Over the past number of months I have been researching various means and methods of creating better understanding and communication between the designer and the end user.
In that time I have looked at areas such as participatory design, online virtual environments, sharing of learning through organisational memory, sharing of ideas through sketches and prototypes and even mind reading and telepathy! While all of these concepts, in theory would improve communication, they all seemed somehow artificial and “clunky” (all except the mind reading and telepathy - they would be ideal)
While scanning through my research notes last week, I noticed a number of very similar doodles appearing on random pages across all of the topics I was investigating. The more I looked at them, and the notes surrounding them, the more I realised that these doodles represent, in essence, the coupling of minds – the goal of my research.
Although simple, these sketches were enough to spark a eureka moment. I realised that there already exists a powerful tool for mental coupling, a tool that allowed “projection into the situation of another” a tool that allows “inner imitation of the perceived movements of others”. A tool with these abilities would be far more beneficial to designers than any of the methods I had been looking at. My research had led me to empathy and empathic design, the closest thing we have to mind reading!
My early research indicates that Empathy is widely misunderstood, and is often viewed as a little “touchy - feely” by decision makers. This, I feel has limited it’s use and implementation as a method of research. I believe that this is about to change and we are going to see a major shift. Just this week Dr. Jong-seok Park, LG’s president and CEO said “Technology without empathy can no longer be considered innovation,” I believe he is correct, and I believe empathic design is going to be the next great driver of innovation and a transformer and creator of great organisations.