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The Combinator – a computer-based tool for creative idea generation based on a simulation approach

  • Ji Han (a1), Feng Shi (a1), Liuqing Chen (a1) and Peter R. N. Childs (a1)

Idea generation is significant in design, but coming up with creative ideas is often challenging. This paper presents a computer-based tool, called the Combinator, for assisting designers to produce creative ideas. The tool is developed based on an approach simulating aspects of human cognition in achieving combinational creativity. It can generate combinational prompts in text and image forms through combining unrelated ideas. A case study has been conducted to evaluate the Combinator. The study results indicate that the Combinator, in its current formulation, has assisted the tool users involved in the case study in improving the fluency of idea generation, as well as increasing the originality, usefulness, and flexibility of the ideas generated. The results also indicate that the tool could benefit its users in generating high-novelty and high-quality ideas effectively. The Combinator is considered to be beneficial in expanding the design space, increasing better idea occurrence, improving design space exploration, and enhancing the design success rate.

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