Touching a Stranger: Designing for Engaging Experience in Embodied Interaction

Open Access: http://muep.mah.se/handle/2043/13019

Høbye, M., & Löwgren, J. (2011). Touching a stranger: Designing for engaging experience in embodied interaction. International Journal of Design, 5(3), 31-48.

ABSTRACT – We present Mediated Body, an exploration into designing for engaging experience in embodied interaction. Mediated Body entails a Suit worn by a Performer engaging in social play with a Participant. The Performer and the Participant each wear a pair of headphones, and when they touch each other’s bare skin, they both hear a complex sound pattern. Our approach, which we call research-through-explorative-design, is a combination of experimental design in the lab and explorative design in the field, where qualitative assessments are used to elicit transferable knowledge contributions. This paper represents a case study of this somewhat innovative research approach in action. On the topical level, our results include three artifact-level elements that contribute to engaging experience: connecting touch and audio with the right balance between direct and emergent responsivity, justifying bare-skin touch between strangers, and providing open-ended action props with non-trivial internal complexity. Moreover, we suggest three experiential qualities as analytical tools pertaining to engaging experience in embodied interaction: the duality of performative immersion, the “magic circle” of transformative social play, and the explorative nature of emergent meaning-making.

Keywords: Embodied Interaction, Engaging Experience, Research Through Explorative Design.

Copyright: © 2011 Hobye & Löwgren. Copyright for this article is retained by the authors, with first publication rights granted to the International Journal of Design. All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. By virtue of their appearance in this open-access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings.