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Methodologies to Design Products that Influence the Minds of People


Unit Name:
Innovative Product Design Methodology
Unit representative:
Associate Professor Junichi Hoshino, Faculty of Engineering Information, and Systems

Unit members:
9 (9 faculty members, no postdoctoral fellows, none from other organizations)

Key words:
Product design, entertainment, sensitivity-related science, economics, biological information engineering


     There have been significant changes in manufacturing around the world in recent years, as indicated by the advancement of smart media, such as the iPhone, and social networks. What technologies and development methods are required for Japanese products and services to lead the world? The research unit “Innovative Product Design Methodology” aims to create new academic and industrial fields by integrating engineering, design, and sensitivity-related science.

Integration of art and engineering

     Our research unit was created because of interactions among individual researchers specializing in art and engineering. We thought that the integration of art and engineering may help establish new styles of manufacturing.

    Bubble Cosmos, an entertainment system, is one of the creations from the early period of our collaboration (Figure 1). A large number of soap bubbles filled with smoke come out from a water well-shaped box, and colorful images are projected on them. When the bubbles are touched, they display another image and make different sounds. Audio-visual media technologies evolved soap bubble play into a sophisticated version, which was enjoyed by people of all ages and nationalities at exhibits around the world.

Figure 1: Bubble Cosmos - Soap bubble play evolved using audio-visual media technologies

Figure 1: Bubble Cosmos – Soap bubble play evolved using audio-visual media technologies

Products to enrich people’s minds

     Entertainment systems, including Bubble Cosmos, do not only enrich people’s minds in daily life. They may also play important economic roles by providing new products and services. However, no methodology for designing entertainment systems has been developed, and the designers of these systems have to rely on their own sense. One reason is that the process of designing an entertainment program is also required to focus on pleasure and amusement, or values associated with the feelings of people (emotional values), in addition to visible objects and purpose-specific functions (functional values). With the aim of developing methodologies for designing products that influence the feelings of people, the research unit was established, which consists of researchers specializing in art, engineering, and sensitivity-related science. We also plan to incorporate the viewpoint of sensitivity-related science, including bioinstrumentation and organization management, and develop new product design methods to increase the competitiveness of products at an international level (Figure 2).

    The University of Tsukuba has a collection of bones from approximately 120 people who lived in the Neolithic period excavated from remains located in Northeast Iran (Figure 4). The research unit conducts isotope analysis of these bones to further examine the ancient civilization and society.

Figure 2: Development of new product design methodologies

Figure 2: Development of new product design methodologies

Social contributions and achievements
● Development of a new academic discipline unique to the University of Tsukuba by integrating engineering, design, and sensitivity-related science / Aggregation and expansion of findings obtained from studies that have been conducted separately
● Publication of research findings for education on content engineering and product design to nurture young leaders who will play important roles in these fields around the world

(Interviewed on November 11, 2013)

Research Administration/Management Office at U Tsukuba TEL 029-853-4434