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Title: Advanced personal telecommunications : systems and industrial design
Author: Bull, Karen.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3508 5719
Awarding Body: University of Central England in Birmingham
Current Institution: Birmingham City University
Date of Award: 2004
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The thesis focuses on the industrial design role against a backdrop of the technological and business development of advanced personal telecommunication products - defined within this thesis as System Orientated Products (SOPs) - and systems. SOPs are becoming functionally and visually sophisticated but offer less physical feedback to users in relation to purpose, operation and value. The thesis argues that if designers are involved early during development they may enhance commercial success, help teams to explore user issues, and strengthen user empathy with individual devices and task environments. The literature review explored industrial design, models of product development, and user issues associated with SOP development (SOPD). Findings suggest that industrial design is characterised by lateral and experience-based problem solving activities that can expand understanding of design opportunity and end-user knowledge. Product development teams, in contrast, support different specialist interests, and therefore, it is harder to maintain a collective user focus. This is illustrated within linear models of the design process, defined by the Design Methods Movement in the 1960s, and early generations of the innovation process described by Rothwell (Dogdson and Rothwell, 1994), where the introduction of expertise is staged according to development activities. Since the 1970s more integrated and user-centred models (e. g. Quality Function Deployment or integrated New Product Development) have supported collaboration during development. The review concluded that it would be positive to organise SOPD around collaborative, user-centred goals. A qualitative case analysis of industrial design activity during SOPD added to the literature review and the development of guidelines that outline a designer's optimal involvement during SOPD. Five case interviews were conducted with development specialists in the UK to compare development activity. Participants included engineering manager Larkin, and industrial design specialists Berry, Desbarats, Hohl, and McBrien. It was concluded that designers rarely adopt specific SOPD strategies, but support development teams with wide-ranging experience and problem solving abilities, and help to focus user requirements. A design process model is proposed that positions the Industrial designer as an integrator of design knowledge within development teams when clarifying design briefs. Implemented as a web-based design tool and co-ordinated by the designer, it supports an evolving knowledge base for development teams. Evaluation of the tool involved implementing a simplified e-mail version with development specialists. An industrial designer was asked to explore a specified design opportunity, then an engineer and an ergonomist responded to the emerging data. The exercise was repeated with a similar sample of specialists to compare data entry patterns. Data analysis suggested that the tool would offer an open and unrestricted platform for developing a brief, and encourage broader exploration of user requirements. The research conclusions highlight the exponential development of SOPs over the last decade, and the rapid response made by the industry to new and emerging technologies. This made it difficult to prove objectively the research hypothesis. However, conclusions suggested that opportunities exist for broadening industrial design contribution within SOPD in light of the clear shift from a technologically led, to a user- experience- and context-driven approach, reinforced by collaborative and multidisciplinary practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available