Digital Technologies and 4D Customized Design: Challenging Conventions With Responsive Design

Digital Technologies and 4D Customized Design: Challenging Conventions With Responsive Design

James I. Novak, Jennifer Loy
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2838-8.ch018
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Digital design tools are rapidly changing and blurring the boundaries between design disciplines. By extension, the relationship between humans and products is also changing, to the point where opportunities are emerging for products that can co-evolve with their human users over time. This chapter highlights how these ‘4D products' respond to the vision laid out three decades ago for ubiquitous computing, and have the potential to enhance human experiences by creating more seamless human-centered relationships with technology. These developments are examined in context with broader shifts in sociocultural and environmental concerns, as well as similar developments being researched in Responsive Architecture, 4D printing and systems designed to empower individuals during the design process through interactive, parametric model platforms. Technology is fundamentally changing the way designers create physical products, and new understandings are needed to positively guide these changes.
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Human Evolution In A Digital Era

There is an argument that the biological mechanisms that have governed human evolution for 3.5 million years have been disrupted by the development of human cognition and cultural behaviors, overwhelming natural systems, and resulting in what is termed “Human Evolutionary Stasis” (Powell, 2012). The suggestion is that humans have the ability to collectively circumvent the challenges they may otherwise face as individuals, and that this is impacting the biological evolution of the species as a whole.

The human organism is a paradigmatic case of ontogenetic adaptation: thanks to an enormously flexible cognitive and behavioral repertoire, including the ability to acquire and transmit cumulative (intergenerational) cultural adaptations, humans can survive and reproduce across a wide range of otherwise hostile developmental conditions. (Powell, 2012, p. 150)

Yet the impact of technological development on early learning and ontogenetic adaptation could be argued to be challenging the idea of a stalled evolution of the species. If human evolution is seen as referring to its adaptation to the complex systems in which humans operate, then human development in a technological age is evidenced by the ability of each successive generation to adapt more quickly to evolving digital systems:

Gen Y have grown up in a world of rapid technological advances affecting the way they learn, their approach to knowledge acquisition and the forms of interaction between themselves… as a result of their techno-dependency and the fact they are accustomed to using computers and Internet to perform any given task, Gen Y has formed unique characteristics and competences… (Petrova, 2014, p. 525)

As the pace of technological innovation increases, there is a tendency to assume that humans will continue to adapt cognitively to keep pace, yet, as suggested by Al Gore, humans will soon be in a situation where their cognitive abilities are surpassed by their own inventions:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Stasis: A state in which there is no action or progress.

Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing): A process of producing three-dimensional forms directly from 3D computer data by depositing material layer by layer. This is in contrast to subtractive manufacturing, whereby material is removed from a solid piece of material to reveal the final object.

Ubiquitous Computing: The concept of embedding computing capabilities into any ordinary object, in any location. May also be known as “pervasive computing”.

Ontogenetic: The entire sequence of events influencing the development of an organism.

Industrial Design: A profession responsible for developing the form and function of physical products, traditionally for the intention of mass production.

Generation Y (Gen Y): People born between approximately 1980 and 1995.

Internet of Things (IoT): Extends the concept of ubiquitous computing by adding the element of the Internet, allowing objects to communicate with each other or the cloud.

Human-Centred Design: An approach to design where the user remains at the forefront of all design decisions, resulting in solutions that are more in tune with user needs.

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