Last week I presented my thesis essay on adaptive products to my colleagues and fellow students at Carnegie Mellon. Today I’d like to share it here in hopes that it will reach a wider audience of people who are interested in the topic.
Adaptive Products: Designing for evolution through use
Designers use various methods to better understand their intended users and create products that are useful, usable, and desirable. Unfortunately this research usually focuses only on the present. When users and contexts change products can lose these qualities, causing unforeseen and undesirable consequences. I’m interested in how products can evolve through use and investigate this idea by exploring three concepts: product, to understand what is changing, autonomy, to appreciate people’s individual and collective involvement in the process, and adaptation, to learn how evolution happens and how designers can enable and encourage it.
Products hold profound influence over people’s behavior and experiences. Because of this, designers have an obligation to anticipate possible future contexts and allow people the flexibility and freedom to make modifications as needed. Adaptive products employ an evolutionary strategy and a flexible architecture to allow for changes while maintaining a cohesive whole. This can be done through “layers of change,” modular components of a product that can evolve at different rates of speed. Evolution can happen on a micro scale in the context of an individual but also at a macro scale as designers facilitate and engage with user communities.
Download: my thesis essay [PDF 307K]
Download: the essay presentation [PDF 3.1MB]
# February 03, 2007 04:18 PM