User-Centered Design Evaluation by Application of Biofeedback Technologies

By Tsai Lu Liu and Whitney Skinner.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Industrial design is a process of creating, selecting, and refining product ideas to meet user needs. Designers are trained to generate a plethora of concepts which must then be evaluated toward final solutions. Through design evaluation, designers use various methods to screen out less attractive ideas so that the final result best meets the users’ needs. User-centered design evaluation helps to minimize the guess work for designers by gathering the user’s feedback throughout the product’s development, thus helping to minimize the risk of product failure.
Currently, there are many design evaluation methods used to measure user attitudes toward designers’ concept sketches, models, or prototypes. These methods capture conscious responses users make in evaluating designs. During the capturing period, the users’ real time responses are filtered to designers through the communication process, which contains many inherent problems that are difficult to avoid, such as bias and misinterpretation.
Biofeedback technologies, used by psychologists for years, can provide objective results for design evaluation. The Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) uses a psycho-galvanometer to measure the resistance of the skin to the passage of a very small electric current. The magnitude of this electrical resistance is affected not only by a persons’ general mood, but also by a person’s immediate emotional reactions. The results from a GSR session are records of the internally experienced emotions that a user cannot communicate consciously or physically through other evaluation methods.
This paper introduces the findings of an experiment that facilitates GSR as a design evaluation method during the development and refinement phases of a consumer electronic product design. The evaluation results are compared to the existing evaluation methods and suggest pursuing GSR as a design evaluation technique as well as the need for further experimentation.

Keywords: Industrial Design, Galvanic Skin Response, Design Evaluation, Biofeedback

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.45-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 880.195KB).

Prof. Tsai Lu Liu

Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Design, Auburn University, Alabama, USA

Tsai Lu Liu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Design at Auburn University. Liu is graduated in 1985 from the Department of Industrial Design of National Cheng Kung University of Taiwan. After working for a year as a corporate identity designer in Taiwan, he went to Georgia State University and received a MBA degree in Marketing in 1990. Liu went to Auburn University and completed the graduate study of industrial design with a MID degree in 1992. He then worked for three years as a product designer and marketing manager for Design Principles, a product development firm in Huntsville Alabama. In 1995, Liu went back to Taiwan and started working for several manufacturers managing product design and corporate marketing. His teams developed and introduced several new game machines, toy cars, and computer servers to the international market, some of which are still on the market today. In 2002, Liu started his own company designing and producing adaptive products for disabled children. A series of special chairs, tables, and rehabilitation products were marketed to hospitals, schools, and to families with special needs children in both Taiwan and Australia. In 2004, Liu returned to Auburn University as a member of the faculty of industrial design.

Whitney Skinner

Graduate Student, Department of Consumer Affairs, Auburn University, Alabama, USA

Whitney Skinner is currently a PhD student in the Department of Consumer Affairs at Auburn University in Alabama. Skinner completed a Bachelors of Environmental Design in 2003 from the School of Architecture at Texas A&M University and a Masters of Industrial Design in 2006 from Auburn University. Her current studies in consumer behavior blend her design background and a desire to better understand the consumer. She will complete her doctorate in 2009.


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