Author: Åsa Cajander (Page 1 of 3)

Insights from the FoU Program Conference: Exploring the Impact of Robots, Automation and AI on Work Environments

Last week, we had the privilege of attending the Research and Innovation Program Conference organized by AFA Försäkring. The focus was on understanding how automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) affect work environments. It was an insightful event where we got to learn from various projects, including our own Tara and Arora initiatives. The blog post photo captures a snapshot from our field visits during the TARA project.

Speakers such as Erik Billing from the University of Skövde, Kristina Palm from Karolinska University, and Eva Lindell from Mälardalen University shared their research findings and insights on how automation is changing the way we work. They discussed topics like how automation impacts job roles, the challenges of integrating new technologies into workplaces, and the importance of considering human well-being in the midst of technological advancements.

The conference emphasized the need to bridge the gap between research and practice. It highlighted the importance of finding practical solutions that benefit both workers and organizations. There was also discussion about the future of work and how we can prepare for the changes brought about by automation and AI.

Overall, the conference provided a valuable opportunity to learn, share ideas, and collaborate with others in the field. We left feeling inspired and motivated to continue our research and contribute to the ongoing conversation about the future of work in an increasingly automated world.

Research Update: Exploring Work Engagement in the Age of Automation, Robotics, and AI

In the fast-paced world of technology and automation, keeping a close eye on how these advancements affect the workforce’s engagement and dynamics is essential. The “ARbetsengagemang vid autOmatisering, robotisering och AI” (AROA) project aims to illuminate this crucial aspect of our work. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the project’s first-year report and its progress.

AROA’s journey began with a literature review, where we scoured existing knowledge. This review aimed to identify critical knowledge gaps and relevant research to serve as the project’s foundation.

Collaboration is at the heart of AROA’s approach. In pursuit of comprehensive insights, they formed a reference group of stakeholders from various sectors. This diverse group of participants would be instrumental in shaping the project’s direction. AROA organised a dynamic full-day workshop to facilitate open dialogue and receive feedback.

Moreover, we did field studies to understand the real-world impact of automation and AI by conducting in-depth interviews and fieldwork within the agriculture and railway sectors. These empirical studies offered a closer look at how workers in these sectors were experiencing the transformative effects of technology firsthand.

In August 2023, AROA welcomed a doctoral student, strengthening their research capabilities. Additionally, the addition of Associate Professor Maria Normark brings even more depth to the project’s knowledge base.

These highlighted areas showcase AROA’s first-year progress. As the project evolves, it continues to illuminate the nature of work engagement in the automation, AI, and robotics age.

Celebrating One Year of HTO Research Group Blogging: A Recap

As the year ends and the holiday season is upon us, we want to take a moment to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! It’s been an incredible journey for the HTO Research Group blog, and as we celebrate one year of sharing our research insights and findings with you, we’d like to reflect on the events and articles we’ve covered over the past year.

In the past year, we have published 40 blog posts covering various topics in human-computer interaction, technology, and work environment. We’ve shared our research findings, insights, and experiences with you, our readers.

Highlights from the Past Year

Vision Seminars: Pioneering User-Centric IT Design

Our commitment to user-centric IT design was highlighted in a blog post by Åsa Cajander. She discussed the long-standing tradition of conducting Vision Seminars within our research projects, showcasing how this innovative approach has shaped our engagement with technology and work systems design.

AI for Humanity and Society 2023 Conference

In November, our blog covered the annual conference on “AI for Humanity and Society 2023 and Human Values” held in Malmö. Andreas Bergqvist provided an insightful recap of the conference, which featured three keynotes and panels addressing critical issues surrounding AI’s impact on society. The discussions delved into criticality, norms, and interdisciplinarity.

AI4Research Fellowship 2024

A significant milestone was achieved when Åsa Cajander announced her participation in the AI4Research Fellowship. This five-year initiative at Uppsala University aims to advance AI and machine learning research, and we are honored to be part of it.

Exciting New EDU-AI Project

We also announced the commencement of a new research project, the EDU-AI project, which explores the transformative impact of generative AI technologies on education. Starting in April 2024, this project will address critical issues related to digital workplace health and usability in IT systems.

Exploring the Future of Healthcare: Insights from MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023

Sofia shared insights from two significant healthcare conferences, MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023. The blog post explored the advancements and challenges in healthcare, focusing on AI’s role in shaping the future of healthcare.

