Ultra-Personalization of Safety Footwear: Unperceived Opportunities and Perceived Risks
Svetlana Mironcika, Joep Frens, Stephan Wensveen


There is a rise of digitally fabricated products based on users’ data. This approach is known as ultra-personalization. Earlier work on ultra-personalization does not discuss the risks associated with the practice or tools that allow future users to engage in the design process. This work explores the perception of digital tools (mobile/web applications) that allow future wearers to engage in the ultra-personalization of safety footwear. Mass-produced safety shoes are known to have comfort and fit issues making it a necessary case for ultra-personalization. We conducted initial interviews with safety shoe wearers and R&D experts and designed nine concepts of digital tools that allow wearers to engage in expressing their wishes and needs for ultra-personalized safety footwear. The same wearers and experts were invited to review and co-reflect on the concepts. Their reactions and attitudes revealed unperceived opportunities and perceived risks associated with digital tools supporting wearers’ engagement in the ultra-personalization of safety footwear. We offer an overview of the identified perceived risks on three levels: product (2), service (5), and production system level (2) and we suggest risk-mitigating approaches. Our paper is relevant to design researchers and practitioners interested in designing and researching digital tools for user engagement in ultra-personalization.

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