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Professor Joseph Giacomin
Professor - Design

Research area(s)

  • Human Centred Design
  • Human Centred Design Methods
  • Design For Meaning
  • Design Fictions
  • Perception Enhancement
  • Energy Sixth Sense
  • Automotive Design
  • Autonomous Vehicle Design

Research Interests

I am an international expert of Human Centred Design, an approach which integrates multidisciplinary expertise towards enhancing human well-being and empowering people. In its most basic form it leads to products, systems and services which are physically, perceptually, cognitively and emotionally intuitive. In its more advanced forms it unlocks latent needs and desires, supporting the achievement of desired futures for society. Human centred design involves techniques which communicate, interact, empathise and stimulate the people involved, obtaining an understanding of their needs, desires and experiences which often transcends that which the people themselves actually knew and realised. Human Centred Design is a form of structured empathy.

A human centred research theme which I have been investigating since the 1980s is “perception enhancement”. The concept emerges from the observation that not all environmental stimuli are informative, only certain features have meaning for people. Perception enhancement involves receptor physiology, digital signal processing, psychophysics, psychology, design and branding. In its simplest form it is about making things easy to understand. In its more advanced forms it reveals information which people would not normally have access to, such as electrosmog, heat or energy.

My current research focus is “design for meaning” which involves methods for characterising human interactions in terms of the three key forms of meaning: function, ritual and myth. The research performed to date has focussed on commercial products and on the built environment, but recent activity is extending the approach to autonomous vehicles, food services and healthcare.

Going forward, I believe that the trajectory of the design profession will inevitably lead to autonomous systems, artificial life and ethics. I personally believe that designers will be the professionals most involved and most responsible for the future friendly neighbourhood robots. My research and my teaching are thus directed towards developing needed tools such as co-design approaches for autonomous vehicles, naturalness of interaction frameworks for autonomous vehicles, meaning frameworks for autonomous vehicles and ethical behaviour guidelines for autonomous vehicles.

Published research output currently totals 105 publications consisting of 2 books, 2 journal special issues, 55 journal papers, 44 conference papers and 2 book reviews.