What does health feel like? Exploring sensory feedback from wearables

Public event 20th to 23rd Sept 2018

As part of the London Design Festival 2018, Marion Lean, a PhD design researcher at the Royal College of Art, created an interactive installation in collaboration with intelligent textiles innovators Footfalls and Heartbeats. Inspired by the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine, in which one action triggers the next in a domino effect, she connected an exercise pad made with textile sensors to a sculpture made from a series of giant marble runs. The set-up invites you to experience physical activity data in a playful way: when you interact with the exercise pad by moving, this triggers the marble run, eliciting a childlike feeling of wonder and satisfaction. There's more info below and you can watch the highlights in this video. You can also explore our other videos on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss out on anything!

The installation is part of research project using materials to explore the experience of systems and technologies designed to aid behaviour change. It proposes a felt experience of the data generated by technology products like activity trackers which are designed to support wellbeing, in contrast to the usual numbers they give us about the targets we've achieved - and missed.

“So many devices aimed at encouraging healthy behaviours flash up persuasive messages that actually work by giving us ‘the guilt’. I wanted to create a system where the sensory experience and physicality of materials could motivate us by provoking a positive feeling in response to your physical activity”.

Designed as a research encounter to consider the sensory and affective dimensions of digital health, the exhibit follows an interactive workshop with a London sports group, in which players from the Haringey Rhinos RFC tried out textile sensor systems such as connected smart socks and considered how the wearer’s performance data might be fed back to them on the field, in alternative, sensory, non screen-based ways. You can see the video from that workshop here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFm9avpqW64

Additional event details:

Title: What does health feel like? Exploring sensory feedback from wearables
Date: This event has now been and gone. It took place on 20th to 23rd September 2018.
Venue: Hockney Gallery, Jay Mews, London SW7 2EP
Organiser: Marion Lean
Further info: marion.lean@network.rca.ac.uk

A public, interactive exhibition as part of Design Research Evolution which is being held during London Design Festival. Visitors will be able to explore the ways that we can, do and could interpret health data from wearable devices, not just in terms of numbers like step-count and heart rate, but through alternative forms of sensory output – things that we can feel, hear, touch and see.

The exhibition will showcase some of the outputs from Marion’s research workshop, Stretch Orchestra, held in August 2018, as well as providing an insight into the role of human centred design and the use of innovative materials in health and wellbeing research.

Visitors will be able try out a variety of sensor systems and discover how design, new materials and emerging technologies are being used to monitor and improve health, by helping us to tackle our sedentary lifestyles and move more. They will have the opportunity to explore how their own data can be translated into a variety of sensory formats, creating a live exhibition, and to express their views on how they might like to feel, hear, play and interact with their physical activity data in ways that would be meaningful to them.

Further info: marion.lean@network.rca.ac.uk