Chapter 2. Sensorial

Fully engage our human senses

WE CONNECT WITH THE WORLD AROUND US THROUGH OUR SENSES, and describe the process of understanding something new as “making sense of it.” The pervasiveness of sensing makes it easy to take for granted, as we integrate our five common senses of touch, hearing, sight, smell, and taste without conscious thought or effort. Similarly, as designers create objects and interactions, it can be easy for them to overlook the richness of human sensorial capabilities. By primarily considering the senses of sight and touch, many designers seem to treat humans as little more than eyeballs and fingers.

Industrial designers, because of the physicality of their work, have historically been able to engage a broader range of senses than interaction designers. We obviously see and touch objects, but we may also hear something when we place an object on a surface, or smell certain materials when we hold them closely. Designers are even collaborating with chefs and food companies to support the smell and taste of our eating experiences.

Beyond the traditional five senses, we perceive our presence in the physical world through nontraditional and combinatorial senses as well. We have a sense of balance that helps us walk and carry objects, a sense of pain that helps us avoid damaging our bodies, and a sense of temperature that is finely tuned to our human tolerances. Our kinesthetic sense tells us the position of our body parts relative to one another, and ...

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