Designing Wearables for Climbing: Integrating the Practice and the Experience Perspectives of Outdoor Adventure Sports

Mencarini, Eleonora (2018) Designing Wearables for Climbing: Integrating the Practice and the Experience Perspectives of Outdoor Adventure Sports. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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This thesis positions itself within the stream of research on HCI for sport and addresses the topic of designing wearable devices for sport. To date, the design of wearables for sport has focused on the measurable aspects of performance such as speed, heartbeat and calories burnt. Such design is driven by the possibilities offered by the miniaturisation of components and the trend to have a healthy lifestyle. The conjunction of these two trends, has created a breeding ground for technologies that offer self-tracking to improve personal fitness, health and wellbeing. Although these kinds of devices have great success on the market, several studies have shown poor long-term adoption, with people generally ceasing to use their devices around six months from the time of purchase. This thesis argues that the wearables produced until now do not address the full range of needs that sportspeople have and so aims to design wearables on the basis of a thorough understanding of the sport practice. The leading research question in this work was: what are the elements to consider for the design of useful, acceptable and desirable wearable devices for sport? This broad research question was then operationalised in two sub-questions: what elements constitute the sport practice?; and how can wearable devices support such practice? By adopting a practice perspective and a subsequent research methodology based on situatedness, embodiment, and co-design, it was possible to identify aspects of sport other than performance. Emotions, trust and community values emerged as pivotal aspects of the climbing experience. These findings led to the design of wearables for augmenting the interpersonal communication of the actors involved. This introduces a new role for wearables supporting sportspeople, which as a facilitator of expertise rather than a tracker of activity. The main contribution of this thesis is the articulation of a conceptual framework for the design of wearables for outdoor sports, with the goal of better acceptance and long-term adoption. The conceptual framework outlined here breaks down the complexity of the sport practice by identifying the elements that define it (i.e. type of performance, emotional involvement, social dynamics, physical context, values) and articulating their orchestration with product design aspects (such as ergonomics, comfort, and perceptibility) and the cultural value of wearing an artefact on the body.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Information and Communication Technology
PhD Cycle:29
Subjects:Area 09 - Ingegneria industriale e dell'informazione > ING-INF/05 SISTEMI DI ELABORAZIONE DELLE INFORMAZIONI
Funders:Fondazione Bruno Kessler
Repository Staff approval on:21 Jun 2018 09:45

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