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Traces of Movement - Exploring Physical Activity in Societal Setting

Time: Fri 2015-03-13 14.15

Location: F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26

Subject area: Human-Computer Interaction

Doctoral student: Helena Tobiasson , MID

Opponent: Professor Dag Svanæs, NTNU,Trondheim- Norway

Supervisor: Professor Jan Gulliksen


How are we moving, or how much physical activities are present in
societal settings such as eldercare units, schools, universities and
offices? This general question was explored using different design-
oriented approaches in four cases, with children, elderly, students
and office workers. The results unveil a complexity of the problem
area that initially seemed quite straightforward. In many of the
explored settings and situations, and for many of the participants,
the activities they are engaged with do not include or encourage
their abilities for physical movements to any great extent and this
is not in line with the extent of movement that they actually desire.

Physical activity can be defined as an activity performed through
movement that expends energy. Research results from the public health
domains and related areas show a major concern for the negative
effects related to low levels of physical activity and prolonged
sedentary postures found in many of the above-mentioned settings. In
general, physical activities of today seem mainly related to sports,
and specific activities designed for improving health and well-being.
The participants in the four explorative case studies in this thesis
demonstrated how they would like their physical activities to be
integrated in the everyday activities of the different settings
explored and not mainly as a separate activity specifically dedicated
for health and well-being. How can knowledge of physical activity
inform the design and development of interactive products and systems
in these settings? New insights were gained through design-oriented
explorations together with the participants in the different field
settings and through analysis of these observations. The results are
not only the insights gained through the analysed empirical
observations but also include a physical activity-oriented design
method called Physical Movement Sketching as well as experiences from
using Movement Probes. The experiences from using these two design
methods led me to formulate a proposal for a new approach called
Movement Acumen Design. This approach applies a socio-ecological
perspective on physical activities. It provides methods and concepts
to support the integration of physical activities into everyday
activities performed with the support of interactive technology and
it argues that physical activity should reclaim a more central role
in these situations. Let us design for it to happen!

Keywords Physical activity, physical literacy, everyday activities,
research through design, participatory design and user experience