[HCI] Emotional Design

Finished reading Don Norman's Emotional Design this weekend. This is less a review, more of things I found interesting and didn't already know.

One interesting project he mentions is HP's Audiophotography. The basic idea is to have photographs that also have an audio track, which records the sounds that take place right before the photo is taken. (p52)

Norman also makes the argument that cupholders are an important aspect of automobile design, claiming that some people purchase particular automobiles because of the cupholders. He also describes how a certain industrial-strengh vacuum cleaner has cupholders built on top of it. Makes you wonder how far you can push this idea. PCs with cupholders (or was that the CDROM drive)? Couches with cupholders? iPods with cupholders? (p72)

An interesting perspective I've never heard before is that professional equipment tends to be far simpler to use than consumer equipment, because professionals know what features are really needed and which are not. "Tools made by artisans for themselves all have this property. Designers of hiking or mountain climbing equipment may one day find their lives depending upon the quality and behavior of their own
designs." (p82)

Norman also takes a foray into the world of consumer robotics, discussing the need for emotional design here. (Interestingly, I just started reading Dune for the first time, and just read about the Butlerian Jihad, which resulted in the banning of intelligent computers). He also mentions the Mori Valley, which suggests that the closer things are to being lifelike, the more they need to act lifelike, otherwise engendering extremely negative feelings. Or in other words, people seem to be more accepting of non-human robots, but have greater expectations (and stronger potential negative responses) to human-like robots. (p174)

The last point is a humorous take on the common operating system concept of deadlock. Here, you might have a bunch of independent robots that are waiting on one another, stuck in the familiar "deadly embrace". (p182)


I ask the servant orobot to bring me a cup of coffee. Off it goes to the kitchen, only to have the coffee robot explain that it can't give any because it lacks clean cups. Then the coffeemaker might ask the pantry robot for more cups, but suppose that it, too didn't have any...The dishwasher would ask the servant robot to search for dirty cups so that it could wash them, give them to the pantry, which would feed them to the coffeemaker, which in turn would give the coffee to the servant robot. Alas, the servant would have to decline the dishwasher's request to wander about the house: it is still busy at its main task-- waiting for coffee.

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