video by Antonio Caballero, Beatriz Page and Joaku De Sotavento, featuring Alfredo Miralles and the i_mBODY lab team

Sensory-driven Body Transformation Experiences On-the-move

BODYinTRANSIT is a research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and led by Prof. Ana Tajadura-Jiménez. It will run from Jan 2022 to Dec 2026 within the Department of Computer Science Department at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain. 

The dynamic “blueprint” of a person’s mental body-representation
The dynamic “blueprint” of a person’s mental body-representation (body in blue) and its components.

About the project

Our physical body is the interface between ourselves and the world around us. The way we perceive our body, its appearance, configuration and motor abilities shapes our behaviour, emotion and social functioning. New sensor-based and bodily sensory feedback devices, such as those brought by immersive virtual reality, allow creating Body Transformation Experiences (BTE). These perceptual illusions, like being in a child’s body, lead to experience changes in one’s own body. Beyond fun experiences, the new field of BTE engineering brings a significant leap for wellbeing and health applications, as well as for the embodiment of robotic devices and virtual avatars, and smart clothing. However, the neuroscience of core sensory-driven changes in Mental Body Representations currently represents piecemeal experiments in very controlled settings that restrict body movement. This hinders the transfer of the basic principles discovered to real-world complex environments and practical problems.

Through systematic and iterative research, the project BODYinTRANSIT will establish a theoretical ‘BTE design framework’ for individualized sensorial manipulation of mental body representations with long-lasting effects in everyday use contexts. The framework will stand on four scientific pillars to induce, measure, support, personalize and preserve body transformations: 1) neuroscience of multisensory body perception, 2) data modelling of the links between body-representation, behaviour, emotion and social functioning, 3) wearable-based embodied multisensory interaction design, and 4) field studies in real-life and on-the-move contexts with physically inactive users, somatic practitioners and users with body image concerns.

Tangible outcomes will include design principles, data formats, models, measures and paradigms enabling and guiding BTE engineering innovations. BODYinTRANSIT envisions personalized BTE technologies able to measure MBR and adapt bodily sensory feedback to modify it – individually, online and while on-the-move.

BODYinTRANSIT was selected by the European Research Council as 1 of the 8 ERC Consolidator Grant project examples 2020. Read more

our work is informed by and informs cognitive neuroscience research on multisensory perception and body perception. How do our brains integrate the different sensory signals to form perceptions of one’s body appearance and capabilities?

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through a variety of instruments and sensors we collect data on changes in people’s perceptions, behaviors and emotions. We research novel models and algorithms to connect the changes across dimensions and to sensory signals.

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we design sensorial, interactive and wearable prototypes. Our user-centred design methodology involves embodied design explorations with stakeholders and designers, fast-prototyping techniques and user tests in the lab and in real-life.

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we take research outside the lab to real-life contexts including medical contexts, people’s homes or workplace. We work with somatic practitioners and with various populations.

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About Us

Our team is highly multidisciplinary and international. Our team members and collaborators include HCI/computer scientists, psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists, data scientists, engineers, acousticians, philosophers, ethics experts, designers and artists, professional dancers and clinical practitioners. The international research network for BODYinTRANSIT includes, among others, collaborations with University College London, Birkbeck – University of London, IRCAM – Paris, LMU – Munich, Tilburg University, Ritsumeikan University – Japan, and the Estonian Academy of Arts. We are in the process of recruiting team members but check the team of our current project MAGIC outFIT and the website of the DEI Interactive Systems Group at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid to get an impression of some of our current members/collaborators.

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