Accepted Paper:

Interfacing Bodies - Interface and Interaction Design in Remote Controlled Medical Interventions  


Kathrin Friedrich (Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores visual and haptic interfaces in remotely controlled medical interventions. With the transformation from surgical handicraft to distant operations, the design as well as epistemic role of interfaces plays a crucial role in respect to changing expertise both of the body and by the body.

Paper long abstract:

The paper explores the conditions and functions of visual and haptic interfaces in remotely controlled interventions. In particular in medical practices, such as robot-based surgery, it is literally vital to bridge the spatial and phenomenal gap between surgeons at operating consoles and patients on a remote table. Because of the transformation from surgical handicraft in close contact to another body to distant and mainly visually guided operations, the pragmatic as well as epistemic role of interfaces becomes crucial. Visual and haptic interfaces function as the central sensual and epistemic access for the surgeon's embodied actions and they simultaneously need to convey significant bodily features of the distant patient. Therefore, interaction design plays a significant role in rendering bodies sensible on at least two counts. First by enabling sensible actions via visual and haptic features and secondly by mediating the sensibility of the object. The design of interfaces sets the realms of possibility for knowledge and action that eminently affect bodies themselves in an almost literal sense. By critically reviewing theoretical concepts introduced by Michael Polanyi, the analysis will further refer to empirical studies in surgical training by STS-scholars Ericka Johnson and Rachel Prentice as well as to case studies by information and design researcher Helena Mentis. With a focus on exemplary design concepts as well as the application of certain interfaces the paper will address politics of knowledge of the body and by the body via visual and haptic interfaces.

Panel T111
Body, Science and Expertise