CANCELLED: Food & Paper: Life-Affirming Biosensing: Sounding Heartbeats on a Red Bench (Howell)

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"Smart city" narratives in the U.S. often promise internet-of-things data-driven innovations leveraging biosensing technologies. I argue this overlooks a potential benefit of city living: affirmation. I designed the Heart Sounds Bench, which listens to and amplifies the heart sounds of those sitting on it. In this talk, I will describe my intent to invite rest, reflection, and recognition of others' lives in public space. Based on results from a study with 19 participants, people expressed feeling connected to a shared life energy including others and the environment, and described heart sounds as feeling intimate yet anonymous. Reflecting on this, I propose a concept of life-affirmation in terms of recognition of others' lives, feeling connection, and respecting difference with opacity, as a way of helping "smart city" designs embrace a multiplicity of differences.



How do we make meaning with data? Not only analytically, but also with our feelings, bodies, materials, and social relationships?

Howell's design research investigates ways of knowing with biosensory data - data about people’s bodies and behaviors. Combining critical making, speculative design, and participatory experiences, she challenges dominant techno-logics of data and explores alternatives.

As a PhD candidate at the Berkeley School of Information, Howell is advised by Kimiko Ryokai. Her dissertation committee additionally includes John Chuang, Greg Niemeyer, and Gail De Kosnik. She is also a member of the BioSENSE lab. Previously Howell worked as a human centered designer and engineer in Singapore, Morocco, and China, as well as at the MIT Media Lab, Intel Labs, and Microsoft.


Published Jan. 22, 2020 11:23 AM - Last modified Apr. 20, 2020 3:28 PM