Profile image for Sonja Pedell

Dr Sonja Pedell

PhD, The University of Melbourne, Australia; Psychology, Technische Universitaet Berlin, Germany


In 2021 I was promoted to Professor at Swinburne University of Technology. I currently lead the Swinburne Living Lab, the oldest accredited active Australian member in EnoLL, the European Network of Living Labs. The Living Lab has core development capabilities in innovative socio-technical systems and design solutions for “Wellbeing and enjoyment for whole of life,” achieved through co-designing solutions for enriching everyday living of marginalised groups. Those with technical expertise and lived experience together co-design meaningful products, services and experiences in their environments that people readily adopt. I conduct evidence-based research and evaluate the effectiveness of these products, services and experiences which enhance wellbeing.

My research is conducted with many different user groups including older adults, culturally diverse groups, homeless people, people with low income, and people living with chronic illness or dementia. My research expertise includes human-centred design methods, co-design, and scenario-based design, the design of engaging technology, robotics, and the theoretical modelling of motivational goals for design development. My research contributes extensive knowledge of human-computer interaction (HCI), design and research methods to the teaching of digital media, experience and communication design. Previously, I completed a Masters of Psychology from Technical University of Berlin (Germany) and was employed as an Interaction Designer, Usability Consultant and Product Manager in industry (Siemens Corporate Technology, Munich and Siemens Audiological Technology, Erlangen, Germany) for several years.

As Director of the Swinburne Living Lab, I work closely with local industry and non-for-profit organisations (i.e., Boroondara Council, City of Casey, Dementia Australia, Access, Health and Community, Uniting Age Well and healthAbility). I collaborate with 8 other Living Labs (4 international). With our industry Lab partners, I connect user networks and community groups to explore ideas, get feedback and evaluate products, technologies, services and space design at large scale. For example, COTA (Council of the Ageing) has 60,000 members in Victoria; Access Health and Community provides services to 350,000 residents in three councils.

Recent projects include 

  • New ethnographic and co-creative methods developed with marginalised users;
  • Emotion–led technology design;
  • Design of innovative assistive technologies to support people living with dementia (with Dementia Australia, 2017-2019);
  • Technology-supported group activities including the development of programs for robots, iPads, and Xbox Kinect (with City of Wyndham, Microsoft, Federation Square, City of Boroondara, 2011-2021);
  • Well-being app ‘A Better Visit’ co-created with older adults living with advanced dementia distributed via the app store and involving games and music (Dementia Australia, 2016-2018);
  • AR app: Home modifications to support fall prevention (2015-2017);
  • Audio-based technology for older people affected by age-related blindness (2014);
  • Innovative personal alarm development for older people to feel cared about (Smart Services CRC, 2012-2014).

Research interests

Agent-Based Systems; Software Engineering; Allied Health Design; Service Design; Strategic & Transformative Design: Service Design and Socio-Technical Systems; Design for Aging; Interaction & Experience Design; Human-Computer Interaction; Human-centred Design

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.


Available to supervise honours students.

Fields of Research

  • Interaction And Experience Design - 330310
  • Human-computer Interaction - 460806
  • Public Participation And Community Engagement - 330405

Teaching areas

Health Promotion;Social impact;Data Visualisation;Human Computer Interactions;Allied Health Design;Ergonomics and Aesthetics Design: Cognitive Models;Public Good Design;Strategic & Transformative Design: Health


  • 2023, Swinburne, School of Design and Architecture Outstanding Researcher Award, Swinburne University of Technology
  • 2022, Other, Victorian Premier's Design Award, Victorian Government
  • 2016, Swinburne, Deans Award Outstanding Researcher School of Design, Swinburne University of Technology
  • 2015, Swinburne, Deans Award Outstanding Researcher School of Design, Swinburne University of Technology


Also published as: Pedell, Sonja; Pedell, S.
This publication listing is provided by Swinburne Research Bank. If you are the owner of this profile, you can update your publications using our online form.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2023: An innovative digitally enabled intervention to reduce depression in home-based aged care *; ARIIA Grant Program
  • 2023: Co-designing and co-evaluating technology experiences in residential care *; ARC Discovery Projects Scheme
  • 2023: Co-designing toolkits for community engagement - City of Casey (2023) *; Casey City Council
  • 2023: Codesigning processes to improve technology service provision for aged care *; ARC Linkage Projects Scheme
  • 2023: Improving Quality Use of Clinical Care Systems in Australian Aged Care - Translating Contemporary Evidence into Practical High-Quality Implementation *; ARIIA Grant Program
  • 2022: Animating the WellFamily’s Health Service Demands (healthAbility) *; Nillumbik Community Health Service Ltd (Healthability) Fund Scheme
  • 2022: Co-design toolkits for community engagement - City of Casey (2022) *; City of Casey Fund Scheme
  • 2022: Codesign training for Parliament of Victoria staff *; Parliament of Victoria Fund Scheme
  • 2022: Developing brand and brand toolkit for Casey Living Lab(Master Class briefs) *; City of Casey Fund Scheme
  • 2021: Co-designing toolkits for smart city and future housing (Master Class briefs) *; Casey City Council
  • 2021: Creating an engaging animation about the Child Health Teams for Industry *; Access Health and Community
  • 2021: Data Visualisation *; City of Casey Fund Scheme
  • 2021: Revising the A Better Visit App *; Dementia Australia Ltd
  • 2020: A national network of living labs for the aged and community care industry *; Digital Health CRC
  • 2020: Exploring emerging innovation for new product development *; Scope_PT
  • 2020: Innovatively improving social participation, community communication and information dissemination *; Global Community Resourcing
  • 2020: Maturing design-led innovation processes with motivational models *; ARC Discovery Projects Scheme
  • 2020: Workshops to co-create feedback tools for clients *; SoundFair Fund Scheme
  • 2019: Co-creating engaging animations with and about the Child Health teams in Community Health *; Access Health and Community
  • 2019: Discovery User Research on the City of Boroondara Website *; City of Boroondara
  • 2019: Evaluating Future Services of Uniting AgeWell with older adults *; UnitingAgeWell Fund Scheme
  • 2019: Social prescribing framework *; Access Health and Community
  • 2019: Toolkit to co-design with older adults in residential and community setting *; UnitingAgeWell Fund Scheme
  • 2018: The Digital health and wellbeing project: Training Package and Evaluation *; Boroondara City Council
  • 2018: The Digital health and wellbeing project: User test *; Boroondara City Council
  • 2017: Dementia-friendly communities: Living together – watching out for each other *; Boroondara City Council
  • 2017: Investigating the influence on co-design on the role of designer (Fan Art) *; VILLAGE CINEMAS
  • 2017: The AccessHC family: a branded series of characters and animations for staff training, patient education and engagement *; Access Health and Community
  • 2017: Using animation for envisioning the Primary Care Centre Concept *; Access Health and Community
  • 2016: A better visit project: Creation of four social tablet-based game apps for enabling people living with dementia *; Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria
  • 2016: Catering for individuals’ emotions in technology development *; ARC Discovery Projects Scheme
  • 2016: Future Self and Design Living Lab Project: Designing the Waiting Room 2020 - an exploration of supportive innovative health services for the community. *; Inner East Community Health Service
  • 2015: Technologies for Wellbeing of the Ageing Population *; Visiting Researcher Scheme
  • 2014: New Financial Services *; Smart Services CRC
  • 2012: Personalisation *; Smart Services CRC

* Chief Investigator