Tangible Interfaces for Well-being: A Review

Well-being has gained traction in Human-Computer Interaction research in the past decade.

The HCI community has engaged in health and well-being research in a variety of different contexts that include designing technologies to support affective health, promoting physical activity in workplaces and care homes, social inclusion for people with disabilities and less privileged backgrounds and technologies to support spiritual well-being with diverse populations in both clinical and non-clinical settings.

With the latest advances around big data analytics and personal health technologies, many have engaged with data-driven approaches and screen-based interaction.  

However, there has been a growing research activity investigating the potential of tangible interaction for supporting well-being. Tangible interfaces make use of contact and sensory interaction for wellbeing. This becomes significantly important in the context of the pandemic where people have spent more time in front of screens.

To gain better understanding of research context in HCI, we have engaged in the systematic review of literature on tangible interfaces and wellbeing. In this work, we are reviewing existing literature in the area of well-being and tangible interfaces.

We used the keywords ‘haptics’, ‘shape-changing’, ‘textiles’ and ‘well-being’ using Full-ACM text collection from ACM digital library for record identification. This search yielded 675 papers in total. We defined our inclusion and exclusion criteria and reviewed all the papers to identify relevant papers conference proceedings and journal papers.

The final list included 157 papers. Broadly, we aim to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the design space of tangible interfaces for well-being explored so far in the field of HCI?
  2. What motivates the use of tangible interfaces and what aspect of well-being do they target?
  3. How tangible interfaces for wellbeing are being evaluated?
  4. To what extent citizens and communities are involved in the design and evaluation of tangible technologies for well-being?

People: Muhammad Umair, Caroline Claisse, and Abi Durrant