CumInCAD is a Cumulative Index about publications in Computer Aided Architectural Design
supported by the sibling associations ACADIA, CAADRIA, eCAADe, SIGraDi, ASCAAD and CAAD futures

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id sigradi2006_e145a
authors Heiss, Leah
year 2006
title Empathy over distance: Wearables as tools for augmenting Remote Emotional Connection
source SIGraDi 2006 - [Proceedings of the 10th Iberoamerican Congress of Digital Graphics] Santiago de Chile - Chile 21-23 November 2006, pp. 66-69
summary Mainstream communication modes emphasise network speed, connection access, resolution, portability, and aesthetic design as primary to the success of their products. Within this vision a three by four centimetre screen and high resolution display are deemed adequate to emulate the intensities and complexities of face-to-face connection with loved ones. They allow us to ‘be there with you’ from wherever we might be. Yet interpersonal communication is a massively complex phenomenon. It involves a plethora of micro-activities which occur at a physical, physiological, and psychological level allowing us to recognise at a cellular scale intention, motive and emotional authenticity. Our conscious and non-conscious involvement in spatially collocated communication is substantial due to these myriad channels of real-time bi-directional information transfer. While contemporary communications technologies have the capacity to mediate our relationships, they fall short of encouraging the richness of spatially co-present interaction. The research discussed in this paper investigates the potential expansion of remote connection when electronically enhanced apparel is incorporated into the communications mix. Rather than pursuing the manifold functionalities of traditional communications media the garments discussed focus solely on the goal of enhancing empathy between physically distant individuals. This paper reports on the development and testing of a range of garments that conduct presence information between remotely located people. The garments sense, process, transmit and receive the heartbeat wavelength (ECG). They are enabled with ECG sensors, signal processing equipment, small vibration motors, and radio transceivers which allow users to ‘feel’ the heartbeat of a remote friend/lover/relative as vibration through their garment. The prototypes aim to enrich the remote communications experience through reintroducing an embodied, tactile dimension that is present in face-to-face communication. A range of user testing trials will be discussed which have been undertaken to assess the impact of the garments at a conscious and a non-conscious level. Conscious experiences were gauged through qualitative testing, by way of interviews and unsolicited written reactions, which have provided a range of engaging emotional responses. Non-conscious physiological reactions were assessed by recording ECG throughout user-testing periods. This data has been processed using HRV (heart rate variability) analysis software, running on MatLab. Preliminary results suggest that users have strong conscious and non-conscious reactions to the experience of wearing the prototype garments. The paper will describe the data processing techniques and findings of the user testing trials. The development of biosignal sensing garments has raised a range of issues including: innovative potentials for embedded peripheral awareness media; the expansion of the classical body to incorporate remotely sensed information; the issue of data semantics and the development of intensely personal non-verbal languages; and the issue of corporeal privacy when one’s biological information is exposed for potential download. They also bring into question how our bodily experiences might change when we incorporate remote sensory systems.
keywords Enabled apparel; emotional tools; biosignals
series SIGRADI
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100%; open Niskanen, Juha-Pekka, Tarvainen, Mika P., Ranta-aho, Perttu O., and Karjalainen, Pasi A. (2004) Find in CUMINCAD Software for advanced HRV analysis , Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine, 76, 2004, pp. 73-81

100%; open Rainville, P., Bechara, A., Naqvi, N., Damasio, A.R. (2006) Find in CUMINCAD Basic emotions are associated with distinct patterns of cardiorespiratory activity , Int J Psychophysiol. 2006 Jan 23; [Epub ahead of print]

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