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ELSEVIER International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 15 (1995) 3-11

Kansei Engineering: A new ergonomic consumer-oriented

technology for product development
Mitsuo Nagamachi
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Hiroshima University, 1-4-1, Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima 724, Japan


Kansei Engineering was developed as a consumer-oriented technology for new product development. It is defined
as "translating technology of a consumer's feeling and image for a product into design elements". Kansei
Engineering (KE) technology is classified into three types, KE Type I, II, and III. KE Type I is a category
classification on the new product toward the design elements. Type II utilizes the current computer technologies
such as Expert System, Neural Network Model and Genetic Algorithm. Type III is a model using a mathematical
Kansei Engineering has permeated Japanese industries, including automotive, electrical appliance, construction,
clothing and so forth. The successful companies using Kansei Engineering benefited from good sales regarding the
new consumer-oriented products.

Relevance to industry

Kansei Engineering is utilized in the automotive, electrical appliance, construction, clothing and other industries.
This paper provides help to potential product designers in these industries.

Keywords: Consumer-oriented technology; Product development; Kansei of psychological feeling; Expert system;
Database; Computer graphics

1. Introduction want anymore. The sophisticated consumers de-

sire that products match their own feelings of
An industrial age is changing from a product- design, function and price.
out concept to a market-in concept regarding new The product-out strategy means a production
product development. In the 1970's, manufactur- by a manufacturer based on its own design strat-
ers produced a volume of products and people egy regardless of the consumer's demand and
bought them. At that time, the manufacturers preference. On the other hand, the market-in
designed the products through their own concept. strategy implies a production based on the con-
However, the consumers had to buy them regard- sumer's desire and preference. Nowadays, the
less of personal preference. At present, they have consumers are stringent in choosing the products
many things in their houses which they do not in terms of their demand and preference. The

0169-8141/95/$09.50 © 1995 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved

SSDI 0169-8141(94)00052-5
4 M. Nagamachi / International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 15 (1995) 3-11

V---1 I Concerning the second point, we conducted a

Kansel or [ I I Product survey or an experiment to look at the relations
psychological > L ~ design
feeling elements between the Kansei words and the design ele-
ments. In regard to the third point, we utilized
Fig. 1. A diagram of a process of Kansei Engineering System advanced computer technology to build a system-
atic framework of the technology on Kansei Engi-
neering. Artificial Intelligence, Neural Network
manufacturers should change their production Model and Genetic Algorithm as well as Fuzzy
strategy and attitude to the consumer-oriented Logic are utilized in the Kansei Engineering Sys-
ones. tem to construct the concerned databases and
Nagamachi developed Kansei Engineering as computerized inference system. Finally, we were
an ergonomic consumer-oriented technology for able to adjust the databases of Kansei Engineer-
new product development (Nagamuchi, 1986; ing to the consumer's new Kansei trend by in-
1988a, b, c; 1989a, b; 1990a, b; 1991a, b; 1993a, b, putting the new Kansei data of the consumer
c; Nagamachi et al., 1974; 1977; 1982; 1984a, b; every three or four years.
1985; 1986; 1987; 1988; 1989). Kansei is a Japanese
word which means a consumer's psychological
feeling and image regarding a new product. When 2. Procedures of Kansei Engineering
a consumer wants to buy something, he or she
has an image of the product as "luxurious, gor- There are three styles of Kansei Engineering
geous and strong". Kansei Engineering technol- procedure; Type I, II and III. Type I Kansei
ogy enables his or her image and feeling to be Engineering means Category Classification from
used in the new product. Kansei Engineering is zero- to nth-category. Type II uses the computer
defined as "translating technology of a consumer's system and Type III utilizes a mathematical model
feeling (Kansei in Japanese) of the product to the to reason the appropriate ergonomic design.
design elements, as shown in Fig. 1.
Kansei Engineering aims to produce a new 2.1. Type I: A Category Classification
product based on the consumer's feeling and
demand. There are four points concerning this The Category Classification is a method in
technology; (1) how to grasp the consumer's feel- which a Kansei category of a product is broken
ing (Kansei) about the product in terms of er- down in the tree structure to get the design
gonomic and psychological estimation, (2) how to details. Following is a good example of the appli-
identify the design characteristics of the product cation of Kansei Engineering Type I. A Japanese
from the consumer's Kansei, (3) how to build automotive manufacturer, Mazda, has developed
Kansei Engineering as an ergonomic technology, a new sports car named "Miyata" which was
and (4) how to adjust product design to the derived from Kansei Engineering. Nagamachi
current societal change or people's preference taught Kansei Engineering to Mazda. The chair-
trend. man, Mr. Kenichi Yamamoto has much interest
Regarding the first point, we used the Seman- in this new ergonomic technology (Yamamoto,
tic Differentials (SD) developed by Osgood and 1986). Since then, in Mazda, Kansei Engineering
his colleagues (Osgood et al., 1957) as a main has become a fundamental technology for new
technique to grasp the consumer's Kansei. In product development.
Kansei Engineering, we collected the Kansei or Mr. Hirai, a manager for a brand new car,
the customer's feeling words from the selling decided to implement Kansei Engineering in
shops and from industry magazines. First, we "Miyata" development and settled the zero-level
collected 600 to 800 Kansei words and then se- category of the new car " H u m a n - M a c h i n e Unity
lected approximately 100 of the most relevant (Jinba-Ittai in Japanese)" after discussions with
words. his project team. This concept implies that a
M. Nagamachi / International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 15 (1995) 3-11 5

