January 11, 2023

Exploring the Nuance of Need in Product Development

My latest exploration into design research and process theory took me down a very deep academic rabbit hole - only to discover that much of the recent research into the psychology of need, want, and motivation has very practical, everyday implications for design. In my most recent article, The Nuance of Need: Mapping User Needs Through the Design Process, I revisit the timeless theme of understanding human need and reexamine how we can better identify and evaluate particular aspects of need throughout product development. I share my insights for how to better define need when discussing user experience moderated by technology, and how a 3-tiered model of goal categorization (developed by the prolific duo, Carver and Scheier) can help us effectively categorize and focus on specific types of need throughout the various phases of design. Ultimately, and contrary to the belief of many that I spoke to for this article, I share my thoughts for why, sometimes, the design solution drives user needs and goals. Sometimes. The reality, as I hope you'll read in the full article, depends largely on the type of goal to be fulfilled.

You can read the full article, and my thoughts for future research, on the IDSA website: LINK. The paper will also be published in the Winter 2022 publication of INNOVATION magazine.

January 19, 2022

Rudolph Design Studio Partners with MIT Start-up To Develop Continuous Blood Pressure Monitoring System

Rudolph Design Studio is proud and humbled to continue to provide design and development leadership for Dynocardia, a wildly innovative MIT start-up developing the world’s first accurate, continuous, and noninvasive blood pressure monitoring system. The Dynocardia team has, not surprisingly, been making waves in the industry, establishing partnerships with leading healthcare organizations, expanding their team through extensive VC funding, and taking home an auspicious win at this year’s Massachusetts Innovation Network’s Eddy Awards, all while establishing the new standard of care for continuous BP monitoring. 

From Dynocardia: “There continues to be no standalone, accurate and continuous, noninvasive BP monitor on the market. The importance of addressing this need, an NIH priority, has not diminished. ViTrack technology is fundamentally different from all existing BP technologies and remains uniquely positioned to address this critical need. ViTrack is the first technology to independently measure BP continuously with the accuracy of invasive arterial pressure lines irrespective of patient movement or wrist position relative to the heart. Moreover, ViTrack can also continuously measure heart rate, respiratory rate, and other advanced cardio-hemodynamic parameters to offer an accurate, cost-effective, connected, comprehensive monitoring solution.”

To learn more about Dynocardia, their technology, and future plans, visit there website: https://www.dynocardia.care/ 

September 20, 2021

Design Agency: Reestablishing Design’s Identity in Education and Practice

Interested in keeping up with what’s going on in design education? In his latest paper, presented at this year's IDSA IDC2021 conference, Jim discusses the challenges facing design education, both recent and historical, and the impact these challenges have had on the design profession. He then outlines a proposed educational framework focused on design’s core identity and value proposition - creative problem solving. 

The argument is simple: Let’s stop trying to convince other academic fields of design’s disciplinary validity. Instead, let’s focus on effectively communicating our unique approach, value, practices, and pedagogical perspective. And in doing so let’s reestablish our design identity by focusing on what we do well and what we do, undeniably, differently.  

Check out the full article here: Design Agency: Reestablishing Design's Identity in Education and Practice

June 15, 2021

ND Design Partners with Lippert to Identify Radical Insights for the Future of the RV Industry

Notre Dame Design and local Elkhart, IN outdoor equipment manufacturer, Lippert Components, wrapped up an exciting project this past week. Inspired largely by the research approach and methods outlined in Liz Sanders and Pieter Jan Stappers’ book, Convivial Toolbox: Generative Research for the Front End of Design, the semester-long research effort focused on using participatory research methods to identify insights and opportunities for the RV industry. Led by Rudolph Design Studio co-founder and Assistant Professor of Industrial Design, Jim Rudolph, Notre Dame Design students were introduced to a range of research methods intended to uncover and understand the needs, experiences, and challenges of RV enthusiasts. 

The semester was divided into three primary phases. Phase 1 focused on immersing the students in RV culture, while actively engaging with RV enthusiasts through online forums. Phase 2 introduced students to ‘sensitizing’ research methods, which were used to solicit participants’ RV-related memories, experiences, and prioritized needs. Finally, Phase 3 of the project enabled students to develop and deploy novel participatory research and ideation methods for creating value-added design solutions for the future of the RV industry. The results were undeniably original, creative, and valuable, while the experience for research participants was overwhelmingly positive and empowering. 

The success of this inaugural project has led to a strong ongoing partnership between Notre Dame Design and Lippert Components, and the ND Design department looks forward to working with Lippert on a recurring annual research effort. A big thank you to the creative and talented team at Lippert for generously supporting this project - we can’t wait to work with you again next spring!

