Inclusive Design

To Shed Some Light on Empowerment: Towards Designing for Embodied Functionality 

Jelle van Dijk, Fenne Verhoeven 

Twente University, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences

Keywords: embodiment, empowerment, interaction design, situated practice


We present a case study as part of an investigation into the value of Embodied theory for the design of mixed physical-digital interactive products. An interactive light system was designed that empowers an independent living person with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in managing domestic activities. Reflecting on the case we develop our vision of Embodied Functionality (EF). Designing for EF goes beyond ‘distributing’ information technology in the environment. It aims at creating interactive physical-digital products that play a functional role (i.e. become part of) a person’s embodied being-in-the-world, involving a person’s identity. It does so by utilizing existing structure and by supporting action-perception couplings, reflection in- and on action and autonomy in social coordination. EF opens up an alternative design space holding the promise of a more successful appropriation of interactive (assistive) products into people’s everyday lives. 

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

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Cite this paper: van Dijk, J., Verhoeven, F. (2016). To Shed Some Light on Empowerment: Towards Designing for Embodied Functionality. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

This paper will be presented at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme