Designing with Biosignals Workshop at ACM DIS 2023


Designing with Biosignals: Challenges, Opportunities, and Future Directions for Integrating Physiological Signals in Human-Computer Interaction


Biosensing tech­nolo­gies are a rapidly increas­ing pres­ence in our daily lives. These sensor-based tech­nolo­gies mea­sure phys­i­o­log­i­cal processes includ­ing heart rate, breath­ing, skin con­duc­tance, brain activ­ity and more. Researchers are explor­ing biosens­ing from per­spec­tives includ­ing: engi­neer­ing, human-computer inter­ac­tion, med­i­cine, mental health, con­sumer prod­ucts, and inter­ac­tive art. These tech­nolo­gies can enhance our inter­ac­tions allow­ing con­nec­tion to our bodies and others around us across diverse appli­ca­tion areas. However, design­ing with biosig­nals in Human-Computer Interaction presents new chal­lenges per­tain­ing to User Experience, Input/Output, inter­pre­ta­tion of sig­nals, rep­re­sen­ta­tion, and ethics. There is an urgent need to build a schol­arly com­mu­nity that includes the diverse per­spec­tives of researchers, design­ers, indus­try prac­ti­tion­ers and pol­i­cy­mak­ers. The goal of this work­shop is to lever­age the knowl­edge of this com­mu­nity aiming to map out the research land­scape of emerg­ing chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties, and to build a research agenda for future directions.


Bio-responsive tech­nolo­gies offer a plethora of fruit­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties for engag­ing user’s bodies in inter­ac­tion. However, more research and dis­cus­sion is needed per­tain­ing to how we can and should design bio-responsive sys­tems. There is a par­tic­u­lar need to stim­u­late cross-disciplinary con­ver­sa­tions to syn­the­size common vocab­u­lary, def­i­n­i­tions, and strate­gies to address chal­lenges of within four topics: meaning-making, Input/Output (I/O) imple­men­ta­tion, design of rep­re­sen­ta­tions, and ethics. Below we list some pos­si­ble ques­tions we will consider.

TOPIC 1—Meaning-Making and UX of biodata

We will dis­cuss the plu­ral­ity of inter­pre­ta­tions users can draw from per­ceiv­ing biosig­nals, what effect this may have on indi­vid­u­als and soci­ety, and how specifics of the designs and con­text of use influ­ence the meaning-making process. E.g., what does it mean if someone’s heart rate is 10 beats faster than their partner’s?  How can we design biofeed­back sys­tems to avoid over-interpretation and sup­port reflec­tive meaning-making?

TOPIC 2—I/O of biosignals

How can we design for robust­ness, scal­a­bil­ity and adapt­abil­ity of con­tin­u­ously sens­ing biosen­sors them­selves, espe­cially when many sen­sors require cal­i­bra­tion or are prone to noise from move­ment? What are the appro­pri­ate body feed­back modal­i­ties to couple biosens­ing with?

TOPIC 3—Representing biosignals

We will dis­cuss dif­fer­ent dim­men­sions dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing ways of rep­re­sent­ing biosig­nals: raw data vs. processed data imbued with inter­pre­ta­tion, abstract vs. con­crete, indi­vid­ual vs. aggre­gate, vari­ant sen­sory modal­i­ties. What are the effects, chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties asso­ci­ated with taking these approaches? How does this effect meaning-making, atten­tion, pri­vacy, sense of agency, etc.?

TOPIC 4—Ethics of shar­ing biosignals

What eth­i­cal ques­tions arise when we engage user’s inher­ently pri­vate phys­i­o­log­i­cal data in inter­ac­tion? What could be the unat­tended con­se­quences of these tech­nolo­gies when we don’t fully under­stand the inter­pre­tive poten­tial of bio­data? How can user’s con­sent be imple­mented, as users them­selves don’t have a com­plete aware­ness of and under­stand­ing of what their bio­data may indi­cate? Who has access to these data? Through design and policy, how can we min­i­mize imme­di­ate and future harm per­tain­ing to pri­vacy, agency over data, equity and power rela­tion­ships, data use and storage?

