Fidget Widgets

Katherine Isbister – –

Computational tasks are a large part of the workday for many Americans. Current interfaces and systems have come into question in recent years for inadvertently disrupting quality attention and focus, leading to scattered, distracted, and inefficient work practices and suboptimal mental and emotional functioning. Efforts to address this issue include development of specialized, minimally distracting digital applications within which to work, software that blocks or limits the use of the most distracting applications, and software that encourages and/or enforces break-taking and other non-computational techniques for enhancing focus such as physical activity. Our research takes a novel approach to addressing this problem, combining insights from tangible computing, embodied interaction, and quantified self research within Human Computer Interaction, and building upon promising insights and results within the ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) research and clinical communities.  We are engaged in designing a physical/computational intervention that enables embodied self-regulation of attention, and that provides tools for self-reflection about attentional challenges, toward optimal management of work practice and attentional state.