Generative prototypes to promote participation in the collaborative design of wearable health technologies

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The potential of design artefacts as generative tools is well documented in the early stages of the design process. Yet, how prototypes continue to act generatively in the later stages is less well understood. This paper shares observations from two projects spanning the entire design process, from conceptual ideas to mass-produced objects. Through quotes and observations documenting participants interacting with prototypes, we illustrate the importance of designed physical artefacts as tools to promote expansive conversations with end-users. We find that generative prototypes foster empathy; support decision-making and communication across disciplines; allow participants to enact use and explore user experience within the early stages of a design process and provide permission to imagine possible futures. These findings encourage design practitioners to think about using high-fidelity generative prototypes throughout the design process as a powerful tool for design thinking, collaboration, and co-creation that embrace speculation and playful creativity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-141
Number of pages21
JournalDesign Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • co-design
  • generative prototypes
  • iterative design
  • medical devices
  • Wearable health technologies

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