`Smart city’ narratives herald promises of IoT data-driven innovations leveraging biosensing technologies. We argue these prevalent narratives often overlook a potential benefit of city living: affirmation. We designed the Heart Sounds Bench, which amplifies the heart sounds of those sitting on it. We outline our design intent to invite rest, reflection, and recognition of others’ lives in public space. Based on a pilot study of pairs of strangers experiencing the bench together, we elaborate the design concept of life-affirmation, and argue that smart cities can use embedded sensors to support this experience of appreciating one’s own life and the lives of others.
Noura Howell, Greg Niemeyer, Kimiko Ryokai. 2019. Life-Affirming Biosensing in Public: Sounding Heartbeats on a Red Bench. Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’19). ACM listing