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FFF Seminar: Tor Alexander Bruce

Our next FFF-seminar will be by Tor Alexander Bruce from Northumbria University.

Tid: Fr 2022-05-13 kl 13.00

Plats: Online

Videolänk: https://kth-se.zoom.us/j/62576424176

Språk: English

Medverkande: Tor Alexander Bruce

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Standing Up To Trauma: Designing Future Mental Healthcare Interventions Incorporating Body, Movement And Environment 


Conventional mental healthcare interventions are delivered as approaches inside of a room containing a table and some form of seating. This limits user-autonomy that can be enhanced by leveraging approaches providing a multisensory experience, whilst purposely including the role of the body and interactive components of the setting itself, as a system. This seminar will present two HCI research studies situated in an immersive interactive virtual environment (IIVE). This type of technology has commonly been known as a CAVE, without broad use in a mental healthcare context. The main multidisciplinary study has spent three years designing a digital intervention called: The Timeline, conducting observations and trials in a UK based hospital with experts, as therapists and people with lived experience of trauma. The human-centric design offers users an opportunity to interact with features involving a chronological VR journey from the deep past to future. By incorporating physical-movement this also reimagines the therapeutic relationship between patient and facilitator, with potential to affect the dynamic of how interventions are delivered and received – participants become less passive receivers of treatment and more active agents fully integrated in the process.
The next study is entitled: The Intuitive Jacket. This interdisciplinary research was conducted in the past six months as a collaboration between HCI, Fashion and Electronics. The research explores how participants with experience of trauma might use their body combined with wearable technology, as an interface incorporating hand-gesture to close a VR door down on past events that have impacted their lives.
Each study’s theoretical underpinning was informed by enactivism, as a radicalisation on embodied philosophies with roots in phenomenology, in the cognitive sciences. Throughout the work the researcher has taken steps toward ways to “operationalize holism” and also considers how gesture provides information not solely found in the format of speech alone (Gallagher, Enactivist Interventions, 2017). As de Haan shares:
An enactive ontology thus requires us to ‘zoom out’; to enlarge the scope of the explanandum in space. With regard to understanding cognition, or rather sense-making, we should look at the whole organism – not just any of its parts. Moreover, in order to understand the whole organism, we should look at the organism in its environment (Enactive Psychiatry, 2020).
Aspects of both designs were influenced by an ideology of Kristina Höök, who describes in her work, ‘interactions that harmonise – aesthetically and somatically… a process that reincorporates the body and movement into a design regime’ (Designing With The Body, 2018). The seminar presentation will reflect on learnings from the current studies and aims to build on one of the concepts discussed in the latter mentioned book. 


Tor Alexander Bruce is a doctoral researcher at Northumbria University. His core research interest is in exploring pragmatic approaches to develop space with purposeful use, inclusive of technology. This builds on 12 years engagement as a founder and CEO within the charity sector in the UK, transforming a former derelict factory premises in an industrial area of the North East, for use through an alternative education programme called: Believe In Yourself, by more than 5,000 young people from disengaged and challenged backgrounds. His interest in working specifically with trauma stemmed from observations of and discussions with the charity’s beneficiaries. Tor will complete his PhD journey in September 2022 and recently entered a full paper to NORDICHI. He has presented at an ACM virtual conference in Yokohama, Japan and is a published author of one research paper and a series of books, available via Amazon and in UK libraries. His academic focus is to continue research collaborations and seek funding opportunities as a post-doc. To be recruited on to the PhD programme he raised industrial sponsorship via a technology company, Immersive Interactive, and has built a co-partnership with Alliance Psychological Services who engage more than 20,000 people facing mental health challenges per annum. He has also lectured on Foundation and MSc Advanced Computer Science modules under the course title: Critical Design.