Empowering People with Anxiety: Biofeedback-based Connected Health Interventions

Sofia explored the growing issue of anxiety in today’s fast-paced world and introduced biofeedback-based connected health interventions as a potential solution. The blog post highlighted the significance of connected health approaches in addressing anxiety.

TikTok – What is the Problem?

Lars addressed the concerns surrounding the social media platform TikTok, particularly from a security perspective. He discussed the potential dangers and implications of TikTok’s usage, emphasizing the need for awareness and caution.

Writing Retreat with the HTO Group

Rebecca Cort shared the HTO research group’s tradition of hosting writing retreats and discussed the importance of creating dedicated time and space for focused writing. The blog post highlighted the group’s commitment to productive research.

Insightful Publications

Throughout the year, we shared several research papers and publications, each providing valuable insights into various aspects of technology and its impact on our lives. From the effects of AI on work engagement to the challenges faced by caregivers of cancer patients, our research has covered a wide range of topics.

Looking Ahead

As we enter the new year, we are excited about the continued growth of the HTO Research Group blog. We have more research findings, insights, and events to share with you, and we look forward to engaging with our readers in meaningful discussions.

We wish you a joyous holiday season, and may the new year bring you happiness and discoveries.

Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year from the HTO Research Group!

Vision Seminars: Pioneering User-Centric IT Design

Our research has proudly upheld a long-standing tradition of conducting Vision Seminars within the scope of action research projects. This innovative approach, predominantly led by Bengt Sandblad, has significantly shaped how we engage with technology and work systems design. Niklas Hardenborg’s doctoral thesis further exemplifies our commitment to this approach, which delves deeply into designing work and IT systems through participatory processes, with a strong focus on usability and sustainability.

Over the years, we’ve produced an impressive array of studies and papers demonstrating the diversity and depth of our engagement with Vision Seminars. Our works, authored by researchers like Åsa Cajander, Marta Larusdottir, Thomas Lind, Magdalena Stadin, Mats Daniels, Robert McDermott, Simon Tschirner, Jan Gulliksen, Elina Eriksson, and Iordanis Kavathatzopoulos, span a wide range of topics. These range from in-depth explorations of user involvement in extensive IT projects, as seen in our latest publication on vision seminars called “Experiences of Extensive User Involvement through Vision Seminars in a Large IT Project,” to more focused case studies in areas such as university education administration and the development of train driver advisory systems for improved situational awareness.

A key theme that runs through our studies is the vital role of users in shaping the future of technology and work practices. Papers like “The Use of Scenarios in a Vision Seminar Process” and “Students Envisioning the Future” underscore the proactive role of participants in moulding future digital work environments. Our approach is distinctively collaborative, inviting various stakeholders to craft visions guiding user-centred systems’ evolution.

Our research extends beyond examining specific sectors or systems. It addresses the larger methodological and organizational changes necessary to enhance usability and the digital work environment. “User-centred systems design as organizational change,” by Gulliksen and others, is a prime example of this broader view, embedding user-centred design into the very fabric of organizational processes and culture.

In summary, our body of work contributes significantly to the field of Human-Computer Interaction and sets a benchmark in involving users in the technological design process. Through Vision Seminars, we continue to champion a participatory, user-centred approach in systems design, aiming to create more usable, sustainable, and future-oriented IT systems and work practices. This commitment cements our position as pioneers in the field, constantly pushing the boundaries of how user involvement can shape the technological landscape.

Some of our Research Papers
on Vision seminars

Cajander, Å., Larusdottir, M.,
Lind, T., & Stadin, M. (2023). Experiences of Extensive User Involvement
through Vision Seminars in a Large IT Project. Interacting with
, iwad046.

Cajander, Å., Sandblad, B., Lind, T., Daniels, M., & McDermott, R.
(2015). Vision Seminars and Administration of University Education–A Case
Study. Paper! Sessions!!, 29.

Lind, T., Cajander, Å., Björklund, A., & Sandblad, B. (2020, October).
The Use of Scenarios in a Vision Seminar Process: The Case of Students
Envisioning the Future of Study-Administration. In Proceedings of the
11th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Shaping Experiences,
Shaping Society
 (pp. 1-8).

Lind, T., Cajander, Å., Sandblad, B., Daniels, M., Lárusdóttir, M.,
McDermott, R., & Clear, T. (2016, October). Students envisioning the
future. In 2016 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (pp.
1-9). IEEE.

