Tag Archives: communication

‘Affective Computing’ – Affective Interaction

Over at interaction-design.org, they have been publishing chapters of an online interaction design encyclopedia, where each chapter is written by an expert in a particular area in the field. I had come across it before for the chapter on Social Computing, which discusses crowd-sourcing type implementations of social computing such as wikipedia and scoring systems in e.g. Amazon and discussing mediated communication systems like twitter and facebook. A nice read and particularly a possibly helpful breakdown of crucial elements of such social systems.

Now I am posting as there is a thought provoking discussion of Affective Computing in response to a chapter of the same name written by Kristina Höök. The chapter  is followed by a well written response from prof. Roz Picard, who coined the term Affective Computing and drafted the first maps of that then poorly-charted terrain in her book Affective Computing. Next a rather artless response from one of the bigger names in the field of design and emotion, prof. Paul Hekkert. I do have to agree with the jest of his response. He amongst others, quotes the work on the compelling concept of ‘inherent feedback’ by my colleague and friend Miguel Bruns Alonso. The discussion centers on wether some HCI/AI approaches to Affective Computing is reductionist and cognitivist versus a more holistic and phenomenological approach to Affective Interaction that Höök describes. the Interactional Approach. That concept reminds me of the work of Stephan Wensveen, e.g. his paper at DIS in  2000 Touch Me, Hit Me and I Know How You Feel. A Design Approach to Emotionally Rich Interaction and then in his 2005 dissertation: A Tangibility Approach to Affective Interaction.

Against this backdrop I am currently reading the PhD thesis work of Joris Janssen, Joris’ work at first sight seems to take a reductionistic approach to empathic mediation (what he calls physiosocial technology), but particularly in the later chapters walks he shows examples of both a reductionist -lab based- approach and more holistic -real life- setting.
What fascinates me most in Joris’ work is the idea of technology that supports (even promotes?) empathy in dyads (2 people). Of particular interest for me is his (forthcoming) research on providing some form of feedback based on the correlation between one persons physiological signals and those of another. About a year ago Joris and I discussed social bio-feedback in more detail, after we got into contact over my Masters’ thesis on that topic and his paper on Intimate Heartbeats. Particular issue we discussed then was the modality of such feedback.

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The first build: Slider v01

slider disassembly
To set off my research in a hands-on fashion, I am building a system that enables a haptic connection between two (or more people). The system consists of modules each containing a motorfader, where each motorfader tries to follow the position of the other. Central idea of this system is that action and (haptic) feedback is collocated. (ref. Wensveen)(expand with theory?: Lenay, Deckers, Gibson, Merleau-Ponty)

The goal at the outset of this building project on the one hand is to learn new and hone existing tinkering and prototyping skills, on the other hand it is to literally get a feel for what it means to create a haptic connection between two and more people and to explore the feel of different variables in that connection, e.g. elasticity/firmness, friction. time-delay.

To some extent this system echoes inTouch, a classic tangible interaction system built by Scott Brave, Andrew Dahley, and Professor Hiroshi Ishii of the Tangible Media group, MIT Media Lab.

(more details after the jump)
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