A bodily experience

In this post, I reflect upon what it means to design for the body by discussing the texts we read for this week and the design we did in groups. Specifically I reflect upon how to create bodily extensions and what this might entail.

According to Svanaes and Solheim (2016) digital technologies are currently moving closer to the user’s body through e.g. smart watches and wearable computing, which create new challenges of interaction designers and HCI as a research field. The approach of their research was with inspiration of Merleau-Ponty’s concept of the lived bodythrough “Designing for the body with the first-person perspective of Merleau-Ponty makes us aware of how technology is incorporated into the experienced body, and how it thus changes us.” This made me realize just how close technologies are to the bodily experience in our lives and just how big an effect this might have in our everyday. Through their research. they ended up with designing a wearable tail that actors could use on stage, controlled externally and movable ears controlled by the actor himself through the use of a glove. These are good examples of how to make direct extensions of the body, however one might question whether a bodily extension only is an extension if you can wear it somehow? Because for instance when kicking a ball, making it move and passing it to another person, does it not make it an extension of the body that can provide you with the possibility to interact with another person through that ball?

At the course we are asked to Design of an interactive light that is close to the body, to do so inspiration had to be gathered. This was done through an extensive brainstorm, of ideas of a chair and even a long tube, that you could crawl through where you could look in and see only good things and nice sounds and after crawling into the tube, you should gain the feeling of darkness with eyes lightning up and following you and creepy sounds to make you reflect on things not always being what it appears as.

However the latter idea, was not found to be feasible to actually build, therefore we tried to gain inspiration through other elements of the idea instead. The playful things of creating artefacts that feels like it is alive was something that intrigued interest, therefore it came to mind how to mimic and simulates emotions of a prop however also keeping in mind that there should be light incorporated somehow. After scrolling through Pintrest for some time, we stumbled over the Jellyfish, as this animal actually glows like light is coming out of it (see below image).

This ended out into a more critical design approach, as it came to mind how children sometimes took these animals at the beach and throws it to each other, as if is a playful toy that they can fool around with.  As this is not the case, we would like to mimic the emotions of the Jellyfish when being thrown to one another, through the use of light as it could be red when someone is holding on to it and make noise of a person suffering and when being thrown it is ‘set free’ and therefore turning it’s colours into green/blue to mimic freedom, with sounds of a person being happy, folding out as it is swimming through the water. In this way, they jellyfish could be extending the bodily communication between the users, as they would have to engage themselves with the artefact in order to ‘set the jellyfish free’ and thereby save the jellyfish together as a team. However this is a challenge to build, therefore we played around with paper prototypes and tried to create some of these effects through sensors of the Arduino (as seen in the below videos).

This ended out into a more critical design approach, as it came to mind how children sometimes took these animals at the beach and throws it to each other, as if is a playful toy that they can fool around with.  As this is not the case, we would like to mimic the emotions of the Jellyfish when being thrown to one another, through the use of light as it could be red when someone is holding on to it and make noise of a person suffering and when being thrown it is ‘set free’ and therefore turning it’s colours into green/blue to mimic freedom, with sounds of a person being happy, folding out as it is swimming through the water. In this way, they jellyfish could be extending the bodily communication between the users, as they would have to engage themselves with the artefact in order to ‘set the jellyfish free’ and thereby save the jellyfish together as a team. However this is a challenge to build, therefore we played around with paper prototypes and tried to create some of these effects through sensors of the Arduino (as seen in the below videos).

References
Svanaes, Dag, and Solheim, Martin (2016). “Wag Your Tail and Flap Your Ears: The Kinesthetic User Experience of Extending Your Body.” Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2016.