Cajander, Å., Sandblad, B., Lind, T., Daniels, M., & McDermott, R.
(2015). Vision Seminars and Administration of University Education–A Case
Study. Paper! Sessions!!, 29.

Tschirner, S., Andersson, A. W., & Sandblad, B. (2013). Designing train
driver advisory systems for situation awareness. Rail Human Factors:
Supporting reliability, safety and cost reduction. Taylor & Francis, London

Tschirner, S., Andersson, A. W., & Sandblad, B. (2013). Designing train
driver advisory systems for situation awareness. Rail Human Factors:
Supporting reliability, safety and cost reduction. Taylor & Francis, London

Gulliksen, J., Cajander, Å., Sandblad, B., Eriksson, E., &
Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2009). User-centred systems design as organizational
change: A longitudinal action research project to improve usability and the
computerized work environment in a public authority. International
Journal of Technology and Human Interaction (IJTHI)

Hardenborg, N. (2007). Designing work and IT systems: A
participatory process that supports usability and sustainability
dissertation, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis).

Hardenborg, N., & Sandblad, B. (2007). Vision Seminars–Perspectives on
Developing Future Sustainable IT Supported Work. Journal of Behaviour
& Information Technology, Taylor & Francis

Olsson, E., Johansson, N., Gulliksen, J., & Sandblad, B. (2005). A
participatory process supporting design of future work.

New Publication: Shaping the Future of IT Projects: Insights from Vision Seminars

In the ever-evolving world of information technology, understanding and incorporating user needs has never been more crucial. This is the crux of a study titled “Experiences of Extensive User Involvement through Vision Seminars in a Large IT Project,” authored by Åsa Cajander, Marta Larusdottir, Thomas Lind, and Magdalena Stadin. Their research delves into the impactful role of Vision Seminars (VS) in steering large IT projects towards success.

Information about the paper:
Cajander, Å., Larusdottir, M., Lind, T., & Stadin, M. (2023). Experiences of Extensive User Involvement through Vision Seminars in a Large IT Project. Interacting with Computers, iwad046.
Found here.

A New Approach to IT Development

The digital landscape is complex and demands methods that consider the full spectrum of the user’s work environment. The study by Cajander and her colleagues focuses on the Vision Seminar process, a method designed to address future technology use in intricate digital work settings. Read more here. This approach is not just about technology; it’s about understanding how people interact with these systems in their daily work lives.

Revelatory Findings

The research revealed several key insights:

  • User-Centric Success: Participants in the Vision Seminars reported a newfound holistic understanding of their work. This broader perspective led to the discovery of more effective methods of support.
  • Feasibility of Future Visions: The study highlighted the participants’ belief in the practicality and desirability of envisioned future IT systems.
  • Integration Challenges: A notable revelation was the difficulty of embedding user-centric methods in fast-paced software development environments.


The study’s mixed-methods approach, utilizing surveys and interviews, offered a rich, multi-dimensional understanding of the impact of Vision Seminars. This comprehensive method ensures robust findings and reflects diverse experiences and opinions.

Practical Applications for the Real World

What does this mean for the IT industry? The findings underscore the importance of involving users in developing IT systems. This involvement enhances user satisfaction and can also guide the direction of IT projects more effectively.

Addressing the Challenges

Despite the positive outcomes, the Vision Seminar process has challenges. The time and resources required for such extensive user involvement can pose significant difficulties in smaller or more technology-centric projects.

Concluding Thoughts

This study is crucial to our understanding of user involvement in IT development. It reinforces the notion that the future of IT systems must be shaped by those who use them, ensuring that technology serves people, not the other way around.


This research was made possible through the support of AFA.

AI4Research Fellowship 2024

I’m thrilled to announce an exciting new chapter in my career: I will join the AI4Research Fellowship next year! This five-year Uppsala University initiative is dedicated to advancing AI and machine learning research, and I’m honoured to be a part of it.

What is AI4Research?

AI4Research is a dynamic program that focuses on strengthening and developing AI research. During my sabbatical at Carolina Redivica, I will collaborate with fellow AI4 Research scholars, diving deep into the world of artificial intelligence. This AI4 Research Fellowship will also make it possible for my colleagues at the HTO group to join me and benefit from this environment. Hence, I will bring a team of young researchers and doctoral candidates, along with a more senior researcher, to investigate the effects of AI on the work environment.

