Pogue's article indicates that the camera will be available by mid-April. I impatiently ordered one from Japan, where it was released at the end of March. I should have in hand in a few days, so stay tuned...
Following up from my posting on the Size China presentation at last year's Connecting '07 IDSA national conference, Metropolis magazine has a feature article on Roger Ball's research effort to create a digital database of head anthropometrics for the Asian market. Sizing Chinadiscusses the inspiration and rationale of the project, its technical challenges ("Aside from chasing chickens out of the scanning room, the Size China team had to battle with time"), and the surprising findiings:
Ball had initially assumed there would be a correlation between head sizes and eye, nose, mouth, and ear sizes, which would allow him to create a series of facially featured average Chinese heads. After scanning several thousand subjects he discovered that there is no correlation between the zones of the face at all: “You could have a very large head, very tiny eyes, and a medium mouth, or a tiny head, very big eyes, and an average mouth,” he says.
One of the positive side effects of blogging is that people contact me with various, relevant issues such as career advice, research questions and help with finding references. I occasionally get very specific human factors questions as well.
But today I go the oddest question. It was from a car dealer who I do not know. I have removed the name and contact information for anonymity, but here is the word-for-word email:
im the Business Manager with the Local Ford Dealer.
My questions is...is there away to swap the position of the the brake and
accelator pedals in 2008 Ford Focus, we have a Tech, who's aunt wants a new
Focus and needs the pedals swapped!!
Im hoping you can help or point me in the right direction.
I responded that I did not think it was a good idea, and probably not legal to do so. Anyone know otherwise?
A little late notice here, but in a few weeks, Arizona State University is hosting a weekend symposium (April 11-13, 2008) on the state-of-the-art in design research:
"This event is initiated and organized by students from the Master of Science in Design and PhD in Environmental Design and Planning programs in an effort to facilitate learning about design research in the context of academic and professional practice. Crafted to maximize interaction, the symposium will include plenary sessions with ample time for conversation, as well as afternoon workshops to deepen understanding of specific methods and topics. The intended audience is anyone who is curious about the practice of research within the context of design."
Some of the more interesting sounding topics include:
The schedule and list of speakers from academia and industry is provided in the conference flier PDF.
While Dan Saffer's forthcoming book Interactive Gestures: Designing Gestural Interfaces is not out yet, you can download and read the first chapter. Aptly titled "Introducing Interactive Gestures", Saffer covers the recent and formative histories of direct manipulation interfaces, as well as key definitions, and relevant usability/design issues in an approachable manner.
The chapter is readable, while still providing appropriate references to human factors principles and technologies. If you're new to the world of gestural interfaces, this is a great place to get an overview of the field. If you're already knowledgeable, this is a useful refresher, and you might learn some new terms like "iceberg tips" (touch points that are larger than they visually present).
I did spot one point of dispute. In his explanation of affordances (p. 30), Saffer refers to James Gibson as a "cognitive psychologist". While Gibson was a psychologist, his theories of perception were actually contrary to the cognitive movement - Gibson posited a theory of direct perception where information is perceived without the need for any intermediating mental interpretation (i.e., cognition). A more accurate label would have been "ecological psychologist" - but since that's not a school of perception known by most people, simply "psychologist" would probably be best.
Forgive me for being academic.
Here's the full scoop on the Design Research focus at the upcoming IDSA Northeast district conference in Philadelphia. The district conference runs from April 4-6, and the two-part design research part will take place on the morning of Sunday, April 6th:
If you have any questions, please contact me directly at email@example.com
Deconstructing Product Design: Exploring the Form, Function, and Usability of 100 Amazing Products is now available for pre-order. William Lidwell's quasi-sequel to Universal Principles of Design (my all-time favorite design book), promises to be just as enjoyable and valuable with a balanced format of evidence-backed information and clear visual descriptions. Looking forward to its near-term release (is it me or are lots of good things scheduled for a March launch)?
*Updated (3/17) - Author William Lidwell has informed me that the March publication date that Amazon has been listing may be premature. I'll let you know when I know of a more accurate date. But you can still pre-order.
Coming Soon: Nothing Between You and Your Machine (New York Times) discusses the recent trends in direct manipulation interfaces in consumer products. The popularity of the Nintendo Wii and the Apple iPhone are in large part due to their intuitive user interfaces that utilize physical manipulation to give users a more direct feeling of control. The re-emergence of voice control as a potential interface medium is also discussed. The overall shift away from the point and click paradigm may be finally happening:
“I’ve wondered for a long time why the computer interface hasn’t changed from 20 years ago,” said Austin Shoemaker, a former Apple Computer software engineer and now chief technology officer of Cooliris. “People should think of a computer interface less as a tool and more as a extension of themselves or as extension of their mind.”
Call for Entries and Judges
The Product Design Technical Group (PDTG) of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society is again sponsoring a competition for its User-Centered Product Design Award. The award will emphasize both product design and methods used to specify and achieve the design. Emphasis will be placed on innovative and user-centered approaches to Human Factors and Industrial Design.
The nominations should be submitted in electronic form by a human factors professional. Detailed submission requirements, including the submission format, are shown on the PDTG website at http://pdtg.hfes.org. More information concerning PDTG and previous User-Centered Product Design Award winners appears at the PDTG website.
The deadline for submitting nominations is April 25th, 2008. Nominations should be submitted electronically to Dianne McMullin at Dianne.L.McMullin@boeing.com.
The winning product/system will be recognized at the 2008 HFES Annual Meeting in September, 2008 and the awardees will be asked to present a talk on the product and methodology. The awardees will also be expected to submit a paper to “Ergonomics in Design” within two months of the meeting.
An award selection committee consisting of a panel of judges drawn from the PDTG membership will evaluate the submissions. Judges may award multiple winners or a combination of winners and honorable mentions. Judging will be done by a predetermined systematic process and will take place in June.
For more information or to volunteer for the award selection committee, please contact Stan Caplan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first issue for 2008's volume of the journal Ergonomics is focused on the future of the field. While an academic or professional subscription is required to access the volume, the lead article, Bartlett and the future of ergonomics, is available for free online.
The article takes a retrospective look at Sir Frederic Charles Bartlett's 40+ year old predictions on the future of ergonomics, which were surprisingly insightful and accurate:
"Bartlett predicted that developments in automation and communication technologies were likely to present a significant challenge for Ergonomics. Specific predictions he made seem to derive from overall anticipated changes in working activities, and research foci, as a result of the new technologies. These were:
- greater physical isolation of individuals;
- greater demands on technologically-mediated communication;
- reductions in physical workload;
- increases in mental workload;
- combining of the work of several people into the work of one;
- presentation of multi-modal stimuli;
- greater emphasis placed upon decision making; and
- shorter working hours and more leisure time."
