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Technological artefacts that incorporate data and Artificial Intelligence are increasingly intertwined with how we relate to ourselves and the world. This is especially present in smart wearables (e.g. fitbits, AR glasses, etc.) as paradigmatic examples of this intertwinement. These objects have an intimate presence as we wear them or hold them close to our bodies, can co-witness a variety of everyday situations, and from this perspective, engender a sensitivity and intimateness in the way they influence or mediate our relationship with the world and with others.

How we interact with smart wearables and view their socioethical implications depends on the way we ‘frame' them

We ask you to build up three different speculative designs of a wearable technology for stress management, designed to bring out how the very same technology can be framed as an agent, device and as a mediator (as three archetypes of smart things). By making these speculations in terms of form and interaction, and by analysing them, we are able to better understand how ethical implications are tied into people’s framing and the design features that underlie them.

The project results into three design fictions, aimed to be showcased at exhibitions, used to stir discussion about the ethics of smart wearable technology, be capable of providing design guidelines.

We foresee the following activities… 

  • do a review on smart wearables concerning the state-of-the-art and ethical challenges associated with depending on these kinds of systems.
  • Familiarize yourself with enactive perspectives on agent-world relations (enactivism provides a useful descriptive perspective on what it means to be a living embodied agent who enters into hybrid relationships with other entities).
  • Based on this analysis, we ask you to choose several critical scenario’s which describe several ethical issues that may emerge as a result of a user’s relationship of dependency with their smart wearable (i.e., inspired by agent, device and mediator paradigms).

We are looking for you!

We are looking for a student from one of the Master programs at Industrial Design Engineering (DfI, IPD, SPD) who has an interest in value sensitive and ethics-focused approaches to design; who has good visualization and communication skills such as model building and cinematics; who is socially engaged, would like to stir discussion in society about new technologies that hold promises but also threats, and who is interested in philosophical perspectives on the nature of (hybrid forms of) human-computer interaction (particularly enactive theory).

Further inquiries

Please contact
Dr. ing. Marco Rozendaal (IDE)
Dr. Janna van Grunsven (TBM) 

Marco Rozendaal