The Collaboration for Humane Technologies seeks to foster interdisciplinary awareness and skills and conduct arts driven research into technology in service of well being on the planet. An important branch of this research is the inclusion of student research fellows. Fellows propose a relevant project or indicate interest in contributing to one of our active projects and become part of our research community by participating in events and engaging with faculty throughout the year. Events can include attending and participating in sandbox collaborations, guest workshops, and engaging meaningfully in our spring Pop-Up Collaboration. Below are some selected research statements and questions from our 2018 Well-Being fellows.

Dreams Cleaver

My first thoughts on research about dementia was to make a documentary about my experiences as a caregiver to my mother. But I was also interested in showing her side of the story. How did she feel? What could I show to an audience that would help them understand what it was like to have dementia or care for someone with dementia? Could understanding help create better care for the patient which would improve their quality of life? Realizing a live action documentary would pose many problems I turned to animation. Using animation as a way to juxtapose reality and the confused state of dementia showed potential to me and I created a snippet story using real audio against animated footage of what represented the repetitive symptoms from memory loss.

The main issue with this approach was the audience was still disconnected from the experience. How much information about dementia prior to viewing did they need to understand what was going on in the film?

I thought about an interactive tool, such as a website with game like qualities, which could play with the user’s sense of reality. For example, the user is asked to find the banana and they select an image of a banana but then they are told they are wrong and the image they selected is changed when they see it again. This would continue through levels (stages of dementia). My intention was to work toward using this with actual caregivers, as a training tool within care facilities or the home, in order to increase their knowledge of the needs of the patients.

When I entered Alex and Vita’s VR class I saw the opportunity to develop this idea through VR. What appealed to me in this class was the idea of a live person interacting with the user. This created a personal approach, such as a documentary with story, and a guide through the experience, which could help with understanding. It had potential to create an element of personality for the user by seeing objects and images they could relate to their own lives. It also easily gave the user the ability to experience altered realities without having to “suit up” as in the examples of Alzheimer’s simulations I have seen in the past (see links below). And an easy “out” if they felt scared or uncomfortable with the situation. In the previous Alzheimer’s simulations, the user’s hands are bound, they are blindfolded, and walking around in a real space which has potential to cause injury if they run into an object. My Dementia Experience in VR proposes to create a safer space for the user to explore.

After witnessing users in the prototype for the Dementia Experience as the patient, I saw potential to extend the experience to caregivers or friends of those with dementia to explore other perspectives. I would like to review the original script and pull out more ideas that may be possible to add into this prototype (due to time constraints and technical difficulties some ideas were left out). It would also be beneficial to do more research into what are the most common symptoms that those with dementia are experiencing? Are there symptoms across the stages that could be addressed in this experience? How can the Dementia Experience be beneficial to those unfamiliar with dementia but are facing a diagnosis for themselves or loved one?


Kevin Bruggeman

Roughly 44% of Americans suffer from chronic stress according to the American Psychological Association. This means that nearly half of Americans are increasing their risk of heart disease, depression, weight gain, early aging and more each and every day. When thinking of ways to cure chronic stress, I tried to think about ways that chronic stress is being approached in the world today. This brought me to research about mindfulness and meditation. The goal for my project up to this point was to create a virtual experience in which an individual could be taught how to meditate, in an environment that promotes meditation. The project took form as a guided meditation session in a virtual reality simulation taking place in a Japanese Zen temple. These temples were places designed for meditation and mindful thinking.

The end of my first year project was seemingly a success, but I began thinking “What can the VR world provide that the real world can’t?”. I wanted to utilize the seemingly endless possibilities of VR to help individuals become more mindful and aware.

The direction I am going right now is divided into three experimental projects. First, with the help of Skyler Wurster, we have developed a way for the virtual world to be able to detect and react to the heartbeat of the player. The intention, at this point, for this simulation is to allow the user to focus on their heart beat by having it control the adaptation of the environment around you. The senses involved in this effort are, sight, hearing, and feeling your heartbeat all around you in this virtual simulation.

The second project will be working with Emotive(EEG) headset. The intent with this technology is the ability to visualize emotion. The Emotive(EEG) headset has the ability to detect different brainwaves and can output that data in a way that can be transferred into the virtual world. I intend to develop a way for an individual to be able to not only see the visual effects of their emotions, but also be able to recognize and control their emotions as well.

Finally, the last project I want to explore is a way to create a user driven experience using the player's breath. The concept for how I wish to utilize this method is still under development. One way that this method is being utilized right now is by the creator of Deep VR. Please follow the link for an understanding of how they use breath as a mechanic in their gaming experience:

The purpose behind this last experiment is to get the user to focus on their breath. Being able to look inward and focus on your breath is one of the most important concepts in meditation.


Claire Melbourne

I am excited to be a contributing student fellow to the Humane Tech Well Being project this year. Having participated in some sandbox collaborations in Norah’s Multidisciplinary class last spring, I will continue to explore and brainstorm creating situations, strategies and environments which facilitate creative collaboration in an interdisciplinary format with students and faculty in the Humane Tech Group. I want to consider who speaks who acts and why, and experiment with and discuss what kind of scaffolding supports greater collaboration, risk taking, follow through with ideas of parallel and mutually supportive process and product. 