The article closes with a look at more recent predictions made by ergonomists, as well as design research practitioners:
"Fulton Suri (2001) proposed the adding of 'empathy' to the armoury of the professional ergonomist. She saw challenges arising from an ever widening field for the application of ergonomics, from resolving conflict between the commercial goals of organisations and the societal goals of maintaining human values and from trying to influence how systems are designed and operated. Fulton Suri saw the role of the ergonomist as being one of a centrally positioned facilitator of effective solutions through being more empathetic to the needs of all concerned."
Beyond this lead article, the content of the special issue contains articles on future ergonomics trends taken from the present context, presented by a range of international experts. If these experts are nearly as accurate as Bartlett was about the future, then this is clearly worthwhile reading.
On a related note, the Human Factor & Ergonomics Society recently published an article, On the future of ergonomics, based on a survey of their members. It includes estimates of the ergonomics job market across a number of relevant fields and industries.
According to author Stephen Wilcox (Chair of IDSA Human Factors section), ethnographic research is now common in medical device development. The majority of this research is of course, qualitative, and primarily focused on identifying opportunities:
"Much so-called ethnographic research—perhaps most of it—is designed simply to generate ideas, that is, to stimulate creativity. Inevitably, when members of device-design teams go into the field and see directly how their devices and other devices are used, it generates insight and stimulates new ideas."
But there is another type of ethnographic research that is as much about the validity of findings as it is about generating ideas (Sidebar: simply put, in research, validity refers to the degree that you are actually measuring what you are intending to measure). Typically validity is associated with quantitative measurement based methods such as performance testing. But Wilcox suggests several ways to increase validity in ethnographic research including careful sample selection, quantitative measurement and objective data recording. This more robust approach to ethnographic research comes with a price:
"conducting such research is difficult, time-consuming, and, frankly, expensive, in comparison with the idea-generation type of ethnographic research."
It's unlikely that most organizations will be able to accommodate all of the steps necessary to conduct highly valid ethnographic research - especially since many are just getting into the practice of doing any field research regularly. But Wilcox's recommendations should really be taken as best practices for conducting any type of user research effort (whether validity is an explicit intention or not). For example, making sure that the "sample accurately reflects the population of interest" is a fundamental research planning step. The deeper challenge when addressing validity is knowing what you know - for example determining whether your sample is truly representative.
The February MD&DI issue also contains an article on considerations for designing medical devices for home use, and another article on integrating human factors into the medical device development process.
Finally, for a less technical, down to basics overview of ethnography, see Design Meets Research, from GAIN, AIGA's journal of business and design.
"If you don't get the magazine from the Rotman School of Management, you're making a mistake."
-Bruce Nussbaum, Assistant Managing Editor, BusinessWeek
Nussbaum's admonition is used by the University of Toronto to promote its business school magazine, but strikes me as oddly worded, or faint praise. As if reading the magazine was avoiding a mistake, but nothing beyond that (e.g. informative, stimulating, etc). Which is too bad, because it's actually an interesting, well presented periodical, with an emphasis on design and its relationship with business.
The current issue, Winter 2008 (recent issues are available as PDFs), espeically, may interest design researchers and designers. Of particular note, Jane Fulton Suri of IDEO authored Informing our Intuition - Design Research for Radical Innovation (p. 52 of the PDF/p. 54 of the print magazine). Like many design research articles targeted at business readers, the content is heavy on definitions and clarifications of terms - for example the differentiation between quantitative and qualitative research:
"...effective research is not just about analysisof objective evidence – there isn’t any directly applicable data anyway; it’s also about the synthesis of evidence, recognition of emergent patterns, empathic connection to people’s motivations and behaviours, exploration of analogies and extreme cases, and intuitive interpretation of information and impressions from multiple sources. This type of approach is now often referred to as ‘design research’ to differentiate it from purely analytic methods."
The Winter issue also contains several articles related to applying 'design thinking' in the context of business. And the Idea Exchange section consists of about a dozen, brief Q&As with thought leaders around the theme of thinking. Ultimately the domain content only goes so far - an experienced design researcher is unlikely to learn much about his/her own field - but it's useful for understanding how to relate and communicate to the business world.
Rotman also walks the walk on design, with strong visual presentation and readability. You could of course, read/print the PDF versions online for free, rather than paying the $99(Canadian) subscription fee, but given the elegance of the format and the relevance of the content, perhaps you'd be making a mistake.
If you've taken a standardized test you may recall analogy questions. For example, if the problem posed was air:airplane :: _______:ship, a reasonable solution for the blank would be water (apparently this notation is called the Aristotelian format).
I started thinking about analogies after reading Carl Alviani's recent Coroflot posting - Questioning the Cult of the Sketch. The article challenges the common view that strong sketching, or drawing skills, are critical for a designer, especially in the context of judging whether to hire a designer. Alviani quotes a Creative Director at Nike: "A designer who can't sketch is like a journalist who can't write!". Alviani's point is that sketching, which has traditionally been table stakes in the design industry, is now just one of many design-related skills - and arguably not one of the most important ones, compared to other forms of communication, management, etc. A great designer need not be a great sketcher.
This got me thinking about the analogous skill to sketching in the design research field. That is, what skill is considered so fundamental to conducting research that it would not only be possessed, but well-honed in experienced design researchers? I made an initial, incomplete list:
To narrow this down, I focused on those skills that had characteristics which were most analogous to sketching: early in the process, raw/unrefined, driven by personal interpretation and feel. This led me to settle on a consolidated grouping of observing, interviewing and note-taking, that collectively we can call field research skills.
Now, turning back to Question the Cult of Sketch, can a great design researcher lack great field research skills? I would think not - there is a critical distinction from sketching here - field research skills are intrinsically broader and multi-disciplinary relative to sketching. One might be a weaker note-taker, for instance, but still excel with effective interview questions (and a good memory).
But perhaps Alviani and I are both asking the wrong questions because we are inwardly focused. A more fitting question of the modern designer is - can you conduct research to inform your designing, and of the modern researcher - can you design to communicate your research results? Otherwise expressed as research:designer :: design:researcher*.
*See Christopher Fahey's Design Research is a Design Process for an interesting perspective on these issues.
