Pre-class questions - Week 3 (Responses)
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NameWrite one paragraph with your thoughts regarding the possible rewards and perils of body alteration/augmentation.Write one paragraph with some ideas for body/skin augmentation technologies for some target user group (e.g. average Joe, children, elderly, disabled, or other).Specify a specific topic/paper/project/theme that you will present.
21/02/2017 16:45:19Lucas CassianoA good feature from augmented bodies technologies, specially when it comes to parallel exoskeletons mechanisms, is the ability to give back certain body movements for disabled people, with the advance of the interface technologies (beyond only EMG and with less invasive procedures required) and the mechanical parts as well it’s notorious the potential to enhance several natural body movements. However, in a scenario where we can choose to enhance specific part of our bodies (or even get a new one, maybe even share one) we may see some negative social impacts. For instance, how would people with higher quality body-parts behave within natural humans or with lower-quality body-parts, if currently even a different religion (in a rough comparison)causes friction between populations.
Making an analogy with the first reading of this week - “2006:What is your Dangerous Idea?” which the author shortly describes an experiment where a human could control a virtual lobster body, using muscle activation to achieve a different task from the one they are made for - and the game QWOP ( - which the player has to control the leg movements of a runner using the keys Q,W,O and P, connecting the finger movement to a virtual leg movement - we could develop an body surface interface, probably something similar to DuoSkin (, that allows the user to control different parts of it’s own body by move other muscles, or maybe control someone else's body, i.e. the user’s legs could be controlled by its fingers movements, making an exo skeleton apply the same angle on kees that the finger joints.
I think that the only paper that I did and is (kind of) interesting/relevant for this class is called ( where I developed a Low-cost capacitive wearable device, directed connected with the previous paper ( that I developed a dataglove for rehab of patients that had stroke, also with an Unity/VR game that used the glove as input. But they are very simple papers/projects, not sure if they are relevant for this class.
21/02/2017 23:12:06Nikhita SinghHuman body augmentation is not a recent pursuit. As a species, we have been augmenting our abilities for decades--from cosmetic surgery to birth control to hearing aids and more. However, the convergence of advances in nanotechnology, AI, brains science, hardware and biotechnology have enabled a future where these augmentations are more accessible and can be a seamless part of us and our bodies. The notion of body alternation or augmentation holds a great deal of promise. It has the ability to enable us to live out our "superhuman” pursuits. In the same way that we use our preferences. It can serve as a means for equalizing abilities across different subsets of the population. It can become a new way for us to express ourselves in the same way we use fashion, books, and objects. And it can give people the ability to experience senses they’ve never experienced before. However, these benefits are not without their liabilities, and it is important that we consider these when building a future with human enhancement technologies.

Perhaps the most obvious subset of the population that benefits directly from body augmentation technologies is those whose abilities have been compromised due to medical or circumstantial situations. Technologies such as PowerSkip, SpringWalker, hearing aids, and HAL are examples of this. Additionally, as the nature of work evolves to include a greater role for technology, body augmentation can enable individuals to perform tasks and enter professions they would otherwise be unable to and assist in reducing work-related injuries.

Another area of promise can be found in personalization of beauty regimes. Several cosmetic companies have already started designing and selling products that personalize to the user such as foundations and lipsticks and moisturizers. Enabling greater personalization through such technologies can enable us to more accurately meet our needs and benefit our health. In fact, technological body augmentation can also serve as a form of self-expression in the same way we use tattoos, piercings, and fashion.

However, as the ability to augment ourselves becomes readily accessible to any individual, other risks begin to emerge. How do we choose what abilities to augment? Does this create an “arms race” of sorts? What regulations must exist? Like with any technological advancement, ensuring equal access and regulation are significant challenges. While body augmentation could be assistive in enabling people to perform particular job roles, it could also inhibit people from having access to particular professions. Additionally, governments and armies could use and exploit these technologies to create unfair advantages, suggesting the need for overarching regulations. Additionally, as body augmentation technologies become more proficient, people may prefer to have technologically augmented features over real ones. Such demand opens up questions around whether access should be controlled or elective. In fact, as augmentation becomes more ubiquitous, it can have an impact on mental health resulting in self-esteem issues for people. Many of these issues depend on the way in which these technologies are adopted—do people try to augment themselves in as many ways as possible? Or do people chose their augmentation in the same way in which we chose technologies today based on our personal needs and desire for self-expression?

Body augmentation holds a great deal of promise for enabling abilities for mankind, but also presents many potential challenges. However, it is important to note that while the form of these augmentation technologies has evolved, we have been using forms of body augmentation for a long time and developed systems to control and navigate them. While developing these technologies, we should proceed with caution and consider not only the local, but also global implications of their adoption.
An interesting area of exploration for body augmentation is how such technologies can be used to make us more aware of the different aspects of our self. Often times, when we process information, we have trained our mind to think from a particular perspective and ignore other inputs of information. Or at other times, we often ignore particular signs from our body in the pursuit of other goals. What if your body could show you in a more deliberate way how different aspects of your own self react to a particular situation? Or help you make decisions? Or help highlight where there may be problems? Body augmentation can play a very important role in personal healthcare. The existence of devices that can collect and process information about our mental and physical state in real time can be immensely valuable not only to us, but to medical professionals.

Another intriguing application of body augmentation technologies could be designing the ability for us to sense beyond our human ability. Humans can only see a subset of all colors and hear a subset of all sounds and taste a subset of the imaginable universe. What if you could see, feel, hear, taste, and smell beyond the human capability?

