Haplós: Towards Technologies for and Applications of Somaesthetics
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How can vibrotactile stimuli be used to create a technology-mediated somatic learning experience? This question motivates this practice-based research, which explores how the Feldenkrais Method and cognate neuroscience research can be applied to technology design. Supported by somaesthetic philosophy, soma-based design theories, and a critical acknowledgement of the socially-inflected body, the research develops a systematic method grounded in first- and third-person accounts of embodied experience to inform the creation and evaluation of design of Haplós, a wearable, user-customisable, remote-controlled technology that plays methodically composed vibrotactile patterns on the skin in order to facilitate body awareness—the major outcome of this research and a significant contribution to soma-based creative work. The research also contributes to design theory and somatic practice by developing the notion of a somatic learning affordance, which emerged during course of the research and which describes the capacity of a material object to facilitate somatic learning. Two interdisciplinary collaborations involving Haplós contribute to additional fields and disciplines. In partnership with experimental psychologists, Haplós was used in a randomised controlled study that contributes to cognitive psychology by showing that vibrotactile compositions can reduce, with statistical significance, intrusive food-related thoughts. Haplós was also used in Bisensorial, an award-winning, collaboratively developed proof-of-concept of a neuroadaptive vibroacoustic therapeutic device that uses music and vibrotactile stimuli to induce desired mental states. Finally, this research contributes to cognitive science and embodied philosophy by advancing a neuroscientific understanding of vibrotactile somaesthetics, a novel extension of somaesthetic philosophy.