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Tooling of and training for collaborative, distributed product innovation (idSPACE)
Start date: 01 Apr 2008, End date: 31 Mar 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Description Industries increasingly rely on innovative design. Innovative design is characterised by an intense, collaborative process of generating and exploring ideas meant to contribute to the solution of particular problems. Innovators go through cycles of divergence, in which new ideas are generated and explored, and convergence, in which new ideas are valued and detailed. These cycles rely on knowledge elicitation (formal learning) and knowledge sharing (informal learning). Innovators also need appropriate tools to generate ideas, reuse them, take them apart, criticise them, or even reject them. Currently, innovation processes use a large variety of tools, relatively independent of each other, with little or no regard for past efforts, with little or no attention to the context in which ideas arose.The idSpace project addressed this issue by researching solutions that allow designers of innovative products to collaborate with each other, but most importantly to elaborate ideas and designs that have emerged earlier on, in previously held sessions with their own group or even in other groups. This is achieved through a dedicated platform which facilitates collaboration and, what is more, in which ideas are stored, reused and reworked - thus allowing to learn from them and tell about them.The idSpace platform features an integrative toolset that allows a distributed team of innovators to create new ideas, to contribute to and preserve existing ideas, and to learn about and from them. It employs techniques for exploring new ideas (e.g. mind mapping in story writing and brainstorming) and for refinement of ideas (e.g. morphological analysis). The project developed tools to support traceability among stories, mind maps, concept maps, goals, as well as company values and policies. The platform further exhibits extensible, informal, pluggable pedagogical approaches, which drive specific uses of the toolset; and instantiates a flexible, context aware web-based platform, forming the substrate for communities of practice to grow and thrive.The development of the idSpace environment was carried out in three phases: During the first year, the state of the art in informal learning, creativity techniques, and context awareness was researched, with a particular focus on distributed, collaborative product design. In parallel with this, experts were called upon to articulate their functional requirements. All information gathered as well as theoretical insights on adequate pedagogies, on idea generation and transformation and on the constraining effects of context were translated into functional design requirements for the idSpace platform.. The second phase was dedicated to the integration of the technical and functional requirements and their incorporation in the first fully functional prototype (built on the Liferay portal environment). The prototype was evaluated in several user-centric pilots. In the final stage, the platform was built and evaluated, paying attention to aspects such as informal learning, idea generation and context awareness. The results of the evaluation were used to create an updated and final prototype. The openness of the platform and code allows for future developments and adaptation.
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