Borders and interfaces: the challenges of the wearable computer’s design in the near future

The panel with a contemporaneous perspective about the creation and the development of wearable computers concerns with the main aspects of those processes: the design, creation, innovation, mobility, usability and ergonomic perspectives; the fashion, about the body-technology-consume relation; the textile technology, about smart textiles; etc.
Monday, 19 September, 2011 - 13:00 - 14:30
Chair Person: 
Luisa Paraguai
Chair Person: 
Rachel Zuanon
Laura Beloff
Sara Diamond
The performer Dani Gatti is wearing Vestis and a detail of its structure, Mostra de Artes SESC 2010
NeuroBodyGame Bio-Wearable Device and Installation
Empty Space
Company Keeper, collaboration Sara Diamond & Di Mainstone, 2005

Chair: Dr. Luisa Paraguai
2nd Chair: Dr. Rachel Zuanon

The wearable computing is a knowledge area in constant development, evoking significant transformations on human/machine communication to configure an effective and affective interface. Those technological artefacts have augmented the personal boundaries redesigning the corporeal schema and lived experiences of bodily spatiality. So, the user’s body is beyond acting the support for those computers understood as a physical reality technologically mediated elaborating behaviours and sensory-motor skills, which works as essential data for recognition of own preferences. Those information exchanges between biological and technological systems have constructed possible dialogues evoking questions and pointing out challenges. The panel with a contemporaneous perspective about the creation and the development of wearable computers concerns with the main aspects of those processes: the design, creation, innovation, mobility, usability and ergonomic perspectives; the fashion, about the body-technology-consume relation; the textile technology, about smart textiles; the sustainability, about recycle materials, use of natural energy as the charger of the mechanical and electronic systems and the development of systems with low energy cost; the networks and technologies, considering the augmentation of the body and mind of human subjects in networks of interactions powered by communication technologies.

Paper Abstracts

Multisensory Mobile Devices: Redesigning Bodily Spatialities and Dimensions

by Dr. Luisa Paraguai

In the context of mobile technological interfaces, more and more the users’ action and perception have been organized into complex forms that depend on the actual context. From those relations, established by a dynamic flux and exchange of information, emerge present body spatialities, articulated between the physical and the virtual, but both real. The body, compounding infinite aesthetical and lived approaches, can expand the territorial physical limits and be understood as a physical reality technologically mediated, elaborating its activities, which take place either locally or remotely, in constant juxtaposition of space and time dimensions not related. All the time, including and excluding people, determining the tempo, the movements and the placement, and defining the degree to which those activities are simultaneous. According to that theoretical approach, it will be presented some poetic projects and described their sensorial experiences proposed, as WHISPER, wearable body architectures, and TENDRILS, interactive kinetic garment (both created by Thecla Schiphorst), SOMO, social mobiles (created by Crispin Jones and IDEO), VESTIS, affective spatialities (created by Luisa Paraguai), and RECOIL, urban environments and the micro-spaces (created by Katherine Moriwaki). Those artworks have assumed the body as a system established through the experience, where the meaning has been elaborated from the object relations with and onto the space, and questioned some ideas such as the emergence of a new body language, the reflection about private space versus public space, the perception of body and space as a dynamic configuration, as well as the appearance of new social codes, behaviours, and etiquettes.

Interactive Bio-Wearable Devices: Designing Affective Communications

by Dr. Rachel Zuanon

The processes of communication between man and machine and man-machine-man gain other contours from the advances of the mobile networks. These possibilities expand as we add them to the biometric technologies that map the physiological data from the users and allow combining them with more differentiated outputs of their choice. This condition provides the design of interactions between users and between users and computers that match the body and emotional state of individuals involved and, thus, to configure increasingly affectionate relationships based on these organic exchanges of information. In this context, we are going presenting and discussing several proposals from artists and designers committed to the creation and development of bio-wearable devices applied to the fields of knowledge and performance of fashion, games, art and design. Among them we may mention a few: "Conductor's Jacket", created by researchers at the Affective Computing Group at MIT, which interprets the physiological signals and gestures of the user applying them in a musical context; “Smart Second Skin Dress”, proposed by Jenny Tillotson, it consists of a interactive dress that realizes the user’s mood and starts to flow vent odors, allowing the interactor to create your own olfactory environment; "BioBodyGame" and "NeuroBodyGame", created by Rachel Zuanon and Geraldo Lima, they consist in two wearable computers that provide interactions with games from the neurophysiological signals and brain signals from the users, respectively, and they present the emotional state of the interactor at the color and vibrations changes of their physical structure.

