UCLIC Research Seminar Series

SEMINAR 3rd Feb: m.c. schraefel – Aspiration Aligned Performance Rather than Prevention-focussed Approaches for Health & Wellbeing with Future Athlete vs Future Invalid & Experiment in a Box
m.c. schraefel, University of Southampton


SEMINAR 3rd Feb: m.c. schraefel – Aspiration Aligned Performance Rather than Prevention-focussed Approaches for Health & Wellbeing with Future Athlete vs Future Invalid & Experiment in a Box


How do we design to support better health and wellbeing practices? What is the role of interactive, computational technologies, IoT ecosystems and so on in this space? I'd argue that to design for health and wellbeing - as HCI researchers we can better approach these questions if we ourselves are better at a few things:

  1. knowing more about how being in a body mediates how we do and feel about anything we do and feel
  2. if our perspective on health and wellbeing shifts from designing primarily for prevention to performance
  3. if we help people see for themselves how they are better at anything they/we want to do when we are physically better (or fit).

Many of us may not see that we have the time or opportunities to specialise in neurology, physiology, nutrition, kinesiology and prefer instead to collaborate with experts in health to help us design tools. We may want to ask: how is that working? What do the literature reviews say about the efficacy of the majority of eHealth and mHealth tools? The answer - so far - seems to motivate a need for a different approach - at least to explore some new possibilities - which includes the kind of thinking that UCL and your group is very good at: looking at how we make sense of our current state - what i'd suggest may be framed as well as looking at how we construct is our cultural of normal with our various technologies of normal - from chairs to hand held mobile phones.

In this talk, i'd like ot share some possible models (Future athlete vs invalid and Experiment in a Box in particular) for re-considering human health and wellbeing - what i've been calling wellth - reflecting on our cultural normals and how re-inscribe those norms with our (interactive) technology. I'd like to begin this exploration with you reading this right now: for those of us who are not in hospital, or classed as "sick" if asked the question "have you ever felt better than you do right now?" would you say "yes"? If yes, why? And if yes, what do you think interactive technology can do about it? I hope to make the case that it can do it better - immediately and almost effortlessly - once we ourselves know a little more about what is not normal but more optimal for us as physical-social-cognitive creatures. @mcphoo #MakeBetterNormal

Will look forward to meeting with you - if you'd like to meet with me please let Anna know so we can set up a time together.


m.c. schraefel, phd, ceng, fbcs, cscs. Relative to HCI I hold a chair in Computer Science and Human Performance, Department of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton; I've just wound up a Research Chair award from the Royal Academy of Engineering and Microsoft Research on design and evaluation of systems to support creativity. I'm currently the deputy head of our department for Research and lead the Agents Interaction and Complexity Group and direct the WellthLab for Human Systems Interaction. I am a visiting scientist in the Decentralised Information Group at CSAIL/W3 MIT. I also hold a variety of certifications (and practitioner insurance) in strength and conditioning, functional neurology and nutrition. This means I get to work with real people dealing with a lot of performance aspirations. I love the brain/body connection. If you'd like to see an example of applied research working in industry here's a vid of a pilot we ran on the brain/body connection in support of creativity: tinyurl.com/in5ogilvy. Please connect with me @mcphoo and let me know any questions you may have ahead of time. Look forward to meeting you all. Thank you to Anna Cox and Clan for the invitation.