2013   |   Master Graduation Project   |   Coached by Joep Frens

mock up prototypes Some of the mock-up prototypes from the case studies

In this research-through-design project, we investigated how to design for attachment. To counter the trend of increasingly shorter product life spans in current digital-physical products, we investigated whether we can design products in such a way that they make their users more attached to them.

We hypothesized that the digital products could continuously adapt to the user, affecting all product aspects: appearance, interaction, functionality and content. Such adaptations might result in a more unique object that matches the particular use of the individual and has traces of the shared history. If the adaptations are both physical and digital, this would decrease the transferability of the adaptation and would give more value to the actual objects itself.

A video describing the aims of this research project

In a search for which product qualities might result in a stronger emotional bond between user and product, we performed a series of case studies: design iterations and different types of physical-digital hybrids (mp3 players, cameras and e-readers). We used the insights from the case studies to describe four particular qualities of the adaptation – ‘elements of attachment’, as we call them. These elements are:

  • ‘Knowing each other’: the product can make the interaction personalized, by offering personalized short-cuts or by making subtle changes in pressure or handling of product result in different interaction outcomes.
  • ‘Creating focus’: the product can suport more specific and goal-oriented functionality by enhancing often-used features, and by forgetting about lesser-used functionality
  • ‘Sharing memories’: the triggering of recollection of shared experiences between user and product, through marks on the product.
  • ‘Reflecting identity’: the changing appearance of the product can make the product more unique, and can express the connection between user and product to other people.

case study on camera's Some of the mock-up prototypes from the camera exploration, and the analysis of product qualities within these conceptual camera’s that might increase attachment.

To demonstrate their use, we used the four elements as guidance in the design of a new mobile phone concept, called FLEX. The research has been presented at the 2015 DesForM conference.


Last update: March 2018
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