driver feels a unification between himself or her- Physical

self and the car when driving. The driver feels 1st level 2nd level traits
that his or her body might be the car and controls ~. Appropriately 4 m length
the machine with his or her own intention freely. Tight feelmg~xslmpleNarrow
Human-Machine Unity is just the concept of a
new car and tells nothing about the car design ~ Interior design
Floor carpet
such as engine characteristics, car size and so
forth. In Kansei Engineering Type I, the zero
Fig, 3. An example of refining the physical traits from Kansei
level concept should be broken down into clearly
meaningful subconcepts to get the design details.
The members of the project team started to
classify the zero level concept to the subconcepts, the automotive engineering. In this stage, the
that is, 1st, 2nd . . . . . and nth subconcept until team created a great deal of new patents.
they obtained the car design specifications. The Through the procedure of Kansei Engineering
procedure of Type I is shown in Fig. 2. Type I, Mazda has succeeded in developing the
Regarding "Miyata", the zero Kansei level was new sports car, "Miyata", which is called "Eunos
classified into four subconcepts in the 1st level; Roadster" in Japan and has been a good seller in
"Tight-feeling", "Direct-feeling", "Speedy-feel- the U.S. as well as in Japan. After this success,
ing" and "Communication". "Tight-feeling" im- Mazda and its subcontractors have been utilizing
plies "fitting closely to the machine" and "not Kansei Engineering Type I as the fundamental
large nor small". With this subconcept, the team technology for the car development.
decided that the car length would be around 4
meters. It became 3.98 m after discussing its 2.2. Type Ih Kansei Engineering Computer System
chassis length. When they mounted four sheets
inside the car, the consumer's feeling was "nar- Kansei Engineering Type II is a computer-as-
row" and this subconcept did not match "Tight- sisted Kansei Engineering System. Kansei Engi-
feeling". So, the team designed the car mounted neering System (KES) is a computerized system
with two sheets. with the Expert System to transfer the consumer's
This explains how the Type I procedure of feeling and image to the design details. The com-
transferring the subconcepts to the design details, puterized Kansei Engineering System architec-
as shown in Fig. 3 illustrates a part of flow in ture basically has four databases, as shown in
regard to "Tight-feeling". If the team could not Fig. 4.
get the design details, it should continue the
classification to 2nd, 3rd . . . . . nth level. When the (i) Kansei database
team did realize the specks of the car design, it Kansei words which are representatives of the
examined the design details minutely in terms of consumer's feelings on a product are collected
from the dialogue with the salesman in the shop
or from the industry magazine. More than 600
Kansel Automotive Physical words were collected and then reduced in num-
1st 2 n d ........ n t h sensation engineering traits
ber to about 100 words, which seemed to be
r T l g h t .----F-- . . . . . Body size Size
feeling L-- . . . . . vision Englue
enough to represent the consumer's feelings for
]-Direct __~ ..... Hearing Chassis Scat the product. After constructing SD scales and
~ feellng .... Sme|l Stcerlng Sleerlug evaluating the number of the product in the SD
HMU--[-Speedy ~ ..... yaw design
feeling L _ ..... Skin Noise Frequency scales, the evaluated data are analyzed by Factor
I_ C o m m u . _ r - ..... Organic Vibration Frequency Analysis. The results from the Factor Analysis
ntcatlon L - - . . . . . sense Exterior Design
Interior Design suggest the Kansei word meaning space, from
Fig. 2. The translation of Kansei into car physical traits in the which the Kansei word database is constructed
case of "Miyata". into the system.
6 M. Nagamachi/ InternationalJournal of Industrial Ergonomics 15 (1995) 3- ll

r - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Katmel I~ngineerlng .System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

consumer wanted something "gorgeous", this

Kansei word corresponds to some design details
in the system. These data construct the image
database and the rule-base.

