Bruce Wan - PhD. Technology-mediated Meaningful Experience

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Bruce Wan is a design educator and designer. He received his master of design from Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (ENSCI-Les Ateliers) in Paris where he practiced both product and interaction design. His practice ranges over different fields in the creative industry including industrial design, communication design, human-computer interaction, user experience design, design education, and design methodology, etc. The sound experience in design allows him to create and articulate user experiences across physical and cyberspaces at both strategic and operational levels. Bruce currently works as an Assistant Professor and researcher at the School of Design at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4068-2459

Research Gate:

PhD Title
Design for Technology-Mediated Memorable and Meaningful Tourism Experiences: A Strengths-Based Approach


Memorable & Meaningful experience, positive psychology, tourism experience, character strengths, technology-meditation

About the Research

This study investigates a technology-mediated experience design that fosters memorable and meaningful tourism experiences (MMEs). Technology has been playing an integral role in facilitating people to make personal choices on their tourism activities, from itinerary planning, online bookings, and way findings, to social sharing of people’s journeys. This study shows how technology may offer the potential to transform personalized experiences into memorable and meaningful experiences. A review of literature in positive psychology provides three insights into MMEs. First is a holistic understanding of MMEs from one’s explicit experiential dimension to implicit experiential dimension, which includes what people do, feel, think, and value. Second, MMEs also result from pursuing growth goals derived from their past, present, and future aspirations. Lastly, character strengths, which represent positive traits of individuals, can be the pivotal component in MMEs because they are the bridge between the implicit and the explicit dimensions of experience. Experience of meaning can emerge by making the implicit explicit, thereby fostering self-awareness, a sense of purpose, and self-development towards flourishing.

The study considered three key research questions (RQs):
- RQ1: How can technology support people to cultivate their character strengths for the creation of memorable and meaningful experiences?
- RQ2. How do travelers create memorabilia with photos generated on their memorable and meaningful journeys?
- RQ3. Pursuant to RQs 1 and 2, how do the strengths-based informatics foster MMEs by making the implicit dimensions of experience explicit?

Research Methods
This study seeks to incorporate character strengths into an informatics system so that users can cultivate their character strengths and facilitate users to appreciate their MMEs by connecting what they do, feel, think, and value. This thesis is composed of three interrelated studies that progress through a design process. The first study explored how technology can support people to cultivate their character strengths for the creation of memorable and meaningful experiences. It resulted in a tripartite strengths-based HCI framework that encapsulates three aspects of strengths used, namely strengths well spent, reflection and introspection, and anticipation of one’s future self. The second study focused on the stage of reflection and introspection by investigating people’s proficiencies in creating visual diaries with photos generated on their memorable and meaningful journeys because comprehensive visual storytelling is the prerequisite for people to connect the experience to the associated implicit psychological motives and needs. The result informed the development of a proof-of-concept strengths-based journaling platform. The third study involved the evaluation of the platform from three perspectives. First was the features that facilitate users to create meaning by making the implicit psychological dimensions of MMEs (e.g., character strengths, motives, and values) explicit. Second, participants’ strengths that had drawn upon on their MMEs. Third was their intention to cultivate their characters strengths and pursue values gained in their future journeys. The result showed that people deepened their self-awareness by using the platform. Also, MMEs more often involve people’s moderate character strengths rather than signature strengths. The participants were more willing to pursue the value gained and develop the character strengths used on their future journeys rather than revisit the places. By making the implicit psychological dimensions explicit, this study showed that technology facilitates people to deepen their self-awareness through recognizing deep-rooted values and appreciating character strengths from their MMEs.

Results / Outcomes
The results of this study contribute to experience design, HCI and tourism innovation in regard to both theory and practice. As a whole, this study contributes to empirical research by demonstrating different research approaches and methods to explore and investigate memorable and meaningful experiences. It also demonstrated a progressive design research process from developing a conceptual framework to prototyping.
Regarding theoretical contribution, this study, which is rooted in positive psychology, proposed a strengths-based conceptual framework and a set of guidelines for technology-mediated experience design. The strengths-based HCI offers new potentials for designers to conceptualize interactive systems that foster the well-being of users through a strengths-based approach. The framework is focused on connections and articulations whereby people’s strengths are used in different situations and moments pertaining to memorable and meaningful experiences. Connection refers to the explicit/physical (e.g., people, place, activities, and environment) and implicit/psychological (e.g., emotions, character strengths, motives, and innate psychology needs) by connecting relevant elements to provide a comprehensive appreciation of one’s memorable and meaningful experiences. Articulation refers to how one’s strengths evolve across different moments (e.g., strengths well spent, reflection and introspection, and anticipation of future self) and over a period of time (e.g., connecting with different memorable and meaningful events).
Regarding artifact contribution, this study produced two prototypes and they were developed for different purposes. The two artifacts produced new knowledge on the application of a strengths-based conceptual framework, especially regarding the moment of reflection and introspection.
Lastly, the results of this study contribute to smart tourism innovation. The benefits of integrating MMEs in smart tourism innovation can be far-reaching because these experiences foster the flourishing of the individual, community, and society, and economy. This study sheds light on the psychological factors which can trigger meaningful tourism experiences and opens a new research initiative on the quantified traveler.

Key publications:
1. Wan, C. K. B. (2013). Designing eTourism platform: Frustrations, challenges, opportunities and the way forward. Service Design in Tourism. Service Design in Tourism, Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida.

2. Wan, C. K. B., de Bont, C., & Hekkert, P. (2015). Flourishing Through an eTourism Platform – A Framework Enabling Tourists’ Eudaimonic Pursuits. IFITT Doctoral Summer School, 1–19.

3. Wan, C. K. B., de Bont, C., & Hekkert, P. (2016). Towards an HCI model for eudaimonic growth—A phenomenological inquiry into travelers’ serious leisure pursuits and cultivation of character strengths. Design and Emotion 2016, September, 123–133.

4. Wan, C. K. B. (2016) Flourishing Through an eTourism platform, PhD workshop (Winter), School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

5. Wan, C K. B. (2016) Flourishing through smart cultural tourism, PhD workshop (Summer), School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

6. Wan, C. K. B. (2017). Flourishing Through Smart Tourism: Experience Patterns for Co-designing Technology-Mediated Traveller Experiences. The Design Journal, 21(1), 163–173.

7. Wan, C. K. B. (2018) Flourishing through smart tourism, PhD workshop (Winter), School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

8. Wan, C. K. B., Chow, K. K. N., de Bont, C. J. P. M., & Hekkert, P. (2020). Finding synergy between oral and visual narratives on memorable and meaningful tourism experiences. Information Technology & Tourism, 22(1), 107–130.

9. Wan, C. K. B., de Bont, C. J. P. M., & Hekkert, P. Chow, K. K. N., (2021). Finding Meaning Through Travel Journaling: A Strength-Based Approach. Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism 2021, 137–149.

Qualifications: MDes (ENSCI)

Dr. Kenny Chow (Chief Supervisor)
Prof. Paul Hekkert (External Co-supervisor)
Prof. Cees de Bont (External Co-supervisor)

Specialisation / Interests: Positive Design, Tourism innovation, Experience of Meaning, HCI , UX, Service Design, Co-design, Enabling technology

Date of Completion: Oct 2020