Leapfrog PI Prof Leon Cruickshank was invited to speak at Nottingham University on Friday 21st July 2017.

Where he gave a guest talk ‘Co-​Designing With Non-​Humans Made Easy’ to the Mixed Reality Laboratory on existing good co-​design practices and how designers may accommodate artificial actors in the process.



Co-​Design, co-​creation, open design, Human Centred Design and other collaborative creative approaches are becoming ubiquitous. Procter and Gamble have abandoned R&D and adopted a C&D (connect and develop) model for mutual innovation. Co-​creation is a fundamental priority for institutions as diverse as the EPSRC and the Scottish Government. Effective co-​design though is challenging. People outside an academic context have very different languages, priorities, agendas and world-​views. Co-​design often requires designers and researchers to work in the language of their participants, rather than the ways they normally work.

The first part of this presentation will explore how, in practical terms to get the most from co-​design for all participants, including researchers and developers. The second part is more speculative, as artificial (often digital) actors gain agency and start to make decisions independently (e.g. autonomous vehicles in everyday use) designers will have to start accommodating them in their creative processes. The assumption that we should always be human centred in our approach is challenged.

Further, how can we co-​design with non-​human actors? What languages, priorities, agendas and world-​views will designers need to adopt to be creative with human and non-​human actors? How can we facilitate a dialogue between decision making digital systems and humans so that they can co-​design together?


The seminar was organised by The Mixed Reality Laboratory (MRL) which is s a dedicated studio facility where computer scientists, psychologists, sociologists, engineers, architects and artists collaborate to explore the potential of ubiquitous, mobile and mixed reality technologies to shape everyday life.

The MRL is home to over fifty academics, Research Associates/​Fellows and PhD students. Leon met with four key computer science academics Steve Benford, Andrew Crabtree, Chris Greenhalgh and Thomas Rodden.


Recently, the MRL has spearheaded the establishment of the Horizon Digital Economy Institute, together with the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training, funded by grants totalling £19 million from Research Councils UK. It is aimed to establish these as world-​leading centres of excellence for innovation and knowledge transfer in the ubiquitous digital economy.