The prosperities of information technology have contributed to the knowledge society and the wave of innovation. The innovation of technology has no longer the privilege of a handful of the experts and scientists. In the twenty first century, everyone can be the master of technology innovation and the ultimate spokesperson both in life and work. In the past days, the development of information technology was mostly driven by new techniques. The researchers played the leading roles and the laboratories were the main areas to practice the information technology. Nowadays, the concept of technology innovation has walked out of the tiny laboratories. The main drivers of innovation are no longer limited to scientists with specific expertise and have gradually become the front line users. The researchers have got out of the stifling laboratories and walked into the real life to demonstrate in the communities and societies. In the new innovation mode, the user’s experiences and feedbacks on new applications have become the important components in the process of product or service innovation. Therefore, the concept of living lab has arisen from the innovation mode.
Living Lab was originally brought out by Prof. William Mitchell at MIT. He addressed that "Living Labs represent a user-centric research methodology for sensing, prototyping, validating and refining complex solutions in multiple and evolving real life contexts." The lab environment was brought to the users and validated in real life contexts.
Europe has always been the world leader to promote the creation of living labs. Starting from the project of Living Labs Europe supported by the EU to the Open Living Labs—European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL)--initiated by Finland in 2006 and then the Living Labs Global association located in Spain, the European association for innovation of technology has developed a tight collaboration in research and innovation through the integrated network of the Living Labs from various countries. The founding members of ENoLL were nineteen Living Labs. The following members (the Second Wave) were selected in 2007, and thirty two living labs (the Third Wave) were approved to join in the association in the following year. Among one hundred and thirty Living Labs applied in 2008, seventy eight were granted the official members. Taiwan Living Lab centered by Minsheng Community at Songshan district of Taipei city was one of the granted members of ENoll in the Third Wave. The First Wave and the Second Wave of members were all European Living Lab organizations. As the concept of the innovative Living Labs spreads out, ten non-EU Living Labs aside from the sixty eight European Living Labs were among the Third Wave of members selected in 2008, including two from Taiwan, one from China, four from Brazil, two from South Africa and one from Mozambique. The selected non-EU members were all partners under the EU’s research programs of FP6 or FP7, except for the two Living Labs from Taiwan.
Over the past few years, the EU has developed some research projects on information communication technology. The user-centric and prospect-driven innovation in technology was the objective of technological research and industrial development. Emphasizing the creation of user interactive environment for innovation, the ENoLL advanced the Living Labs vigorously in European countries into a global network to become an important platform for enhancing the service of innovation. The objective of establishing ENoLL was to provide business enterprises an experimental platform for the innovation of products and services. Therefore, the new technology can be realized in the communities, campuses, public places, institutional organizations or the entire city and the metropolitan or suburban areas. The users in the real living contexts such as citizens, office workers, students, tourists, and consumers can all participate in technological experiments and develop a user-centric new technology.
Living Lab practiced the innovative approach to shift the virtual environment in the traditional labs to the real life context and create the real life experiments. It can be a small residential community, a district of a city or even the whole city. Public-sectors, research institutions and business units can join participation in this kind of real life experimental environment. The genuine feedback from the end users for the products or services can be obtained anytime through the innovative service model of the Living Lab. The end users can also help the research party to continuously improve the design and quality of the products and services, and thus to meet the requests to promote the products and services.
Living Lab is an innovative research tool to improve the research and development process of the innovation of the products and services through the practical experiments and thereby to increase the market applicability of the products and contribute to marketing and promotion. It utilizes the user-driven innovative model to make the users as the innovators in the open living lab, in order to carry out a constant life cycle of the new product development and continuously improve the content of research and development of the new product and service in the real world.
The Institute for Information Industry (III) is committed to three core values: innovation, compassion and effectiveness, III will follow a well designed blueprint of services to choose the target group to serve and design various experiments to evaluate the performances of new technological services. III’s mission is to assist domestic businesses to proceed the PoC, PoS and PoB projects in the validation phase of service concept to reduce the potential risks for lacking proper understanding of the market, and so as to raise the chance to succeed in IT enabled service providing businesses.