Design & Emotion Blog

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Design for emotion in public spaces where hygiene is a challenge

Don’t you just hate it when you have to touch the public bathroom door handle, the tap, the flush, the towel machine… well, just about anything in there? Don’t you just love it when there are automated non-touch solutions in there that make you not having to touch anything? Of course, we could just use our left hand for, well, the ‘cleaning up’ and use our right hand to touch everything else (like they do in India, see pic below). But, then again, what did you touch before going to the toilet with that right hand? 😉

This phenemenon and other challenges are discussed in an awesome post by my friends over at ExperienceRethink: Design and Emotion Behind Automated Objects and No-Touch Environments,

They talk about how automated, non-touch objects can improve our experiences in public spaces that are being used by many people and offer a challenge in hygiene.

Public spaces and automated, no-touch objects are a relatively new experience beyond the occasional sliding door. Yet, they are transforming the dynamic of public spaces.  Moving away from the traditional “hands-on” approach where the feel of  the object and its material enhances your experience to a “no-touch” gesture or motion based approach that has many implications both for the design of objects and environments as well as for creating the best emotional equities for different spaces.

The desire to move in and out of a space without making physical contact depends a bit on the type of space, but for public spaces two underlying needs are driving these changes:

  1. An efficiency play, to reduce the need for cleaning, and,
  2. Reduce the perception of dirty, especially the idea of spreading germs and bacteria.

The design for emotion challenge?

I think Brian and Cat are making a really interesting point here. What else can we think of where ‘design for emotion’ comes in, in solutions for hygene experience in public spaces? Does it mean we make everything non-touch, or the opposite and do we design things to make us more hygenic/ hygiene conscious? This is the solution that is given in the Indian example, where they rather try to educate you then to provide the solution for the ‘problem’. I think this is an interesting discussion, even though personally, I get extremely happy with the non-touch soap dispensers, taps, hand dryers (Dyson!!). What I haven’t seen in public yet is the solution for opening the door as can be seen in the picture on the right. Handy! Let’s ask for this in airplanes where doors open so difficult that you are made to touch it for a long time! Let me know what you think is the best application of design for emotion in this area, and share examples!

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