Interaction Vision: Expressing and Identifying the Qualities of User-Product Interactions

DS 69: Proceedings of E&PDE 2011, the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, London, UK, 08.-09.09.2011

Year: 2011
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Pasman, Gert; Boess, Stella; Desmet, Pieter
Series: E&PDE
Section: Creativity in Design Education
Page(s): 149-154


o unlock an iPhone is just one example of a quality of an interaction that contributes to the phone’s user-friendly, playful and innovative character. However, envisioning such qualities in a early stage in the design process proves to be difficult for many design students, who have been primarily trained to think of a product in terms of appearance and functionalities rather than interactions. To support students in making the important conceptual leap to the more abstract level of interactions, a technique called “interaction vision” was developed, which builds on the general creative principle of using metaphors as containers to carry over concepts from one situation to another. It starts by identifying an event unrelated to the context being designed for, in which the desired character of the interactions manifests itself in a unified way. This character should then be expressed in one short textual statement. Subsequently, this statement is to be explored using various means and media to bring out the specific qualities of the interactions that make up for it. As a final step these qualities are then to be transferred to the particular design context at hand and translated into actual design qualities, such as form, material, texture and colour. The main value of this technique is that it makes students consider the experiential effects their designs should have rather than the functions they should support. By looking for these effects in situations other than the one they are designing for, they are able to explore and analyse them without being limited by the restrictions of their own design context. A potential danger, however, lies in applying the metaphorical situation too literally, resulting in the transfer of functionalities or appearances instead of feelings and interactions. This paper discusses the merits and pitfalls of the interaction vision technique, specifically in light of a workshop, which was conducted to have students (a) explore various means for expressing an interaction vision, and (b) investigate how an interaction vision can be used to generate product ideas. The set-up of the workshop is explained and its results are presented and discussed from an educational perspective. If anything, the workshop made clear that using a variety of media, such as images, sound and movies, to express the desired character of the interactions, facilitates a successful transfer of this character to a new design situation as well contributes to the richness and creativeness of the overall design process.

Keywords: interaction design, generative metaphor, creative techniques


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