Noura Howell

I wend pathways of data and difference focused on emotional biosensing. Emergent ways of knowing the emotional self and others via data bolster seemingly authoritative data-driven yet embodied categories like un/well or un/productive. These categories are anything but neutral: Some are ‘normal’ and some are ‘other’, ‘different’, or ‘suboptimal’. Critiquing this and seeking alternatives, in my work I contribute the following:

Reconfigure sensing, data, and data representation as a series of material transformations, opening up spaces to critique data's seeming authority and embrace embodied ways of knowing and feeling

Design alternative experiences with data that respect difference and avoid dehumanizing categorization

Offer new concepts for design such as life-affirmation

My approach combines critical and speculative design research, tangible embodied interaction design, new materialist lenses that foreground the agency of materials, and hands-on engineering to create fully functional biosensing technologies. These artifacts provoke critical discussion around emotional biosensing. Additionally, the rich experiences of people with and around these artifacts probe alternative possibilities with biosensory data, situated in the real emotional stakes of everyday lives.

I am a PhD candidate at the Berkeley School of Information advised by Kimiko Ryokai, and a member of the BioSENSE lab. Previously I have worked as a human centered designer and engineer in Singapore, Morocco, and China, as well as at the MIT Media Lab, Intel Labs, and Microsoft.

Life-Affirmation: Sounding Heartbeats on a Bench
Emotional Biosensing: Exploring Critical Alternatives
Tensions of Data-Driven Emotional Reflection
Tangible Laughter
Color-Changing Fabric as Realtime Data Display
Publications & CV
Participatory Peace Sculpture
Performing VR Together
Code 510 Mentoring
Buddy the HugBug
Bio-Controlled DJ Effects
Intel Connect Anything Prototyping Kit
Harmonograph Visualizer
Chladni Waves Visualizer
Smart Bamboo Blinds for Bali
Mobile Phones & Illiteracy in Morocco
Solar Cooker for the Himalayas
Music & Data at The Echo Nest