Affective Surface Engineering for Product Design

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: Design research, sensation and perception, hard metrology, emotional functions, semantics, surface roughness, product interaction, core values, total appearance… the list of scientific phrases never ends. Yet, what do they mean and how shall we use it when we are communicating with the industry and our end users? Is it possible to link the product experience to process parameters, put a number onto it? When you can measure spoken needs or even better, implied needs, of a product, and relate that data to the production, it is possible do create advanced products with high interaction stimuli.


By joining engineering sciences (hard metrology) with design science (soft metrology) correlations between customer’s product experience (emotional functions) and surface properties (technical functions) can be established.

The research briefly handles an optimization process where the framework from Kansei Engineering (KE) is used to evaluate the semantics issues primarily regarding materials and functional surfaces of products. The basic idea is that; the stakeholder’s experience shall be observed already at the phase of ideation in the product development process, which then facilitates the project (in regard to the total appearance) later on when a concept reaches the production stage.


The results presented in this thesis are carried out through a number of case studies together with the industry. The main result and aim of the research is a developed robust approach that links emotional functions with technical functions, which in the next step facilitates the improvement of the total appearance of a product.


Nevertheless, it should be recognized that research is not yet complete. It is an iterative process, which confirms that the loop of the method needs to be complete. The developed method is a toolbox with the fundamental tools and workshops to facilitate the correlation process mentioned above, however the packaging of the final step in the method is not yet complete. The future research outlook will focus on the “independent industry implementation” where the method is used by the industry by guidelines only, thus without researchers support.

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