Finally, I think it could be really interesting to extend the idea of “shared experience”. Empathy is an important quality to foster, especially as we become more driven by technology. What if you could “feel” what its like to be in someone else’s shoes by different forms of body augmentation? What if there was a body suit that enabled you to experience the world from someone else’s perspective?
I’m interested in exploring how proactive technology (specifically AI) should be in order to create a meaningful experience within the home environment, particularly since its such a personal and social space. I’d like to think about ways in which we can begin to model this (risk/rewards/expected value of intervention etc.). Could be interesting in subliminal interfaces or changing thought patterns and behavioral habits week.
22/02/2017 14:55:53Adam Haar HorowitzIf we take embodied cognition seriously, and understand our experience as composed of Bayesian priors and Gibson's affordances in relation to our own organic perception/action instruments, body augmentation is a question of altering mental as much as physical characteristics. A concern of mine, then, is the broader cognitive consequence of 'homuncular flexibility'--that same flexibility is what leads to chronic pain in the absence of physical stimuli, that same flexibility is what allows for phantom limb syndrome, and its rigidity is what allows for proprioception. With interchangeable bodyparts (Hugh Herr's legs switching between 3' and 6', for example) how much disturbance and flexibility will our brains allow before we disrupt our priors and affordances and are left with chronic phantom limb (phantom lobster limbs!) or inconsistent proprioception? The rewards, though, of extended embodied cognition via wearables are immense as well--a world where we're sensitive to infrared, can draw our dreams with eeg skullcaps while sleeping or receive specific visual stimulation in REM, can feel the ebb and flow of our immune system via haptics...and where each of these new streams of information become part of our bodies, qualia and our senses of self!Chronic pain affects ~100 million Americans; pain that continues after its apparent physical cause has entirely healed. Both chronic pain and phantom limb pain are correlated with level of S1 (somatosensory/homunculus) reorganization. We have seen evidence that wearing prosthetics prevents and eliminates phantom limb pain (Ramachandran's cardboard box/mirror), apparently due to a re-differentiation of the homunculus. After deafferentation (nerve death) S1 reorganizes and settles while limb pain is present, causing chronic issues after pain cause is eliminated; the introduction of prosthesis then triggers reappraisal of a phantom limb and S1 resettling with no cause for pain to be found, and chronic problems disappear. I'd like to extend this concept past phantom limb problems to chronic pain, since their cause is apparently shared: to create prosthetic virtual or physical extensions of areas with S1 mapping issues tied to chronic pain to trigger functional re-mapping. A 3rd foot for chronic knee pain, an articulated tail for chronic lower back pain, with placement based on mapping of S1 reorganization via fmri or behavioral exams.

Or, separately, I'd like to extend the PossessedHand concept to make music multisensory: finger movements tied to notes that piano players are playing on a track, where a listener can plug in and feel the music being played while they listen. This sort of vibrotactile music opens up possibilities for multimodal learning, and new questions about ties between music, movement and affect.
I'd be happy to present on Augmenting Expression, Persuasive Technology or Mindfulness Technology.
22/02/2017 19:14:08Mina KhanI think each type of body augmentation/alteration has a “if done right” and “if done wrong” scenario with respective costs and benefits. I’ll talk about the potential harms and benefits of three human augmentation approaches discussed in our readings:
i. Beauty technologies: I think beauty technologies have a way to revolutionize how human express themselves. We have heard many a times, “I wish I could tell you how I feel” because honest self-expression can difficult for people. Beauty technologies could be a medium for people to genuinely and effortlessly express themselves. For example, when your crush tells you they like you, you can reveal that your heart has actually sped up even if you are too shy to say anything. Or when you’re anxious and you colleague/friend wants to have a difficult conversation with you, you can share your anxious state with them.
I think beauty technologies are good as long as the user has control over what they can display and share, without feeling the societal pressure of sharing their personal data with everyone else. For example, in a job interview, people should not be expected to share their physiological signals if they do not want to.
Beauty technologies bring an ease of expression, but with the possible side effect that humans may be expected to share too much without respect for privacy. Beauty technologies could also allow humans to interface with external devices and act as an ever-present and easily accessible remote control.
ii. Exoskeleton and orthoses: Orthoses are undoubtedly beneficial for people who are physically disabled. The view of exoskeleton as the new personal automobiles makes me think that the exoskeletons will make walking and other physical tasks easier for people. Humans may even be able to run as fast as a cheetah or glide like a bird. All of this sounds amazing, but only for the people who can afford it. I’m afraid that building the next superhuman race may further stratify society as some people will be able to afford these augmentations whereas others won’t. Exoskeletons may also discourage the development of physical human capabilities, e.g. you don’t need to be muscular anymore to lift a heavy weight or you don’t need to get up to grab something as some mechanical extension of your body can do that for you. But, at the same time, exoskeletons can bring some equity for people who are physically challenged. E.g. people who are paralyzed maybe able to do their own tasks without having to depend on other people, or women who are considered to be physically weaker maybe able to do tasks which are physically demanding.
I am a firm believer in not trying to fix stuff that is not broken and I echo that same philosophy for exoskeletons for humans. I think we should focus our energies on using exoskeletons for supporting the physically challenged, and not necessarily try to make superhumans because who knows where the superhuman race would stop. I fear that even though exoskeletons may extend our physical capabilities, they may create some social inequity where ‘normal' people may be left feeling handicapped in a population of superhumans.
iii. Humuncular flexibility: I think humuncular flexibility may have an important role to play for humans by augmenting the use of underutilized body parts. E.g. humans rarely think about their spines and often develop bad posture, but we can train them in VR to keep their spine straight by using their spines to control virtual characters. By using their rarely used body parts, like hip bones or knees, in VR, I think we can make people more aware of their bodies. People can also learn how to swim better if they learn to use their legs like fins in VR.
