Framing Embodiment in General-Purpose Computing. A study identifying key components in a multimodel general-purpose computational environment
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The last thirty years have presented us with technology that has had an profound impact on how we produce, socialize with others, and consume culture. Today most of these actions are linked to a computational setup which involves a screen representing our options in two dimensions and a hand-operated controller for manipulating the screen environment, a hardware setup that has not changed considerably the last 50 years. The dominant interface for personal computers the graphical user interface is highly ocularcentric, where only parts of the body apparatus (eyes and hands) are addressed in the interface directly. As an increasing amount of information, life experience and human contact is channeled through it, the desktop computer system, becomes increasingly inadequate to fully represent these actions. Any prosthesis added to, or used in conjunction with the body, and any part of the sensory apparatus neglected, will define our interaction with information. Information gathered by the somesthetic the touch and proprioceptic senses constitute a significant component in the way we form hypotheses about what an object is, and how it can be manipulated. By addressing the somesthetic senses in computer interfaces, we can achieve richer and more intuitive interactive experiences. This paper aims to identify the key components of a general purpose computational environment that foreground multimodal interaction by 1) investigating the significant qualities of the somesthetic senses from a phenomenological and neurophysiological point of view, 2) pointing to successful principles of human computer interaction (coupling), and tools for designing embodied interactions (physical metaphors, interface agents, affordances, and visual and haptic feedback), 3) evaluating the components of current mobile phone technology, surface computing, responsive environments, and wearable computing. Strategies and plans of dominant technology companies strongly influence what interfaces and devices are available via the commercial market, turning many of us into passive user accepting the default setup made available to us. But if we can move beyond current ideas of what a computer is, re-invent and retell the stories of what we want living with a computer to be like, users are in a unique position to front and engage discussions that influence artists, programmers, developers and engineers into trying something new.