Developing a wearable vibrotactile somaesthetic technology for body awareness


  • Art and Design
  • Somatic practice
  • Embodied metacognition
  • Wearable Technologies

This practice-based research focused on the development of Haplós, a novel wearable system that applies programmable, vibrotactile patterns to the skin for the purpose of facilitating body awareness. To do so, I draw from perspectives across philosophy, somatic practice, and the cognitive neurosciences, weaving their analytical principles and pragmatic approaches through a technology-based design practice. Specifically, I draw from somaesthetic philosophy, the Feldenkrais Method, neuroscientific studies on the effects of vibrotactile stimuli on cortical self-representations, and soma-based design theories and creative work. Through carefully constructed patterns of vibrotactile stimulation, Haplós aims to elicit self-reports of heightened body awareness by supplying the user with higher resolution information about their body through a framework that I call vibrotactile somaesthetics. To the best of my knowledge, Haplós is the first wearable technology system created with the intent of changing the self-representation using vibrotactile stimulation, and generates promising possibilities for innovative cognitive interventions and novel aesthetic experiences and forms.


Kin Design, UK (Conceptual designs for tools for somatic teaching)

Research Fellow
Diego S. Maranan

Jane Grant, John Matthias, Sue Denham, Mike Phillips, Matt Wade

Further Reading
  • Dean, S. E. (2014). Somatic costumes: Traversing multi-sensorial landscapes. Scene, 2(1), 81–87. https://doi.org/10.1386/scene.2.1-2.81_1
    Feldenkrais, M. (1990). Awareness through movement: health exercises for personal growth (1st HarperCollins pbk. ed). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN: 9780062503220
    Hanna, T. (1988). Somatics: reawakening the mind’s control of movement, flexibility, and health. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Life Long. ISBN: ISBN: 9780738209579
    Höök, K., Ståhl, A., Jonsson, M., Mercurio, J., Karlsson, A., & Johnson, E.-C. B. (2015). Somaesthetic design. Interactions, 22(4), 26–33. https://doi.org/10.1145/2770888
    Rywerant, Y. (2003). The Feldenkrais method: teaching by handling. North Bergen, NJ: Basic Health Publications, in association with the K.S. Giniger Co., New York, N.Y. ISBN: 1591200229
    Schiphorst, T. (2008). The Varieties of User Experience: Bridging Embodied Methodologies From Somatics And Performance To Human Computer Interaction (Ph.D. dissertation). University of Plymouth, United Kingdom. https://hdl.handle.net/10026.1/2177
    Shusterman, R. (2008). Body consciousness: a philosophy of mindfulness and somaesthetics. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9780521858908