Perceptive Qualities in System of Interactive Products

Eva Deckers's Ph.D. (CUM LAUDE), 3rd May 2013

Thesisnews at TU/e

This doctoral project investigates whether and how to design for perceptive qualities in systems of interactive products from a phenomenological point of view. It sets out to form and frame a new perspective on designing an artefact’s intelligence from a quality- and action-centric approach, rather than a functional approach. Artefacts and the systems they create become increasingly intelligent and disappear to the background of our environment. How do we understand all these intelligible connections that systems create in our environment when they are invisible and highly flexible? Moreover, how do we design for such systems of intelligent and interactive artefacts? I am convinced that if we want to design for successful intelligent systems that are perceptible to and evolve around its user, the artefact’s intelligence has to build on the direct interaction with its user(s). It is shown that, by designing for perceptive qualities, the system’s activity becomes meaningful to its users. Moreover, the user activity becomes meaningful to the system in the course of the interaction.

The work is inspired by and directly synthesises from theory. The theoretical starting point and the generated design-relevant knowledge, in the form of design notions, are a leitmotiv through this work. Three main chapters are structured around this connecting thread. In each of these chapters, designing plays an essential role. The first chapter follows a minimalist approach in context and in implementation to bring forward fundamental knowledge for designing. The second chapter investigates the added value of the generated knowledge for designing, and a step is made towards design practice. In the third chapter, a third-person perspective corroborates the first-person approach and findings. It is crucial that these three chapters feed into each other to inform, inspire and validate.