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 (Griffith University, Australia) and Jennifer Loy (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9624-0.ch001
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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:

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