(iii) Knowledge-base
Knowledge-base consists of the rules needed
to decide the highly correlated items of the de-
sign details with the Kansei words. Some rules
resulted from the calculation of the Quantifica-
Client Interface tion Theory and some from color conditioning
principles and so forth.

(iv) Design and color database

Input of I Output of ']
The design details in the system are imple-
KanseI words [ graphics J
mented in the form design database and the color
database, separately. All design details consist of
Fig. 4. A systemstructure of Kansei Engineering System.
the aspects of design which are correlated as a
total shape with each Kansei word. The color
(ii) Image database database consists of full colors which are also
The results evaluated by the SD scales are correlated to the Kansei words. The combined
secondly analyzed by Hayashi's Quantitative The- parts of the design and color are pulled out by
ory Type I (Hayashi, 1976), which is a type of the specific inference system and displayed in
Multiple Regression Analysis for qualitative data. graphics on the screen.
Through this analysis, we are able to obtain a list
of the statistical relations between the Kansei (v) Kansei Engineering System procedure
words and the design elements. Hence, we identi- A consumer inputs his or her image words
fied the contributory items in the design details concerning the desired product into KES. The
to a specific Kansei word. For instance, if a KES receives these words firstly through the Kan-

lolal on [ |ffI~
- -

Fig. 5. A steering wheel design produced by KES. The picture on the right is for a female, the middle one for a male and the left
one for the combination.
M. Nagamachi/ InternationalJournal of lndustrial Ergonomics 15 (1995) 3-11 7

sei word database and checks whether it can for a college girl costume is called FAIMS (Fash-
recognize them or not. If it can recognize them, ion Image System) and the KES for a house is
the words are transferred to the knowledge-base. called HULLS (Human Living System) (Naga-
The inference engine works in this stage by machi, 1991a).
matching the rule-base and the image database.
Then, the inference engine decides the aspects of (ii) Designer-supporting KES
design details and the controller of KES pulls out Another KES application is for help in design-
and displays the appropriate parts and color on ing a new product. When a designer is creating a
the screen (see Fig. 5). new product, he or she starts with his or her
product image or concept. Then, he or she con-
(vi) How to construct the KES sults with the KES by inputting the designer's
First of all, a KES engineer decides a specific image words. The KES outputs the result of
product domain. If a company wants to make a calculation in Kansei Engineering on the display.
new automotive model and his or her role is If the displayed graphics are different from the
concerned with an interior design, the engineer designer's image, it can be changed in the shape
has to decide whether his or her research is a design and color by the KES change procedure
dashboard design or a steering design and so (see Fig. 4).
forth. The KES engineer collects the Kansei words
and constructs the SD scale of the words. He or 2.3. Type III: Kansei Engineering Modeling
she collects the number of steering designs, 20 to
30 for instance, and asks his or her colleagues to In Kansei Engineering Type III, a mathemati-
estimate them by the SD scales. After analyzing cal model is constructed in spite of the rule-base
the evaluated data by Factor Analysis and the to obtain the ergonomic outcome from Kansei
Quantification Theory Type I, the KES engineer words. In this procedure, a mathematical model
makes the aforementioned four databases, the implies a kind of logic which plays a similar role
inference engine and the control system, based to the rule-base.
on the Expert System procedure. An example of this type is the Sanyo Co.,
which is described in another paper in this special
Application aspects of KES issue. Fukushima and his colleagues in Sanyo
There are two ways of applying the KES. One attempted to apply Kansei Engineering to a color
supports the consumer's decision for a choice of printer (Fukushima et al., 1995). They succeeded
the products, and another supports the designer's in constructing an intelligent color printer which
decision for the product development. allows a change of the original color to be more
beautiful and more preferred face skin color us-
(i) The consumer-supporting KES ing Fuzzy Kansei Logic.
Suppose a consumer wants to buy a costume
or a house. He or she has a Kansei or feeling
concerning his or her desire for the product. For 3. Applications of Kansei engineering
instance, she wants to buy an elegant a n d / o r sexy
costume at some price, and he wants to construct 3.1. Application of Type I
his luxurious house at some price. They sit in
front of a KES computer and input their desired Several years ago, Japanese automotive com-
Kansei words into the KES. It understands their panies attempted to introduce Kansei Engineer-
desire through the inference engine and produces ing in the automotive vehicle design develop-
the final decisions from the computer which ment. Nissan, Mazda and Mitsubishi were eager
matches their desire for the products. The KES is to implement Kansei Engineering and they began
able to help the consumer's decision for a choice to produce many kinds of newly designed passen-
about a product. The consumer-supporting KES ger cars. Nissan has applied the new ergonomic
8 M. Nagamachi / International Journal o f Industrial Ergonomics 15 (1995) 3 - 11