Last week I had the privilege of serving on the equipment category jury for the 2008 I.D. Magazine Annual Design Review (to be published this summer). By way of background, I.D. has been conducting an annual review of the best designs for over 50 years. This is something I had wanted to do since I read the magazine as a teenager (perhaps that says as much about my social life as my interest in design, but anyway). Besides equipment, there are a range of categories including consumer products, interactive design, furniture, environment and graphics. Consequently, the selected winners are not only considered the best designs, but represent the state of the art in each category.
Given my background, I saw my responsibility as focusing on the ergonomic aspects of each of the nearly 50 products we reviewed. My sensitivity to usability was heightened by staying in a New York hotel room the preceding night where the temperature controls were reversed. Unable to get my $300 room warmed-up, I later found out that, due to some technical fluke, I had to set the control to cold to activate the heat. This also meant lowering the thermostat to below the current room temperature so that the "cold" would switch on.
Fortunately, it turned out that my co-jurors who are designers/design teachers had as much to say about human factors, as I did about aesthetics. By its nature, the equipment category tends to evolve gradually, compared to the more dynamic year-to-year changes of interactive or even consumer products. The Annual Review issue will be published in a few months, so I can't go into details on the entries at this point (see the 2007 Annual Review for reference), but by participating in the judging process, I did learn or confirm some principles about what makes a successful entry.
The judging process is based on expert review and consensus - in other words the criteria changes from year to year based on the expertise, opinions and criteria of the particular judges in each category. At the same time, the nature of the judging process - one full day of going through a large number of entries - suggests the following to submitters:
1. Treat the Entry Process Like a Design Project: Successful designs meet the needs of their users. In this context, the users of the entry forms are expert designers and their tasks are to relatively quickly review and classify submissions. Design basics like appropriate use of typography and visuals to communicate information quickly and effectively are critical (one would think this would go without saying). In other words, given two hypothetically equal design submissions, the one with the well presented, visually structured entry may get more attention than the scribbled one. This may mean going above and beyond the constraints of the entry form, where appropriate.
2. Communicate to a Naive Audience: While jurors are experts in design, they can come from a range of industries and backgrounds. The equipment category in particular, includes a variety of complex, technical products that may be unfamiliar and require explanation. Explanations should include a scenario to describe when, how and why such products are used. In some cases, videos can illustrate usage with a demonstration or simulation. Similarly, it is valuable to explicitly communicate why a particular product is an improvement over competitor or predecessors, as jurors may not be knowledgeable of particular domains.
3. Link the Product to the Greater Design World: Jurors are not only looking at the inherent strengths of a particular design, but how it fits into the current, changing design world (re: my earlier comment about the Annual Review representing the state-of-the art). Consider that two well-designed products from completely different fields need to be compared against each other - broad, less tangible factors such as symbolism of emerging design trends, or benefits to society and the environment may come into play. This is not an easy area for the submitter to address, but I suggest considering the ramifications of a design to the field of "Design", as well as a product's specific users and industry.
I look forward to discussing the Annual Review issue when it comes out.
February's issue of Mechanical Engineering is focused on the role of human factors in design. The lead article, the new point of view, discusses the renewed importance of human factors in product design, with a veritable who's who of IDSA experts in the subject, including Don Norman, Rob Tannen and Bryce Rutter.
The article is a useful introduction targeted at an engineering audience, and covering the wide range of human factors aspects, from physical fit to creating an emotional connection with the end-user:
"More than ever, successful companies incorporate human factors engineering, psychology, and cognitive theory in designs. Their goal is nothing less than to create a user experience that makes us love the product."
The issue also contains a focus on use - an article on the importance of collaboration between designers, researchers and engineers in creating usable products, and a video of a human factors discussion panel moderated by Don Norman. Accessing the video requires filling out a brief registration form.
Finally, ME magazine is clearly putting its money where its mouth is, by launching the human factors articles in conjunction with a nice upgrade to it's web site design.
Simultaneous with the first ever Interaction Design Association conference, IxDA founder David Malouf has an article on Core77 - Interaction Design and ID: You're already doing it...don't you want to know what it's all about? He makes the important and valid point that embedded technology requires an understanding of interaction design by IDers. The article provides a high-level overview of interaction design - it's not just about digital design, as his own examples from Motorola illustrate.
Malouf advocates that Industrial Designers need to increase their understanding of interactivity, for example to understand and design for interactions that change over time:
"So if product designers are facing a deluge of interaction design challenges (and they are), why is such poor attention being paid to bringing interaction design into the fold of the industrial design community?"
He then goes on to advocate several useful resources for interaction design, including schools, books, and organizations (like IxDA).
I found this article touched very close to my own experience. I am a member of both IDSA and IxDA, which is probably not too rare, although I went against traffic by going from working primarily in interaction design to now focusing on industrial design. In fact, a key driver of my current position was to bring interaction design and usability expertise to a predominately industrial design based firm, So with that all said, I appreciate where Malouf is coming from.
At the same time, I found his article one-sided - certainly its publication in Core77 suggests a largely ID audience, and Malouf does recognize shortcomings on both sides (ID and IxD):
"interaction designers lack access to traditional and formal general design education and training, and industrial designers lack any formal education and practice of interactivity"
But the clear message is that Industrial Designers need to get their stuff together around interaction design. I wonder if the reverse message is getting through to interaction designers - I would guess not likely. Why? In a word - specialization. Time constraints and project complexity require collaborative, multi-disciplinary teams to solve design problems effectively. There is overlap between ID and IxD, just as there is overlap between these disciplines and architecture, but overlap and awareness are not the same as proficiency, and certainly not efficiency across multiple design disciplines.
Neither IDers not IxDers "lacks access" to the training of the other, but there are skill sets that are separate and specific to industrial design as there are for interaction design. In the near-future, I would expect to see "domain designers" who are focused on multiple aspects of a given product category (e.g. mobile devices, automobiles). Such "hybrids" would have deep knowledge of ID, IxD and other relevant methods for their particular field, but at the potential loss of discipline knowledge beyond their particular field of specialization. I see this already in the difference between the analogy bases of consultants versus long-time internal/corporate designers.
Also, while Malouf criticizes last year's IDSA conference for a lack of emphasis on interaction design, he should have also mentioned that there was a great ID/IxD collaboration simultaneous with the conference put on by the San Francisco chapter of IxDA - INTERSECTION: Where Interaction and Industrial Design Meet (attendance was definitely skewed towards the interaction designers, but I represented).
