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The cognitive sciences are increasingly coming to terms with the embodied, embedded, extended, and experiential aspects of the mind. Exemplifying this shift, the enactive approach points to an essential role of goal-directed bodily activity in the generation of meaningful perceptual experience, i.e., sense-making. Here, building on recent insights into the transformative effects of practical tool-use, we make use of the enactive approach in order to provide a definition of an enactive interface in terms of augmented sense-making. We introduce such a custom-built interface, the Enactive Torch, and present a study of its experiential effects. The results demonstrate that the user experience is not adequately captured by any standardly assumed perceptual modality; rather, it is a new feeling that is mediated by the design of the device and shaped by the overall situation of the task. Taken together these findings show that there is much to be gained by synergies between engineering and the cognitive sciences in the creation of new experience-centered technology. We suggest that the guiding principle should be the design of interfaces that serve as a transparent medium for augmenting our natural skills of interaction with the world, instead of requiring conscious attention to the interface as an opaque object in the world.
Date of Publication: Fourth Quarter 2012