That coolness can turn tepid if the product appears to be losing its edginess, they also found.
"Everyone says they know what 'cool' is, but we wanted to get at the core of what 'cool' actually is, because there's a different connotation to what cool actually means in the tech world," said S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications, Penn State, and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory.
The researchers found that a cool technology trend may move like a wave. First, people in groups -- subcultures -- outside the mainstream begin to use a device. The people in the subculture are typically identified as those who stand out from most of the people in the mainstream and have an ability to stay a step ahead of the crowd, according to the researchers.
Once a device gains coolness in the subculture, the product becomes adopted by the mainstream.
However, any change to the product's subculture appeal, attractiveness or originality will affect the product's overall coolness, according to the researchers, who report their findings in the current issue of the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. If a product becomes more widely adopted by the mainstream, for example, it becomes less cool.
"It appears to be a process," Sundar said. "Once the product loses its subculture appeal, for example, it becomes less cool, and therein lies the challenge."
The challenge is that most companies want their products to become cool and increase sales, Sundar said. However, after sells increase, the products become less cool and sales suffer. To succeed, companies must change with the times to stay cool.
"It underscores the need to develop an innovation culture in a company," Sundar said. "For a company to make products that remain cool, they must continually innovate."
However, products that have fallen out of favor can have coolness restored if the subculture adopts the technology again. For example, record players, which were replaced in coolness by digital files, are beginning to increase in popularity with the subculture, despite their limited usefulness. As a result, participants in a survey considered the record players as cool.
The researchers asked 315 college students to give their opinions on 14 different products based on the elements of coolness taken from current literature. Previously, researchers believed that coolness was largely related to a device's design and originality.
"Historically, there's a tendency to think that cool is some new technology that is thought of as attractive and novel," said Sundar. "The idea is you create something innovative and there is hype -- just as when Apple is releasing a new iPhone or iPad -- and the consumers that are standing in line to buy the product say they are buying it because it's cool."
A follow-up study with 835 participants from the U.S and South Korea narrowed the list to four elements of coolness -- subculture appeal, attractiveness, usefulness and originality -- that arose from the first study. In a third study of 317 participants, the researchers found that usefulness was integrated with the other factors and did not stand on its own as a distinguishing trait of coolness.
"The utility of a product, or its usefulness, was not as much of a part of coolness as we initially thought," said Sundar.
Such products as USB drives and GPS units, for example, were not considered cool even though they were rated high on utility. On the other hand, game consoles like Wii and X-box Kinect were rated high on coolness, but low on utility. However, many products ranking high on coolness -- Macbook, Air, Prezi Software, Instagram and Pandora -- were also seen as quite useful, but utility was not a determining factor.
"The bottom line is that a tech product will be considered cool if it is novel, attractive and capable of building a subculture around it," said Sundar.
Sundar worked with Daniel J. Tamul, assistant professor of communications, Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and Mu Wu, graduate student, Penn State.
Matthew Swayne | EurekAlert!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences