SMEDL: Social Media Experience and Design Lab

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Information doc: 

University of Siegen

Information Systems and New Media Hoelderlinstr. 3

D-57068 Siegen

Jan Hess

Phone: +49 271 740 2098

Fax: +49 271 740 3384 Mail:

Effective member: 

The SocialMedia Experience and Design Lab (SMEDL) is an open and integrative test bed for exploring and developing new home entertainment technologies. It has been launched in the city of Siegen and its surroundings in the end of 2009. SMEDL consists of three different lab structures, which offer a real-world environment to develop and evaluate cross-platform community concepts. The main focus is on user participation. User will be continuously involved in design and evaluation processes for new Home-IT concepts and communication tools using the convergence between television, personal computers and mobile devices.


The SocialMedia Experience and Design Lab (SMEDL) is part of a large-scale research project called ‘SocialMedia’ at the University of Siegen. In SocialMedia we will develop cross-platform community concepts around TV- and video consumption. The Living Lab will consist of three parts: SMEDL.Local, SMEDL.Stat and SMEDL.Global with the following meaning: SMEDL.Local is the core of our living lab approach. For this part we will choose about 20 households in the city of Siegen and the surrounding area and let them participate continueously. These households will get new hardware and software to test and will evaluate early prototypes in practical settings over a longer period of time. SMEDL.Stat is a stationary laboratory room at the University of Siegen, which is built exactly like a standard living room. Within this environment we can measure user feedback and quantitative data on a very exact level. SMEDL.Global contain on different community platforms, where we will accumulate with new cross- platform community concepts The aim of this lab concept is a broad participation and evaluation approach to evaluate our concepts in a broader sense by existing online communities.

Within the SocialMedia project, SMEDL plays the role of an infrastructural toolkit that collects new ideas from the users (Open Innovation) and evaluates early prototypes in the domestic environment. This infrastructure will enable us to conduct qualitative (SMEDL.Local) as well as quantitative methods (SMEDL.Stat & SMEDL.Global) over a long period of time. Since the aim of SocialMedia is the development of new community tools, SMEDL will offer a test bed with different clusters of households. Participants who know each other will form a cluster to evaluate concepts for existing communities. At the same time, SMEDL includes separate clusters of households with the aim of evaluating concepts for community building and to getting new contacts. Thereby the lab will consider households with different levels of technical expertise (Lead User as well as persons with less domain knowledge). However, the evaluation of new prototypical concepts is not the only goal of our research. We also want to use our lab to explore media usage over a long period. Within SMEDL.Local we measure the current state of media usage as well as changes, which will occur over the next few years. While each part of SMEDL is an interesting lab approach on its own, the full value of our concept will be reached by connecting the separate parts in the end of 2010. By involving and observing users in real world settings (SMEDL.Local), measuring their behaviour in a standardized environment (SMEDL.Stat) and by gathering feedback from a broad online community (SMEDL.Global), we will be able to evaluate new prototypical concepts in a full scope of richness.

The most important characteristics of our lab are:

• Offering a real-world setting to evaluate cross-platform community concepts in domestic environments.

• Exploring the practise with a multiplicity of methods (interviews, diary studies, probes, logging, observations, design workshops, walkthroughs and online participation).

•  Establish methods for early user participation and continuous user feedback directly from their real world context.

• Offering an infrastructure for concept evaluation and real world insights directly from thehouseholds.

•  Being open for new participants.

•  Having already gained deep insight into the households (household structure, infrastructure, media usage etc.) when evaluating new services in place.

•    Personal contact to the participants on SMEDL.Local.

•    Hosted by a strong research partner with long lasting scientific expertise on community support and lab studies.

References and Track Record

SMEDL is currently being used as a research tool in the SocialMedia project, in which the chair of Information Systems and New Media at the University of Siegen and its national partners participate, such as Pixelpark AG, KIT digital AG, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT) and the Institute for Media Research at the University of Siegen. In the future, SMEDL will be used for further research work in the field of entertainment computing in domestic environments. The SocialMedia project and SMEDL is funded by the Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

We are going to contribute our experience to scientific discourse and announce papers at high-ranked conferences and in journals. First findings about the build up process of SMEDL (Hess, J. and Ogonowski, C. (2010) Steps toward a Living Lab for SocialMedia Concept Evaluation and Continuous User-Involve- ment) and methodological issues of different Living Lab approaches (Hess, J. and Ogonowski, C. (2010) SocialMedia Experience and Design Lab: Using Advantages from Different Living Lab-Approaches) are published within the 8th European Conference on Interactive TV and Video (EuroITV’10).