Proud to announce that our paper about best practices for designing bodily extensions has been accepted for CHI2023.
We wanted to know the current best practices for designing playful bodily extensions. Based on five in-depth interviews and workshops with the designers of Monarch, the Interactive Cosplay Tail, Wigglears and Arm-a-Dine, we extracted a set of 5 design guidelines for designing playful bodily extensions.
Bodily Extensions for Fun?
While much research has been done about bodily extensions as bodily functionalities such as prostheses, we know how bodily extensions can be playful – and not just for utility purposes. Concretely, we were interested in mapping best practices for designing playful bodily extensions – what makes them playful, how they are playful and how to accommodate bodily play in such designs.
Learning from Five Experts
The study was a qualitative study in which we conducted five in-depth (online) interviews and workshops with the designers of Monarch, the Interactive Cosplay Tail, Wigglears and Arm-a-Dine. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. The interviews were semi-structured, and the workshops were prepared. Theories of play and bodily experiences informed the study. From the analysis, we extracted a set of 5 design guidelines for designing playful bodily extensions.
Designing Bodily Extensions for Fun
When designing playful bodily extensions, designers should consider the following:
- Designing the Extension as a Social Organ to Facilitate Communication
- Allowing Varying Levels of Agency on the Extensions
- Different Phases of the Incorporation Process Can Facilitate Playfulness Differently
- Lived Playful Dynamics of Different Contexts
- Playing with Identities through Bodily Extensions
The entire study is described in the paper just accepted at CHI2023. I will link to it from here as soon as it is published.
Buruk, O. ‘Oz’, Matjeka, L.P. and Mueller, F. ‘Floyd’, in press. Designing Playful Bodily Extensions, In the Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, Hamburg, Germany
Interactive technologies offer novel opportunities for physically extending our bodies, with the most prominent examples being prosthetics and systems emerging from the wearables community. However, most such systems appear to focus on instrumental benefits, missing out on the opportunity to use bodily extensions for play and its associated benefits (including a lower adoption barrier and the potential to reveal a broader understanding of such technologies). To begin understanding the design of playful bodily extensions, we interviewed five designers of bodily extensions that have been showcased in prestigious academic venues or turned into commercial products. Here we present themes and actionable advice from these interviews for designing playful bodily extensions through a thematic analysis. Our work aims to support the design of future playful bodily extensions while promoting the experiential qualities of bodily extension design, with the ultimate goal of bringing more playful experiences to people’s lives.