April 28, 2021

NearWave Wins TechPoint Innovation of The Year Award

Excited, proud, and humbled to be part of the amazing team at NearWave Medical, whose technology platform recently won Innovation of The Year at the annual TechPoint Mira Awards on Thursday, April 22nd. We look forward to continuing our effort with the NearWave team as they evolve and leverage their technology to transform the patient experience in breast cancer therapy treatment. Learn more about all the exceptional Mira Award winners on the TechPoint website here. Interested in learning more about Rudolph Design Studio's contribution to this project? Check out how our work on the Industrial Design and User Interface design has contributed to NearWave's people-centered design process.

November 20, 2020

Tower of Babel: The conflicting semantics of user needs

Rudolph Design Studio co-founder, Jim Rudolph, and his Notre Dame Design colleague, Ann-Marie Conrado, moderated an engaging Conversation at DRS2020, the annual international conference held by the Design Research Society. The Conversation, titled Tower of Babel: The conflicting semantics of user needs, discussed the disparate definitions, understandings, and uses of the term ‘user needs’ in academia and product development. 

Due to the virtual nature of all things 2020, we used the digital whiteboard software MIRO to create an engaging real-time affinity diagramming exercise to enable conversation participants to share their understandings and definitions of user needs. Participants created examples of what constitutes a user need and then worked collaboratively to group similar examples. We wrapped up with an informative conversation about how participants combined and differentiated examples based on their current understanding of the terminology.

Jim will be using the results of this conversation to conduct further research into this exciting and ever-evolving space within design research. 

September 30, 2020

Bootstrapping Leadership Through Design – IDC 2020

Rudolph Design Studio co-founder, Jim, contributed to the evolving dialog surrounding design education at this year’s International Design Conference, the perennial gathering of designers put on by the Industrial Designer’s Society of America. 

In his Center Stage presentation, Jim provided an overview of his recent article titled Bootstrapping Leadership Through Design. The presentation covered the current state of design education and introduced a platform to increase educational diversity and leadership training throughout the design curriculum.

The ensuing discussion was animated and informative - showcasing the unique voice of industrial design while highlighting the deep interconnectedness of all disciplines. 

Check out the full article here: https://www.idsa.org/educationpaper/bootstrapping-leadership-through-design

August 10, 2020

Suspended Animation

We respond to moments of abrupt and unexpected change at different speeds.

My speed has been zero, or maybe zero in reverse. I’ve been lost. Unable to respond. Unable to find the words to describe my being. I’ve been stuck and still and silent. And while I sit here, listening, observing, others have responded with such purpose and power and urgency.

Thoughtful reflection, however, comes to each of us in different ways. One of the more moving reflections came to me recently in the form of a family email, sent from a thoughtful scholar. So, while I remain at a loss for words (and with the generous approval of the author), I find it fitting to share with you a reflection more articulate and more thought-provoking than I could ever hope to provide.  I’ve included all the content, including the obligatory family niceties, because I feel like the author was writing to a far bigger audience. The letter spoke to me, and perhaps it’ll speak to you as well.

I recommend you ‘ride along.’

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July 11, 2020

Redefining User Needs

In his recent journal publication and presentation at the International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics, Jim discusses how the phrase ‘user needs’ has come to be defined, understood, and used within the context of medical device design.

From the article: “There is consensus in the field of medical device development that successful product development requires a deep understanding of the user and their needs. Despite the importance placed on identifying user needs, from practitioners and academics alike, there is little agreement on what constitutes a user need.”

In the article, Jim proposes a simplified framework for defining user needs and discusses how this framework can be used to improve consistency and reduce time spent on the development of user needs and user interface requirements. We believe it’s a topic worth thinking about, exploring, and discussing, as it could have important implications for safe and effective medical device development.  

If you’re interested in learning more, read the full article here: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-51194-4_41

June 29, 2020

The Factory

In the summer of 2003 I felt like it was time to experience factory work. My dad had worked in manufacturing for 33 years, and I somehow felt obligated to gain first hand perspective – maybe talk factory jargon with dad. I don’t know. I started a job at a local factory that manufactures air rifles, paint ball guns, and lead pellets. The hours were Monday through Thursday, from 6 am to 4:30 pm. The three-day weekend made the workers happy. The temperature inside the factory was about 95 degrees, and since we worked with lead we were not supposed to wear shorts or have drinks with us on the production floor. The managers typically disregarded these safety measures. The disregard made the workers happy.

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