The notion of affective design emerged from the field of human–computer interaction (HCI) and more specifically from the developing area of affective computing. Affective design involves designing interfaces to enable human-computer interactions where emotional information is communicated by the user in a natural and comfortable way - the computer processes the emotional information and may adapt or respond to try to improve the interaction in some way. Affective design, along with the traditional HCI usability and accessibility, constitutes the important qualities of user experience (UX) as it contributes in the improvement of the user's personal condition in relation with the computing system.
The ambient intelligence is one of the technologies where affective design is applied. These electronic environments address human emotional responses and aspirations to create an aesthetic appreciation and pleasurable experience by enhancing human-product-ambience interactions.
Affective computing aims to deliver affective interfaces capable of eliciting certain emotional experiences from users. Similarly, affective design attempts to define the subjective emotional relationships between consumers and products and to explore the affective properties that products intend to communicate through their physical attributes. It aims to deliver artefacts capable of eliciting maximum physio-psychological pleasure consumers may obtain through all of their senses.
The key challenge for affective design involves the accurate understanding of the user's affective needs and, subsequently, the design of products that would address those needs. Current research focuses on the measurement and analysis of human interactions towards affective design and the assessment of the corresponding affective design features.