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At the Research Conversations organized by the UP Open University (UPOU) Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) on 28 July 2017, Dr. Diego Maranan, Assistant Professor at the UPOU Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS), discussed part of his PhD research -- a device called Haplós. His research draws from philosophy, somatic practices, neuroscience, and technology design, and culminated in the creation of a device for facilitating body awareness. Haplós is a novel, wearable, programmable, remotely controlled technology which uses vibrating motors. Dr. Maranan developed this as part of his research at CogNovo, a 4.1 million EU-funded project at Plymouth University, United Kingdom, that focused on interdisciplinary research on creativity and cognition.

Dr. Maranan opened the talk with the question “Do you know yourself?”, pertaining to the knowledge of our bodies as physical parts of ourselves as opposed to the typical response about mental or behavioral state. This underlined the concept of body awareness which deals with the connection between the way we organize our bodies and our disposition, the malleability of our concept of our bodies, and the understanding of our body as part of a space.

Dr. Maranan mentioned that his research has shown that Haplós can increase body awareness by enhancing the user’s perception of the body part that has been exposed to the device. In addition, Haplós has also shown to decrease food cravings with statistical significance. Because the sensations provided by the Haplós system have been described as highly unusual, pleasurable, and engaging. Haplós is theorized to interrupt the elaboration of intrusive thoughts associated with food cravings, as predicted by the Elaborated Intrusion Theory of desire.

Potential and speculative future applications of Haplós were discussed after his presentation which included inquiries (1) on the study’s application for mental issues and other medicinal purposes, local fashion and production, and (2) for the study’s possible continuation at UP Open University in collaboration with other campus units in the country.

This article is based largely on the abstract of and with permission from Dr. Maranan. (Rosette San Buenaventura)