Though the concept of embodiment has
been in the spotlight in HCI, the body—
the actual corporeal, pulsating, and felt
body—has been notably neglected in
theory and design work.
here, we acknowledge the need to
understand how much knowledge about
the human body one needs in order to
design for body-centric computing.
Of course, one might argue the more
the better; however, one position was
that it is also impractical to expect all
designers to take kinesiology courses.
Others questioned how impractical that
would actually be. Is there some basic
knowledge that might be sufficient,
or would we always need to bring in
experts? For example, HCI curricula
currently teaches aspects of the vision
system and Fitts’ Law about our
perceptual and performance capacities.
Doesn’t our new interest in body-centric
computing require us to add more
specific knowledge about other relevant
physiological, chemical, hormonal, and
neurological processes? If so, how do
we provide HCI students and designers
with the necessary knowledge to draw
from and interpret their own bodily
experiences with confidence? Overall,
there is a need for more methods and
concepts for personalized and adaptive
body-centric systems based on fine-grained knowledge of the human body.
Another question that emerged is
how to respect experiences of body
changes. For instance, how do we design
for restricted movement? This question
arose from the discussion around
than being “critical, smart, and the
brilliant designer you always want to
be.” However, for some participants, the
slow walking did not work so well; they
had difficulty not being goal-oriented,
letting go, and being in the moment.
This shows that these activities might
not work for everyone and in any state of
mind, or that some people might require
more time to appreciate such activities.
In a critical examination and
discussion about design outcomes
from body-centered design processes,
it was noted that they often fall
into a “meditative,” “
inward-looking,” “self-reflective" genre
(e.g., the somaesthetic yoga mat [ 4]).
Participants pondered which types of
sensitizing pre-design activities other
types of aesthetic bodily experiences
would require. If you are designing for
a dance club, would slowly walking in
the woods help? How? Likewise, what
would happen if these designers had
designed those chairs after jogging?
It was also noted that this particular
activity focused on designing from
our experiences (i.e., the brief to
design a chair was given only after
the silence activity), whereas in
reality, the brief usually comes first;
hence, the design process might
therefore unfold differently.
Participants also observed that two
lines of conversation emerged when
reflecting on the activity: One was about
designing for the human body from
the lens of what is good for the human,
while the other is about designing new
experiences that are experiential and
not necessarily good for the human
body. However, they do not need to
stand in opposition, as Mueller and
Young highlighted previously [ 5].
Participants also tried out taking
on a first-, second-, and third-person
perspective when designing for the
human body [ 3]. The first-person
perspective is concerned with the
personal felt experience of the body;
the second-person perspective is
concerned with the interdependencies
between bodies; and the third-person
perspective is concerned with an
external, more objective view of
the body. Subsequent discussions
highlighted that the third-person
perspective is prevalent in most of
today’s available wearable technologies,
with a few emerging systems also
considering the first-person perspective.
The second-person perspective is
probably the hardest to grasp, with
limited exemplars available as guidance.
OPEN QUESTIONS AROUND
There are many open questions
around body-centric computing. One
that arose: how to articulate bodily
experiences for design. At the moment,
there is limited knowledge of how to
communicate, share, and articulate
bodily experiences. Following from
Using VR to disrupt awareness of space to force relearning of how to navigate in the physical world.