Leveraging Multistability and Ambiguity in Wearable Technology Design: A Postphenomenological and Design Perspective


  • Chiara Di Lodovico Politecnico di Milano




Wearable Technologies, Design, Ambiguity, Postphenomenology, Multistability


In contemporary western societies, wearable technologies and systems for self-tracking are becoming increasingly popular and represent a rapidly growing and interdisciplinary field of research and practice. While much research is dedicated to improving these devices to better serve individuals’ goals from a utilitarian perspective, there is also a growing body of knowledge investigating their impact on people’s self-perception and self-image, beyond efficiency and usability. This paper proposes to further the current understanding of how data representation designs from wearable technologies shape individuals’ experiences and behaviors by combining design research with postphenomenological inquiry. To achieve this, I use the method of variational cross-examination to compare data representations from a traditional commercial wearable tracker with a speculative research-through-design biosensing smart shirt. The paper offers two main contributions. Firstly, it brings wearable self-tracking devices as a productive field of inquiry closer to fashion-related studies. It shows how design research plays a crucial role in the ongoing debate on the impact of wearables on individuals and societal levels. Secondly, it proposes an approach to bridge theory and practice, revealing the mutually beneficial and dialogic relationship between postphenomenology and design. Specifically, it expands the postphenomenological concept of multistability from a tool to analyze interactive fashion design artefacts to a productive and generative design resource to develop intentionally ambiguous and open-ended designs.


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How to Cite

Di Lodovico, C. (2023). Leveraging Multistability and Ambiguity in Wearable Technology Design: A Postphenomenological and Design Perspective. ZoneModa Journal, 13(1S), 125–142. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2611-0563/17945



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