TORONTO WEARABLES MEETUP 09: ISABEL PEDERSEN
Friday August 19th, 2016

Isabel Pederson is a Professor of Digital Cultures and Communication at Ryerson University.  Her area of research is in augmented reality and future reality-shifting devices.  For her PhD, she investigated the motives behind Wearable Technology.

“Wearables are a promise,” says Pedersen.  “They always seem to be on the cusp of something…they are not something that we have right now”.  What she means is, with Wearables we are practicing, prototyping, and acting out our desires for how we want to interface with technology.  We’re not exactly there yet – our designs are rudimentary – but in the meantime we are laying the path for where we want all of this to take us.

Pedersen believes that there is immediacy to the style of representation we are using in our Wearables.  We want to make the medium invisible (like in Sixth Sense, or Skinput).  Rather than traveling to the computer, the computer is wherever we want it to be.  She also spoke about brain interfaces being the way of the future, and something that we are acting out with head-mounted cameras and EEG devices that measure ones brain wave frequencies.  Through these devices we can document all that we see, we can see from another’s perspective, and we can use brain activity to actuate other devices or on-screen activity.

This sounds alluring, but there are concerns, too.  To explore these concerns Pedersen looks to augmented memory, which is the notion of storing memory, something the military has been working on for many years.  In order for this to happen, humans have to be dehumanized, seen not as human, and memory treated as faulty or not creative.  Herein lies a concern of Pedersen:  How do these technologies frame humans?  How will our conceptions of “human” and the “self” shift as we align ourselves with the function of computer interfaces?

In working with Wearables, we often ask ourselves “what are these interfaces for?” Pederson reminds us that while we ask how we want technology to work for us, we equally need to ask, what does it mean to be human?

 



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Isabel Pederson is a Professor of Digital Cultures and Communication at Ryerson University.  Her area of research is in augmented reality and future reality-shifting devices.  For her PhD, she investigated the motives behind Wearable Technology.

“Wearables are a promise,” says Pedersen.  “They always seem to be on the cusp of something…they are not something that we have right now”.  What she means is, with Wearables we are practicing, prototyping, and acting out our desires for how we want to interface with technology.  We’re not exactly there yet – our designs are rudimentary – but in the meantime we are laying the path for where we want all of this to take us.

Pedersen believes that there is immediacy to the style of representation we are using in our Wearables.  We want to make the medium invisible (like in Sixth Sense, or Skinput).  Rather than traveling to the computer, the computer is wherever we want it to be.  She also spoke about brain interfaces being the way of the future, and something that we are acting out with head-mounted cameras and EEG devices that measure ones brain wave frequencies.  Through these devices we can document all that we see, we can see from another’s perspective, and we can use brain activity to actuate other devices or on-screen activity.

This sounds alluring, but there are concerns, too.  To explore these concerns Pedersen looks to augmented memory, which is the notion of storing memory, something the military has been working on for many years.  In order for this to happen, humans have to be dehumanized, seen not as human, and memory treated as faulty or not creative.  Herein lies a concern of Pedersen:  How do these technologies frame humans?  How will our conceptions of “human” and the “self” shift as we align ourselves with the function of computer interfaces?

In working with Wearables, we often ask ourselves “what are these interfaces for?” Pederson reminds us that while we ask how we want technology to work for us, we equally need to ask, what does it mean to be human?