Intimate Technology Workshop

4TU Delft
4TU Eindhoven
4TU Twente
4TU Wageningen


Intimate Technology Workshop

As part of a three-day conference on philosophy of human-technology relations, we organized a workshop on the topic of Intimate Technology on July 11th 2018 at the DesignLab at UTwente.

Personal and intimate technologies such as quantified self, mobile location sharing technology, social media, high-tech fashion, telepresence & mediated social touch technology, and virtual and robotic coaches in some sense "come close" to us in our daily lives. These digital technologies have many (potential) benefits, e.g., regarding health, efficiency, safety, and human connection. Yet they raise concerns about how they may affect us as human beings, in particular combined with the power of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.

In this workshop we brought together researchers and practitioners from a range of areas including philosophy, art, and computer science to discuss and exchange ideas on how to shape intimate technologies that can contribute to human flourishing. Specifically, the workshop focused on the effects on our vulnerability through the use of intimate digital technologies following three main relations between users and technologies:

  • Intimacy with _yourself_ through technology: This session featured presentations by Galit Wellner on new forms of subjectivity through quantified self technologies; Danielle Roberts who did a meditation performance while biometric data were collected through sensors on a wearable vest and transformed into an abstract, artistic visualisation; and Kristin Neidlinger who discussed the concept of extimacy, which concerns expressing biodata with visual, auditory, or tactile displays. 


  • Intimacy with _other human beings_ through technology: In this session Marije Baalman presented on how body protheses may mediate our senses in a speculative future, addressing the tension between what technologies can sense and replicate, and our experience; Sima Ipakchian Askari discussed development of a taxonomy for the design space of mediated touch technologies, allowing a more systematic investigation of design dimensions and inpirating new research questions.
  • Intimacy _towards technologies_: Hidekazu Kanemitsu discussed a philosophical framework to examine the changes in our lives caused by the development of robotics, and how it has changed our concept of intimacy; Edwin Dertien explored several alternative approaches towards social robot design through art, investigating  the future notion of intimate human robot relations; finally Jami Li discussed how we can use interaction design to create closeness toward a robot, addressing the question what are the closest social roles that people will take (or that we should design for) with robots in the future.


Overall the presentations and discussions with the audience provided for a very inspiring and interesting exploration of the combination of intimacy and technology. It showed that a multidisciplinary perspective can give rise to truly original directions for shaping this field in a way that contributes to human flourishing. If you want to read more about it, check out Gijs Huisman's blog about the workshop, and Birna van Riemsdijk's website about Intimate Computing.

Workshop organizers:

Merijn Bruijnes
Dirk Heylen
Gijs Huisman
Nicola Liberati
Birna van Riemsdijk

Intimate Technology Workshop


Intimate Technology Workshop

As part of a three-day conference on philosophy of human-technology relations, we organized a workshop on the topic of Intimate Technology on July 11th 2018 at the DesignLab at UTwente.

Personal and intimate technologies such as quantified self, mobile location sharing technology, social media, high-tech fashion, telepresence & mediated social touch technology, and virtual and robotic coaches in some sense "come close" to us in our daily lives. These digital technologies have many (potential) benefits, e.g., regarding health, efficiency, safety, and human connection. Yet they raise concerns about how they may affect us as human beings, in particular combined with the power of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.

In this workshop we brought together researchers and practitioners from a range of areas including philosophy, art, and computer science to discuss and exchange ideas on how to shape intimate technologies that can contribute to human flourishing. Specifically, the workshop focused on the effects on our vulnerability through the use of intimate digital technologies following three main relations between users and technologies:

  • Intimacy with _yourself_ through technology: This session featured presentations by Galit Wellner on new forms of subjectivity through quantified self technologies; Danielle Roberts who did a meditation performance while biometric data were collected through sensors on a wearable vest and transformed into an abstract, artistic visualisation; and Kristin Neidlinger who discussed the concept of extimacy, which concerns expressing biodata with visual, auditory, or tactile displays. 


  • Intimacy with _other human beings_ through technology: In this session Marije Baalman presented on how body protheses may mediate our senses in a speculative future, addressing the tension between what technologies can sense and replicate, and our experience; Sima Ipakchian Askari discussed development of a taxonomy for the design space of mediated touch technologies, allowing a more systematic investigation of design dimensions and inpirating new research questions.
  • Intimacy _towards technologies_: Hidekazu Kanemitsu discussed a philosophical framework to examine the changes in our lives caused by the development of robotics, and how it has changed our concept of intimacy; Edwin Dertien explored several alternative approaches towards social robot design through art, investigating  the future notion of intimate human robot relations; finally Jami Li discussed how we can use interaction design to create closeness toward a robot, addressing the question what are the closest social roles that people will take (or that we should design for) with robots in the future.


Overall the presentations and discussions with the audience provided for a very inspiring and interesting exploration of the combination of intimacy and technology. It showed that a multidisciplinary perspective can give rise to truly original directions for shaping this field in a way that contributes to human flourishing. If you want to read more about it, check out Gijs Huisman's blog about the workshop, and Birna van Riemsdijk's website about Intimate Computing.

Workshop organizers:

Merijn Bruijnes
Dirk Heylen
Gijs Huisman
Nicola Liberati
Birna van Riemsdijk