Telepathic product design for water conservation

DS 87-1 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 1: Resource Sensitive Design, Design Research Applications and Case Studies, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Ramaswamy, Naren; MacDonald, Erin
Series: ICED
Institution: Stanford University, United States of America
Section: Resource Sensitive Design, Design Research Applications and Case Studies
Page(s): 169-178
ISBN: 978-1-904670-89-6
ISSN: 2220-4342


Can a product that reads the user's mind behave more efficiently and eventually train the user to conserve? Here, as a first step to answering this big question, we present a design method for telepathic products applied to the case study of a kitchen faucet. The case study is used to illustrate the different steps of the design method: (A) Build cognitive empathy and define cognitive styles; (B) Define design requirements, articulate variables that will control performance, understand limitations and design physical product; (C) Design the machine learning algorithm, inputs, and outputs; and (D) Integration and refinement. This work-in-progress report highlights the intricacies of applying adaptive machine-learning behavior to physical products performance in the "real world" rather than to a website or device such as a smart phone. Interesting findings include that automatic response, typically associated with websites and phones, is not possible with plumbing as water cannot be instantly at the right temperature; and that cognitive styles indeed manifest in dish washing observations, with distinctly different styles in terms of patience, temperature sensitivity, and laziness.

Keywords: Human behaviour in design, Ecodesign, User centred design, Case study, Design methods


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