technology to all new brands since the production were collected from a variety of cars and they
of "CIMA". Mazda first introduced Kansei Engi- were pictured to make slides. These slides were
neering for developing "Persona" and later for shown to twenty-seven male students and twenty-
"Miyata", which continues to be a good seller. three female students. Then, the subjects evalu-
Mitsubishi studied Kansei Engineering earlier ated these slides on the SD scales.
than any other automotive companies and tried These fifty-nine steering wheel designs were
to implement it in "Diamante", which has been a also analyzed by the Kansei Engineering proce-
good seller. The other Japanese car makers, Toy- dure. They were classified as to 13 design items
ota and Honda, were also eager to study Kansei such as the number of spokes, pad face type, pad
Engineering Type I and introduced this tech- area and so forth. Each item was again classified
nique to design the products. It is safe to say that to smaller categories such as (2, 3, 4) spokes and
all Japanese car makers are interested in intro- (small, medium, large) pad area, and so forth.
ducing Kansei Engineering in vehicle designing. The evaluated data in the SD scales and the
In the U.S.A., Ford Motor Co., former CEO, D. items/categories design details were calculated
Petersen said in his book (Petersen, 1992) that by the Multivariate Analysis or Quantification
Ford learned Kansei Engineering from Mazda Theory Type I. As a result, we obtained the
and implemented it in designing "Taurus". Fiat statistical relations between the Kansei words and
in Italy and even Porsche in Germany are inter- the design details of the steering wheel. By utiliz-
ested in Kansei Engineering. Kansei Engineering ing these outcomes, we constructed four databases
Type I is used through the world, since it seems and a computer-assisted KES for the steering
easy to introduce in the product development. wheel design (KESW) similar to Fig. 4.
This research aimed at constructing the de-
3.2. Application of Type H signer-supporting KES in an automotive com-
pany. Therefore, the evaluated data by the stu-
The KES, the computer-assisted Kansei Engi- dent as well as by the company designers were
neering is most well known in Japan among the implemented in the databases for supporting the
Kansei Engineering procedures. Kansei Engi- designer's decision.
neering Type II has been applied to costume Suppose a car designer is designing a steering
design for a college girl (Nagamachi et al., 1988), wheel. He wants to design a steering wheel with
house design (Nagamachi et al., 1986), entrance "a safe feeling". Then, he inputs the word "a safe
door design in Tateyama Co. (Kashiwagi et al., feeling" in KESW and gets three graphics as
1992), car interior design in Nissan (Jindo et al., shown in Fig. 5. The graphic on the right side in
1991), office chair design in Itoki Co. (Jindo et the figure shows the first candidate design for a
al., 1995), the color planning system in Sharp Co. female consumer and the central graph is for a
(Nagamachi, 1989b), interior design in a construc- male consumer. The left graphic illustrates a
tion machine in Komatsu Co. (Nakata et al., combined male/female design for the first candi-
1994), and automatic door design in NABCO Co. date design.
Following are two case study examples of the We tested the estimation of the resulted dis-
KES. plays by the experienced designers engaging in
the car design. They evaluated very highly the
(i) Application of KES to a steering wheel design artificial designs of the steering wheel decided by
The Kansei words concerning the steering KESW.
wheel design were collected from the dialogue in Another example of Kansei Engineering Type
car shops and from car magazines. Twenty Kansei II is a unique application to an interpretation of
words were finally selected. The SD scales con- the design language. Sharp Co. asked Nagamachi
sisted of these Kansei words for the evaluation of to make an interpretation system on color be-
the steering wheels. tween the designers and the technical engineers.
Fifty-nine samples of steering wheel design When developing a new product, a designer asks
M. Nagamachi / International Journal of lndustrial Ergonomics 15 (1995) 3-11 9

