The Representation-Usage-Impact (RUI) method to better frame the potential social impacts of a highly disruptive product — Application to the autonomous vehicle

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nadège Troussier
Author: Lecomte, Robin (1,2,3); Yannou, Bernard (1); Cahen, Roland (2); Thibaud, Guillaume (3); Etienne, Fabrice (3)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Laboratoire Génie Industriel, CentraleSupélec, Université Paris-Saclay; 2: Centre de Recherche en Design, ENSCi Les Ateliers / ENS Paris-Saclay, Université Paris-Saclay; 3: Stellantis, Centre Technique Vélizy, France
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 3453-3462
DOI number:


Innovative products can be highly prospective and apt to disrupt usages profoundly. They can lead to multiple long-term social impacts influencing people's way of life and behaviour. So it is necessary to anticipate them without delay. Due to high uncertainty, designers may face the problem that conventional user-centred methods, which assess design performances from today's users, are not adapted. We think sociologists can help characterise the likely social impacts of future products. So we propose an original framework called the Representation-Usage-Impact (RUI) method to stimulate sociologists' projection and capture relevant knowledge about probable social impacts. The method includes a database structure encoding the knowledge of sociologists for further use in the design process. Its goal is to help designers avoid making choices today that may be regretted in decades. We illustrate the method and its process with the design of autonomous vehicle scenarios, as it will likely bring many new usages in the future. As the method is still under construction, we present an intermediate validation step involving sociologists. The first results suggest that the method might be a safeguard for the design of disruptive products.

Keywords: Design methodology, Societal consequences, Impact assessment, Innovation, Future

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