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CMU Portugal Exploratory project “Signo” kickoff meeting

The Kickoff Meeting of CMU Portugal new Exploratory Research Project (ERP) Signo took place at Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS on January 10th, 2024. Funded under the 2022 CMU Portugal Call for ERPs,  this year-long initiative, led by Fraunhofer with collaboration from Instituto de Filosofia (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto) and the Software and Societal Systems Department at Carnegie Mellon, aims to integrate principles of Human-Centered Design.


The project titled “Signo: Value systems in digital health technologies Investigation” proposes to bring together design, human-computer interaction, and philosophy researchers with patients and healthcare professionals in the context of ophthalmology, with a special focus on the glaucoma condition. 

The goal is to explore, experiment, prototype, and test technology and data visualizations that are built on a shared set of values and understand how they are communicated. The project will focus on the design of more useful and effective technology in healthcare by applying methods of co-creation and participatory exploration to generate a set of recommendations and experimental prototypes, exploring the issue of values. 

According to the project PI, Ricardo Melo, Senior Scientist at Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, “Signo will employ a participatory approach, where different researchers and participants will co-create technology and data representations built on a shared set of values, and understand together how these values are communicated. Researchers from design and HCI will contribute with their knowledge on the design of technology while philosophers will contribute to the discourse and analysis of technological artifacts in a person’s relationship with the world and with oneself. Lastly, healthcare professionals as well as patients will contribute with their professional vision and lived experience, respectively.”

This should translate into more appropriate health technology design, support clinical decisions, better-informed patients, and, ultimately, better health for all. 

“We hope to achieve this by supporting the design of more appropriate, considerate, and inclusive health technologies, ones where the values of those designing technologies are aligned with those using it, be it healthcare professionals or patients.”, Ricardo Melo.

CMU will collaborate throughout the project, addressing glaucoma patients specifically, organizing, conducting, and analyzing fieldwork and co-design activities with patients. Results will be shared and analyzed conjunctly throughout the project.

In terms of results, the expectation is to have by the end of 12 months “exploratory prototypes, including speculative visual representations, future scenarios, and, if applicable, speculative technology archaeology, that seek to convey sets of values identified in participatory design workshops with professionals and patients. The experiments will be designed to understand which value systems can be inferred by users by comparing existing technology with technology created for the scenarios. These prototypes, in turn, will inform the reflection of the entire project, its results and implications, and enable the identification of actionable principles on conveying value systems to apply to the design of technology and health data presentation”, shares Ricardo Melo. 

The CMU Portugal Program supported under its 2022 call, 6 Exploratory Research Projects (ERPs) designed to assist teams of researchers from Portuguese institutions, Carnegie Mellon University and industry partners, to bootstrap high-impact potential research activities of strategic relevance for the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program.

More about CMU Portugal Exploratory Research projects