For another interesting perspective on the same topics, I suggest reading Carl Alviani's Hacking the Physical Wolrd: What we taught software designers, and what they're trying to teach us.
And finally, a request to the IxDA. The daily volume of thought provoking IxDA discussion threads is impressive - but I'd love to see an innovative solution to help me (and I imagine I am not alone) more easily find content of interest without having to go through so many messages each day.
In my recent article on emerging trends in design research, I intentionally left off the field of neuroergonomics. While it is a growing field, I don't see it becoming commercially viable for several more years. Moreover, it is a fascinating area deserving of it's own posting (or several).
To begin with, the term neuroergonomics represents the merge or overlap of neuroscience and ergonomics/human factors . In other words, how a better understanding of brain functions can improve human factors methods and tools.
A primary research area within neuroergonomics is the application of neuroscience-based technology to the study of ergonomics. Neuroergonomics: The Brain at Work, published in 2007, is a surprisingly accessible and readable collection of chapters covering these technologies, which include relatively familiar ones such as EEG and MRI, and others from the medical field. While such technologies are robust, they can be impractical for real-world applications.
Other methods, while less precise, may have promise for measuring brain activity in less obtrusive ways. For example, transcranial doppler sonography (TCDS - think weather radar for your head), uses localized sensors to measure cerebral blood flood as a potential correlate of workload or stress. For example, higher bloodflow in certain parts of the brain may indicate that the user is working harder to complete a task. Imagine having such a TCDS sensor embedded in a car or cockpit to evaluate if a driver was mentally overloaded and required assistance. For more information on TCDS, see a video of the work being done at the University of Cincinnati (from the dept where I did my grad work, incidentally).
Much of the work in neuroergonomics is at the level of basic research - determining the validity, reliability and practicality of applying such technologies to real world problems. Consequently, the focus tends to be on high-level human factors variables such as attention, workload and stress. Applications to more "everyday" product design problems are further down the road, but probably not as far as you might expect.
Of course, I've barely scratched the surface of the field of neuroergonomics. For more information, I highly recommend the previously mentioned book. You can also check out Raja Parasuraman's work - he is one of the leading researchers in this domain - including this introductory overview.
High-speed video and photography is getting a lot of attention these days. This month's Wired Magazine summarized the history of high-speed photography, from the work of Harold Edgerton to the recent use of lasers to capture images with shutter speeds of 300 x 10-15 seconds!
(also see last year's article on The Ultimate High-Speed Photography Kit).
And just last week, Vision Research, makers of commercial-grade high-speed cameras, announced the Phantom V12 (inset photo), capable of recording one million pictures per second.
But from a practical point of view, the most intriguing news is the Casio Exilim Pro EX-F1. Due in March for an estimated $1000, this camera brings high-speed photography and video to the digital prosumer market. Several unique features include:
In addition to these impressive capabilities, the camera offers some novel user interaction feature such as a buffer to pre-record images prior to the shutter depression, allowing room for error when trying to capture a quick event; and Slow Motion View to review real-time events in slow-motion on the cameras LCD via a buffer. And of course...stereo recording : ) All of these features are exciting from a gizmo geek's perspective - and there are plenty of reviews and videos from CES.
But there's a tremendous opportunity to apply this technology to product design. Specifically, I will be using the high speed burst mode and high speed digital movies to capture motion during rapid manual tasks - such as the use of a construction tool, surgical instrument or mobile device keypad. Extending visual perception to micro-seconds is likely to reveal interesting sub-patterns of movement and orientation that are overlooked or invisible at a standard time-scale. Moreover, it introduces a new perspective on observing physical behavior that expands user research capabilities - at least as far as the presumably massive file storage and power needs of this unique camera will take you.
Some bad news/good news regarding the forthcoming LiveScribe Smartpen that I had discussed in December. The bad news is that the pen will not be available in January as had originally been communicated, but now in March - although pre-orders are supposed to happen prior to then ($199 for 2GB model).
On the good news side, LiveScribe has released more detail about the Smartpen including technical specs, features and videos. The most newsworthy feature announced is the stereo recording capability which can be done via dual microphones built-in to the pen, or via earphone-based microphones. In the past I have talked about the value of stereo recording in user research. But microphones worn on the ears take this a step further, by allowing binaural recording, which is actually more veridical then conventional stereo. In other words, recordings made with microphones positioned on the ears will sound much more realistic in terms of sound space, relative loudness, etc., compared to two stereo microphones on the recording device itself - sort of the auditory equivalent of visual 3D. This definitely takes the pen further past the tipping point for me in terms of desirability.
I recently came across a great article by James Arnold of The Ohio State University
Big Ideas: A History of Field Research in Industrial Design in the United States is one of several papers from 2005's International Conference on Design Research.
Arnold succinctly traces the emergence of research methods and outputs in the ID process over fifty years. Four "eras", roughly a decade each, are used to map out the growth and maturity of design research - from its beginnings out of human factors and marketing, to its modern visibility.
The article includes a detailed table of the key people, methods, products and methods from each of the four eras. Arnold also notes the rise of user research methods in IDEA award winning products - although its arguable whether such products won due to design research, or just represent a standardization in the modern design process (or both).
Really interesting stuff for those in the field to understand your roots.
Several of the upcoming district conferences have their 2008 web sites up - content still in progress, but expect them to fill out every the next few weeks. Online registration is open on some of these sites as of this posting.
You can see a list of all the IDSA district information on the IDSA site.
Specific information regarding conference content related to human factors and design research is TBD, but please send me any info that you know of at this time.
Plans are moving ahead for the Design Research Portfolio Review at the Northeast district conference. While still being refined, the plan is to have a two-part program:
One of the best, but perhaps lesser known online discussion groups amongst designers is AnthroDesign, as in Anthropology & Design. The group, which was originally made up solely of anthropologists, has grown to include a range of interests from corporate, academic, non-profit and consulting design/research worlds:
Membership is permission-based.
One of the most challenging aspects in conducting medical ethnography/observation for design research is constructing a complete and accurate task analysis. Breaking down a complex surgical procedure into logical sub-tasks typically requires rigorous observations over multiple sessions, detailed video review and validation from subject matter experts.
Constructing hierarchical task analysis in surgery*, which was published in the January 2008 issue of Surgical Endoscopy, provides a high-level description and concrete example of the process for creating a hierarchical task analysis in a surgical context. Click on inset image for a process diagram from the article.
*Note - accessing the full article requires a paid subscription, or the individual article may be purchased for $32 - then again there's always the library.
