‘Fidget Widgets’ Project Looks for New Ways that Seemingly Mindless Interactions Can Increase Productivity, Enhance Creativity, and Lessen Stress

NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Researchers Seek Online Participants

Researchers at the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering’s Game Innovation Lab know that doodling, fiddling, and fidgeting are anything but trivial. NY99197LOGOThe fascinating and powerful interrelation of bodily movement, cognition, and emotional state has been amply demonstrated, and manipulating physical objects with the hand is known to activate the brain in measurable ways.

The NYU School of Engineering researchers aim to take the benefits of these manipulations into the digital age through a project they call “Fidget Widgets,” which employs small, playful, programmable devices to marry digital and physical play to enhance work.

“Your word processing software doesn’t really support doodling-it’s entirely focused on word processing,” explains Mike Karlesky, a computer science doctoral candidate. “So we doodle and fiddle with playthings while we work. Our research explores this transitional area between software and physical work spaces.”

Fidget Widgets that mimic the experience of popping bubble wrap and playing with the desktop toy known as a Newton’s Cradle have already been developed, and the researchers hope to introduce a host of other versions that will help users increase their productivity, enhance creativity, and lessen stress by firing specific areas of the brain.

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