Kansei Experience: Aesthetic, Emotions and Inner Balance

Kansei Experience: Aesthetic, Emotions and Inner Balance

Ben Salem (Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands), Ryohei Nakatsu (National University of Singapore, Singapore) and Matthias Rauterberg (Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-553-7.ch008
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We propose that Information and Communication Technology should deliver a new experience to the user. We call this experience Kansei Experience. To deliver it we advocate the reliance on a new computing paradigm called cultural computing. Within this paradigm, we develop the concept of Kansei Media and how it could be implemented via Kansei Mediated Interaction. Kansei Media is about sharing implicit knowledge such as feelings, emotions and moods. We aim for a Kansei Experience, rendered by Kansei Media, which relates to reality, and enhances it to enlighten the user. To do so we investigate the aesthetics of the experience we wish to produce. Finally, to develop the concept of Kansei Mediated Experience we refer two cultures (Western and Eastern) and use famous stories from both as means of delivering guidelines for the implementation of Kansei Experience.
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We spend a significant amount of time interacting with Information and Communication Technology (ICT), using mobile phones, desktop computers, game consoles and so on. As a result, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) nowadays has shifted its approach from a focus on the computer, originally a scarce resource, to a focus on the user, and the merging of information and communication technologies. It has evolved into being about the user and what an ICT system can deliver to him/her. We are convinced that now is the time to look further and assess the user gains, from ICT usage, in terms of experience and affects. Thanks to Cognitive Informatics (CI), there has already been some work in this area with the study of the user internal information processing of the brain (Wang, 2007). CI has focused on the relationship between information, computer science and mathematics on the one hand and neurobiology, cognitive science and psychology on the other hand (Wang, 2003). CI studies the way ICT users process internally information. However there is no strong emphasis on the experience user gain from such processing. We would like to go further, as we believe there is now a need to address the affects such process has on ICT users. There is a need for an experience that stimulates and triggers some cognitive functions with a strong affect their beholder. The most relevant cognitive functions, in this context, are: reflexes, sensations, thoughts, dreams, emotions, moods, and drives. These functions can be ordered according to their life-span (see Figure 1, note that this is a simplified description of these functions). The functions at the short end are triggered and running before we become aware of them. The functions at the other end are what make us ourselves and we are aware of them most of the time via introspection and retrospective analysis. As for the cognitive functions in the middle range, these are the functions that we are mostly aware of while they emerge in our mind and then disappear.

Figure 1.

Familiar cognitive functions duration: from seconds to a lifetime

We have used this simplified list of functions during the implementation of a new interaction we have proposed called Kansei Mediated Interaction (KMI). That is because these cognitive functions are strongly associated with different systems in our body (brain, spinal cord, somatic system, autonomic system, endocrine system, and genetic system in Figure 2). In turn, these links help us design the right interaction (challenges, stimulus, body intakes, behaviour, sex in Figure 2) through various body parts and control systems. To achieve KMI, we have proposed to implement the user interface interaction using a combination of channels and medias exploring these links between cognitive functions and body systems (e.g. narrative, actuators, drinks, day long event in Figure 2). In this example we focus on the implementation of KMI within entertainment systems.

Figure 2.

From human control mechanisms to entertainment [CNS: Central Nervous System, PNS: Peripheral Nervous System] (from Salem et al., 2006).

Our conviction of a need for ICT usage to be an enriching experience, an experience that yields positive affect, better feelings and enhanced inner balance, implies the re-focus of HCI into the user experience and the fulfilment of his/her needs, requirements and desires. Within this view, Salem and Rauterberg (2004) have proposed a Needs Requirements and Desires (NRD) model, where the user is at the centre, and all needs requirements and desires radiate from it. It is an egocentric, egoistic and hedonistic model. In this model, needs relates to the essentials, requirements to the necessary and desires to the optional. The fulfilment of user needs have been addressed with ergonomics, and the fulfilment of user requirements with applications and interface designs. We believe the user desires has been somewhat poorly, if at all, addressed. A good start would be a different user interaction principle.

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