various girl's face skin colors in the Kansei SD

scales. The SD scales consisted of the Kansei
words of "beautiful", "good looking face color"
and others. The evaluated colors were classified
into hue, value and chroma separately, and these
]strll:t~Igic I were expressed in a triangle fuzzy membership
function. The results of the membership function
LI p,anningI were implemented in the CPU in the intelligent
I 'i"^'desig~ color printer, and then the more beautiful col-
I 'eve' 1 ored picture was obtained through the sophisti-
cated color process.
colormap 4. Hybrid Kansei Engineering
Fig. 6. The Color Planning System (CPS).
Our next attempt is a combination of a con-
sumer-supporting and a designer-supporting Kan-
the engineers to manufacture it according to the sei Engineering which is named "Hybrid Kansei
designer's concept. For instance, he or she orders Engineering" (Nagamachi, 1993) as shown in Fig.
the engineers to paint with the "natural" color on 7. Hybrid Kansei Engineering consists of Forward
the outer surface of a pot. However, the engi- Kansei Engineering as shown in Fig. 4 and Back-
neers have difficulty understanding what color ward Kansei Engineering as shown in Fig. 8. The
"natural" is. former is the Kansei Engineering System in which
We conducted an experiment for evaluating a designer obtains the demanded design through
colors in the Kansei SD scales and succeeded in an input of the Kansei words. In the Backward
obtaining the color-Kansei word interpretation Kansei Engineering, the designer is able to draw
map. We implemented the color map in the CAD a rough sketch in the computer and the computer
system and then the engineers easily obtained the system recognizes the pattern of the design in-
color specification on the map by retrieving KES, putted by the designer. Then, the system esti-
which a designer ordered them. This system is mates the Kansei or the image of the design
named "Color Planning System (CPS)" (see inputted through the backward inference engine
Fig. 6). and shows the estimated level of Kansei about
In the color planning system, an engineer draws the design.
a shape of a pot in CAD and inputs the designer's We conducted research on the recognition sys-
Kansei word of "natural" in CAD. Then, a solid tem of an entrance door design (Miyazaki et al.,
graph of the pot is painted with a metallic color 1993) and continued the research of it utilizing a
decided by the KES instantly. "Neocognitron Model" (Fukushima, 1975; Kashi-
wagi et al., 1994). In Miyazaki's research, the
3.3. Application of Type III computer understands the door framework first

As mentioned above, Kansei Engineering Type

Ill is a mathematical modeling of Kansei Engi-
neering. A case of Type III is described in detail Kanael [ .1 ILl Design
in Fukushima and his colleagues' paper in this
special issue (Fukushima et al., 1995). They at-
tempted to design intelligence in a color printer
to produce a better color picture. They conducted
an experiment in which the subjects evaluated Fig. 7. A diagram of the Hybrid Kansei Engineering System.
10 M. Nagamachi / International Journal of lndustrial Ergonomics 15 (1995) 3-11

....... DESIGNER SUPPORTING SYSTEM ........ 5. Conclusions

Kansei Engineering is a consumer-oriented

technology for product development based on
Ergonomics and Computer Science. It has been
utilized in a variety of industries and it was highly
evaluated as an effective development method
incorporating the consumer's demand.
This ergonomic technology was born at Hi-
I System eo,.ro,,er I roshima University and Nagamachi and his col-
leagues endeavored to develop a variety of Kan-
User Interface set Engineering techniques, but they have just
three types at present. Many problems still re-
main to be solved; (1) how to treat the individual
Designing Design Backward
elements trmaslatlon differences of Kansei, (2) how to estimate the
consumer's a n d / o r the designer's satisfaction
with the outcome from the KES, and (3) how to
improve the system by incorporating artificial in-
Concerning item (3), Nagamachi and his col-
Fig. 8. A system structure of the Backward Kansei Engineer- leagues started to use virtual reality technology to
ing System.
abstract the consumers' satisfaction in a system-
kitchen decided by the KES (Enomoto et al.,
1993). In this new system, a consumer provides
his or her body height and the information about
and then other design details. In Kashiwagi's his or her life-style. The KES produces a kitchen
research, Fukushima's Neocognitron was revised with computer graphics matching the consumer's
and it is able to learn the relations between the feeling and then it is transferred to the virtual
Kansei words and the door design details through reality system. The consumer is able to go through
the selected attention model of multi-layer net- the virtual reality to estimate the level matching
works as shown in Fig. 9. This research will be his or her feeling with the experience of walking
continued until a more intelligent system is built. through the virtual treatment of the kitchen.
Kansei Engineering is the most recent er-
gonomic technology and is not mature at present.
We hope to produce benefits for human beings
through this advanced technology.


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