Embodied Engagement: Supporting Movement Awareness in Ubiquitous Computing Systems

By Aaron Levisohn and Thecla Schiphorst.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

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This paper advocates for supporting movement awareness in ubiquitous computing as a means of transforming technology design through an approach that considers movement as an experiential component of interaction rather than a solely functional one. Somatic awareness, or the awareness of the body from the inside, is one of the primary components of movement experience, yet its resource for technology design is not yet fully understood within the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). The inclusion of phenomenological movement experience in computational interaction has the potential to improve user experience, enhance the fidelity and quality of communication, and produce heightened engagement for users.

Although somatic awareness has received little attention within HCI, other disciplines offer theories and frameworks that can inform the development of technology to support movement awareness. Through the discussion of theories of embodiment from a diverse range of disciplines including cognitive science, dance, somatic practices, and philosophy, this paper presents an argument for the importance of movement experience as a component of interaction with technology. It provides a history of movement within HCI, highlighting movement’s role in a variety of theories and frameworks, and identifies two distinct approaches toward the utilization of movement in HCI— task oriented and experience-oriented. An in-depth discussion of experience-oriented approaches illustrates the importance of movement and somatic awareness as necessary components of ubiquitous computing systems.

Keywords: Movement, Somatics, Embodiment, Awareness, Phenomenology, Experience, Engagement, Design, Ubiquitous Computing

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.97-112. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 789.513KB).

Aaron Levisohn

PhD Candidate/Research Assistant, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Aaron Levisohn is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia where he teaches classes in New Media, Art, and Design. He holds a BFA in Film from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an MS in Human-Computer Interaction from the Georgia Institute of Technology. As both an artist and a researcher Levisohn is currently exploring the role of movement in constructing human experience through the development of wearable and tangible artifacts that explore human perception and cognition. His work is grounded in embodied theories of consciousness which he employs in the interrogation of the cognitive, emotional, and aesthetic nature of kinesthetic experience. Levisohn has presented and exhibited his work in Canada, the United States, and abroad.

Thecla Schiphorst

Associate Professor, The School of Interactive Art and Technology (SIAT) in the Faculty of Communication, Art, and Technology., Simon Fraser University, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Thecla Schiphorst is a Media Artist/Designer and Faculty Member in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Her background in performance and computing forms the basis for her research, which focuses on embodied interaction, sense-making, and the aesthetics of interaction. She is particularly interested in the poetic forms that cultivate affect, materiality and experience-modeling within media art + technology. She is a member of the original design team that developed Life Forms and the recipient of the 1998 PetroCanada award in New Media awarded biennially to a Canadian artist, by the Canada Council for the Arts. Her media art installations have been exhibited internationally in Europe, Canada, the United States and Asia in venues including Ars Electronica, the Dutch Electronic Arts Festival (DEAF), Future Physical, Siggraph, the Wexner Centre for the Arts, the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, and the London ICA. She has an MA in Dance and Computing Science and a PhD in Interactive Arts at the School of Computing from the University of Plymouth.