tested in a preliminary user test. PINS came out on top in the subjective preference survey between two of the prototypes. Participants perceived both prototypes as enjoyable and easy ways to log essential sleep time. Our design suggests this combined interface has the potential to promote patients to provide reliable insomnia sleep diaries.

© 2020 by Myrte Thoolen

PhD candidate & design researcher


+31 630 398 766



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