Translational Products: The Affective Responses to Changing Physicality | Master of Science in Design Thesis
This study examines the affective responses to changing physicality. Many products exist that have both physical and nonphysical versions, each serving the same purpose to the user. The author has coined these types of products as translational products. The questions posed in the study are: Which perceived and actual product attributes and affordances are gained and which are lost as understood by the user when using either version or both? What are the design and market implications? The literature review provides an understanding and a vocabulary from which to begin. The understanding of product ownership and user satisfaction is generally based on physical products, but with today’s evolving technology where a greater number of services and products are non-physically based, a further understanding is essential. Using the grounded theory approach, the author surveys, observes and interviews participants who are experienced with various translational products to quantify and qualify the tendencies of the user perceptions. The attributes considered in this study fall under the general terms of meaning and usability, more specifically sacrifice, preservation, emotional signifier / personal, social, multimodal interaction, convenience, permanence and safety / comfort / control. The result of this study indicates that whether perceived or experienced, the participants find differences between physical and nonphysical versions of the same product. Physical and digital medical records, books, music, instruments and gaming environments are examined and researched. Useful to the design process, tendencies and discrepancies about the perceived attributes of translational products are discovered. In addition, this study provides methods to identify design opportunities for physical and nonphysical products to function symbiotically.
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