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Data is becoming a critical design material.

Future products are increasingly built around real-time sensor data and machine learning algorithms. At the same time, ubiquitous sensing technologies provide ever more detailed insights into human activities, such as what people do, how they move, how they socialise, how healthy they are. Thus, data and algorithms become a critical material for informing the design and development of future products that are relevant, useful and appropriate, and deliver real value and impact.

However, designers lack the ability to effectively use this emerging material as part of the product design and development process. With a focus on human activity data, we investigate five key qualities of this material for designers: accessible, intelligent, ethical, collaborative and scalable.

With a Research through Design approach, we ground this research with experimental studies across a variety of human activity data and societal challenges.