Embodied Technology

Embodied Technology

The physical boundaries between humans and technology are increasingly interweaving and blurring. Technology from a traditional sense can be physically separated from the body (for example telephones), integrated in the body (for example a pacemaker), or serving as extensions of the body (for example glasses). Emdodied IT explores and investigates cutting edge technology and applications that relate to the blurry boundaries between the human body and technology from a range of viewpoints, such as philosophy and humanities, engineering and product design, and interaction design and marketing.
Topics include:

  • Welfare. Monitoring the condition of the human body, semi-autonomous systems can support the bodily condition or ensure healing processes
  • Micro-sustainability. The bodily movement can be utilized by micro energy-harvesting systems that transform kinetic movement into energy
  • Communication. Think of glasses with integrated screens, wearable communication technology, or even bodily integrated communication technology
  • Tourism. Embodied IT provides the opportunity to create services for tourists to provide information and inspiration about locally experienced places.
  • Bio-mimicry and bionics. Nature has a very rich range of sensors and actuators that could be explored and inspire new product development.
  • Fashion. The fusion between technology and fashion is still in its infant shoes – bringing technology close to haute couture fashion or even mass produced fashion can open up a new area of research.
  • Theatre. Embodied IT can provide opportunities to support entertainment by for example augmenting the human body with light, sound, or movement.

Embodied Technology Build Up

SDU Design has identified Embodied Technology as an emerging field that promises to revolutionise IT as we know it today. Thus, alongside the environment of existing disciplines we will establish a technology oriented research discipline.
This discipline will grow organically as we develop networks and competence in a close collaboration between the researchers of the Institute of Design and Communication’s IT Group and the Mads Clausen Institute of Product Innovation’s Interaction Design unit.
This competence will enable us to later establish an IT bachelor programme in collaboration between the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Humanities.

Post Graduate Embodied Technology Symposium – PETS 2014

(January 20th 2014, The Science Park, Alsion, Sønderborg)
This event provided a meeting ground for emerging researchers to exchange ideas concerning embodied technology. By embodied technology, for this event, we meant computing systems that explore novel ways to acknowledge, support, utilize, exploit, or augment the ‘lived bodies’ of their users, in particular the way the body is involved in human sense-making.
With approaches from Design Research, Ethics, Future Visions and Interaction Design, SDU masters students from various campuses, contributed presentations, activities and demonstrations. Topics ranged from supporting remote relationships to health and medicine, from cyborgs to knitting! Across wearables, implants and prosthetics to even using the human body itself as data transmission devices.
A colorful backdrop was provided by Critical Design posters showcasing provocative proposals concerning the very youngest users of technology. For instance: “Next generation breastfeeding: using the vacuum between the babies’ mouth and the breast to charge batteries.” Towards a sustainable future or reintroducing child labour?
We were also delighted to welcome two keynote speakers from Finland and the United States:
Vangelis Lympouridis presented “Whole Body Interaction”. Vangelis is a visiting scholar at the School of Cinematic Arts, and the Creative Media & Behavioral Health Centre, University of Southern California, following a PhD from University of Edinburgh, an MA in Sound Design (also Edinburgh), and earlier training in Environmental Art & Sculpture (Glasgow School of Art), Painting (Valako) and Physics (Ionnina, Greece).
Salu Ylirisku elaborated the notions of ‘Embodied Technology’ and ‘Embodied Design’ on the basis of concrete examples. Salu originally trained as a usability and interaction designer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki. In 2002 he began to work as a designing researcher at the Department of Design at Aalto ARTS, and has ever since been working on several national and international innovative concept design projects. Currently he is the leader of the Embodied Design Group at Aalto University.
Thanks to support from IT-Vest.