Dance of the Neurons

Evidence-based material experience for the evaluation of design concepts

In design and development processes in the automotive industry, subject tests are often used to evaluate the perception of materials and surfaces. The testers' perceptions are recorded in verbal or written form. These have the disadvantage that they are subject to verbal restrictions in expression, are subjectively influenced and are influenced by learned or cultural behaviour patterns. A cooperative research project of the Human Neurosensory Laboratory of the Institute of Materials Technology at the University of Kassel and the development company imat-uve from Mönchengladbach, Germany, therefore posed the question of how these limitations could be removed in favour of a more objective evaluation of sensory perception. Under the project name ELIOT (Emotional Evaluation of Things), a new standard for product and material testing is to be introduced that is based on the high demands and precision of conventional technical testing.

A combination of biometric-neuroscientific and classical methods will be used. The knowledge gained can be used directly for optimisation in the development process. Perceived quality and longevity are important aspects for development processes in this context. In addition to these, the effect of the history behind a material, for example the ecological value, is also included in the assessment as a central influencing and decision-making factor on sensory perception and its cognitive processing.

The core is the biometric measurement method of electroencephalography (EEG). This is used to derive voltage fluctuations in specific areas of the neocortex. It is used to map fundamental stimulus processing, emotions and their effects on higher cognitive functions. This approach is supported by 3D tracking of facial expressions and eye movements. The aim of the cooperation project is to objectively analyse the sensory experience of materials, components and design concepts in the automotive industry. Perceived quality and durability are important aspects for development processes in this context.

This methodology and test setups can also be transferred to other industries in which the haptics and appearance of surfaces play a major role.