Prof Steffen P Walz
Dr Steffen P Walz is a Professorial Reseach Fellow at Swinburne's CDI, effective as of March 2017. He holds a doctoral degree in Computer Aided Architectural Design from the ETH Zurich in Switzerland, as well as a MA in Cultural Anthropology, Applied Rhetoric and Political Science from the University of Tuebingen, Germany. For someone interested in convergence, a fair mix!
Steffen is a playful, creative technologist who thrives on scouting novel, human-centric products and services––where design is used as a process to drive innovation. Specifically, he is most interested in how situations and systems can be made (more) enjoyable and engaging, in an age of digital transformation, where hitherto unconnected markets, media, services and lifestyles converge into new possibilities.
Questions exemplifying this interest include:
- What are meaningful experiences when we are interfacing with autonomous systems and services––what new types of human-computer interactions could they afford, spanning the range from individual to city?
- What is engaging mobility, and, inversely so, mobile engagement––how can we create the best possible mobile experience, both physically as well as virtually, and in the mixed zones in-between?
- How can we create human-centered interactive systems that motivate us to live healthier lives, taking advantage of, say, a certain ongoing activity or spatial feature?
- How can we provide a creative voice to those not engaged in the digital transformation discourse, so that they become part of our future?
Consequentially, Steffen's research sits, broadly speaking, at the intersections of (1) health and wellbeing; (2) mobile technologies, including automotive, location-based, wearable, and spatial technologies such as VR and AR; and (3) playful- and gamefulness, (serious) game design, co-creativity as well as foresight facilitation.
Around these topics, Steffen has been publishing extensively, as well as speaking internationally, and has acquired, led and delivered digital innovation / R&D projects for major industry partners and organizations world wide, including Novartis Pharma, Audi, LG Display, Daimler, MFG Baden-Wuerttemberg, the Swiss Federal Government, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Creative Victoria, the United Nations Population Fund, the Department of Education and Training Victoria, VicHealth and SunSmart.
He has also been serving in curatorial roles, most notably, as co-founder and chair of bizplay, a gamification congress taking place annually in Karlsruhe which seeks to bring together industry, academics and the public to discuss the role of play and games for business, art and technology; and as curator of the Education in Games Summit 2016, under the umbrella of Melbourne International Games Week. In addition, Steffen regularly serves as a mentor for Code for Australia.
Prior to his role at Swinburne and the CDI, Steffen served briefly as Professor of Design/Art at Curtin University in Perth, WA. In 2011, he had founded the Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (the GEElab) at RMIT University, which featured two connected studio facilities, one based in Melbourne and one in Karlsruhe, Germany, the latter operating as the GEElab Europe. Steffen had been directing and growing both GEElabs from scratch to a total of twenty GEElabbers, including a cohort of doctoral students, until shutdown in 2016. Earlier, and building on research from his doctorate, Steffen had co-founded the company sreee, with which he and his partner acquired seed funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation as well as funding from Zurich angel investors, to create browser-based, client-server technology for richly interactive mobile games.
Together with two partners, Steffen is also one of the Founding Directors of gerenwa GmbH, Germany, a foresight and convergence engineering enterprise that specializes in products and services for automotive and mobility industry clients. gerenwa, too, distributes Steffen's foresight tool, the FutureDeck, with which players can "tell stories from the future." The FutureDeck has been used and played in diverse settings, for example to enrich entrepreneurial and leadership training; as an ideation method in design processes, producing both serious and silly outcomes; and to engage citizens, playfully so, into a conversation about digital transformation.