Each type of body augmentation comes with a set of social and personal costs and benefits, which must be carefully evaluated in different contexts.
I mostly believe in building technologies which train people’s physical/mental capabilities rather than those that are a permanent physical addition to human body. For example, I’d rather have artificial limbs that train me to swim rather than those that swim for me. I would like to see people being trained in VR, e.g. to get over fear of heights, or using exoskeletons, e.g. to lift weight or to do a headstand. I feel that training my body allows me to keep a connection with my own body. Maybe exoskeletons that are directly controlled by my neurological signals or EMG will allow me to maintain the same connection, but I still feel more ownership in training my own body rather than an artificial muscle. I see the some value in adding to human capabilities, e.g. what if tomorrow I could see behind my back as well as in front with my eyes. But I’m afraid if that maybe too much capability and may distract me more.
I am also a huge believer in technology that allows people to beautifully express themselves. I think of beauty technology as an electronic personal glow. E.g. when I get happy or I blush, I have a beautiful aura around me or some part of my body lights up. Physical augmentations are usually hard to maintain, so I would suggest that we use augmented reality to help people to express themselves. Not only is digital content in AR easier to modify compared to physical devices, but also, AR content can be made selectively viewable by some people. Thus, augmented reality may be a good medium for people to express themselves.
I am thinking of a project that allows people to map the colors in their physical spaces using spatial sound. For people who can see, color is a perception and a feeling. But when we describe colors to blind people, we use words like red, yellow, etc, which have no perceptual meaning for those people. I want to use sound to represent color because sound is another perception. I would map the colors to sound so that colors of higher frequency (e.g. blue) are mapped to sounds of higher frequency. In his TED talk (, Neil Harbisson actually did something similar for him, but he can only use one point in space. I want to use spatial mapping with colors to describe the color space of a person’s surroundings to him/her using spatial sound. So that for example if you hear the sound of red from your right, then there’s red color on your right. David Eagleman did a TED talk ( on how he can used a haptic vest to make deaf people hear. I would like to use spatial sound to help blind people get a sense of the color space around them. I am planning to use Hololens for this project as it allows for both spatial mapping and spatial sound. I think this is a relevant topic for Sensor augmentation week and I’d like to talk about it :)
22/02/2017 22:27:47Christian VazquezAugmenting/Altering the body can have substantial benefits as long as the right policies are in place. I believe that non-invasive augmentation, which involves devices that are not embedded biologically on the user hold the most potential. These could be implemented on the skin (as “Beauty Technology: Designing Seamless Interfaces for Wearable Computing” suggests) or in other seamless form factors. These devices could be either passive or active. Active devices would let us actuate in our environment (e.g. additional finger) by explicitly controlling mechanical elements. These could range from extremities that allow us to perform tasks such as lifting heavy objects to exosqueleton suits that increase our stamina during a long run. On the other hand, passive augmentations can blend seamlessly in our body, augmenting our perception or providing information whenever it is needed. An example would be Google’s project on contact lenses that can measure glucose directly from the eye, notifying diabetics when they’re blood sugar levels are abnormal. Although the aspect of augmenting the body is not new, I think one of the more interesting areas that will stem from body augmentation will be learning how to use augmented bodies. Like the assigned reading, “Homuncular Flexibility” suggests, our mind is capable of adapting to different physiologies, such as controlling additional limbs. However, if the future of humanity lies in physiological augmentation, then a big body of research will eventually focus on developing techniques to allow user adaptation to different physical elements.

One of the biggest perils of body augmentation is equity. The design of every day objects usually focuses on the physiology of users to determine what are the proper form factors for technology. If body augmentations were to change the way we interact with the physical world through extensions, then eventually this would change the way the world is designed in response. For instance, if everyone had the ability to fly freely, then airspace would probably host facilities that wouldn’t be accessible by foot. The problem of equity arises when body augmentation is not readily available to everyone in the same capacity. It is fair to think that body augmentations will initially be costly and “premium” in the market. This is a problem already observed with technology in general. However, because of the physical components of body augmentation and the ways it can affect how the world around us is designed, the problem is of much more sensible nature.
People who work long shifts, often moving between meetings or focusing for long times in front of a computer often find themselves in a state of focus denoted as “flow.” During these hyper focused working sessions, it is easy to forget to eat. Skipping meals because of work can be particularly insidious for health. An interesting body of augmentations could be implemented to make people aware of insidious eating habits. The system could measure glucose levels through the use of contact lenses, the skin, or a combination of sensing techniques. The system could then signify hunger or the need for food using thermocromic displays on the skin or other signifiers. This could help the worker realize the need for food extrinsically, allowing for a logical signal to take a break. Conversely, these displays could externalize our needs to others. For instance, if there was a long meeting and people could see that my hunger indicator is on, then the participants could make an informed decision about whether to continue or regroup at a later time. These “need” signals can⎯if implemented correctly⎯alleviate social burdens in these respects. Moreover, depending of how they are implemented, they could also help signify when enough food has been ingested, potentially opening up a realm of applications for diets. I would like to present on Language Learning systems using Mixed Reality as a platform to enhance the way people learn while they traverse the world. This would be relevant near the session that focuses on augmenting learning. I could present ideas from which I’ve drawn for my research and present a live demo of WordSense if it is deemed of interest.
