Media Lab Europe
Humans have a fundamental need for contact with other humans. Our
interactions and relationships with other people form a network that
supports us, makes our lives meaningful, and ultimately enables us to
survive. A variety of personal factors, such the need to travel or
live in a different place apart from family and friends, threaten our
ability to form and attain balance in the kinds of relationships that
we want and need to have with others. The impact of customs and
trends that exist at a societal level, such as the widespread use of
certain technologies that may have isolating effects, is a subject of
increasing study. These conditions put our mental and physical
well-being at risk and, in turn, jeopardize the health of our
communities and civilizations as a whole.
The Human Connectedness research group explores the topic of human
relationships and how they are mediated by technology. Our mission is
to conceive a new genre of technologies and experiences that combat
the effects mentioned above and allow us to build, maintain, and
enhance relationships in new ways. We also aim to enable new kinds of
individual bonds and communities that were not possible before but may
be beneficial or fun.
Beyond imagining new forms of social interaction, we wish to explore
how new technologies change the way people can be related to
each other -- in the same way that, for example, we feel
related to people in our families, attached to things
that are important to us, or bonded to friends and loved ones.
Some other key research questions for the group are:
How can we convey a sense of presence and togetherness over space and
How can we promote and support collaboration between different groups
How can we share a sense of intimacy and closeness in new ways?
How can we enable new forms of cultural exchange?
We seek to build a technological framework for applications in this
domain, taking advantage of the infinite bandwidth and processing-rich
computing environments of the future and the opportunity to extend
these networked media environments into our architectural surroundings
as well as into interfaces that sit close to our bodies and are always
with us. We are equally interested in forming a design framework that
includes an understanding of sociological and psychological factors to
help shape these systems in a fashion that reflects the needs and
sensibilities of the groups within which they operate.
We gain inspiration for our projects from a variety of sources that
include the results of scientific studies, observations of people and
how they interact, ongoing dialogues with potential users of new
technologies, as well as personal experience in relationships. While
we wish to project ourselves into the future to the greatest extent
possible in imagining new technologies, we place emphasis on building
working prototypes, the use of which we can study and learn from.
The Human Connectedness group was established in September 2001 and was
based at Media Lab Europe
in Dublin, Ireland. Media Lab Europe closed on 14 January 2005.