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Visualization techniques can be used in all steps of a foresight process. Reasons to use them include:

  • provoking conversation and debate about the future;
  • embedding and communicating foresight in a startling, immersive manner;
  • stimulating action in the real world.


About the method

Elements of visualization to shape a foresight process could include:
1. Level of contextualization: how detailed is the context with regard to a specific culture, client, environment?
2. Level of finalization: how realistic is the visualization, how roughly drawn?
3. Degree and nature of participation of users/people: at which point do they participate in the design of the visualization?


What are the limits and powers of the image, in foresight? There are a lot of secondary messages in visualization that you cannot control, such as the materials used for the furniture in a video that already communicate a certain kind of message.

Value of different types of visualization for supporting different kinds of responses:

  • technical drawing (conventional drawing that is in a common language and communicates specific information from one actor to another),
  • sketch (fuzzy, imprecise, work in progress, drawing as a tool to elaborate your ideas),
  • rendering (realistic visualization, 3D images as if the object was real, in a real context, e.g. automobile ad).

One priority for visualization is something that falls in between a sketch and a rendering. The closer you get to a rendering, the less space you leave for people to comment and adapt. When you show a fixed realistic image to a user, they can basically say, "I like" or "I don't like." Whereas if you show people something rougher, less precise, the more it leaves space for interpretation. So rough visualizations come at the beginning of a study, whereas at the end you use something more final. There should be a balance between simulation and descriptive, open capabilities. "Realistic enough" to involve people and enable them to project themselves into a future, and at the same time "open enough" to imagine.

Collective Projection: SustEveryday, Triennale di Milano

Read more about Sustainable_Everyday_Project

Emergent co-design to debug scenarios with users, developed by Francois Jegou, involved testing out and building up new ideas for the experience of a new food atelier, using a process involving a blend of realistic photos of physical environments, and rough sketches of people. First designers create the scenario, propose it to users, and then have them co-create in real-time their responses to specific photo visualizations and the human interactions that take place in them. Users react to photos, sort cards, have conversation with designers on range of possible and desired interactions and spaces.

Video Games in Foresight

Read more about Superstruct_Game Using video to provoke initial engagement such that the viewer is highly encouraged to take action and create feedback for the game. Video communications from game designers create constant feedback between game designers and "players." Player actions are to create foresight and record it in text or video or photo.

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