22/02/2017 23:06:53Huili ChenBody alteration/augmentation may result in different possible rewards as well as perils at the same time. First of all, it could be beneficial for people with disability. For example, it enables people with disability to perform some motor tasks (e.g., walking, jumping etc.) that may not be possible before. In addition, it may also create new doors for us to experience and sense the world by allowing us to augment some parts of our senses. For example, elephants are able to hear very minor sound waves that humans are not able to, so they are able to foresee the happening of earthquakes and then prepare themselves for the incoming calamity. However, humans are not able to do so. If we can augment our auditory sense, we would be able to detect the happening of earthquakes or other natural disasters, we as individuals could better prepare and evacuate if necessary. However, there may be some potential perils. If we rely too much on our augmented senses, we may lose our natural sensory capacity. For example, if we rely much on our artificial senses, our natural capacity may degrade. Then, humans may lose this natural capacity through evolution because we would be able to pass “good” genes to next generation. Once those artificial senses are taken away from our future generation, they would become incapable of doing many “normal” things.
We could potentially use body/skin augmentation to facilitate human-robot interaction. Although computer vision improves a lot in recent years with the advancement in deep neural networks, detecting and understanding human gestures by analyzing videos of human motion is still quite challenging. Instead of using computer vision, we could build sensors to our skins so that the robot can understand our motion by analyzing the movements of our bodies detected by the sensors. This similar technique could be applied to help robots understand human emotions. Now we reply on people’s facial expressions to predict and recognize their affective states, but people may not betray their true feelings via their facial expression. If the robot is able to know people’s skin temperature, heart beat and other physiological reactions via sensors on their skins, the robot is able to better understand people’s emotions and react to better comfort them.
I am interested in "Changing thought patterns and behavioral habits." This article from our supplemental readings seems interesting to me: " – How advances in virtual reality will change how we work and communicate" I am also interested in "Augmenting Expression" and still in the process of searching for a good paper on this topic to present.
23/02/2017 00:09:51Pedro ColonI believe the clearest benefits lie in being able to do more as humans (being able to run over to a different state or be able to climb up a mountain that I would normally not be able to) and improve the quality of people with limb disabilities. However, this would probably be used against us in war. Assuming that we don’t have autonomous soldiers, we would have super-soldiers that could basically traverse any sort of obstacle. Also, body augmentation could in the long term possibly lead us to have a less powerful evolution (less powerful body) as we would be creating a dependency on the augmentation. One idea is to have an exoskin that would let us survive in extreme temperature environments. Ie. A skin that would cool us down when we are in the middle of a desert or warm us up in the middle of a snowstorm. Another body augmentation would be an exoskeleton that would serve as a bicycle or would have some sort of wheel system for when traveling large distances or as a walker when traveling short distances.I can present about a sub-vocal speech recognition system that I started developing for SciFab 2050 last semester.
23/02/2017 00:35:18GuillermoHaving two polar opposite readings for this week; chapter on beauty tech and Exoskeletons and orthoses challenges, really give you a perspective on the future implications that this type of augmentation will have in our lives.

On one hand, we have the work from professor Herr that gives back mobility to those affected by a traumatic loss of a limb and improves people's quality of living for the better. In this case artificial limbs could achieve the same metabolic cost as our natural limbs but with the upper hand that this new limbs don’t have to deal with entropy as our natural body does but in the contrary we could potentially see similar trends as with the iphone “These are the best phones legs we have ever created” year after year.

Which brings my second point, after reading the Beauty technology chapter. I see it more of analogy to what body augmentation could potentially become once technology for improving people's lives, becomes so mature and mainstreamed that it transforms from a (for a lack of better word ) assistive technology to a luxury gadget. Not only this will look great but will probably offer capabilities that cheaper lesser models won’t have (think; plastic cover chromebook vs macbook pro retina display with rose gold finish) but in this case those with the expensive prosthetics can run faster be taller or change color... At a global scale can potentially create a bigger gap between the 1% and the rest of population.
After reading Prof Herr paper and researching a bit more about the process in which people get new prosthetics, made think of using VR as a simulator and data collection for amputees that are being fitted for a new prosthetic. We could have an avatar that shows the new leg or arm to the person receiving one. It could also be use to train the muscles that will be driving the new joints, helping create new neural path to control the prosthetic. I’m wondering if this could also help to alleviate phantom limb pain?I'm presenting this week :)
23/02/2017 01:00:05Jiabao LiThinking of human evolution, if body alteration could beat natural selection, will future human born with machines, or with fragmentary body parts waiting to the altered/completed?For the elderly, skin tells their age. Wrinkles, plaques, what if they could reveal other informations like their knowledge of life other than the records of time and tide? wearable projection body extension
23/02/2017 02:33:52Ishaan GroverBody alteration can enable individuals to perform tasks more efficiently and accurately. In some cases body augmentation can allow individuals to perform activities that they would otherwise not be be able to. For instance, prosthetics can today enable and empower people who have lost control over/had a limb amputated. However, at the same time, body augmentation could over time reduce the body's natural ability to perform without an augmented device. From an evolutionary standpoint, this seems counter productive. Consider an exoskeleton that reduces the amount of effort while walking. Continued use of such an exoskeleton could potentially reduce the human's ability to walk without the exoskeleton. Body augmentation could allow the elderly to be more mobile by reduce stress on certain joints. Body augmentation could also help young children who have not yet learned to maintain their bodies balance. An assistive aid could help them learn basic skills like walking, running and cycling more efficiently. Research has shown that the ears help maintain balance within the body. For people suffering from body imabalance, a similar technology could be used to help them maintain their balance and posture. Subliminal Interfaces & Physical Intelligence
