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CDI 2018 Biennial Report

The Centre for Design Innovation is pleased to announce the release of its 2018 Biennial Report! 

This new edition encompasses a wide selection of our research outcomes and a detailed overview of our core programs: Architecture and Habitat, User Experience Design for Services, Future-Self and Design Living Lab, Smart Equipment Engineering and Wearable Technology Design and Advanced Product Design and Development.

The CDI has grown significantly over the last two years, a product of our sustained success in conducting serious deep research that creates innovative outcomes in a range of different design fields. This report delves into the information pursuit of our team, exploring the way the CDI navigates the contextual factors that shape uptake and adaption, as well as the positive effect our catalogue of work has had on end-users both locally and internationally.

We at the Centre for Design Innovation look forward to continuing our efforts to maximise the human experience of wider systems, services and spaces into the future. 

Download PDF web version (8MB low resolution) here: CDI Biennial Report 2018


'Ramo Dhawu' - A podcast series

A promising partnership between the CDI, Bula’bula Arts Centre and the Australian Government has reaped $200,000 in funding, which will be used to co-design and produce a community-based podcast series entitled ‘Ramo Dhawu’, based out of the Ramingining community in NE Arnhem Land and broadcast in both Yolngu Matha and English.

Led by the CDI’s Dr Samantha Edwards-Vandehoek, and with an initial grant providing funding over the span of 2 years, ‘Ramo Dhawu’ will allow for the preservation of traditional oral storytelling, cultural arts practices and a range of Yolngu languages, including Djinang, Ganalbingu and Gupapuyngu, while also promoting new avenues for digital art and youth creativity for young adults living in NE Arnhem land. 

“Podcasting is a form of participatory media that engages with user-generated content… and through ‘Ramo Dhawu’ we will foster intergenerational, peer-to-peer and intercultural knowledge sharing,” said Dr Edwards-Vandenhoek.

“Its participatory nature also affords a space for young people to build cultural confidence through the mutual exchange of ideas and language learning and by playing an active role in the creating and disseminating of their own content.

The product of previous deep research into place-making strategies in the Ramingining community, the podcast poses an opportunity for the development of conversations and relationships in new media, in order to further strengthen traditional culture and connection to country in NE Arnhem Land, the foundations for which have already been laid.

While working with Bula’bula Art Centre through a Swinburne Indigenous Studies Research start up grant, Dr Edwards-Vandenhoek was involved in the development of a locally-driven digital place-making project for the Bak’bididi cultural festival, exploring community capacity, building social capital and initiating digital innovation. 

“Place-making is about engaging people in dialogues about things they may want to do and shift in terms of the way they perceive and engage with their environment in the longer term… the place-making space is a kind of shared experience that sets up conversations and relationships”.

Her continued collaboration with Indigenous designers and cultural educators through ‘Ramo Dhawu’, (which roughly translates to ‘Stories from Ramingining,’) is part of Dr Edwards-Vandenhoek’s wider research focus around cultivating the application of Aboriginal design principles and cultures-based innovation in a young generation.


Information on Professor Edwards-Vandenhoek's previous work in the Ramingining community is available here:

Developing transmedia games for new-age human relations

A team co-led by the CDI’s Steffen P Walz has recently received the German Human Resources Award 2018 (Deutscher Personalwirtschaftspreis) in the category “Recruiting”, as a result of their collaboration with Daimler AG and their marques, Mercedes-Benz and Smart.  

Professor Walz and his team developed a large-scale transmedia recruiting game entitled, which was implemented at the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. Web Summit is amongst the largest and most influential technology conferences in the world, according to Forbes and The Guardian. 

The innovative concept also drew the attention of the Red Dot Awards for Communication, culminating in a 2018 excellence award for “interface and user experience design,” which has proven to be amongst the most valued and prestigious design prizes worldwide.

The game encompassed a wider, satirical storyline that focused on compelling players into a hilarious rivalry between two “hacker” groups in real time, receiving clues and mission information throughout their game through a range of innovative portals that further their involvement in the game.

(Photograph courtesy of: Daimler AG)


Propelled by professional actors posing as “agents,” the story also engages puzzles, an interactive mobile app and the opportunity to program real cars hidden on the Web Summit expo area, while also implementing what was described as a “secret hacker portal website” that added another layer of ingenuity and innovation to the digital experience.

Professor Walz stressed the importance of “speaking digital” in order to attract digital talent, combining both the objectives of Daimler’s HR and IT departments with effective brand communication in order to incite immersion and engagement in the summit’s patrons.

“We designed something that is a design innovation experiment in the form of a transmedia game, that exhibits the promise of serious games and gamification,” said Professor Walz.

“It was a very exciting time.”