On a somewhat related note, New Scientist reports on the development of surgical training simulations for the Nintendo Wii:
"Now they are designing Wii software that will accurately simulate surgical procedures. A training platform based on the console, which costs about $250, might be more practical for trainee surgeons in the developing world..."
For designer/researchers, lower cost training simulators may provide a way to simulate or test prototype surgical tools in the design process.
Even if you don't design aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration's Human Factors Design Standard, is an invaluable (and free) reference for design practitioners.
The complete design standard is large (10MB) and comprehensive - "an exhaustive compilation of human factors practices and principles" - but it provides succinct and tactical, evidence-based information. For example, concerning touchscreens, fourteen specific guidelines are given for button size, labeling, position, dead space, etc, but the need to test with representative users is also recommended to keep these rules grounded in reality.
In 2007 the FAA added draft updates related to interface design, including displays and non-keyboard input devices (e.g. mouse, joystick, touchscreen).
A brief, anonymous survey form is required to download the Human Factors Design Standard (HFDS). Once past that, you may download the entire document or any of the 15 individual chapters or drafts, ranging from Alarms, Audio and Voice to Anthropometry and Biomechanics (a particularly strong section of the document).
Sparsely, but appropriately illustrated, the HFDS gives the actionable guidelines that so many product designers and students are desparate to find in a single location.
PS - Experimenting with larger font size for better readability on recent posts.
While I was not able to attend the Consumer Electronics Show this year due to other work commitments, all reports indicate that it was bigger than ever. As expected, a number of high performance, high definition videocameras were announced, featuring researcher-friendly capabilities including larger capacity hard drives, image stabilization and greater optical zoom ranges. I'm somewhat partial to the new JVC Everio line from a styling point of view, especially the top of the line GZ-HD7.
"collection of easy-to-use electronic modules that snap together to build any gadget you can imagine. Each BUGmodule represents a specific gadget function (ex: a camera, a keyboard, a video output, etc). You decide which functions to include and BUG takes care of the rest letting you try out different combinations quickly and easily. With BUG and the integrated programming environment/web community (BUGnet), anyone can build, program and share innovative devices and applications. We don't define the final products - you do."
In other words, a set of modular consumer electronics components that can fit together and then be custom programmed to do whatever the user/developer desires - open source will help with that a lot.
The current set of modules include an LCD display, a camera, GPS and motion detector - all to be released this quarter, with second quarter modules including a touch screen, keyboard, and audio module. Check out some videos on YouTube.
These components represent a promising set of opportunities for user and design research:
The quality of the hardware (e.g. video image quality, motion detector sensitivity) and the ease and flexibility of the development environment will be key of course, but I look forward to the possibilities that BUG may enable for the creative designer/researcher.
In his most recent article in Medical Device and Design Industry, Michael Wiklund discusses the need to thoughtfully design every interaction, or touchpoint. Refined Touchpoints Drive Quality Perceptions suggests that medical product purchasers are influenced by effective, high quality design as much as consumers might be when shopping for a new household kitchen appliance.
Wiklund emphasizes the industrial design aspect of touchpoints with a clear understanding of the influence of materials and mechanics on experience. This makes the article a useful introduction for designers and usability specialists who might lack exposure to ID. For example, his recommendations include:
Key issues covered in the article include the obvious, like buttons and handles, but also less considered, but essential components such as wheels and connectors that can have a strong influence on the perception of design quality. And while the focus is on medical devices, the suggestions are applicable to other product design fields.
The recent update to the DesigningforHumans site was covered in the December 07 issue of IDSA designperspectives. The page 3 blurb, titled "A Blog for Joe and Josephine", briefly describes some of the recent changes to the site.
Here's some additional detail above and beyond what's covered in the article:
I created the original IDSA Human Factors section site in 2000 (!), but at the time it was somewhat of a hassle to keep it current due to the available web editing technologies and it didn’t last very long. You can actually still access the home page circa 2000, although most of the links have rotted: http://www.idsa.org/whatsnew/sections/hfactors/
In January 2005 I restarted the site as a web log (aka blog) format because that accommodates quick entry of short to medium pieces of information that I could update frequently. It also allows people to subscribe to updates via email or RSS feed. It’s been going strong since then with page views increasing by 100%+ in every year since 2005.
A large part of the audience is international and non-IDSA, who use the site for reference info on human factors issues (it’s ranked pretty high for relevant human factor searches in Google and elsewhere)
Wrapping up 2007 and looking ahead to the future, a fitting article from U.S. News & World Report on growth career areas includes Usability/User Experience Specialist amongst its "31 Careers with Bright Futures". The article provides a basic description, salary information and a day in the life, that actually summarizes user research in medical product design relatively accurately in layman's terms:
"You work for a medical device manufacturer that wants to develop a next-generation surgery tool called a laparoscopic laser. You attend a meeting with the CEO and representatives from marketing and finance, who are all debating the product's rough parameters. While you make suggestions and raise questions, for the most part you're a listener. You leave the room with a list of musts, maybes, and questions about the prospective product.
Next, you read up on the current generation of laparoscopic lasers and then observe three surgeons who are using them. You ask questions and take notes about what they like and dislike about it, and how they suggest it should be improved.
You write a report summarizing what you've learned. Then, engineers develop a prototype of the product that comes closest to meeting both the company's and the surgeons' desires.
You recruit and observe surgeons to use the prototype, again asking questions. You make recommendations for changes in the laser. The final product ends up incorporating only some of what you had hoped for, but you still feel a sense of pride for having helped ensure that the new laser will be more effective and pleasurable to use."
And speaking of careers, several recent related job postings have appeared including:
Thanks to all the readers in 2007 and have a happy and safe new year.
I don't believe in "mission statements", but if Designing for Humans had one, it might be "to realize the application of emerging technologies in support of design research". While I discuss various technologies, many are specialized or several years away from general applicability. But I recently learned of the LiveScribe smartpen, and I can honestly say this is a technology that can have a valuable, near term impact for virtually all researchers.
The device is an electronic pen set to launch in the first quarter of 2008. It has several features, but the one that stands out is called Paper Replay. This feature:
"allows total recall... by simply tapping on your notes. When used to take notes during a discussion or lecture, the smartpen records the conversation and digitizes the handwriting, automatically synchronizing the ink and audio. By later tapping the ink, the user can replay the conversation from the exact moment the note was written. Notes and audio can also be uploaded to a PC where they can be replayed, saved, searched or sent."
In other words, the pen records audio in synch with your writing ,and indexes the audio with your writing. As a result, subsequently tapping on a particular written note will play back the audio segment corresponding to the time when the note was written. Still not clear? - then watch the comic-book style demo.