23/02/2017 09:04:07Alexandra RiegerAlthough the benefits of body alteration/augmentation are multifold, it is vital to explore the risks we adopt while we adapt. Jaron Lanier points out that, "people could quickly learn to inhabit strange and different bodies and still interact with the virtual world”, a fact that opens the doorway to development and danger. He argues that our "homuncular flexibility” would expose our brains and bodies to the frequent updates and overhauls we don’t think twice about in our mobile phones or laptops. One can only imagine a young grandchild marveling at a series of outdated “computer interface tattoos” on their grandparents arms the way kids are baffled by VHS tapes in a digital world. Furthermore, articles like The Beetle Wrestler (Chris Woebken Et Al.) and the Possessed Hand (Emi Tamaki Et Al.) strike up concerns about potentially concerning uses for our augmented selves. An extension of ourselves that we guide through a rainforest could easily tamper with fragile ecosystems should an advert or pop-up interfere. Similarly, a laptop exposed to a virus is frustrating enough without the concern that our “digitally enhanced” hands are causing irreparable damage. Despite the given concerns, it is important to establish that in many ways we have become cyborgs already. Due to this, it is vital to push forward, beyond a world where the average individual spends countless hours staring at the screens of one's phone. We need platforms that allow us to interact with the digital world without leaving the real world. Katia Vega cites the surge in the popularity of Pebble - a wearable wrist watch to interact with iPhones.Technologies to date are often cumbersome and require too much of our gaze and energies. Although some aspects of Vega’s book brings to mind issues of class differentiation due to body alteration, body augmentation brings about a much needed level of physical equality and environmentally beneficial opportunities. Hugh Herr explains it perfectly when he states in his article, " today's prosthetic sockets nonetheless allow amputee athletes to run marathons, compete in the Ironman Triathlons, and even climb Mount Everest.” He further illustrates that due to our lack of stamina, we have to shape our world into serving us: we create cities with flat paved roads and design high-emission cars to take us long distances. In a time where our environment is facing major threats, greenhouse emissions and global warning stats are at threatening levels, it is encouraging to think of a world where we modify ourselves to fit the environment. Highways could be rocky terrains gilded by tufts of sweetgrass delineating lanes.I am interested in clothing that can assist in making falls safer for elderly individuals or those with gate challenges. Our computers have cases that protect the precious data should it hit the ground, our phones have screen protectors to save the glass touchpad, shouldn’t we afford human beings the same luxury? According to the National Council on aging, "Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.” Furthermore, as we learned during the 6th floor lecture, fear of falling leads to a stiffer gate which in turn increases the probability of a fall. Clothing that stiffens upon impact, uses compressed air or even a reactive bodily robotic attachment could be a vital discovery in helping the fourth of Americans aged 65+ who fall each year and which results in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.Title: Music as an augmentative and communicative cognitive artifact: From aboriginal songlines to Tuvan sonic personifications and Yoreme multi-modal song perception. Some of the readings that intersect cognition and anthropology include: Envisioned, Ensounded, Enacted: Sacred Ecology and Indigenous Musical Experience in Yoreme Ceremonies of Northwest Mexico (2014) and Levin, T., & Kei, V. (2006). Where rivers and mountains sing: Sound, music, and nomadism in Tuva and beyond. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
23/02/2017 09:22:02Chrisoula KapelonisIn a moment of complete symbiosis with human and machine, ideally the machine and the body are one and the same. Body augmentation is the most intimate form of augmentation there is because of the sheer proximity of the machine to the body; a relationship that many times breaks the barrier of the skin. This gives way for many new experiences that were physically not possible before the fusing of the two. With many kinds of physical body augmentation, the abilities of the human are amplified or exaggerated. The human is no longer bound to the limits of their original physical architecture. You can update your robotic legs when there is a hardware update and run faster. You can update the software on your exoskin to include new pattern designs. You can replace your fingers to the appropriate design when you change jobs from a craftsman to a pianist. And perhaps the most interesting part of physical augmentation is the fact that the user interface is felt. Since the machine fuses with the human, the body itself needs to understand the inputs and outputs of the machine, so there is the opportunity for the interface to connect with the senses as opposed to being mainly visual or aural. Although there are a great deal of interesting advantages to the synthesis of the human body and the machine, because of the intimacy of this union, many things could go wrong. Because the barrier is so close to skin, or under skin, there is the possibility for real infections to occur where the relationship between materials is not seamless. Also, there is the possibility to hack the body where the machine exists, creating a new kind of vandalism and crime. A hack on a computer is bad, but at least it isn’t physically doing any harm. A hack on the body though, could be devastating. The amplification of abilities could be rendered moot, or even negatively affecting the person if they are no longer in their control. A possible application of body augmentation for a specific population could be the affect it will have on athletes. Currently there is already a debate about athletes that are able bodied competing against ones with prosthetics, and understanding the fairness of that augmentation. Down the line, where it is possible in the future to augment a good portion of our motor control with prosthetics, and replacing limbs becomes the norm, there could be a new kind of practice in athletics, where training is no longer how hard you work to build up your biological self to its peak, but developing new hardware for updated limb architecture. The Olympics could essentially become like today’s robotics competitions; hardware and software based athletics. In a world where a physical update is just as commonplace as an iOs update, an athlete would mean someone completely different than today. An athlete could very well be today’s engineer. Smart textiles in respect to body augmentation
23/02/2017 09:23:12John StillmanAs a VFX artist, I’ve spent a lot of time mapping motion capture data to CGI skeletons to create bipedal characters that move naturally. I was excited to read Herr’s paper on Exoskeletons and orthoses because of the technological parallels to my previous work. I would love to take what I know and apply it to robotics in order to enhance kinetic function for people with physical handicaps.I would like to create tools to diagnose executive function issues like Attention Deficit Disorder in students via bio data. I also want to develop mixed reality tool to help sustain focus in these students to improve cognitive function. Developing wearables that capture bio data in an unobtrusive way would help make these biofeedback systems more elegant discrete and user friendly.Information relating to the diagnosis of ADHD through bio data capture.