The interactive initiative was a summit-wide hit, with 547 patrons participating over three conference days, and at least one participant labelling it “the best HR initiative (they’ve) ever experienced.”

The success of saw considerable upticks in usage levels of Mercedes Benz’ developers platform and its public APIs for interacting with car functionality, while also inciting an influx of applications for their innovative HR department.

(Photograph courtesy of: Daimler AG)


 The Red Dot Award for Communication Design is one of the most sought after in the industry, selected by a 24-member jury from a field of over 8,600 international communication design works for their high design quality and creative achievement. 

Professor Walz and his team will attend the Red Dot Awards in Berlin on the 26th of October 2018 in order to receive their accolades, while will be featured as part of the International Yearbook Communication Design 2018/19, which will be published and distributed in 40 countries.


About the Red Dot Design Award:
In order to appraise the diversity in the field of design in a professional manner, the Red Dot Design Award breaks down into the three disciplines of Red Dot Award: Product Design, Red Dot Award: Communication Design and Red Dot Award: Design Concept. The Red Dot Award is one of the world’s largest design competitions. In 1955, a jury convened for the first time to assess the best designs of the day. In the 1990s, Red Dot CEO Professor Dr. Peter Zec developed the name and brand of the award. Ever since, the sought-after Red Dot distinction has been the revered international seal of outstanding design quality. More information is available at
Exploring urban political discourse

An upcoming study day organised by the Laboratory of research GRIEF and the Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne University promises to explore how urban environments can shape, frame and incite political discourse. 

Scheduled to be held on November 22nd of 2018, the conference invites scholars from the fields of architecture, urban studies, history, art and political, cultural and social studies to contribute to a deeper discussion around political expression in a number of historical and contemporary case studies, including the agora of Athens, the former Communist Bloc and the streets of San Francisco. 

The ideas of both official and unofficial political discourse will be extensively scrutinised, traversing exactly how unofficial political discourse is able to gain traction and how these unofficial voices can become “audible.” 

By analysing the tensions between officially shaped public spaces and those of unofficially used or occupied spaces and the effect they have on wider political expression, organisers hope to question the very meaning of “what is political.” 

The study day will be will be held at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bretagne, 44, boulevard de Chézy, Rennes and will be conducted in both French and English.

More information is available here: Leaving Traces - Living Politics in the City


Combating lifestyle disease through mobile-exergaming

Promising research focused on the positive effects of mobile exergaming for lifestyle disease patients has recently been placed into pre-print, co-led by the CDI’s Steffen P Walz.

Seeking methods to incite increased physical activity levels in users with type-2 diabetes, Professor Walz and his team, on behalf of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, collaborated with sports medical researchers and professional game developers to create Mission: Schweinehund, an interactive mobile game application that motivates users through entertaining exercise challenges and storytelling, and rewards for being active through in-game currency and perks that can further users’ experiences.   

Research undertaken throughout 2017 and into 2018 proved a resounding success, as an intervention group were monitored over a 24-week period after being introduced to the application, where users exhibited a +6.4 increase on the intrinsic motivation index whilst physical activity increased significantly as well.

“It’s absolutely instrumental to see that there is value in creating applied games in order to improve health, and that this has been achieved over a longer period of time, in comparison to classical forms of intervention, and beyond the novelty stage – we all know how that new gym bike gets dusty after a few weeks” said Professor Walz.

Professor Walz’ and the research team’s trials targeted individuals between the ages of 45 and 70, a demographic that experiences a high incidence of type-2 diabetes, although he maintains that the game is applicable to all age groups.

“We can look into all kinds of usage rates for digital games and play in young age demographics,” Professor Walz said, “the starting point for lifestyle disease is becoming younger. 

While the application is available for all ages, the initial build caters for an older demographic, where individuals are tasked with populating, maintaining and growing a small village through exercise and in-game currency, that they are awarded as a result of physical activity. 

This design choice was fuelled by the reliance on walking and gardening as a viable and demographically known form of mild exercise for this older generation. 

“We tried to really reflect the individual in the game… the game has a certain intelligence and adjusts to the player’s individual fitness level. We found that this tailoring as well as a relaxed, comical look and feel helps to maintain motivation.” 

The Mission: Schweinehund project, which has been in development for three years, shines as an example of the impact on health that applied games and play can have when combined with digital technology.

“A lack of exercise is a fundamental issue in many cultures, we’re not physically active enough,” says Professor Walz. 

“It’s very pleasing as a design innovation and game design researcher that this has actual impact, and it’s beautiful for us to see after several years of research and development how we have managed to transition this into a commercial reality as well.”

Professor Walz' research is available here:

A gardening exercise – felling a tree, which is tracked by the smartphone’s camera and promotes medically appropriate movements.
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