'E-motive': An investigation of emotion and meaning in motion

D. Pezzutti, S. Pill, R. Sharp, Kevin Hilton

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In collaboration with Philips a postgraduate research team at the Centre for Design Research investigated how context can influence the emotion and meaning of a set of product motions, such as opening or closing, turning and waving. The aim was to determine whether there was significant consistency in observer response to these motion scenarios, to inform the design process of key semantic considerations. This project stemmed from the Philips project iCat that was designed to enable researchers to study behaviour, determine whether human interaction patterns can be mimicked and whether or not people recognise or even want such characteristics in robots. The aim was to facilitate a more intuitive interface between humans and appliances, providing richer interaction and a more sensorial experience. The term e-motive was adopted as a working title to explain a new process of researching, which would highlight any inadequacies of the conventional design process to deal with the additional channel of movement. Derived from the two words emotion and movement, e-motive was descriptive of our preliminary objective of expressing emotions through movement. Our main aim was to develop greater understanding around the process of designing movements into objects that could act as physical mediators of information and emotional content. In-order to consciously design movements, new methods and process were required if we were to develop additional 'channels of expression' into conventional industrial design practice. Intrinsic to the e-motive testing method, was the influence that 'contextual' factors had on the perceptions of both movement and emotions. To be able to fully specify and explicitly design a movement with an intended emotional message, it was found to be essential to separate the movement from any contextual interference. This was considered crucial to creating intentional emotional loading in objects, which could be derived irrespective of contextual influences. The fundamental problem was how to obtain a 'contextually devoid' response from a person to a movement. It was found that while in some cases common perceptions of a motion differed from expectation, reliability of communicating emotion by motion was dependent upon observers having some shared formal semantics to comprehend context. As a consequence of this it was considered essential that intended context should be easily derived through the fundamental language of the form.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006
Event5th Design and Emotion Conference - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 1 Sept 2006 → …


Conference5th Design and Emotion Conference
Period1/09/06 → …
Internet address


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