A project that I would like to connect to the Well Being theme this year is using fort building, with household materials, dance-making and some Isadora patches as entry point for investigating sense of interiority, boundaries and permeability in the body and in the material and digital world.  I’m considering how boundaries are an important element of care for self and others and also how a desire for structure, fit and sense of place can manifest in blocking or keeping out otherness. In response, I'm curious about other ways this desire can be nourished that are playful, expansive, evolving and inclusive.

Right now, I am working with 4 other dance students, two MFAS, Brianna Johnson and Kat Sauma, and two BFAS, Lauren Garrett and Emily Kilroy, developing movement and building scores that are stimulated by arrangement of objects as well as interactive sound and video elements, affected, through use of a Kinect and other computer sensors, by human movement choices. I am pulled between two focuses on our individual bodies and sense of limitations and boundaries there both physical and psychical, but also the sort of force fields or insider environments we create and delimit to share with others and the potential for this to create an expanded and shared sense of interiority. What might that extend into as far as greater mutual care, empathy and by extension critical thinking and action? An essential follow up to what I'm working on right now is having this practice extend to a larger public, theorizing and playing with limits of the body beyond the context of contemporary dancers here at OSU.


Diego Arellano

During the Autumn of 2015, as an incoming Freshman, I became the student curator of OSU’s Andean and Amazonian Cultural Artifact Collection, under Dr. Michelle Wibbelsman’s direction. The collection was acquired by the Center of Latin American Studies with Title VI Federal Funds and is permanently housed in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in Hagerty Hall. In addition to skills learned from my Arts Management major and History of Art minor, I brought to the collection cultural sensitivity from my Ecuadorian cultural heritage and, as a child of the tech boom, an understanding of a new generation of students, their interests and learning orientations.

Professor Wibbelsman and I have worked together to catalogue and organize the physical display of the artifacts. In addition, we developed interactive digital features, including a digital story map and digital narratives, to support the curated exhibit. Beyond providing contextual information for the items displayed, one of our main concerns was how to give access to artifacts that were too fragile to bring out of the display cases for hands-on workshops. We were also focused on platforms that allow students to interact in meaningful ways with the collection.

In spring of 2017, ACCAD invited our participation and enabled the use of photogrammetry to create digital models of select artifacts. Through this unique collaboration I was able to familiarize myself with new software and the process of creating 3D models. With the help of Jonathan Welch, graduate student at ACCAD, we created 3D digital models of two items in the collection. I presented the outcomes of the project in the ACCAD Open House on April 7th, 2017.

The invitation to join the Humane Technologies Discovery Theme formally as a Research Fellow this year will allow me to continue working on 3D models of our artifacts. In addition to uses for the exhibit itself (including a pop-up traveling exhibit we’re working on), we’ve been invited to include these models in an experimental virtual reality environment called Method of Loci.

For the fields of Arts Management and Policy, a crucial question is whether and how audience members interact with a particular piece of art or interactive exhibit feature. I am curious to see how the features I work on in the context of the Humane Tech Theme engage the audience. Is their experience positive? How do we measure that? Do these interactive features provide an added experience with the exhibit that other features do not? Another research question I have is whether these features make our audience come back again, and/or also whether they might be sharing these features through social media with their friends?

With these questions in mind, I plan to use the fellowship time to create two or three more models of select artifacts by the end of the autumn semester. Dr. Wibbelsman and I will also be working with OSU Libraries Knowledge Repository to permanently house URLs for the interactive features in order to preserve them for future uses. We are using for tiny urls and generating QR codes that make the features easy to access with cell phones and other personal devices and can track number of viewers.


Laura Rodriguez 

My thoughts have been over stimulated with impossibilities that keep expanding. I am currently interested in the information surrounding VR, projection, interactive spaces, environments, movement-based VR, and 3D renderings. I am not sure which question I will fully surrender to just yet, and if the subject relates to choreographic research, interactive spaces, or creating a personal experience - or all. More brainstorming for now.

In another work, I made an interactive installation that could be added to with audience contribution over a months period. The audiences that came to the museum could contribute, change, or take away something. These examples while related to the dance field have left me curious for continued information on the merger of space, collaboration, and the technological - human subject. 

Back to the ideas for this project. I am going to flush some out here since I do not know what is possible at this stage.

  • A virtual Scrapbook that can be expanded into the VR space as a full 3-D image or recreation. This would also allow a movement experience to happen from user to program during the interaction.
  • Drawing on memories creating a memory tool that allows you to walk back through a VR rendered world of your memories. Interactable - change colors, people, and happenings.
  • A collaborative installation with the Intergenerational Center. Together we design, draw, paint, capture, interact and document the work through social media, live stream, Kinect, and projection.
  • A screen dance film made with the community of the Intergenerational Center. Maybe this also ties into the documentation of the collaborative installation or not.
  • A choreographic VR tool that visualizes pathways, articulations, and temperaments to establish a visual. This would also create an environment that could be personalized to work in as a choreographer. Possible incorporating a drawing, painting, writing space to put ideas. 

Well-being overall for me generates a partnership between human and machine that enhances life for all people. So much of technology today feels direct in the amount of time lost in the day. Creating something with technology that gives back, supports, or challenges the conventional knowledge surrounding this void seems like a radical act.