Biosensing and actuation-platforms coupling body input-output modalities for affective technologies

Miquel Alfaras, William Primett, Muhammad Umair, Charles Windlin, Pavel Karpashevich, Niaz Chalabianloo, Dionne Bowie, Corina Sas, Pedro Sanches, Kristina Höök, Cem Ersoy, Hugo Gamboa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
84 Downloads (Pure)


Research in the use of ubiquitous technologies, tracking systems and wearables within mental health domains is on the rise. In recent years, affective technologies have gained traction and garnered the interest of interdisciplinary fields as the research on such technologies matured. However, while the role of movement and bodily experience to affective experience is well-established, how to best address movement and engagement beyond measuring cues and signals in technology-driven interactions has been unclear. In a joint industry-academia effort, we aim to remodel how affective technologies can help address body and emotional self-awareness. We present an overview of biosignals that have become standard in low-cost physiological monitoring and show how these can be matched with methods and engagements used by interaction designers skilled in designing for bodily engagement and aesthetic experiences. Taking both strands of work together offers unprecedented design opportunities that inspire further research. Through first-person soma design, an approach that draws upon the designer’s felt experience and puts the sentient body at the forefront, we outline a comprehensive work for the creation of novel interactions in the form of couplings that combine biosensing and body feedback modalities of relevance to affective health. These couplings lie within the creation of design toolkits that have the potential to render rich embodied interactions to the designer/user. As a result we introduce the concept of “orchestration”. By orchestration, we refer to the design of the overall interaction: coupling sensors to actuation of relevance to the affective experience; initiating and closing the interaction; habituating; helping improve on the users’ body awareness and engagement with emotional experiences; soothing, calming, or energising, depending on the affective health condition and the intentions of the designer. Through the creation of a range of prototypes and couplings we elicited requirements on broader orchestration mechanisms. First-person soma design lets researchers look afresh at biosignals that, when experienced through the body, are called to reshape affective technologies with novel ways to interpret biodata, feel it, understand it and reflect upon our bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5968
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Actuation
  • Affective technologies
  • Biosensing
  • Design toolkits
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Interaction design
  • Somaesthetics


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