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Towards a Sensory-Emotive Domain for Digital Industrial Design Tools

Bahar Sener

This paper explores the desirability of using sensory feedback (e.g. sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) to enhance the three-dimensional (3D) form creation capabilities of digital design tools used by industrial designers. It is contended that sensory information can be used to positively affect designers' emotions during form creation, and that such a 'sensory-emotive' relationship is presently under-exploited in digital design tools. The work is taken from a wider research project to investigate designing and modelling, in which a principal aim is to discover users' needs for digital industrial design tools of the future.

A series of designing-and-modelling experiments are reported, in which different kinds of sensory feedback and interactive experiences associated with three contemporary modelling media (conventional computer-aided design (CAD), workshop-based blue foam, and FreeForm virtual clay modelling system by SensAble Technologies, Inc.) are revealed. The results show clear differences between the modelling media.

The results are combined with the findings of two complementary creative sessions, leading to some practical proposals for constructing a sensory-emotive domain for digital industrial design tools, whilst acknowledging the opportunities and restrictions of state-of-the-art affective computing technology. It is concluded that the presence of a sensory-emotive domain will enrich both designers’ form creation experiences (through increased pleasure, intimacy, captivation and engagement) and outsiders’ form evaluation experiences (through improved realism, expression and communication).


sensory-emotive, designing, digital design tools, CAD, Haptics