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Ulstein Bridge Concept



What if we could redefine the whole bridge environment and change everything from the room layout to furniture design, and from the fundamental interaction techniques to details on the screen? This is the scope for the researchers, designers and engineers developing the Ulstein Bridge Concept (UBC) project. Together we aim to create research and designs that can direct the development of the future ship bridges of offshore service vessels. More »

This project has been completed

Ulstein Bridge Vision: Can a video be research?

1 1/2 week ago Ulstein launched a video presenting the Ulstein Bridge Vision, an outcome of the Ulstein Bridge Concept (UBC) project. The vision presented is the result of more than one year of development work and shows new interaction design, product design and technical solutions.

Showcasing research

Although Ulstein Bridge Vision is a presentation of novel design solutions, it can also be viewed as research in itself. The UBC project follows a Research by Design-approach to research, which is a “special research mode where the explorative, generative and innovative aspects of design are engaged and aligned in a systematic research inquiry”[1]. This means that the design researcher is also a practitioner, but that the practice needs to be complemented with reflections to qualify as research.

Research by Design is an example of what Koskinen et al. denotes constructive research, which “refers to design research in which construction – be it product, system, space, or media – takes center place and becomes the key means in constructing knowledge”[2]. Koskinen et al. discuss how design can be studied in the lab, in the field and in the showroom. The UBC project qualifies for all, I guess, but the film presenting Ulstein Bridge Vision gives associations to the showroom. The showroom is influenced by for example critical design and more artistic movements in design. Clearly some aspects of these approaches are not of direct relevance in our case. But in my opinion two characteristics of the showroom as design research are of relevance to the Ulstein Bridge Vision presentation: How the designs reach a lot of people because the film is made available online, and how the film has caused some interesting discussions.

Opening up for discussions

I can’t wait to just gesture in front of the console to change screens. It’s like a huge iPhone! I’d probably take a (slight) pay cut to play with those toys full time.

User on gCaptain forum

Ulstein Bridge Vision has got a lot of attention. The video has been discussed and shared in both paperbased and digital newspapers, on Twitter, on Facebook, on blogs etc. Mariners have expressed their opinions on the design in comment fields of online articles, e.g. Teknisk Ukeblad’s article, and discussions devoted to the film have been carried out for example in the user forum of gCaptain, a leading news website for maritime professionals. Some of the remarks expressed are of real value to us.
Koskinen et al. state that doing design at a highly professional level is a powerful tactic when doing showroom design research. The high quality of the designs in the film and the film itself seem to have enabled designers who have seen the film to offer us their opinion on the designs, rather than comment on the quality of renderings etc.
All this feedback, both from the maritime community and from the design community, is interesting and motivates our further work. Now we need to take the discussions into the research arena to get feedback from the research community as well.

Illustration at the top of the article is made by FireGrader*.

The article is adapted from a blog post published at http://www.speiling.net/blog/2012/9/10/ulstein-bridge-vision-can-a-video-be-research.html


1 Sevaldson B. Discussions & Movements in Design Research. FORMakademisk. 2010;3(1):8–35. Available from: http://journals.hioa.no/index.php/formakademisk/article/view/137/134

2 Koskinen I, Zimmerman J, Binder T, Redström J & Wensveen S. Design Research through Practice: from the lab, field, and showroom. Waltham, USA: Morgan Kaufmann; 2011.

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2 responses so far:

  1. Ed Verbeek says:

    I am not sure where I can post questions/remarks about the new bridge design, so I’ll just use this opportunity 🙂
    I am very impressed about your thinking, making use of the present posibilities and I very much want you to succeed.
    To succeed means that the bridge needs to work in the normal operating conditions: a (heavily) rolling and pitching ship where the operator has problems to stand and needs to find balance (including all the uncontrolled movements that this involves) Has attention been given to operating the equipment under these conditions? (the video show only North Sea during exceptional nice summer weather conditions 🙂 I know it is mentioned that the operator should be able to sit or stand as he likes, even during heavy seas, but in these conditions, whether sitting or standing, the operator makes a lot of relex movements, unplanned and uncontrolled, which should not trigger any response of the equipment, and is it hard to make deliberate, precisely controlled movements, if these are required to operate the equipment.
    In modern shipping, more and more attention goes to operating in a team environment. I know that for offshore supply vessel this is less of an issue (mostly the “old-fashion” one-man operations), but this might change in future. Have team operations, in the form of Navigator – CoNavigator (even in the form of a pilot at port approach), been a consideration in the bridge design?

    • Sigrun Lurås says:

      Dear Ed,

      Thanks a lot for your feedback and interesting remarks! We are definitely concerned with the operation of equipment under different weather conditions. As you suggest, in modern offshore shipping, especially the more advanced vessels used for complex operations, teamwork is very much an issue. We also address this in our project. Please feel free to contact our project manager Kjetil Nordby directly if you have further questions.

      Best regards,
      Sigrun Lurås, project member, the Ulstein Bridge Concept

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