Through dis­cus­sion, we will aim to map out the key chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by biofeed­back tech­nol­ogy. The three rounds of dis­cus­sion will build towards this out­come: (a) Round 1: hands-on provo­ca­tions (exer­cises) + dis­cus­sion; (b) Round 2: breadth round­ta­bles based on topics (Meaning-Making and UX, I/O, Representing biosig­nals, and Ethics); (c) Round 3: depth round­ta­bles based on appli­ca­tion areas. Through rounds 1 and 2 we will iden­tify common chal­lenges, and in round 3 we will brain­storm how these chal­lenges can be turned into research oppor­tu­ni­ties for future devel­op­ment of the field.
This is a hybrid work­shop, thus all three rounds of dis­cus­sion will happen in par­al­lel at the venue and online with large group shar­ing of the out­comes at the end of each round.


Biosensing tech­nolo­gies become increas­ingly more widely inte­grated in Human-computer Interaction. Biosignals pro­vide novel oppor­tu­ni­ties of inter­ac­tion, offer­ing valu­able insights into ordi­nar­ily hidden processes inside our bodies, reveal­ing somatic infor­ma­tion per­tain­ing to our and others’ bodies, emo­tions, health, and cog­ni­tive processes. However, the inte­gra­tion of biosig­nals in HCI presents many chal­lenges per­tain­ing to UX, I/O, inter­pre­ta­tion of bio­data, rep­re­sen­ta­tion of biosig­nals, and broader eth­i­cal con­cerns. To map out the land­scape of exist­ing chal­lenges and future research direc­tions, we invite par­tic­i­pants work­ing with biosig­nals to join a one-day hybrid work­shop held at the one-day syn­chro­nous hybrid work­shop held on July 11th at the ACM  DIS2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA 9am — 5pm. We wel­come par­tic­i­pants from HCI, design, dig­i­tal art, psy­chol­ogy, edu­ca­tion, health, phi­los­o­phy, ethics and law. See the pro­posal and detailed work­shop descrip­tion for fur­ther infor­ma­tion about the workshop.

We invite sub­mis­sions pre­sent­ing a project or artic­u­lat­ing a chal­lenge that relates to this call. Submission can be in the form of a:

  • 2–4 page posi­tion paper in an ACM extended abstract format
  • 2–5 min spec­u­la­tive design video with a 1-paragraph description
  • pre­vi­ously pub­lished paper rais­ing rel­e­vant ques­tions about the work­shop topics

Submissions should be uploaded here by June 1st AoE. Alternatively, if you are expe­ri­enc­ing issues with the form, you can send your sub­mis­sion by email to

The orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee will select sub­mis­sions illus­trat­ing authors’ per­spec­tive and exper­tise based on the qual­ity and con­tri­bu­tion of the work relat­ing to biosig­nals inte­gra­tion. These sub­mis­sions will be shared with all work­shop atten­dees in advance to prime them for a stim­u­lat­ing dis­cus­sion at the work­shop. At least one author of each accepted sub­mis­sion must attend the work­shop and reg­is­ter for both the work­shop and the DIS’23 conference.


