Perception

The Haptic Feel of Books versus eBooks

We’ve traveled to Rome for our family vacation this year, and aside from a few summer reading books that I couldn’t find in an eBook format, we relied on our two Kindles and 3 iPads for our family reading needs. This is the second summer we brought primarily electronic versions of books—”The Count of Monte Cristo” is much easier to read when it fits into your hand and doesn’t weigh a ton… In the days before the Kindle and iPad, we carried an extra suitcase just for books. But there are drawbacks to buying and reading eBooks. Below are some of my thoughts and experiences—the cogitations of a voracious reader. Time & Progress As I was reading my novels, I found myself repeatedly trying to figure out where in the book I was. How far along was I? When is the next natural break (chapter, section end)? How many pages are there to the end of the chapter, end of the section, end of the book? These were not idle curiosities about my reading accomplishments, although when you do finish reading the book version of “The Count of Monte Cristo”, you do have a sense of having read something. An…

Attention Control Errors & Perceptual Blindness

Harvard Vision Lab created a few experiments that feature Attention Controls Errors and Perceptual Blindness. Below is one of their optical illusions. Directions: concentrate on the central white dot. Did the colors of the outside dots continue to shift throughout the video? If they stopped when the dots were rotating, then you’ve just experienced Silencing—the lab’s vocabulary for individual’s inability to pay attention to both motion and color shift at the same time. Here, we mostly call it Perceptual Blindness. My Personal Experience with this Illusion: The first time I watched the video, I think the colors stopped shifting…but I don’t really remember—I wasn’t paying attention! The second time, I saw the shift. When I showed the illusion to a colorblind individual, he saw the shift from the first viewing. To read about the complete experiment and to view more illusion videos, please visit the lab: http://visionlab.harvard.edu/silencing/

Re “A New Name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup”

Parker-Pope, T., (2010). “A New Name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup.” New York Times Online. Visited on October 3, 2010: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/a-new-name-for-high-fructose-corn-syrup/ As this article describes, corn syrup producers in the United States have begun to push for a re-naming of their products. While it may sound innocuous, this is in fact a major change in the way that High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is marketed to the public. Due to a combination of structural factors such as the widespread success of processed foods, corn production subsidies, and the natural human inclination towards sweet foods, HCFS is present in an astonishing array of food products. Recently, however, there have been indications of a backlash against the prevalence of HFCS in the American diet. Some health professionals and consumer groups have even advocated for its removal from many processed foods. This recent trend in the public perception has left HFCS producers in a bind. They have an economic interest in continuing to produce HCFS at low cost and having it utilized in as many products as possible, but they are not able to change any fundamental features of their product. As a simple mixture of glucose and fructose refined from corn, there is nothing to add to or remove from HFCS to improve it in the public’s eyes. The main lobbying…

Re “Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception”

Svitil, K., (2008). “Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception.” California Institute of Technology. Visited on October 4, 2010: http://media.caltech.edu/press_releases/13091 This article is a research study about how the region of the brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex showed higher activity when participants drank wines at a higher price. A wine tasting study was conducted at the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University. Twenty volunteers tasted five wine samples at different retail prices: $5, $10, $35, $45 and $90 per bottle. The volunteers tasted and evaluated which wines that they found more pleasurable. Two out of five of the wines were the same but one was priced at $10 and one at $90. In the experiment the subjects rated and preferred the $90 priced wine more than the $10, although they did not know that they tasted the same wine. Cognitive Design What does the product do? In this study the cognitive design was a wine tasting experiment. The concept of the research was to experiment on the perception of price on different wines.  The setting was controlled in that the subjects did not know that they tasted the same wine but told that the price was different. While tasting…

Re “Why Good Dancers are Attractive.”

BBC Staff, (2005). “Why good dancers are attractive.” BBC News. Retrieved on 11 October, 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4550000.stm Summary: A song accompanied by an incredible dance can be an exhilarating experience. We have always loved our dancers who rhythmically move their bodies to music. According to this article we not only love them, but find them attractive too. Our mind is biased to seek partners who have symmetry, and good dancers tend to be symmetrical. So by transitivity and motion-capture cameras researchers from the Rutgers university have established that good dancers are attractive. Charles Darwin suggested that dance was part of courtship ritual in various species. Yet another research by Dr William Brown suggests that women tend to be more selective when choosing a mate as they bear the majority of childcare burden. So they might seeks partners who exhibit better symmetry as it projects a partner who can be confident and assertive. As researchers have established that symmetry is a trait we might passively observe, designers can exploit this trait of ours. Conceptual Design: Given that we find symmetrical people attractive, we can extend this objects to as well. Symmetry is one such quality where we dont want it explicitly, but…

Perceptual Illusions

Our minds play tricks on us all the time. Once the information has entered our cognition via our senses, it still has to get processed to be understood. Like any other data, it’s all about context. For interesting examples of optical illusions, please visit http://www.lottolab.org/articles/illusionsoflight.asp. R. Beau Lotto has put together a few interesting examples of mis-processing! Or watch him deliver a talk at TED.