Instrumenting the Product AND the Design Process: 3 examples

Larry Leifer, Professor, Director, Stanford Center for Design Research, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University December 11, 1991


In the pursuit of better computer based products, no single investment can be more relevant than direct observation of user-product interaction. One of the best available sites for instrumentation is at the product interface itself. It will be argued that every embedded computer product should be designed to record the history of its own action. Three case examples will be reviewed: (1) Devar, a personal assistant robot that has been the subject of a field study for over two years; (2) Lingraphica, a personal communication prosthesis for people with severe language impairment; and (3) the Engineering Design Notebook (EDN), a visual language environment for capturing engineering design knowledge.


A member of the Stanford faculty since 1976, Larry Leifer teaches the industry project based Graduate Automation and Machine Design course series, directs the Design Division's Industrial Affiliates Program and the Joint Design Research Seminar. He developed, and taught for ten years, the laboratory and curriculum for programmable electromechanical systems design (Smart Product Design) as part of the Design Division's Product Design Program. His research interests are focused in the Center for Design Research (CDR) where he endeavors to develop basic design theory and methodology through the application of knowledge engineering technology to a wide range of automation & machine design problems. Special interest projects include: a) development of an engineering design notebook for "design knowledge capture"; b) development of telerobotic assistants for medical, rehabilitation, industrial, and space applications; and c) development of concurrent product and process design software for machine design and simulation. He co-founded the Tolfa Corporation to promote personal independence for disabled persons through assistive technology.


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