Researching wellbeing technology with a feminist perspective
International Women's Day, 8 March, draws attention to inequality and the situation of women around the world. Irene Kaklopoulou, doctoral student at the Department of Informatics and affiliated to Humlab, is an interaction designer with a specific interest in technology for wellbeing and participatory methods.
Text: Sandra Lundström
ImageBorja Sanchez Ramon
– I see gender in an intersectional way. I am interested in engaging with people and exploring which bodies we are designing for when we design technology.
Irene moved from Greece to Sweden to study interaction design at the Royal Institute of Technology. Her interest in participatory and embodied methods for the design of data-driven systems led her to doctoral studies at Umeå University. In her research she uses design practice to problematise and explore technology for wellbeing – a technology which many times overlooks the perspective of gender.
I am interested in engaging with people and exploring which bodies we are designing for when we design technology.
– There are examples of applications for wellbeing that do not include personal experiences to the design process, resulting to cases of exclusions. Not so long ago, self-tracking technologies for health and wellbeing did not include menstrual cycle. In some other cases, the user is only left with a binary - yes or no option - when asked for data input.
Explores how technology can be designed inclusively
Data-driven systems plays a role in supporting individuals and communities in transformative processes to achieve wellbeing. Irene works in the research project Human-Centered AI for Health, Autonomy and Wellbeing – a project which aims to develop tools and methods to support participatory data-driven design for health.
– With the influence of ubiquitous computing, AI, and biosensing, there is a need to explore how this new wave of technology can be designed to be inclusive. When it comes to wellbeing and technology, aspects of ethnicity, age, ability, sexual orientation, and gender are many times ignored, but wellbeing is a personal, intimate experience which makes it important to consider a plurality of bodies.
Irene's research methods are grounded in feminist epistemology and include an interplay of participatory methods and autoethnography.
– The design methods for producing technology need to allow aspects of race, class, age, gender, mental and physical ability, and sexual orientation because it effects how we understand the world.
About Human-Centered AI for Health, Autonomy and Wellbeing
The project financed by the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society (WASP-HS) and is led by Pedro Sanches, assistant professor at the Department of Informatics. The project aims to develop tools and methods to support participatory data-driven design for health. Of particular interest are transition and/or rehabilitation processes, where data-driven systems will play a role in supporting individuals or communities in transformative processes to achieve wellbeing.