Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

Integrating Function- and Affordance-Based Design Representations

[+] Author and Article Information
Benjamin T. Ciavola

Lifecycle Engineering Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics,
Michigan Technological University,
1400 Townsend Drive,
Houghton, MI 49931
e-mail: btciavol@mtu.edu

Chunlong Wu

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Zhejiang University,
38 Zheda Road,
Hangzhou 310027, China;
Michigan Technological University,
1400 Townsend Drive,
Houghton, MI 49931
e-mail: wclzju@zju.edu.cn

John K. Gershenson

Lifecycle Engineering Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics,
Michigan Technological University,
1400 Townsend Drive,
Houghton, MI 49931
e-mail: jkgershe@mtu.edu

Some authors such as Michaels (2003) take an even stronger approach, and argue in favor of a strict type of form dependence for sake of protecting the “true innovation of the affordance concept” which lies in “providing the origins of meaning and an experimental inroad for studying it.” Hence, affordances should only be action opportunities directly perceived by the organism for whom the system afford action and “the perception of affordances for others… ought not qualify as the perception of affordances.”

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received June 20, 2014; final manuscript received November 25, 2014; published online February 16, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Andy Dong.

J. Mech. Des 137(5), 051101 (May 01, 2015) (10 pages) Paper No: MD-14-1368; doi: 10.1115/1.4029519 History: Received June 20, 2014; Revised November 25, 2014; Online February 16, 2015

In this paper, we explore the possibility of reconciling and integrating practical affordance- and function-based design representations. We present a classic function-based design method and representation and argue for the benefits of augmenting it with affordance-based approaches. Building on existing function concept ontologies, we present an integrated approach to developing early-stage design representations. This approach combines the use of affordance and function representations to capture user needs across a device's life cycle. We demonstrate how affordances add rigor and expressiveness to the early stages of traditional design processes, and how traditional function-based tools provide affordance-based design (ABD) with structured methods for concept generation. The integrated approach is illustrated with an example, in which a use case is explicitly decomposed to demonstrate the structure of relationships between users, goals, actions, artifacts, functions, and affordances.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
Topics: Design
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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Generic affordance structure (adapted from Ref. [20])

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Structure of function representations

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

The five main design modeling concepts (adapted from Ref. [7])

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Overview of the combined model

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Affordances exist across a product's life-cycle

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Pahl and Beitz's top-level requirements mapped to a simplified set of product life-cycle processes

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Use cases are defined in terms of a situation in which a user wishes to achieve a goal

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Subfunctions are connected by AAAs

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 11

Manipulation and effect opportunities are mapped to function inputs and outputs. AAAs are mapped to function interfaces.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 12

Low-level design decisions can be evaluated relative to any actions, objects, goals, or users with which they are involved

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

Use plans are described in terms of goals, objects, and actions

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 10

A particular action is performed to achieve a goal, and is decomposed based on the interacting systems, manipulation opportunities, and effect opportunities



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