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DH Research Seminar : And What About the Humans in Digital Humanities? An Approach of Design Research to Transform Technologies and Data into Daily Life Impact.

The DH Research Seminar is a series of talks organised by the Digital Humanities Institute (EPFL) given by researchers from a wide range of backgrounds and aiming at presenting the vast array of subjects covered by Digital Humanities.  The next talk will take place online on March 17 2021.

“And what about the humans in Digital Humanities? An approach of design research to transform technologies and data into daily life impact.”

Talk by Nicolas Henchoz – founding director of EPFL+ECAL Lab

Wednesday 17 March, 2021

12:15 – Duration of the talk with Q&A Session: 1 hour



Trust is a major issue in the digital media. It has led to ambitious research programs to detect fake news. But how do we convert the improvement of reliability into a gain of trust by the readers ? Digitization of heritage has made content more accessible and allowed new interactions. But can these heritages engage with a larger audience? Innovation is now mostly tech driven. We think disruption and performance. But what about the user experience ? What do we understand about the factors of acceptance ? The EPFL+ECAL Lab, the design research center of the EPFL established in partnership with the ECAL (Ecole d’art et de design de Lausanne), investigates these questions. Its approach combines three dimensions : the creation of experimental solutions through design and art practices, the integration of emerging technologies, and the observation of user perception. This perception is highly related to the users and the context. It requires to leave the lab and experiment in real life condition. With some surprising results : the Resoli project, for instance, shows that digital innovation should be developed with elderly people rather than millennials to be more successful ! Design research is a natural partner of digital humanities to transform data in impactful propositions for citizens.

Speaker bio

Nicolas Henchoz is the founding director of EPFL+ECAL Lab, the design research centre of the EPFL created in collaboration with the ECAL. He got a first education in material science from EPFL and a second one in journalism. In the 90’s he was in charge of scientific news at the Swiss National television (RTS), where he also acted as headline news anchor. In 2000, he came back to EPFL as member of the presidency, where he initiated the collaboration with ECAL. He started to develop a new vision of design research. His book Design for Innovative Technologies, from Disruption to Acceptance (Routledge, 2014) defines a unique approach about how technologies can be turned into impactful user experiences. He has curated more than 30 exhibitions featuring his project in institutions like Harvard University, the Musée des arts décoratifs and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the American Institute of Architecture in NYC, or the Royal College of Art in London. The research outcomes have led to several academic contributions like ISMAR, HFES, Siggraph or Leonardo. List of awards includes the International Design Festival Berlin, Design Prize Switzerland, the Best app of the year (Splash Award) and last November, the Best user experience award at the Meilleur du web. He is a visiting professor at the Politecnico di Milano and a board member of the Global Alliance for Media Innovation. He has been distinguished Chevalier des arts et des lettres by French minister for culture and communication.


From: 17 Mar, 2021
12:15 -13h15
To: 17 Mar, 2021
Organizer: DHI - EPFL
Speaker: Nicolas Henchoz


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