Designing Interactions Beyond Conscious Control: A New Model for Wearable Interfaces

Abhinandan Jain, Adam Haar Horowitz, Misha Sra, Sang-won Leigh, Pattie Maes. "Designing Interactions Beyond Conscious Control: A New Model for Wearable Interfaces." Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies 4, no. 3 (2020): 1-23.


Recent research in psychology distinguishes levels of consciousness into a tripartite model - conscious, unconscious and metaconscious. HCI technologies largely focus on the conscious pathway for computer-to-human interaction, requiring explicit user attention and action. In contrast, the other two pathways provide opportunities to create new interfaces that can alter emotion, cognition and behavior without demands on attentional resources. These direct interfaces connect to cognitive processes that are in our perception but outside our conscious control. In this work, we feature two sub-categories, namely preconscious and metasomatic within the tripartite model of consciousness. Our goal is to provide a finer categorization of cognitive processes that can better help classify HCI research related to activating non-conscious cognitive pathways. We present the design of two wearable devices, MoveU and Frisson. From lessons learned during the iterative design process and the user studies, we present four design considerations that can be used to aid HCI researchers of future devices that influence the mind. With this work we aim to highlight that awareness of consciousness levels can be a valuable design element that can help to expand the range of computer-to-human interface devices we build.

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