Activity: Talk or presentation › Invited talk
Jelle van Dijk (University of Twente)
Out of your mind, into the body? From theory to inspiration
How do we mix the digital and the physical in ways that are intuitive to our own bodies? Indeed it may feel sometimes as if we have lost touch with our bodies. This seems related to the way digital technologies have gradually taken over increasingly large parts of our everyday lives.
So what about these new kinds of interfaces, VR, AR, and the like? Would something like Google Glass help to get back in touch with ourselves? Or would it actually make things worse, recruiting now our whole body as a means to lose ourselves once more in the digital world? In this talk, I show how interactive technologies are shaped by certain philosophical assumptions, which go back to Descartes’ famous split between ‘mind’ and ‘body’.
From the 1940s onwards, Cognitive Science reinvented this Cartesian dualism, claiming our minds were essentially software, and our body the corresponding hardware (including the sensors and actuators to connect our software-minds to the physical world). I believe that unless we get rid of this mind-body split, we will keep designing things that fail to appreciate what "intuitive to our own body" really means. Simply mixing physical with digital is not enough. We need more than the Oculus Rift Developer Kit; we need the right sort of conceptual apparatus to go with it.
This is why I introduce an alternative philosophy, one that rejects any Cartesian dualism. It is based on theories of embodiment; in particular that of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The framework I propose aims to do justice to the full design potential of mixing physical and digital. By reframing our understanding of the role of the body, it opens up an exciting new design space. It offers inspiration to anyone designing for VR, AR, IoT, Ubicomp and Wearables in all sorts of application domains, such as health, well-being, automotive, the office and the home.