Design with

emotion

— What?

This product aims to provide a personalized atmosphere to relieve stress.
Sensory stimuli is used to support the user in their actions, enabling them to get away from daily concerns and demands.

„We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food-laden, sleep-deprived, frenzied pace of modern life. “
 

Stephen Ilardi, TEDxEmory

— Why?

In the present time, we do not have to cope with life-threatening situations on a daily basis, as our ancestors did. The main cause of our stress is our response to psychological triggers, not to truly life-threatening events. Psychological threats are
very individual, based on experiences, coping mechanisms, values, and beliefs. As modern life gets more fast-paced, pressured and complex, the more psychological triggers can be added to the list.

01

Mood and Emotions

One of the fundamental functions of the product is the ability to interpret the mood of the user. Therefore, it is essential that we establish a better understanding of how the product may receive this information.

There are at least two distinct strategies that help us to identify emotion/mood.

Mood indication - Products that allow users to indicate their moods in order to provide social context to their thoughts or status.

 

Mood detection - products can detect a user's mood through physiological data in order to enhance the emotional experience or put the user in optimal moods.

Human pleasantries 

MOOD INDICATION

AI emotion analytics

MOOD DETECTION

Too Good

to Be True

Physiological responses do not necessarily reflect the current state of mind. The same thing occurs with speech, behaviour and facial expressions which are commonly used for emotion recognition. The belief that we can determine how people feel based on how they act is controversial. The technology can detect a smile or a frown, but that is not the same thing as feeling true happiness or anger.

Even though mood detection sounds very promising, it is not the most reliable or ethical solution. Should we assume mood from bodily reactions? Should we allow products to act on these assumptions? 

All things considered, the most appropriate solution is to let people evaluate and indicate their own emotions/moods. 

THE COMPLEXITY OF HUMAN EMOTIONS

INDICATION SYSTEM

The system was generated using four mood extremes which were then linked to a respective colour. These four colours are positioned on each end of the x- and y-axis.

This connection between colours and emotions is not universal, but it is a good starting point. It is expected that the user might use the colour wheel as a guide to find their prefered mood.

This whole interaction is almost like tuning a radio.

Music as

a hotline

By now, it is clear that scent and memory are closely linked in similar fashion music seems to act as a hotline to human emotion.

How is that possible? As mentioned previously, emotions can be communicated through speech, facial expressions and movement. We use these cues to inform our behaviour during interactions with other people. We can recognize patterns in speech and movement, we notice the difference between a chirpy voice full of energy and a whisper filled with concern. 

Music has similar qualities to human interaction. For instance, music could be perceived as sad because of the commonalities it has with the prosody of sad speech (low pitch, low volume, slow, dark timbre).

It is important to recognize that the way how we access and store music has changed. We are no longer purchasing records or CDs as physical objects – the majority of people are more likely to download music or stream music online. In order to access the music, the device has to be able to connect to music streaming platforms (iTunes, Spotify). 

Scent as

a journey

Even a very pleasant scent can be too powerful and intrusive. Furthermore, continuous exposure to the aroma fatigues the sense of smell - which means that the user is no longer able to notice its presence. Therefore, it is advised to design scent as „a journey with silences and crescendos in both time and space “. (Henshaw, 2018) 

Another source of reference were existing products. Most of the customizable scent devices use a system where the aroma capsule is recognized by the device. This could be done with a recognition chip, RFID connection, or a barcode reader. In some instances, the device can also track the lifetime of the capsule, notifying the user when to replace it. This may be achieved by simply tracking the ‚time in use‘ of each capsule.

The light

switch

what is quite unique about this concept is the unconventional format. Rather than following a more traditional format of a portable device, the product is secured just like a light switch.

Perhaps a subtle reminder to 'switch off'.

The play on a switch is emphasized even more by mimicking the interaction (the on/off motion).  This is achieved by mounting the product on a hinge. The change in position triggers the projection which can be aimed in either direction (up or down).

Final design

THE ATMOSPHERE

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