HeadCrowd: visual feedback for design

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HeadCrowd is a collaboration between the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences and the School of Textiles and Design at Heriot-Watt University investigating how rich web and mobile applications may be employed to provide designers with near instantaneous and highly visual feedback from thousands of potential customers, or crowds. By analysing prior knowledge in adjacent fields, the paper suggests relevance of the project not just for participatory design and for market intelligence processes (by enabling rapid and iterated co-design cycles between crowds and designers based on visual forms of communication so as to mirror the highly visual nature of fashion design inspiration), but specifically highlights its applications for sustainability in fashion when giving crowds a concrete sense of ownership of the design process and providing enthusiastic target market offers potential to significantly reduce the risks of manufacturing unwanted product.
The paper proceeds to describe phase 1 of the project which centres around the construction and testing of a pilot browser for visual selection on mobile devices. The pilot interface allows observers to navigate a vocabulary of 500 images which have been ordered into 48 similarity stacks using a mixture of human and crowd sourced sorting techniques. To explore the usefulness of this interface in adding quantity, speed and statistical accuracy not just in visual communication in design contexts, but also to the wider study of semiotics, 10 material-related and 10 emotional terms were selected and presented to observers, with a view to choosing 3 images from the browser to represent each term. The detailed analysis of the pilot data has allowed to differentiate between the communicative certainty of certain types of terms by certain types of users when selecting 3 images from a vocabulary of 500, thus giving invaluable information on how crowds might visually communicate on design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-81
Number of pages12
JournalNordic Textile Journal
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2012


  • Sustainability
  • Rich web applications
  • Communication control
  • Mobile Computation


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