User-Centered Design Evaluation by Application of Biofeedback Technologies
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 Desgin, Galvanic Skin Response, Design Evaluation, Biofeedback
Prof. Tsai Lu Liu
Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Design, Auburn University
Graduate Student, Department of Consumer Affairs, Auburn University