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Front. Comput. Sci., 23 October 2023
Sec. Human-Media Interaction
Volume 5 - 2023 |

Editorial: Inbodied interaction

  • 1WellthLab, Department of Electronics and Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 2Computer Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, United States
  • 3School of Cybernetics, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
  • 4Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, United States

Editorial on the Research Topic
Inbodied interaction

Inbodied interaction takes as its starting point that the body is the locus of constant adaptation to context. It proposed therefore that by aligning our designs with that awesome complexity that is our physiological, chemical, electrical, biological selves, we then have done our best to support our aspirations for our health, wellbeing, engagement in the world. Such support, as we see in this Research Topic's paper Discomfort: a new material for interaction design is not always comfortable, but it is natural, essential for building skills, for thriving, for being our better selves and societies (schraefel and Jones).

Indeed each of the papers in this Research Topic on Inbodied Interaction are part of an invitation to explore the following questions:

What happens to our interactive technology when we align our designs with the internal complexity of the human body's interconnected, physical, and biological networks first? When we design to align with our inbodied selves?

That is, can we design technology beyond the interaction component to leverage the body's internal complexity as a design resource? These questions are drivers in what we have called the “Inbodied Interaction” approach to design and engineer interactive systems.

In inbodied interaction we have offered three models in particular to support that internal, bio-physio-electro-chemical working: these include the Inbodied 5 (In5), Circumbodied 4 (C4), as well as Tuning, they are outlined in the IX Special Topic on Inbodied Interaction. They are also detailed in our inbodied interaction online primers. We particularly encouraged authors to engage with these Inbodied Interaction framings as design approaches and provocations for their papers.

Our goal in this Frontiers Research Topic has been to foreground such examples of how an Inbodied Interaction approach can help us fundamentally re-imagine the interactive technology of work, workplaces, home, education, and play. In particular, we challenge ourselves to ask: where we focus on the effects of aligning our approach with the inbodied first, from individual to infrastructure, how does this orientation make it easier for us all to build both the environments and the knowledge, skills, and practice we need to be healthy, effective, creative and resilient, not least in harmony with, sustainably with, our planet.

As an example of aligning with the orienting principle of Inbodied Interaction of the body is site of constant adaptation, Tabor et al. present Comparing heart rate variability biofeedback and simple paced breathing to inform the design of guided breathing technologies, In this paper, the group considers the benefits of helping people slow their breathing to achieve a variety of physiological and associated psychological benefits. In most design cases, we use sensors to monitor phyiological/biomechanical processes, whether that's walking, heart rate and so on. For breathing support, sensors—often connected to tracking systems—are common. But are they necessary in this case? The design question explored is: to what degree do sensor devices differ in effect (specifically achieving “coherence”) differ from far simpler external guides. In this case, there is no effect benefit. The results open related inbodied interaction questions around design continua like outsourcing to insourcing. Sensor-based designs typically support perpetual outsourcing of our status to devices to tell us how we are doing; might lighter weight guides help insource and own better inbodied awareness to guide ourselves, over time?

A further reflection on the experience of adaptation is explored in the discomfort work (schraefel and Jones), noted above. Here, the physiology of discomfort is explored as a necessary inbodied experience to support positive adaptation. The authors also offer examples and challenges for HCI design to embrace discomfort, and especially to help participants prepare for discomfort by aligning it with the paths for adaptation. Making discomfort explicit, the authors propose, can help prevent people abandoning practices that would be beneficial for them—across physical, emotional, social and cognitive practices that each affect our inbodied responses.

Inbodied Interaction's two interacting models of the Inbodied 5 (Move Engage Eat Cogitate Sleep) and the Circumbodied 4 (Gravity Air Microbiome Light) come together in Human factors affecting ventilation in Australian classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic: Toward insourcing occupants' proficiency in ventilation management (Snow et al.). The paper focuses on the impact of Air Quality (from the C5) on the ability to Cogitate (from the In5) in class room environments. It uses Inbodied Interaction approaches, such as Tuning—to explore building personal knowledge skills and practice to help insource both inbodied self-awareness and practices around elevated CO2, and to build responses individuals/groups can take to address these effects.

The orienting concept of inbodied interaction is that the body is the site of constant adaptation to context. The focus in this approach is to align our designs to support optimal adaptation of our inbodied, complex, dynamic systems. Adaptive human bodies and adaptive built environments for enriching futures considers how this approach may be specifically applied to technologically augmented built environments to better support sustainable, healthful interactions for human performance (Andres).

A quest embodied within inbodied interaction, as foregrounded in the above papers, is to help people use devices like sensors, guides and so on, either minimally or temporarily to help people enhance and tune their internal sensing and associated practices. The inbodied 5 themselves are what we call “semi-volitional” and “non-invasive” ways to interact in a fundamental way with the body. In Socio-technical context for insertable devices the authors consider particularly the largely averse response to invasive devices, framed as “insertables” (Heffernan et al.). This adverse reaction seems to create substantial opposition to the use insertable devices, hindering the full realization of the whatever impact they may eventually have on inbodied interaction. The paper explores responses to these devices, offering a perspective for future inbodied interaction considerations of how these devices may disrupt or align with the “align the design” ethos of inbodied interaction.

We hope you find these papers inspiring, useful, positively challenging, and invite you to engage with Inbodied interaction as an emerging perspective, approach and methodology in HCI that fosters a deeper bodily literacy to align technology with the internal complexity of the human body's interconnected, physical, biological and planetary networks. Our hope is that these papers help illuminate how considering, exploring and applying inbodied understandings to align our designs is vital in the very literal sense of life-fostering, in our aspirations to design minimal dose technologies that support our performance, wellbeing, quality of life. Thank you for reading.

Author contributions

ms: Conceptualization, Methodology, Project administration, Writing—original draft, Writing—review and editing. MJ: Investigation, Project administration, Supervision, Writing—original draft, Writing—review and editing. JA: Investigation, Project administration, Writing—original draft, Writing—review and editing. EM: Project administration, Writing—review and editing.


EPSRC support has been invaluable in bringing together this Research Topic, across projects that has informed the ideas developed here. Particular awards include EP/T007656/1 Health Resilience Interactive Technology: transforming self-management for individual and community health via inbodied interaction design EP/K021907/1 ReFresh: Remodeling Building Design Sustainability from a Human Centered Approach EP/N027299/1 GetAMoveOn:transforming health through enabling mobility.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher's note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Keywords: inbodied, discomfort, adaptive, built environment, CO2, insertable, HRV, breathing

Citation: schraefel mc, Jones M, Andres J and Murnane E (2023) Editorial: Inbodied interaction. Front. Comput. Sci. 5:1295041. doi: 10.3389/fcomp.2023.1295041

Received: 15 September 2023; Accepted: 20 September 2023;
Published: 23 October 2023.

Edited and reviewed by: Roberto Therón, University of Salamanca, Spain

Copyright © 2023 schraefel, Jones, Andres and Murnane. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: m. c. schraefel,