Week 10: Physical and Embodied

Thank you to all Associate Chairs for their invaluable contributions to the committee meeting for the first fictional ‘Tangible Computing: The Past, Present and Future” conference. I hope you agree it looks like an excellent line up.

After keynote speaker Brigg Ullmer, the first sub committee session is ‘Theory and Philosophy“, with ACs: Agata, Colin, Jack, Vas. Using diversity as an acceptance criteria, they come up with an excellent 3 paper session.

First, ‘Designing for Embodied Being-in-the-World’ sets the scene for meaningful embodied interaction through two case studies of designing for people with autism spectrum disorder and dementia, and suggest a framework for supporting embodied activity. Un-Crafting: De-Constructive Engagements with Interactive Artifacts looks at meaning making around taking artifacts apart, and ‘Getting a Grip on Tangible Interaction‘ reflects on the social aspects of tangible interaction, leading us nicely into the first coffee break.

The second sub-committee on ‘Awesome New Interfaces‘ was led by ACs Sami, Irina, Alexandra, Bob and Peter, with an acceptance critera of interfaces that were both epic, and awesome.

The first interface to reach the criteria of awesomeness was around shape capture and display for Physical telepresence from MIT.

The second had a retro-feel, a tangible questionnaire called Voxbox developed at UCL.

And the third was the most recent, MobiLimb, an open source limb for augmenting mobile devices

I hope the ACs agree that these interfaces provide an excellent showcase of different tangible interfaces.

The final sub-committee ‘Histories & Futures‘ (with ACs  Andrew, Mohaan, Adam & Hattie) focused primarily on the social application of tangible computing:

Using computer technology to motivate a creative learning environment for pre-school children provided a historical lens, whilst designing bimanual tangible interaction for stroke survivors took this social application bang up to date.

There was some debate amongst committee members about whether Wall++ Room-Scale Interactive and Context-Aware Sensing ‘counted’ as tangible computing, and at what point this line is drawn. However, the smart infrastructure outlined in this paper does, perhaps, indicate a way embodied interaction could ‘catch on’.

Finally, there was some lively discussion about teleporting lemonade between committee members, and taste as a tangible interaction is certainly a valuable concept to consider. We are not at this time, however, considering it as a replacement for conference refreshments . I’d like to remind attendees that the following technique also repicates the taste of lemonade remarkably well.

Retro forms of tangible interaction reminded me of a recent trip to Novelty Automation in London, which is definitely worth looking at. On the website there’s also videos and articles from the engineer behind the machines Tim Hunkin about how he made them. My personal favourite is Air Bed-n-Bug

Prep for Next Week

Next week will be around the topic of personal informatics and data.

Increasingly we live data driven lives. Many of us collect personal data as a means of reflecting on and changing our behaviour with a view to becoming fitter, healthier more productive and happier.

But beyond personal choice, our life is also driven by data collected about us by others. Our personal data becomes an input to digital systems that recording buying and spending patterns, our web browsing behaviour, track our driving habits and offer us personalised experiences.

Is this empowering us, increasing our wellbeing, giving us more access and more choice, more freedom to act, and greater control over business and the state?

Each group will put forward their collective position and arguments on this topic evidenced by some reading.  Each group will prepare a 10 minute case to present their position and 5 minutes for cross-examination.

There are 5 papers in the drop box folder to familarise yourself with. They offer an introduction to the idea of personal informatics and data in place. You don’t need to read all of them – you can pick and choose depending on the position you’d like to take.  You might also wish to look for other papers or media articles etc., to strengthen your specific arguments and enliven your presentation.

This week I’m asking you to please find your own group where you’d be willing to argue a similar case, depending on the critical position you’d like to take – 3 groups would be ideal.

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