So what does this mean for design research? Well, note-taking is a challenging skill, and typically we rely on a combination of hastily written notes and audio (or audio-video)recordings to document research. The LiveScribe brings these two approaches together in an integrated way, potentially reducing equipment and streamlining workflow.
While the LiveScribe was not designed for user research applications, consider how it might be applied:
The potential paradigm shift is moving from using handwritten notes and recordings as separate, complimentary tools to truly integrated ones. Well, perhaps not paradigm shifting, but damn convenient.
Reality Check: I should caveat that I have not used this product yet directly and am basing my assumptions on what I have read, but expect a full review as soon as it becomes available. Also the pen requires special gridded paper, for tracking purposes. I also wouldn't expect the audio quality recorded on the pen to be of high caliber, which is pretty important.
With that all said, I wouldn't be surprised if the LiveScribe (or a similar product), become a part of the user researcher's tool belt, along with the camcorder, notepad, and granola bar.
In a New York Time's Magazine* Consumed article, Rob Walker discusses the IDEA award winning HomeHero fire extinguisher. The product is notable because unlike traditional fire extinguisher designs, the HomeHero is clearly designed to be attractive . More than just an aesthetic issue, the argument is that making such a product visual appealing will influence owners to place it in a visible and presentable location - thereby improving access and speeding up time to use in a fire. So there's an interesting concept on making products (at least or especially safety products) attractive to promote their accessibility and enhance user situational awareness. [Incidentally, Walker points out that the IDEA judging is not based on direct experience with the actual products, but rather images and descriptions submitted by the entrants.]
On a related point, Walker mentions Don Norman's idea that "attractive things work better". (Incidentally, this is frequently confused with the Aesthetic-Usability Effect where attractive things are perceived as easier to use.) I bring this up because I imagine the HomeHero's simple, clean aesthetic is perceived as easier to use, but I doubt that its perceived to work better. Rather, it may be the case that traditional fire extinguishers, while less attractive in a designer's aesthetic sense, have an industrial appearance that may more strongly communicate effectiveness to the consumer. In other words when we discuss "attractive" or "aesthetic" qualities, we need to qualify what we mean in the appropriate context.
*Incidentally - if you read one issue of the New York Times Magazine this year. This should be it. It's the "Annual Year in Ideas" - a summary of the most interesting and provocative inventions, theories, studies and concepts that emerged in 2007. Everything from an airborne wind turbine to Radiohead's music pricing approach. And the back-page listing of some of the year's strangest patents (e.g. a chewable toothbrush).
2007 has witnessed the continued maturity of user research practices in product design/development organizations. As this continues, we look to 2008 and key areas of growth and change in user research technologies and methodologies. What many of these themes have in common reflects a shift from how to conduct research, to how to manage all of the research findings and results – clearly a positive trend and a nice problem to have. Stay tuned into 2008 as these themes are tracked in further detail.
Even a casual reader of this web log will have observed the ever-growing options in data gathering technologies available for a variety of research applications. For 2008, the themes in technology are diverse – from high definition video to a new resource of anthropometric head measurements of the Chinese population. But the more compelling tools address needs in organizing and analyzing qualitative data:
Design research methods will continue to adapt for studying the wider range of user experiences, beyond the primary product. Frameworks and techniques for mapping out user touch points will assist research planning, which will become specialized to particular domains (e.g. medical vs. consumer). Threading across all of this is the need for guidelines for effective research communication and presentation:
It's getting close to the end of the year, so here's some "house cleaning" - specifically a half-dozen bite-sized items related to user research and design technology that have come up in recent months:
In a nutshell, the cognitive approach assumes that information in the world is ambiguous and cognitive-perceptual processes are required to interpret stimuli into meaningful information. For example, an object is observed through the visual system and the brain uses that stimulation in conjunction with memory to disambiguate and identify the object. This is in fact how most people understand perception to work.
The minority alternative comes from the ecological perspective ("ecological" as in a rich stimulus environment, and not related to sustainable design), which posits that information in the world is specific and sufficiently detailed to communicate information without any interpretation. That is, the visual stimulus is unique and conveys the relevant characteristics to the observer.
This contrast in approaches also emerged in the world of product and interface design over the term "affordance". The term was coined by J.J. Gibson, the father of ecological psychology, to define the relationship between an actor (e.g. human, animal) and an object or environment. For example, a flat surface "affords" sitting on, a pointy one does not. Note that an affordance is a property that exists whether it is perceived or not or acted on or not.
Following Gibson, the term "affordance" was popularized, but also modified in use by Donald Norman, among others, to emphasize the perception of an affordance (rather than the existence of one). In other words, good design is about effectively communicating affordances to the user.
Now a recent article in Design Studies looks at the issue of affordances vs. perceived affordances in a tangible way - by applying those ideas to the control panel of a stereo system. The paper summarizes the theoretical issues that I have attempted to touch on above, and then illustrates how they are applied to controls. While there are not actionable conclusions from this work, it's an opportunity to understand some of the key theoretical issues in perception and design.
Incidentally, ecological psychologists have more fun.
You read that right - a portfolio review for design researchers.
With the growing number of design researchers and the importance of research as a skill for designers, there's a need for guidance on putting together a design research portfolio.
We are in the early planning stages, with the goal to pilot this at the Northeast District IDSA conference in Philadelphia, April, 2008 (district conference web site is not up yet). This would likely be a sub-section of the overall design portfolio, with an emphasis on research methods. The reviews will focus on the quality and presentation of:
It would be open to both students and professionals with work in design research, including designers, human factors specialists, design researchers, anthropologists, etc.
If you are a professional with experience in design research or human factors, and are planning to attend the NE district conference and are interested in serving as a reviewer, please contact me at email@example.com Also, if you have suggestions or examples for the review process, guidelines, etc, please forward those to me as well.
Nothing written in stone yet, so stay tuned...
UPDATE - Conference date has been set for first weekend of April 4-6, 2008.
Several office and furniture design companies provide free, valuable resources on ergonomics for design. I've highlighted two particular examples:
But overlooked amongst these was the news this summer of the Microsoft/Mitsubishi collaboration on a two-sided touch screen. This technology directly addresses one of the critical usability issues with touch screens - the user's hands blocking his or her line of site with the screen. The two-sided touch screen optically tracks hand movements on the back side of the display and mirrors them to the front (see images). It is likely that this solutions solves one problem, and introduces user usability challenges with working "backwards"
Incidentally, this is the first post I've done using the new Windows Live Writer, rather than directly via Typepad's site. Writer provides some nicer features and editing capabilities.
