We may dream of flying cars, but before the future gets here it stops at Professor J.K. Park’s desk. A consumer researcher in the department of human development and consumer sciences, Park’s research can determine whether future products will ring true with present day consumers. It’s called “human centered design.”
“Design is not just design,” he said. “It’s not an art anymore. It’s co-producing with consumers.”
Park’s research predicted the online methods of buying music and will soon investigate mobile technology for use with ballparks’ concessions.
“The role of designer and consumer researchers is to identify opportunities in the future by understanding the desire and the expectations of our culture—which is trend—created by the majority of consumers,” Park said.
His current glimpse into the future assesses something called “Teaser” that allows you to sample a recipe, restaurant item or grocery product simply by printing a flavor strip and tasting it.
“Sometimes we profile consumers based on their optimism on new products, innovativeness or barriers,” he said. “Data tells us everything but we need eyes to see it.”
Park’s eyes and research detail a partnership in creating the future in which you detail what you want.
“Consumers are not just buyers of product and services. They are co-creators of what they consume.”
J.K. Park is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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Images: Professor Scott Shim, Ohio State University