We Know that Communication Matters: Now, How?

We believe that communication is crucial to wellbeing, and that engaging multiple senses can only enhance the experience. But we are also aware that p

We believe that communication is crucial to wellbeing, and that engaging multiple senses can only enhance the experience. But we are also aware that people already suffer from sensory overload everyday: noise, lights, heat, cold, angrily vibrating mobile phones – so what combination of these senses is comforting rather than stress-inducing? We are now at the point of trying to research what people want, rather than what we think that they want.

Part of this process involves speaking to people (we will be posting some of their stories soon). The rest of the process involves going over existing research into human-computer interactions, to find what has or has not worked in this area to date. A number of studies have investigated the power of different senses, highlighting the particular strength of emotional reaction to touch. However, we want to take this a step further – touch can be hard or soft, represented by warmth or light, a stroke or a squeeze. With only a few months to go, we want to explore which of these sensory experiences creates arealsense of being in touch.

 

A second consideration is catering for the different needs of children and adults. While adults may find an emotional bond sufficient, children need an extra level of engagement – we wish to explore whether this extra level of engagement will come from the proposed storytelling aspect ofInTouch, or whether this object in itself will take on enough emotional meaning to keep a child engaged with it. As we discussed at a recent REACT workshop, any object can become important in somebody’s life; it is not the object itself that holds emotional value, but what it comes to represent.

 

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