My Project: AI’s Impact on the Work Environment

We’re entering a new era where AI is revolutionizing the workplace. My research will explore both AI’s positive and negative aspects in the work environment. I aim to identify potential risks and challenges and how AI can enhance work experiences and foster creativity and personal development in professional tasks.

Future Endeavors and Funding

During my sabbatical, I will seek additional research grants for future projects in AI and the work environment. Collaborations within AI4Research will allow us to create innovative projects addressing the challenges posed by AI’s influence on the work environment.

I am looking forward to my AI4Reseach Fellowship and a year full of new ideas and learning!

Post-Doctoral Opportunity in Exciting New EDU-AI Project

We are thrilled to announce the commencement of a new research project, “Adapting Computing Education for an AI-Driven Future: Empirical Insights and Guidelines for Integrating Generative AI into Curriculum and Practice” (The EDU-AI project), starting April 2024. This venture explores the transformative impact of generative AI technologies, such as GPT-4 and automated code generators, on the IT industry, computing education, and professional skills development.

The project, significant for the Department of Information Technology, aligns with our commitment to addressing challenges and capitalizing on opportunities presented by generative AI in education. Spearheaded by Åsa Cajander and Mats Daniels, the project will be conducted over two years (April 2024 – March 2026), potentially extending into a third year.

Project Overview

The EDU-AI project comprises four work packages, each targeting a unique aspect of the generative AI influence in IT and education:

  1. Understanding Generative AI in the Professional IT Landscape: Investigating the use of generative AI among IT professionals.
  2. Generative AI in Computing Education: Student Perspectives: Examining students’ interaction with and perception of generative AI.
  3. Faculty Adaptation and Teaching Strategies for Generative AI: Assessing how faculty integrate generative AI into their teaching methods.
  4. Synthesis and Recommendations for Competence Development in Computing Education: Creating actionable recommendations based on findings from the first three stages.

The project will collaborate with Auckland University of Technology, Eastern Institute of Technology, and Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, bringing cross-cultural expertise and perspectives.

Benefits and Application Process

This position offers the opportunity to be at the forefront of AI integration in education, work with leading experts, and publish in top journals and conferences.

Interested candidates should submit their application, including a CV, cover letter, and relevant publications. For more information see:

Last application date: 2023-12-18

For more information about the project and the role, please refer to the detailed project description or contact Åsa Cajander or Mats Daniels directly.

Project Update: SysTemutvecklingsmetodeR för dIigital Arbetsmiljö (STRIA)

After several years of dedicated research and development, the SysTemutvecklingsmetodeR för dIigital Arbetsmiljö (STRIA) project is coming close. Led by Professor Åsa Cajander, working with Dr Magdalena Stadin and Professor Marta Larusdottir, this project has been a pioneering effort to address the critical issue of digital workplace health and usability in IT systems. The project was funded by AFA.

The Problem
In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, many IT systems fail to support efficient work processes, ultimately contributing to health issues within organizations. Research has highlighted a lack of focus on workplace health in current system development practices. There’s also a shortage of practical methods for incorporating a workplace health perspective into digitalization efforts.

The Mission
The STRIA project aimed to collaborate with IT developers to create effective and practical methods for designing sustainable digital work environments. This endeavor included promoting these methods, developing educational materials, and advocating for their adoption.

The Three Focus Methods
The project focused on three key methodologies:

Contextual Think Aloud Method: This method involves users verbalizing their thought processes while interacting with software, enabling evaluators to gain insights into user thinking.
Vision Seminars: Involving a group of evaluators who individually assess software using predefined heuristics, this method helps identify usability problems.
Contextual Personas Method: Originally introduced by Cooper (2004), this method creates hypothetical archetypes of real users, allowing for more targeted and empathetic system design.

Project Phases
The project followed a structured plan, as outlined in Figure 1, which included:

  1. Understanding Digital Workplace: Assessing challenges related to different IT systems and digital workplaces in healthcare and administrative settings.
  2. Developing System Development Methods: Crafting new methods for system development based on insights from previous phases.
  3. Creating Educational Materials: Developing materials to teach developers how to apply these methods effectively.
  4. Evaluation and Refinement: Testing and refining the methods with IT developers and gathering feedback.
  5. Dissemination of Results: Publishing research findings, articles, and blog posts to share the knowledge with the wider community.