23/02/2017 10:13:19Stefania DrugaMy understanding from the readings is that body alteration/augmentation started initially as a necessity (for early kohl make-up in Egypt to prevent eye infections to eye glasses and exoskeletons for paralyzed people). With time the esthetic component lead to new ways of imagining the body as a design platform (Vega). It is exciting to see today how the wearable technologies marry the world of HCI, Design and Health in some cases. From customized 3d printed prosthetics that could not only help you walk again but actually provide a whole new avenue for augmented motion and personal expression (picture Amy Purdy 3d printed legs Another big opportunity is to connect us more to our surroundings and make the invisible (big data, environmental/emotional sensing) more perceptible like in the case of this hair die that changes color based on the temperature( or this Google and H&M dress that can be customized with your personal data ( I believe there could be several limitations and risks to consider when designing these body alterations/augmentations. The main ones that come to mind are : security - example of pacemakers being hacked, and long term effect on the body (potential infections, neural effect when homuncular flexibility is pushed to the extreme). Target user group: intervention teams for disaster areas. Proposed augmentation: exoskeletons that allows them to control robots with intuitive body movements and intervene remotely. Specific example: Fukushima nuclear disaster where wearing the protection suits really limited what the intervention teams could do as their mobility was highly restricted./ Example 2. Target user group: teenager girls. Proposed augmentation: graphene garments that could express in real time in real time their body signals (breathing, focus, emotional arousal) in order to enable them to be more aware of their own bodies but also to forge friendships/exchanges in different ways ( I was inspired by this project would like to talk about different examples of Aesthetic computing (history of aesthetics and mathematics, large-scale information visualization in practice and relation between aesthetic computing, shapes and generativity) and explore some potential scenarios in which learners could use above scenarios in combination with AI/ML capabilities to create new forms of expression. Inspiration from this paper:
23/02/2017 10:40:13Laya AnasuBody alteration and augmentation can have tremendously positive impacts. In cases in which people may be medically or physically inhibited, body alteration/augmentation technologies can give people other ways to move and extend beyond their limitations, to go beyond their physical capabilities. This can be very positive. For example, prosthetic limbs controlled by the mind or by muscles or by other parts of the body can allow for people to retain their own movement and mobility where they may have otherwise been hindered. As another example, for people who have back pain and need to be able to carry a lot of items, these technologies can give people a way to do the tasks or activities that they would otherwise struggle to do or hurt themselves to do. In this way, I think body alteration and augmentation tech can be used in extremely good ways, in rehabilitation or strengthening ways. Body alteration and augmentation tech can also be dangerous however. The word alteration already suggests that something is not “natural” or that something is “different” than its original state. I think, in the future, there could be a race forward to see who can create the “better, stronger, faster” human or cyborg. There are people who take plastic surgery to the extreme: I can see people taking body alteration and augmentation to the extreme as well. At a certain point, there could even be a society in which people who have not altered anything, who are just “normal”, cannot do anything using their own natural bodies because they are trumped by people who have many alterations and augmentations. Some people might see this as a positive: that technology can be so great that people can do anything beyond the limits of their current bodies. But I can see it as a negative: that people could become so depend on body alteration that they “forget” or “cannot” do anything with just their natural human selves.
Target User Group- Students and Young Professionals (but really, anyone)

Yesterday morning, I was in a class where my friends and I were drawing smiley faces on each others’ notes to bright up each others’ days. My friend took my arm and drew a smiley face on my arm. I’m looking at it as I type this sentence. It made me smile and it made me think about using body as canvas or body as whiteboard. There are times when I’ll just have a pen and no paper and I’ll write notes on my hand. Many times, while on public transport or in a cafe, I’ll actually see a decent amount of people with notes on their hand. I wonder if we could create a skin interface for people to use whatever tool, a pen, or just their fingers, to “write” onto their skin impermanently. Their skin could be a canvas/whiteboard that stores the thoughts or information or reminders. Kind of like a mental note keeper… but physical. Their skin would automatically upload that information to the cloud and that information could be accessed at any time. Riffing off the skin interface, I also wonder if there could be one that allows people to transform their skin into different things like: a piano keyboard, a radio station controller, guitar strings, and so on. This tool could be a part of your skin or on your skin and could be personalized and adapted to what you want to do. So the skin on your arms could become virtual guitar strings or a virtual keyboard. I think it would be interesting to use your body as an instrument or controller, etc- to use your body as a way to reflect things from the environment.
