Expanding:THE BODY

Embracing the diversity of human body data

Supervised by
Claudia Müller-Birn, Freie Universität Berlin
Peter Sörries, Freie Universität Berlin

As we enter a world where technology is not just around us but also inseparable from us, even inside us, it is time to rethink how we design the human body. The rise of wearables, body tattoos, and e-textiles demonstrates the increasing ubiquity of technology in capturing vital body data. However, these innovations tend to reflect universal solutions that often overlook the individuality inherent in each human body’s response to different life situations and environments (Streeck, 2011).

The field of health technologies has been characterized as male-biased, often excluding marginalized groups such as non-binary people, people with disabilities, and pregnant women. This points to the urgent need for a paradigm shift in which technologies are designed to celebrate and support the uniqueness of each human body, bridging the digital-physical divide with tangible and embodied artifacts.

Enter our groundbreaking interdisciplinary course project, „Expanding:THE BODY“, where we foster the conventional approach and emphasize the design for the uniqueness of the human body. Our core objective is to engineer embodied interactions that actively articulate, reflect individual needs, and materialize them (Spiel, 2021). Our mission is to honor the plurality of human bodies and develop a deeper understanding of embodiment as a perception and interaction mode and a design principle (Spiel, 2021).

In this course, we face several challenges:

1. We delve into the experiential differences in the lived embodiments of individuals and groups and explore how these unique experiences shape lives differently.
2. We raise questions about the data and information that human bodies can provide and how individuals can cultivate skills to become more attentive to their body data.
3. We explore how complex and multifaceted body data can be translated into innovative physical artifacts.

We invite students from Computer Science at Freie Universität Berlin and Product Design from Kunsthochschule Weißensee Berlin to collaborate. The challenge is to design and develop novel neo-analog artifacts that use the body as a starting point. These artifacts aim to enhance cognition, communication, learning, and decision-making in everyday contexts (Jansen et al., 2015).

Join us in „Expanding:THE BODY“ as we embark on a journey to reshape the future of body-centered technologies. Be a part of this innovative endeavor and help us create a more inclusive, perceptive, and empathetic technological landscape.