In the range of enumerative design books, Matthew Fredrick's just-published 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School falls nicely between the tangible, utility of Universal Principles of Design, and the theoretical, philosophy of John Maeda's Laws of Simplicity.
101 TILiAS is a pocket sized book that communicates principles of architecture and architectural education and practice through simple explanations, quotes and illustrations. It can be a quick read, but can also be re-read several times, with each of the topics taking roughly between ten and sixty seconds to digest.
While many of the ideas are specific to architecture - for example "How to make architectural hand lettering" (#22) or "Careful anchor placement can generate an active building interior" (#87) - a good number of the topics are directly applicable to other fields of design, particularly industrial design. For example, "Any design decision should be justified in at least two ways" (#18) is a terrific principle, considering some design decisions lack any justification at all. And "Limitations encourage creativity" (#97) is a common way of life in the ID studio. There are also several fundamental recommendations on 3D sketching (e.g. draw hierarchically, use soft lines for soft ideas, hard lines for hard ideas), which are certainly applicable to industrial design sketching,
And even the seemingly more architectural-specific principles can be related to by swapping out "architect" for "designer" as in a pair of my favorite, and quite direct observations:
Above all, Frederick emphasizes the role of process over just following rules and as he elaborates "the design process is often structured and methodical, but it is not a mechanical process. Mechanical processes have predetermined outcomes, but the creative process strives to produce something that has not existed before" (excerpt from #81).
The IDSA Human Factors section site (what you're reading right now), has been reconfigured and renamed. It is now DesigningforHumans.com
All of the previously working bookmarks, links and subscriptions should continue to work as before - you can continue to access the site with the previous URL - http://www.humanfactors.typepad.com/, or the new one. All new links will use the DesigningforHumans.com domain, but will automatically map back to the old domain as well for continuity. Please email me if you experience a problem: firstname.lastname@example.org
The change was made to give the site a more memorable and meaningful identity, but the content and mission remain the same - to inform IDSA members and the overall industrial design community about human factors, design research and usability. The name is a tribute to Henry Dreyfuss' Designing for People, with our obvious slant towards human factors.
The New York City chapter of IDSA is holding a human-centered design workshop on Saturday November 17th at Pratt in Brooklyn. The event will include the following presentations in the morning:
• Usability and Human Factors :: Stan Caplan - Usability Associates
• Using Human Factors resources in product design :: Dan Harel
• Needfinding and interviewing :: Jenna Shanis - Peel Design
• User Interface design and evaluation :: Adam Shames – Design Science
Followed by collaborative group sessions in the afternoon.
Registration costs between $20 and $40 via Paypal links on the site.
A summary report from the service design analysis of the Connecting '07 conference has been posted. The report includes an overview of the service design research and suggestions for improving the conference experience in four areas, Invitation (pre-conference), Orientation (navigating at the conference, Participation (involvement in conference activities) and Memorializing (takeaways following the conference)
Among the key findings and recommendations are:
Download the Connecting '07 Service Design Results
This past week's Businessweek contains an interesting article about the design process at Bang & Olufsen. Bang & Olufsen: Design Reigns Supreme describes what might be called the "great man" theory of design, where design vision takes precedence over engineering and business, and does not include design research. This "model is a throwback to an earlier time when CEOs worked closely with gifted designers to differentiate their products in the marketplace".
While B&O is clearly a leader in aesthetic design of consumer electronics, they have been failing at making the transition to the digital world (e.g. from CDs to MP3s). And it's evident from reading the article that this is partly attributable to the lack of a research process:
"They don't, for example, do even the basic market research ethnography common among consumer-oriented companies. Sorensen says consumers often don't really know what they want. Instead, B&O designers intuit the products that will fly."
Read between the lines and it's apparent that there's a lack of understanding about design research. Ethnography is not about asking consumers what they want, it's about identifying their unmet needs, a very creative process in itself. Later in the article there's a likely example of what happens when you rely on designer intuition:
"Take the digital music player. Even the company's loyal cognoscenti prefer Apple's iPod, with its elegant design and easy interface, to the $460 BeoSound 2--conceived by none other than Lewis in 2002. BeoSound 2 has been, by all accounts, a dud. Lewis says his mistake was not appreciating how quickly digital memory would grow. He figured with 50 songs on a device, the amount the original memory card would hold, consumers wouldn't need a screen to navigate through their music."
Perhaps if Lewis and his team had better understand their user audiences - typically high-net worth music lovers - it would have been discovered that 50 songs was not going to meet their needs long terms and a different design approach would have been more successful.
Of course hindsight is 20/20 and B&O is shifting its focus to bringing in designers who understand the digital world. Unfortunately, it appears that they're still missing the point - they don't so much need new designers, as a new design process.
. Rob Tannen
The release of branko Lucic's forthcoming design fiction book, nonobject has been moved from late 2007 to early next year. This seemingly fascinating book is about:
" deliberately creating objects that cannot exist -- because the material is not yet available, or the business plan, or the manufacturing process, or the infra- structure to support it, or even the human sensibility -- it becomes possible to explore the meaning of design at a more profound level and to think more richly about what is and what might be."
In addition to a penchant for starting proper nouns with lowercase letters, Lucic's four initially available concepts and videos emphasize communication, with two versions of cell phones - the CUin5 (pictured above) and the Tarati (pictured below). I recommend viewing the videos about each of the design concepts before reading further to get a clearer understanding. At his presentation at Connecting '07, Lucic previewed some to-be-released concepts as well including a motorcycle design, which will presumably be available online at a later date.
In the spirit of intellectual/conceptual thought, I started thinking about these nonobbjects for a human factors perspective. One of my first realizations is that while these are conceptual product designs, the concepts that are strongly human-centered. I don't know whether or not ergonomic and usability aspects of these concepts will be discussed in the book, but here's my take with respect to the two phone concepts - based on the limited information currently available:
This concept might best be described as the anti-iPhone. While Apple's device is all about screen size and minimal buttons, the CUin5 is literally all buttons and no display. Multiple sets of numeric keypads are provided on all six sides in different arrangements and orientations. The foreseeable human factors aspects of this include:
If CUin5 is all about maximizing tactile connection with a phone, the Tarati is about minimizing it. A very thin design is accomplished by removing all buttons and replacing them with spaces for the user's finger to pass through while dialing. A dynamic digital display, in conjunction with dial tones, provides feedback on actions. From a human factors perspective, several issues are worth considering:
A brief article in Wired online about the development of medical instruments features the work of Mary Beth Privitera of the University of Cincinnati:
"Privitera said designers could cut training time and anticipate problems by getting involved earlier in the medical design process. But to do that, they have to increase their knowledge of anatomy and physiology by working in the field with doctors."
