Critical Wearable Computing

LilypadNovel wearable devices such as fitness trackers and heart-rate monitors have recently captured broad attention by major device makers including Apple, Nike, Jawbone, Google, Samsung and Fitbit. While these devices represent the forefront of the mass-consumerization of wearable computing research and promise a broad range of benefits for ordinary people in terms of health and self-knowledge, they typically define the concept of the self in a rather limited manner through a uniform set of empirical indicators that can be captured using commodified sensor technology. This trend indicates the broader cultural embrace of gaming related concepts like leaderboards, statistical tracking (i.e. score keeping), resource management (dietary tracking, calorie burning), and others.

We believe a broader definition of the self is required for designing wearable devices capable of capturing the vast range of human identity and everyday experience. This project utilizes research based design methodologies to explore the capacity of current technology to explore and express a broader horizon of human subjectivity. Rather than developing a consumer driven deliverable device, we instead intend investigate the area of wearable computing devices and self-tracking utilizing approaches variously referred to as “adversarial design” or “critical making” (DiSalvo, Hertz, Paulos).

Project Contact: Kris Fallon

Project Collaborators: Ksenia Fedorova, Jordan Carroll