The objective of this project is to establish a conceptual design methodology--Extreme Experience Design (EED)--that stimulates innovation of breakthrough products by engaging designers in extreme experiences as part of concept generation. Extreme experiences expose the designer(s) to modified physical usage environments (e.g., moisture or noise) or altered means of interacting with the product physically, cognitively, or sensorially (e.g., limited hearing via earplugs). These experiences are designed to help designers empathize with customers under a variety of conditions, and thereby design for the types of context-related latent needs that lead to breakthrough products. A two-phased Design of Experiments approach will be used to test the effectiveness of the proposed methodology. The first phase will be designed to investigate the impact of extreme experiences and designer-prototype interaction on the outcomes of the conceptual design process. The second phase will be designed to investigate more closely whether different types of extreme experiences lead to different types of innovation. The results of this research are expected to provide fundamental knowledge of the effects of extreme experiences and designer-prototype interaction on design fixation and a designer's ability to innovate. The research findings will be incorporated in a new conceptual design approach, EED. The research will be transferred from the laboratories to K-12 students, university students, industry, and the general public by means of online resources, outreach programs, industry interaction, and improved capabilities for universal design that improves quality of life.
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