As the STRIA project concludes, it leaves a legacy of knowledge, recommendations, and methodologies for assessing digital workplace aspects. The project’s findings has been shared through academic publications, industry-focused journals, conferences, blogs, and educational programs. Stay tuned for the final report and further updates on this important work.

Supporting Informal Caregivers of Head and Neck Cancer Patients: Understanding Their Challenges and Needs

Caring for a loved one with cancer is a deeply personal and emotionally challenging journey. For many, it’s a labour of love with a profound sense of purpose and satisfaction. However, the role of informal caregivers (ICs) is not without its unique set of challenges. In this blog post, we delve into a research paper exploring the world of informal caregivers, particularly those who support individuals battling head and neck cancer (HNC).

Paper: Langegård, U., Cajander, Å., Ahmad, A., Carlsson, M., Nevo, E. O., Johansson, B., & Ehrsson, Y. T. (2023). Understanding the challenges and need for support of informal caregivers to individuals with head and neck cancer-A basis for developing internet-based support. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 102347.

The Struggles of Caregiving for HNC Patients

Head and neck cancer presents a unique set of challenges due to its impact on essential functions like swallowing, speaking, and breathing. Patients often undergo treatments that result in various distressing symptoms, such as dry mouth, altered facial appearance, and debilitating pain. This increased dependence on caregivers adds an extra layer of responsibility.

Studies have highlighted the significant caregiver burden experienced by ICs of HNC patients. Caregiver burden refers to the multidimensional physical, psychological, and social challenges caregivers face when caring for their loved ones. Depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbances are common among ICs in this context, emphasizing the need for support.

Preparedness for caregiving refers to an IC’s perceived ability to provide physical, emotional, or practical care while managing the associated stresses. Research has shown that well-prepared caregivers experience fewer worries and are more capable of providing care.

The Research Study and Its Objectives

The study we’re discussing is part of a broader research project aimed at developing online support for ICs of individuals with HNC. The project is called Carer eSupport and is presented in this blog post. It’s a collaborative effort involving expert caregivers, medical professionals, and human-computer interaction experts. The project focuses on addressing the unique needs of ICs to enhance their preparedness for caregiving.

Exploring ICs’ Challenges and Needs

The qualitative study conducted for this research employed thematic analysis to gain insights into the challenges and needs of ICs supporting individuals with HNC. The study involved both focus group discussions and individual interviews.

The findings revealed that being an IC for HNC patients is a multifaceted experience. ICs often felt excluded from the care process due to a lack of information about their loved one’s health status. This left them feeling unprepared and disconnected.

The impact of caregiving on daily life was significant. ICs had to adapt their routines and sometimes even sacrifice their social lives and work commitments. This shift in priorities could lead to isolation and emotional strain.

Carrying the uncertainty of the cancer journey was another emotional burden for ICs. Waiting for diagnoses or witnessing treatment’s effects generated fear and anxiety about the future.

The research also highlighted the transformation of the IC’s role and the dynamics of the caregiver-patient relationship. ICs often transitioned from being partners or family members to full-time caregivers. This shift could strain the relationship and create vulnerability.

Feeling forced into the caregiver role and dealing with practical responsibilities, such as wound care, added to the emotional burden. ICs frequently felt ill-equipped to handle these responsibilities.

Additionally, caregiving often led to a loss of the IC’s own identity as they became consumed by their relative’s needs. This loss of identity could also be linked to changes in the patient’s personality due to pain or treatment side effects.

The study also explored the sources of support for ICs. A strong social network that provided practical and emotional support was invaluable. This included understanding employers who allowed flexibility, friends and family members who offered assistance and even support from healthcare professionals.

However, not all ICs were fortunate enough to have this support network. Some felt isolated and struggled to ask for help or define their needs. The research emphasized the importance of both emotional and informational support, including education about practical aspects of care.


Understanding the challenges and needs of informal caregivers supporting individuals with head and neck cancer is a critical step toward providing them with the necessary support. This research sheds light on the emotional and practical hurdles these caregivers face and underscores the importance of preparedness for caregiving.

As the healthcare community continues developing interventions and support systems, it’s essential to consider the insights gained from studies like this. By addressing the specific needs and challenges of ICs, we can enhance their ability to provide the best possible care to their loved ones while safeguarding their own well-being.

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