Soma Bits: Mediating technology to orchestrate bodily experiences

The Soma Bits are a prototyping toolkit that facilitates Soma Design. Acting as an accessible ‘sociodigital material’ Soma Bits allow designers to pair digital technologies, with their whole body and senses, as part of an iterative soma design process. The Soma Bits addresses the difficulty we experienced in past Soma Design processes — that articulating of sensations we want to evoke to others, and then maintaining these experiences in memory throughout a design process. Thus, the Soma Bits enable designers to know and experience what a design might ‘feel like’ and to share that with others.

The Soma Bits relate to three experiential qualities: ‘feeling connected’, ‘feeling embraced’, and ‘being in correspondence’ with the interactive materials. The Soma Bits have a form factor and materiality that allow actuators (heat, vibration, and shape-changing) to be placed on and around the body; they are easily configurable to enable quick and controllable creations of soma experiences which can be both part of a first-person approach as well as shared with others. The Soma Bits are a living, growing library of shapes and actuators. We use them in our own design practices, as well as when engaging others in soma design processes.