Sociophysical interactions

Understanding the role of social and tangible technologies in maintaining good habits into old age.

Project overview

This project investigates the gap between tangible interactions offered by mobile and embedded technologies and opportunities for social engagement offered by social technologies.

We plan to extend existing understandings of embodied interaction into the Web 2.0 era, theoretically, practically and methodologically, through the coupling of design investigation and theory building. More immediately, the project seeks to exploit these opportunities by contributing important technological innovations to a specific domain of national significance, supporting the capacities of an ageing population to maintain healthy habits into old age.

The project aims to:

  • Establish a theoretical grounding in sociophysical interaction, defined as an ability to conceptualise the entanglement of tangible and social interaction in the era of Web 2.0
  • Develop exemplar prototypes that combine tangible and social interaction design in an authentic problem domain of national significance that can be used to:
    • Investigate how these technologies can enhance the experience and well-being of older people
    • Generate further development of similar technologies
  • Create methodological insights into how to build these combined systems and to suggest design processes and tools that might support a robust and human-centred design approach
  • Contribute technological resources for the ongoing health and wellbeing of those moving into old age.

Project team

  • Frank Vetere
  • Toni Robertson (University of Technology, Sydney)
  • Margot Brereton (Queensland University of Technology)
  • Yvonne Rogers (Open University)
  • Bjorn Nansen

Project information

Funding source ARC Grant DP110101999
Project time frame 2011–2013


  • Robertson, T, Durick, J, Brereton, M, Vetere, F, Howard, S. and Nansen, B. (2012) Knowing Our Users: Scoping Interviews in Design Research with Ageing Participants. Proceedings of the 24th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference. ACM Press, New York, USA: 517–520.
  • Donovan, J., Brereton, M, Howard, S., Roberston, T., Satchell, C. and Vetere, F. (2012) Designerly Analysis Of A Socio- Physical Design Activity. PINC 2012 Participatory Innovation Conference 2012, Melbourne, Australia
  • Lian, L. and Robertson, T. (2011) The Body in Design. Workshop at OzCHI 2011, the 23rd Australian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction, (Canberra, Australia, 28 Nov–2 Dec)
  • Satchell, C. and Vetere, F. (2011) Augmenting the Analysis of Social and Physical Interactions. OzCHI 2011, the 23rd Australian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction, (Canberra, Australia, 28 Nov–2 Dec)

Contact details