In the United States, there are serious and persistent disparities in health outcomes. For example, socioeconomic status is predictive of mortality and disease, with low-SES households disproportionately experiencing health challenges. This inequality is due in large part to the social determinants of health—social, physical, and economic conditions that make it more challenging to achieve wellness in low-SES communities.
Disruptive innovations are sorely needed to reduce health disparities. Information and communication technologies (ICTs), with their growing ubiquity and ability to provide engaging, informative, and empowering experiences for people, present exciting opportunities for health equity research.
This talk will overview a set of case studies demonstrating work the Wellness Technology Lab has done to design, build, and evaluate how novel interactive computing experiences can address issues of health equity. These case studies investigate how social, mobile, and civic technology can help low-SES communities to both cope with barriers to wellness and address these barriers directly. Using findings from this research, I will articulate opportunities and challenges for community wellness informatics—research that explores how ICTs can empower collectives to collaboratively pursue health and wellness goals.
Andrea Grimes Parker is an Associate Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Dr. Parker holds a Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Tech and a B.S. in Computer Science from Northeastern University. From 2018-2019, she was a Northeastern University Institute of Health Equity and Social Justice Research Faculty Scholar. Dr. Parker is the founder and director of the Wellness Technology Research Lab at Georgia Tech. Her interdisciplinary research spans the domains of human-computer interaction (HCI) and public health, as she examines how social and interactive computing systems can be designed to address health disparities.
Dr. Parker’s research has been funded through awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health, the Aetna Foundation, and Google. She served as co-chair for the 2020 Symposium of the Workgroup on Interactive Systems in Healthcare (WISH), and currently serves on the SIGCHI CARES Committee and the Georgia Maternal Health Research for Action Steering Committee. Dr. Parker has received several best paper nominations for her research on health equity.
Mobile and wearable technologies offer the promise of great opportunity, connection, new experiences, and natural interactions. However, what happens when these designs do not fully consider the relationship between people and the devices they use? For example, wheelchair users often use and carry multiple mobile computing devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Upper body motor impairments or physically restrictive wheelchair frames may limit wheelchair users’ ability to interact with these devices. Designing technology for wheelchair users requires constant negotiation between the user’s needs, technological and functional constraints, and context. My research aims to support a broad range of people with diverse abilities as they interact with the world and people around them. I use Chairables to conceptualize the design approach that leverages the affordances of wheelchairs for mobile interaction. Our ongoing research aims to support and empower people with disabilities as they engage in a range of activities, including mobility, social interactions, and competitive sports.
Patrick Carrington is an Assistant Professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and his research emphasizes the design of systems to support people with diverse abilities. He studies mobile and wearable technology, builds assistive devices, and explores how to create experiences that support empowerment, independence, and improved quality of life. His current projects span topics including accessing digital content and media, transportation and mobility, and developing technologies for athletes with disabilities.
The replication of our world into virtual environments has been on our minds since as early as 1935, the year Stanley G. Weinbaum published “Pygmalion Spectacles.” On the one hand, we have never been closer to Weinbaum’s vision eighty-five years later. The technology progress related to head-mounted displays has been impressive and cutting edge. On the other hand, despite this technological advance, we are still far away from Weinbaum’s ultimate vision of an immersive world that not only includes all our five senses, but also provides us with emotional qualia begotten by the virtual experience. One obstacle that users face in recognizing emotional qualities is the lack of tangible interaction. Hence, there is a growing need to create new haptic technologies that enhance the user’s immersion. Yet, it is not enough to focus on only improving the quality of the mechanical stimulation; it is also crucial to understand how the haptic device could trigger emotions during the interaction.
Mounia Ziat is an Associate Professor at Bentley University. Relying on her multidisciplinary background, Dr. Ziat’s approach to science is holistic; her goals are to better understand perception and human interaction with the natural and artificial environment. For the last twenty years, she has been studying haptic perception by combining engineering, cognitive psychology, human-computer interaction (HCI), and neuroscience to understand all aspects of human touch. From the moment fingers contact a surface to the time information reaches the brain, her research focuses on making sense of sensations that lead to a stable perception of the world. Dr. Ziat holds an Electronic Engineering degree and a Master and Ph.D. in Cognitive Science.