Unexpected Affairs; Wearable Technology, Human and The Arts

by Laura Beloff

Instead of considering wearable technology devices as prosthetic tools that aim to aid and enhance the human body, the author takes a viewpoint that reality is part wise a construct of the technological devices, and this construction is experienced not only through them but also by them. Composite intentionality is proposed by P.-P. Verbeek as the intentionality of technology combined with intentionality of a human using the technological artifact. In this constellation technology is “experiencing” the world autonomously and constructing its own reality. For example, the way a wearable device is sensing or “seeing” aspects of the world and producing visual signs of it, which would not otherwise be perceptible to the human. There is an intentionality of technology toward “its” world and another intentionality of human beings toward the result of the technological intentionality.(Verbeek, 2008) This kind of intentionality reveals a reality that can only be sensed by technology, but which is then made accessible by the technology for human intentionality. Technology has here a double role; it is obviously material part of the physical world, but simultaneously it is a mediator of its own constructed (technological) reality, which in this way becomes also as a part of the (human) user’s reality and environment. In this kind of situation technology can no longer be thought merely as a tool, but it is a part of a user’s “hybrid reality” that still has its base on physical experience of the world. Examples of this kind of intentionality are found for example in the arts where in some projects the intentionality of technology is taken as relevant aspect in itself. The paper presents both contemporary wearable technology projects and relative historical works.

Moving Softly Forward

by Dr. Sara Diamond

This paper identifies themes in wearable technology practices within the context of research in universities and art and design schools as well as industrial laboratories to suggest opportunities for concentration of efforts and international collaboration. Research using biometric data, heart rate monitors, embedded sensors, blue tooth and mobile networks, conductive threads, soft circuitry, smart textiles and shape metals and other adaptive fabrics occur at sites in around the world.  Where are these? Secondly, the paper begins to map these research efforts to the potential of take-up by adopters (fashion designers, healthcare, and security services as examples).  Finally it suggests some opportunities for collaboration and points to strategies needed to bridge the gap between research or art and design prototyping and large-scale adoption.

Bios of the Participants

Luisa Paraguai

Luisa Paraguai, artist and researcher, studied Civil Engineering and Computing at University of São Paulo, Brazil. She got a master and doctoral degree at the Department of Multimedia, Institute of Arts, UNICAMP, Brazil. She is an Editorial Director at ABCiber (Brazilian Association of Ciberculture Researchers), a Leonardo Digital Reviewer and a visiting researcher-in-residence at Planetary Collegium, University of Plymouth, UK, researching about the social implications of wearable computers. She has presented her artworks at national and international exhibitions as 4D Interactive Computational Art, 2004, Brasília, Cinetic_Digital – Itau Cultural 2005, São Paulo, Mostra SESC Artes 2010 in São Paulo, and SIGGRAPH2005.

Rachel Zuanon

Rachel Zuanon is media artist and designer. She is a researcher and professor in the MA Design Program at the Anhembi Morumbi University. She coordinates the CNPq research group “Design: creation, language and technology” and the study group “Design of Physical-Digital Interfaces”. She holds a PhD in Communication and Semiotics (PUC-SP).  She is a partner-director of the Zuannon Integrated Solutions in Design, Interactivity and Technology, a company focused in development of projects and interactive solutions for physical and digital environments. She has presented her research in a variety of places, such as: M-Connect 2010; ISEA 2008 and 2002; Consciousness Reframed 2008 and 2004, among others.

Laura Beloff

Laura Beloff’s artistic works, with acclaimed international reputation as an artist, can be described as peculiar wearable objects, programmed structures and participatory, networked installations. Many of her works deal with individuals in the global society trying to adapt to highly complex technologically enhanced world, which is becoming increasingly mobile. Beloff has exhibited widely in museums, galleries and media-art events in Europe and worldwide, f.e. in Vienna 2011, the Venice Biennale 2007, and in Brazil 2008. She is frequently lecturing about her research and practice in universities and various conferences. 2002-06 she was Professor for media arts at the Art Academy in Oslo, Norway. 2007-11 she was awarded a five-year grant by the Finnish state. In 2009-2010 and in 2011 she has been an invited visiting artist at The University of Applied Arts in Vienna (AT). Currently she is working towards PhD within Planetary Collegium, University of Plymouth. More information on her works:

Sara Diamond

Dr. Sara Diamond is the President of the OCAD University, Canada’s “university of the imagination”. She holds a PhD in Computer Science and degrees in new media theory and practice, social history and communications. While retaining OCAD University's traditional strengths in art and design, she has led her university to become a leader in digital media and design research and curriculum through the Digital Futures Initiative, towards new research in Inclusive Design and health and design, as well as in sustainable technologies and design. She has also led OCAD University to begin the unique Aboriginal Visual Culture Program. She is co-principle investigator on the Centre for Information Visualization/Data Driven Design, an OCADU/York University major initiative. She is co-chair of the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre.  Diamond was the Artistic Director of Media and Visual Art and Director of Research at the Banff Centre, where she created the Banff New Media Institute (BNMI) in 1995 and led it until 2005. Diamond developed , a performance and media art, fashion and data visualization software collaboration environment. Diamond continues to write about digital media history, data visualization, mobile experience design, digital media and design strategy for peer reviewed journals and curates for festivals and galleries.