NanoEthics 16 (1):65-79 (2022)

Beate. Ochsner
Universität Konstanz
Robert Stock
Universität Konstanz
Against the backdrop of an aging world population increasingly affected by a diverse range of abilities and disabilities as well as the rise of ubiquitous computing and digital app cultures, this paper questions how mobile technologies mediate between heterogeneous environments and sensing beings. To approach the current technological manufacturing of the senses, two lines of thought are of importance: First, there is a need to critically reflect upon the concept of assistive technologies as artifacts providing tangible solutions for a specific disability. Second, the conventional distinction between user and environment requires a differentiated consideration. This contribution will first review James Gibson’s concept of “affordances” and modify this approach by introducing theories and methods of Science and Technology Studies and Actor-Network Theory. Then, we present two case studies where we explore the relations between recent “assistive” app technologies and human sensory perception. As hearing and seeing are key in this regard, we concentrate on two specific media technologies: ReSound LINX2, a hearing aid which allows for direct connect with iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, and Camassia, an IOS app for sonic wayfinding for blind people. We emphasize the significance of dis-/abling practices for manufacturing novel forms of hearing and seeing and drawing on sources like promotional materials by manufacturers, ads, or user testimonials and reviews. Our analysis is interested in the reciprocal relationships between users and their socio-technical and media environments. By and large, this contribution will provide crucial insights into the contemporary entanglement of algorithm-driven technologies, daily practices, and sensing subjects: the production of techno-sensory arrangements.
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DOI 10.1007/s11569-020-00381-5
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Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to the Actor-Network Theory.Bruno Latour - 2005 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.

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