Brain Computer Interfaces- Neural Implants, current methods, and future possibilities (perhaps articles along the lines of:, or (I'm still looking at what topic or paper exactly I might want to present on)
23/02/2017 11:19:01Wenying WuBody alteration/augmentation presented to us both opportunities and challenges that come from open sourcing our body. As human body and the machine becomes a whole, the boundary between the physical and the biological is blurred. We are offered opportunities to design not just our appearances but also our five senses. Our privacy is intruded but we are also given information that reveals our inner selves and help us better understand our behaviors. With the current pace of technology advancement, I can’t stop but questioning the feasibility of maintaining these body alteration / augmentation electronics every now and then. Our body is now just another device that requires system upgrades. How often are you willing to upgrade your body? Many digital products are radiation-emitting electronics; Would it be detrimental to our health if we are immersed and embedded in this kind of digital environment every day?Body augmentation technologies can assist the elderly in their daily activities such as walking, exercising, and etc. It can help detect anomalies in their health and report the information to their physicians and family members in time. For doctors, body augmentation technologies can track the effectiveness of medications and their influence on the human body. It will help physicians make better treatment decisions. It can be used to detect allergies and deliver the test results of a TB test to a doctor without having the patients visiting the hospital another time. For athletes, body augmentation technologies can help them make progress with training by providing insights of their performances. For parents, body augmentation can help them track their children’s activities when they are away from home. For educators, body augmentation technologies can help them demonstrate how human body physiology and help students better understand biology and physics concepts.arduino lilypad and their current applications
23/02/2017 11:47:55Anna FusteBody alteration and augmentation have been used for years to improve human physical capabilities or explore new possibilities in the realm of the physical self. Modifying the physical self may seem dangerous as we are playing with our very own original nature. We still don’t know our bodies enough to start modifying them. Adding or replacing limbs, extending parts or senses, it can take us to an unknown territory where we lose other primordial senses linked to other parts of the body that we were using before. There is no brain without body and there is no body without brain. This year is the year when the first body transplant attempt will take place. A great amount of critics have been thrown to this procedure as nobody knows what the body and brain reactions will be if the operation succeeds. Modifying our body can cause tremendous impacts on our brain that we may not be aware of. However, we humans have been doing this since we started using tools. Tools are the most basic body augmentation and they are used to improve performance in tasks that the human body is not capable enough to succeed. For that end, we have always conceived tools that enlarge our human limbs or create similar ones. However, if we think about all the outputs that the human body and mind have and all the mapping possibilities to external actions and projections, we can create infinite interactions that can either make us better beings or make us better understand our own nature. From my point of view, the interesting field of study comes from merging both body augmentation with human perceptions and internal feelings. How can we transform our inner self into a physical tangible self or a virtual self? How does this have a retrofeedback effect in our own body and mind? And how can this be beneficial for us or our environment?Communicating bodies. Feel another person’s arousal/body movements in our skin with temperature variations. Possibilities in learning and physical education.
Body motor/activity sensors for brain conditioning and mood awareness. How can we create awareness of the importance of exercise in our everyday lives? Not only for our body wellbeing but also for our brain and emotions. I propose an interface for tracking body activity and visualizing the effects it has on our brains in clothing or jewelry. For example, a ring that changes color depending on the amount of exercise we’ve been doing, the arousal intervals in our everyday activities, etc.
Tattoos for social interaction. Often people get tattoos relating to others to demonstrate their connection/love/respect. I propose social tattoos that vary in color and shape when they are close to each other for self expression and relationships bonding. They can also serve as a messaging tool. They can contain underlying information from the user’s relationship with others.
I would like to present on: Social dimension with on-body technology.
The interaction with the other and how body and mind augmentation can enhance our communication with others.
Ability to communicate and to represent ourselves to others.
From social icebreaking systems to psychological implications in social situations with wearables an on-body technology.
The importance of being mobile: some social consequences of wearable augmented reality systems. S.K. Feiner (1999)
Machines that become us. James E. Katz (2002)
Social dimensions of wearable computers: an overview. Ana Viseu (2003)
Wearable communities: augmenting social networks with wearable computers. G. Kortuem (2003)
Dress For Stress: Wearable Technology and the Social Body. Susan Elizabeth Ryan (2008)
Don't mind me touching my wrist: a case study of interacting with on-body technology in public. Halley P. Profita (2013)
The social comfort of wearable technology and gestural interaction. Lucy E. Dunne et al. (2014)

I am aware this does not fit in any of the sessions in class but I think it is a transversal topic that should be considered in all of them. I can chose another topic that relates better to one of the sessions if necessary :)
23/02/2017 11:50:37Juan Pablo UgarteCertain types of motor augmentation hold the promise of increasing humans’ capacities to transform our milieu at a material level. With some imagination, one can visualize these technologies affecting both qualitatively and quantitatively the ways in which we physically transform the world (read: fabrication, broadly defined), by expanding the human repertoire of techniques to bring about changes in our environment, and accelerating the rate at which they do so. I believe that such type of augmentation could fundamentally change what being human is, traditionally referred to as the “human condition” in western philosophical tradition. At this level of abstraction, elaborating on the possible perils and rewards associated to this technology risks being too reductionist and/or speculative. Having acknowledged that, I will present some thoughts on its possibilities and shortcomings.
I see the democratization of the production of space as a potentially game-changing reward of motor augmentation technology. Effectively, if motor augmentation applied to fabrication processes gave human individuals the ability to independently affect their environment to a considerable degree, then we could be in presence of a world in which the conception and materialization of the built environment was democratized and decentralized. A real world Minecraft of sorts. The ramifications of such empowerment at the individual level would be multiple. From a philosophical standpoint —let’s think about Heidegger’s question concerning technology— it would affect how we conceive and “reveal” the world, and how we frame nature. From a societal and political perspective, it would reshape relationships of power across society, and between governmental and non-governmental actors — for instance, most top-down models of urban and territorial planning would have to adapt to new bottom-up building paradigms and processes. Finally, from an anthropological/sociological perspective, it would have implications on the material conditions of human praxis —the practices of the Homo Faber, in Hannah Arendt words, which according to her is the root to social life. In sum, motor augmentation could radically change our relationship to the material world, thus affecting diverse facets of human action that are grounded in it.
As a possible peril, one could think of a human experience of the world that is increasingly de-contextualized and de-personalized product of our bodily detachment from the material realm. If our material interaction with the world became progressively mediated by devices that are inherently extrinsic to our bodies, i.e. wearable robots, one could argue that ourselves (our mind or consciousness, for lack of a better word) would become increasingly detached from our milieu as a consequence. This side effect (which I would not necessarily catalog as detrimental) would ultimately depend on our homuncular flexibility to integrate the body extensions into our cognitive system, which is to some extent subordinated to the body extensions’ ability to interface with our body. In a scenario where motor augmentation worked to the extent described here, it would be reasonable to assume that other augmentation techniques would have the opposite effect on our bodies and minds, though —i.e. augmenting interconnectedness with the world and others.