Mary Beth also presented at last week's IDSA Connecting '07 conference.
(Thanks to Core77 for calling attention to this article).
Given the 140(!) sessions that took place at the 2007 IDSA national conference this year in San Francisco, there's no shame in missing a few sessions. Of course the topics that you really want to see all occur simultaneously, leaving one with a "paradox of choices".
I was most impressed by Roger Ball's Size China: A New World of Ergonomics. Roger is a designer by training and professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic. For the last 18 months, he has been building a database of anthropometric data by digitally scanning over 2,000 Chinese citizens. The project was inspired by the lack of a comprehensive anthropometric database of Asian head and facial features, comparable to what is available for Caucasian populations. For example, most helmets used in China were designed against Caucasian measurements and are ill-fitting due to significant differences in head shape between Asians and Caucasians(see image).
Roger said that his data will be made available for free to academic endeavors by contacting him directly.
Learn more about the project at: http://www.sizechina.com/html/index.html
I was intrigued by this project and interested in potential differences in perceived and reported fit among populations, not due to head size, but due to potential cultural and linguistic variances in what is considered comfortable and fitting. Perhaps some of the presenations on measuring emotion would have helped me address those issues, but like I said, I couldn't make all of the presentations.
I've pulled summaries of some of the key human factors and design research related presentations from the upcoming Connecting '07 conference schedule -but by no means complete nor a subsitute for reviewing the full program yourself:
From Me to You: Designer Connecting to User (Thurs, Oct 18, 2PM-Masonic)
Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck
Although the designer and the user are at opposite ends of the design spectrum, they each have a strong, emotional sense of ownership over a product. The designer thinks the product is his, my baby; the user thinks the product is hers, my thing. The transfer of ownership that happens between the two is what sustains a design process. This is what we will explore with you during our CONNECTING’07 presentation.
Blurring the Boundaries between Anthropology and Design (Thurs, Oct 18, 430PM-Masonic)
Suzanne Gibbs Howard
Today is a good day to be an anthropologist. Anthropologists and other social scientists are in demand by design divisions, marketing firms, advertising agencies, and innovation consultancies. Thanks to the popularity of the “voice of the customer” and the dominance of Human Centered Design, many researchers with a passion for studying people are finding happy homes in the world of design. Suzanne will share stories from her experience working at IDEO to illustrate how anthropologists and other social scientists have been working alongside designers to inspire innovation.
2:00pm - 2:45pm - Thurs, Oct 18-
Crystal RoomHuman Factors Section: Evolving Empathy: Deeper and Wider Design Impact
Jane Fulton Suri, IDSA, Managing Partner and Co-Chief Creative Officer, IDEO; Aaron Sklar, Human Factors Designer, IDEO; Introduction by Stephen B. Wilcox, PhD, FIDSA
The Human Factors Section will present a brief overview of recent developments in human factors and design research followed by a presentation by Jane Fulton Suri of how IDEO addresses human factors.
5:45pm – 6:30pm - Thurs, Oct 18-
CrystalRoomDesigning The Medical Experience
Brian Stonecipher, IDSA, Continuum
All of us have been medical consumers at one time in our lives. Come to think of it, we are all medical consumers a lot of times in this life, whether as patients, family members, caregivers or medical administrators. Moreover, we are spending more and more time in a medical environment because the medical environment is no longer just a hospital or a doctor’s office. It can be one’s home, office, or even car. As the medical environment transitions from the hospital to the home (or car or office) new considerations come into place. A high level of usability is key. Human error can cause illness or even death. Sound, well thought out design is imperative. How would you describe your last medical experience as a medical consumer? Were you scared? Confused? Positive and confident? What was your environment? How did this affect your comfort level as a patient or caregiver? In this presentation I explore how Continuum develops an understanding of the perceptions and emotional needs of all types of medical consumer in all types of environments – and how we use those findings to design products that deliver a better experience.
2:00pm – 2:45pm, Fri, Oct 19th, Fairmont
Size China: A New Worldof Ergonomics Roger Ball, IDSA, Hong KongPolytechnicUniversity
Size China.com has created the first ever digital database of Chinese head and face shapes. Most current consumer products such as sunglasses, motorcycle helmets and hygienic facemasks are designed for western head and face shapes and, as a result, do not fit Chinese people properly. Size China.com will solve this problem by creating practical, sophisticated design tools for industries that need to create the next generation of perfect fitting products.
4:30pm – 5:15pm, Fri, Oct 19th, Fairmont
Seeking a Shared Understanding of Design Research
Marty Gage, IDSA and Spencer Murrell, IDSA, lextant
Over the past decade, companies have made big strides toward integrating disparate disciplines into a seamless product development process in order to shorten time to market and improve outcomes. Yet the relationship between research and design remains less mature than that between engineering and design. This presentation will describe how to effectively integrate research and the social sciences with cross-functional product development teams. A shared team experience will provide a foundation for breakthrough ideas and real-life solutions that can be commercialized as quickly as today’s economy demands.
4:30pm – 5:15pm, Fri, Oct 19th, Fairmont
The Art and Science of Measuring Emotion
Laura Richardson, M3
Design brings together aesthetics and the bottom line, experience and strategy, emotions, and data. Every consumer has a different emotional history toward a product and its brand, whether or not the product is familiar. Yet once the user begins to test a given product, he relates through a series of conscious or subconscious assessments. He examines the product’s utility and usability, its task efficiency, controllability, challenging features, ergonomic properties, etc. The product may meet the user’s usability assessment, but fail in its emotional appeal, a second layer of assessment based on five categories of relation: surprise, instrumental, aesthetic, social, and interest. Finally, once product acquisition and initial inspection have passed, the user moves to product attachment, that is, its emotional afterlife. Product attachment can also be perceived by imagined use of the product and what the user aspires to become by using the product. A substantial body of work has been performed around emotional usability and engagement. Research to date has hinged on three primary measurements – the use of facial expression, the use of metaphor, and the use of emotional terms. Laura Richardson, director of design research for M3, has developed a new perspective in examining users’ emotional responses. She has developed an “emotion engine” and an “emotion timeline” as part of her analysis.