Touchy Feely Tech

  • 2016-07-28
  • Research

Coding for the Social and Emotional Body, Talk by Prof. Katherine Isbister, University of California Santa Cruz


A sidelong glance or a loving touch can express more than a thousand words. Dancing around the living room can make you just as happy as reading good news in an email or text. Yet we still leave the expressive social and emotional body out all too often when designing software and technology to support everyday living. In this talk Katherine Isbister will present a series of evocative tech prototypes built at the NYU Game Innovation Lab aimed at better supporting the social and emotional aspects of being in the world and being with each other. These range from a public game that uses a surveillance camera to encourage collaboration and connection, to a door entry security system that lets you make rude gestures to open the door if that’s what suits your fancy, to a dance battle game that uses mobile devices to get people looking at and moving with each other instead of being together alone. This work challenges some key assumptions hidden deep in the code and hardware that surround all of us—in the talk Isbister will surface those assumptions toward replacing or augmenting them with new ones that may reshape the future tech landscape in body-positive ways.


Katherine Isbister is a Human Computer Interaction researcher and designer, focused on creating more compelling emotional and social qualities in games and other computer-supported experiences. She is a Professor of Computational Media at the University of California Santa Cruz. Prior to this, she was the founding Director of the Game Innovation Lab at New York University. Isbister’s team creates research prototypes with support from NSF, Microsoft, Bell Labs, Yahoo, and other funders. Projects have been featured by Wired, Scientific American, and NPR. Isbister is a recipient of the MIT Technology Review Young Innovators award.


This lecture is organized by the Human Computer Interaction Group at the Institute of Design and Assessment of Technology.


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