Embodied interaction is a subfield of interaction design and human-technology interaction, dealing with wearables, haptics, and tangible interactions. The idea is to move technology from the screen into the real physical world.
We naturally communicate physically, using our bodies to interact with each other and the world. Therefore, it’s only natural for research in human-technology interaction to move towards that and it’s highly probable that we will see fast developments in this area. In this article, I’m going to illustrate some examples of embodied interaction and provide you with further readings.
Embodied interactions – Examples
Image from Grace College
Wearable technology is smart electronic devices that can be worn on the body (in clothing, as accessories, or implants). Examples are smart textiles, smartwatches, and activity trackers. These devices often exchange data through the internet with other devices, with software, manufacturers, etc. This can contribute to the Internet of Things (IoT) and new possibilities in using that data in areas like health care.
By for example monitoring heart rates of the elderly with activity trackers and uploading that data onto a healthcare system we can in real-time discover heart attacks and falls. This would allow the elderly to receive help in time and in turn, save lives.
Wearable technology and the gathering of big data can improve our society in a mass of areas. But it’s important to know about the potential dangers associated with sharing personal data on the cloud. There are a lot of privacy and security issues that you can read more about in this article (Cyber Security Degrees).
Haptic technology refers to interactive technology involving touch. The user and the system can communicate using force, motion, and vibrations. Probable implementations are in smartwatches, smartphones, gloves, VR, and game consoles.
Haptic technology can be utilized for creating a more immersive and improved user experience by not only involving visuals as feedbacks and interactions but also the sense of touch. We can already see some real-life implementations in games on smartphones and game consoles.
Further, these sorts of technology could be developed to aid accessibility and contribute to technology designed for people who primarily use haptics to interact with the world.
Tangible User Interface
The last one is tangible user interfaces are interfaces we can touch, move and physically interact with. It allows us to communicate with information through physical interaction. One use area is for examples on tables (see image).
When applied, the technology can aid group communication, allow “physical” communication over long distances and contribute to interactive learning.
Similar interactive technologies
- Motion interactions: There have also been recent developments in using cameras and motion detector to capture physical movements as interactions. The user can use hand signs, body language and draw in the air to input data to the system.
- Voice interactions: Using voice to communicate is now a reality as seen with for example Google Home and Siri. It’s not quite “physical” interactions but still brings technology closer to our natural way of communicating.
References about embodied interaction
- Exploring the foundations of a new approach to HCI (1999)
- Wearable Technology – Wikipedia
- Haptic Technology – Wikipedia
- Tangible User Interface – Wikipedia
- Sony’s interactive experience program T