Weaving The Social Fabric: Imparting “Otsukaresama” as an Empathic Expression Through Interactive Technology

People working on the project: Gilang Andi Pradana, Adrian David Cheok, George Buchanan

Our cultural behaviour in technology consumption is reducing our ability to communicate with one another in a meaningful way and making us more socially isolated. Research suggests that technology is increasing loneliness and undermining empathy rather than helping, and can be harmful to our well-being. However, the solution is not to avoid technology. Imagine when we are facing a hard time at work. Knowing that there are people who are always there to support us means a lot to us, and can help us make it through the day and embrace tomorrow. “Otsukaresama” is a Japanese unique expression to show thoughts on appreciating someone’s effort. It is a powerful phrase to communicate appreciation, and to cultivate empathy. The authors aim is to develop a novel system to communicate empathy through technology, which enable users to experience the similar feeling of being appreciated, supported, and socially accepted after being greeted by “Otsukaresama”. This paper describes the motivation, study design, and initial exploratory prototyping process to fulfill the desire of understanding how empathic communication might be supported by interactive technologies.

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