Submission Deadline: June 1st AoE (Anytime on Earth)

Notification of Acceptance: June 8th

Workshop: July 11th 9am-5pm EDT (in-person and online)



Stepanova, E. R., Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Kitson, A., Riecke, B. E., Antle, A. N., Ali, A. E., Frey, J., Tsaknaki, V., & Howell, N. (2023). Designing with Biosignals: Detailed Workshop Description. Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS Companion ’23), 1–6. (Download)
Stepanova, E. R., Desnoyers-Stewart, J., Kitson, A., Riecke, B. E., Antle, A. N., Ali, A. E., Frey, J., Tsaknaki, V., & Howell, N. (2023). Designing with Biosignals: Challenges, Opportunities, and Future Directions for Integrating Physiological Signals in Human-Computer Interaction. Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS Companion ’23), 1–4. (Download)



Ekaterina R. Stepanova is a PhD Candidate at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University with a back­ground in cog­ni­tive sci­ence, devel­op­men­tal psy­chol­ogy and vir­tual real­ity. In her research, she employs somaes­thethics and embod­ied cog­ni­tion to design medi­ated expe­ri­ences with biore­spon­sive and immer­sive tech­nolo­gies that can pro­mote a gen­uine feel­ing of connection.

Abdallah El Ali is an HCI research sci­en­tist at Centrum Wiskunde \& Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam within the Distributed \& Interactive Systems group. He leads the research area of Affective Interactive Systems, where he focuses on ground truth label acqui­si­tion tech­niques, emo­tion under­stand­ing and recog­ni­tion in XR, and affec­tive human aug­men­ta­tion using phys­i­o­log­i­cal sig­nals. Website

John Desnoyers-Stewart is a media artist, designer, and a PhD Candidate at the iSpace­Lab at Simon Fraser University. With his back­ground in engi­neer­ing and inter­ac­tive art he cre­ates immer­sive expe­ri­ences using VR, pseudo­hap­tics, and biosen­sors to stim­u­late embod­ied social con­nec­tion and cre­ative expression.

Jeremy Frey is a researcher at Ullo with a back­ground in cog­ni­tive sci­ence and a PhD in com­puter sci­ence from the University of Bordeaux. His projects explore how phys­i­o­log­i­cal com­put­ing and tan­gi­ble user inter­faces can aug­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tion in order to sup­port well­be­ing and facil­i­tate human relationships.

Alexandra Kitson is a post­doc­toral researcher in the Tangible Embodied Child-Computer Interaction Lab at Simon Fraser University. Her past research inves­ti­gated the ethics of biowear­ables on children’s iden­tity for­ma­tion, and cur­rent research focuses on devel­op­ing vir­tual real­ity emo­tion reg­u­la­tion inter­ven­tions for youth.

Alissa N. Antle is the direc­tor of the Tangible Embodied Child-Computer inter­ac­tion Lab at Simon Fraser University and a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, acknowl­edg­ing her as an intel­lec­tual leader of Canada. Her research explores ways to sup­port children’s cog­ni­tive and emo­tional devel­op­ment through tan­gi­ble tech­nol­ogy. Her work con­tributes to the dis­course on ethics and jus­tice in tech­nol­ogy design.

Bernhard E. Riecke is a pro­fes­sor at Simon Fraser University lead­ing the iSpace­Lab. He employs mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary approaches to inves­ti­gate VR, spa­tial cog­ni­tion, and trans­for­ma­tive expe­ri­ence design. His work aims to pro­mote pos­i­tive change by sup­port­ing well-being, feel­ing of con­nec­tion, and cog­ni­tive shifts.

Vasiliki Tsaknaki is an Assistant Professor in the Digital Design Department at the IT University of Copenhagen. Her research com­bines mate­ri­als expe­ri­ences, com­pu­ta­tional crafts and somaes­thetic design meth­ods. Through practice-based stud­ies she inves­ti­gates and reflects on inter­sec­tions of these areas, prob­ing the space of design­ing for well­be­ing and work­ing with (bio)data as a design material.

Noura Howell is an Assistant Professor in Digital Media at Georgia Tech. Her research explores embod­ied, tan­gi­ble, emo­tional, and social expe­ri­ences with bio­data, through dynamic dis­plays such as color-changing fabric, fur­ni­ture, and sound. She draws from fem­i­nist new mate­ri­al­ist and decolo­nial the­o­ries, and employs meth­ods includ­ing design futur­ing and ret­ro­spec­tive duoethnography.