UX Australia 2010

Designing for biofeedback: Blood sweat and fears

Erik Champion, Andrew Dekker

When we design interactive systems, we have to make a leap of faith that our understanding of the target users is spot on. We conduct ethnography, need-finding, benchmarking, personas, user testing and focus groups: a whole array of methods to design systems which work for users. Then we release it, hoping that we were right in our assumptions. We may release updates based on user feedback, but for the most part the turn around is too long for frustrated users.

This session explores the imaginative and atmospheric use of biometric devices within interactive digital environments. We use the term biofeedback to represent a real-time two-way feedback loop between the machine and the user: the user reacts to an action initiated by the system, and the system can then react based on the users physical/emotional reaction (and so forth). The biofeedback interaction may not necessarily form the primary mode of interaction, but may augment existing interaction modes and devices. Currently we focus on the use of these devices within gaming environments. While the initial implications are for games there is also widespread potential for many forms of digital interaction.

While biofeedback is currently used within the HCI community as an effective method to gauge user reaction for analyzing and evaluating user interfaces, by bringing this technology into the live user experience, systems have the ability to better understand the user’s joy and frustration, allowing on the fly adaption to dynamically accommodate individual traits and preferences.


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