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Expanding Affective Computing Paradigms Through Animistic Design Principles

Published Paper at INTERACT 2021

Published onSep 30, 2021
Expanding Affective Computing Paradigms Through Animistic Design Principles

Björn, Elina and I presented a paper at INTERACT 2021, which was based on my master thesis. The work attempts to position smart homes and buildings as 'living’ spaces, i.e spaces with their own experiential qualities that allow them experience the events that occur within them. Existing smart home technologies are repositioned as sensory ‘organs’ through which the space understands and interacts with the entities and events occurring within it.

The intent behind pursuing such a line of research within the scope of Sustainable HCI is to attempt to reframe sustainability goals as one born from empathy towards others, including ‘more-than-human’ perspectives.


Animistic and anthropomorphic principles have long been investigated along with affective computing in both HCI and HRI research, to reduce user frustration and create more emotive yet relatable devices, robots, products and artefacts. Yet such artefacts and research have mainly been from user-centric perspectives and the animistic characteristics localised to single objects. In this exploratory paper, we take these principles in a new direction by attempting to invoke animistic characteristics of a room or a space itself. Designing primarily for space itself rather than the user or a single product, allows us to create new interactions and narratives that can induce animism and empathy for the space, in users. This leads to the creation of a prototype space, which we use to investigate how users approach, interact and behave in such a space, yielding several insights and user behaviour, all of which can be used for further studies, capable of generating new interaction perspectives and providing insights into user behaviour. We conclude by discussing the potentiality of such spaces in developing new strategies for behaviour change and HCI.

Read the full paper here -

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