Since the introduction of the iconic Aware Home project in 1999, the notion of “living laboratory” has been taken up and developed in Human-Computer Interaction research. Many of the underpinning assumptions have evolved over the past two decades in various directions, while the same nomenclature is employed-- inevitably in ambiguous ways. This contribution seeks to elicit an organized understanding of what we talk about when we talk about living lab studies in HCI. This is accomplished through the methods of discourse analysis, a combination of coding, hypothesis generation, and inferential statistics on the coded data. Analysing the discursive context within which the term living laboratory (or lab) appears in 152 SIGCHI and TOCHI papers, we extracted five divergent strands with overlapping but distinct conceptual frameworks, labeled as “Visited Places”, “Instrumented Places”, “Instrumented People”, “Lived-in Places”, and “Innovation Spaces”.

The Five Strands of Living Lab: A Literature Study of the Evolution of Living Lab Concepts in HCI