* Design pour une innovation créative

Nantes Shanghai Pune São Paulo Montréal

Digital Design Lab, research by design

The Digital Design Lab platform intends to explore the possibilities offered by technological innovation and its impact on our physical environment and living space.

Director: Frédérique Krupa, PhD

The advent of Artificial Intelligence and, on a broader level, highly developed (and constantly evolving) computer science, raises questions about the relationship we have had with computers since they first appeared. Originally used as computational tools for military purposes then as management tools for large companies, the computer became “personal” at the beginning of the 80s. Well, personal perhaps in size but reserved for the privileged few: academics, SMEs or graphic design industries… the latter having played an important role in the success of Apple’s Macintosh. Small and compact, the Macintosh featured a print preview function (WYSIWYG) and the latest innovations in terms of Human Machine Interaction (HMI) proposed as early as the mid-seventies by the Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox). There followed the unanimous adoption of the concept of direct manipulation and the use of physical and visual metaphors to run functions such as drag and drop to move files for example.

It was also and above all the appearance of “POMME-Z” which really characterized the development of these HMI, because from that moment on machines recognized the notion of human error. The CD Rom, a tool for culture and entertainment, led to the arrival of computers in many households, then the appearance of the World Wide Web, a documentation system on a global scale, revolutionized the way we accessed information. Consequently, the proliferation of resources available made it necessary to design interfaces which facilitated access to all this content.
Back in 2000, L’École de design offered one of the first courses in digital design. At that time, the focus was mainly on designing graphic interfaces and examining hypertextual (narrative) construction, then imagining new services for the Internet. The development of technologies subsequently pushed the activity towards the creation of new digital artefacts, virtual, interactive and connected information spaces… and the promise of new User Experiences.

The Digital Design Lab has been accompanying this technological progress since the first “hypermedia”: technologies for speech recognition (and synthesis), images, Big Data mining and exploitation, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities… open up new opportunities for designers in:

- Research on new metaphors to facilitate modes of communication between these different realities and to create links with our natural environment
- The implementation of these technologies in sustainable tools/services for the common good
- The intelligibility of these so-called “intelligent” systems while the AI are still hidden away in black boxes carefully guarded by GAFAM
- The embodiment, urbanization and democratization of pervasive and ubiquitous computing
- Collaboration and principles of Human-Machine cooperation in an increasingly robotic industrial world.

Through the production of mock-ups, prototypes and other demonstrators, the Digital Design Lab aims to provide solutions to these issues: finding new Human Machine relationships and making them more efficient but, above all, more sensual, as it is through our sensitivity, empathy and emotions that we humans assert our singularity, our humanity.



All the research work conducted by the Digital Design Lab deals with the hybridization of physical and virtual worlds.

Through the virtualization of objects with an increasingly service-oriented dimension.
Through the materialization of digital via physical interfaces and “connected” artefacts or the design of immersive environments for virtual reality.


Method: an exploratory and iterative approach

The Digital Design Lab uses an iterative approach based on continual experimentation, assessment and improvement of applications and services. Experimentation and research are carried out through different types of partnership (companies, institutions, local authorities, associations, academics).

The questions and proposals give rise to innovation-friendly design projects and the dissemination of knowledge and expertise in the professional and academic world.


Research projects

 IDEA (Immersive Data Exploration and Analysis): in partnership with Polytech, LINA and IRCCyN. “Immersive and interactive data visualisation”. The aim of IDEA is to handle the interactive exploration of large amounts of data in the form of a “feasibility demonstrator” via HMD-type devices (Head Mounted Display). The project will (amongst other things) look at a corpus of data from the field of astrophysics (ANR project episteme).

AmbiDys (dyslexia and automatic language processing): in partnership with LINA/TaL.

The “AmbiDys” project deals with the digital processing of textual ambiguities in the context of dyslexia. The Digital Design Lab is responsible for designing and developing interactions for touch-screen tablets that enable greater fluency in "assisted reading”.


If you wish to develop a partnership with the Digital Design Lab, please contact the Business Strategy Department.

Further reading