One idea that I am currently exploring is the use of upper-body exoskeletons as digital design/fabrication interfaces. An exoskeletal arm could perform three functions: (i) track and record the motions of the wearer’s arm in space to use them as data input in different applications; (ii) provide haptic feedback in the form of reaction forces to simulate interactions with matter in virtual environments (e.g. virtually sculpting stone or carving wood); (iii) provide enhancement to the user’s intended motions (e.g. creating virtual fixtures). Such robotic devices could perform both as an input controller for HCI (e.g. operating in a 3d modeling environment) and for all synchronous, asynchronous, co-located, and non-co-located modes of HRC (e.g. robotic bilateral teleoperation or just as a normal exoskeleton). The target group for this device would include all kinds of creative practitioners interested in exploring the intersection between digital and analogue design and fabrication practices. The robotic apparatus would present two main opportunities to the target group: (i) a digital design and fabrication workflow that empowers the user’s body as a creative tool; and (ii) the opportunity to shorten the gap between design and fabrication that exists in most traditional digital design and fabrication workflows, where design is an immaterial, abstract stage, and fabrication a predetermined, automatic step that follows. I would like to present on the cognitive aspects of human-robot collaboration on Week 11 (augmenting expression, hybrid creativity: human-machine artists). That would include: Joint attention (Sebanz et al. 2006, and mirror neurons in human-robot interaction (I would need to determine which paper would be the most relevant, but it would be something along the lines of Gazzola et al. 2007, I could also present part of the work I did while being part of the design studio gt2p (
23/02/2017 11:52:58Yujie HongThe rewards of body alteration/augmentation: enhance people's physical capabilities like using extra fingers/hands to manipulate/ carry objects with minimal efforts; help people better adapt to the environment/ surroundings by corresponding alterations. The perils: It's hard to define where the boundaries are regarding to designing the diversities of body alteration/argumentation; The biggest challenge relies on how you can design limitations to discourage people to do evil deeds by this super power. I found the first reading particularly intriguing :)I had an idea long time ago that maybe we could use skin augmentation technologies in health industry. For example, after wearing a special mask, certain colors will show in the person's face to indicate health status. In traditional Chinese medicine, there was a theory that the colors of certain parts on your face indicate the health conditions of certain organs inside your body. So in that way, we can observe the locations of colors and color types to quickly understand the our health situations.Virtual Reality and Architecture; or Brain interfaces and VR
23/02/2017 11:56:25Sophia YangThe advancement in exoskeleton and orthosis technology could make a tremendous impact on the mobility, self-esteem, and productivity of able-bodied as well as disabled people. An assistive device that behaves like a lost or diseased limb could restore people’s abilities to regain independence and confidence, it could also positively affect their loved ones and their communities by increasing their collective productivity. On the other hand, orthosis that performs above the natural ability of the original limb may attract unwanted attention, especially when people without body augmentation are in the position to compete with those who do. It’s interesting to think about body augmentation technologies from the mobility perspective. Instead of providing assistive technology that help the elderly population move between their beds or chairs to the current vehicle that will take them to their desired location, can we think about assistive technology as the mode of transportation? Can each elderly person get their own adaptive and individualized mobility solution where the level of mobility power changes based on how their bodies evolve over time as well as their desired tasks? Ergonomically, each person has a slightly different requirement, our challenge when designing the body machine interface is to identify the parts most susceptible to individual modification, and design tools to assess, prototype, test and refine the physical fitting as well as the control interface between the individual and his/her orthosis. Once we establish an individualized body machine interface, we’re able to start fitting modularized functionalities onto the core technology base on different tasks and environments. For example, The core technology normally connects to an indoor mobility module where the elderly individual can perform various tasks like getting up from his chair, cooking, cleaning even dancing. If the individual wants to go to a store a few blocks away, he can connect his mobility core to a local transportation module. The local transportation module might consists higher powered mobility solutions and automation intelligence that allows it to communicate with other devices on the road.Brian Interfaces
23/02/2017 12:04:00Yedan QianIt can dramatically extend how we physically use our body to accomplish complicated tasks and express ourselves (appearance & emotion). And it will have a profound influence on the design of prosthetics. However, such augmentation will also have influence on our self image and self schema, which ultimately change how we perceive ourselves and interact with the others and the environment.On-skin feedback (color, haptic) for hormone levels: understand our own mood, sexual arousal and physical body reaction, e.g. for menstrual cycle, post-labor and Menopause. In-ear system for autism children: helping them to cope with emotion recognition and noisy environment. Auvray, M., Hanneton, S., Lenay, C., & O’Regan, K. (2005). There is something out there: distal attribution in sensory substitution, twenty years later. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience, 4(04), 505–521.
Or: Thalma Lobel – Sensation
23/02/2017 20:39:27Michael SkuherskyI believe the benefits of unregulated body augmentation outweigh the costs. It should be considered a form of evolution to shape our bodies to increase their capabilities. Of course, there are social equity costs associated with different levels of access to expensive prosthetics. Also, there are some who may not choose to become prothetisized for personal or medical reasons, thereby putting them at a disadvantage.How about a spontaneous inertia unit; something to provide sudden bursts of inertia to move part or all of the body. For example, a helmet that could provide a sudden burst of inertia to move your head from the path of a subsonic bullet, or a belt that could push you out of the way of an oncoming car? Another idea could be a skin suit that self lubricates to get yourself though tight squeezes.?
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