Dan Chen is an improvisational engineer, interaction designer and technology investigator.
He has several degrees including a MAS from MIT, an MFA in digital media from RISD and a BFA in communication design from UConn. He has over 9 years of design experience and now works at Culture Robotics as senior engineer. Previous positions include MIT Lifelong Kindergarten as an industrial designer, Johnson & Johnson as Senior Interaction Designer and Senior Interaction Designer at IDEO.
His personal work has been featured in QUARTZ, CNET, The Huffington Post, the verge, Engadget, Mashable and Daily Mail. Dan was invited as a speaker at TEDx Vienna on the future of intimacy in 2016. His work was exhibited in Vitra Design Museum, MAK Wien, Design Museum Gent, Seoul Museum of Art, Copernicus Science Centre & Ars Electronica.
Working in the realms of robotics, communication design, interaction design and product design, Dan explores the new ways of communication and human experience through working prototypes and storytelling, inviting a reflective evaluation and implication.Download Résumé
The desire to create relationships and environments that make us feel comfortable, provide a sense of security, and facilitate sensations of belonging, is inherent to human nature. Human to human interaction is critical to mental and physical health, but how about human to machine interaction? Does replacing our most intimate human relationships with machine interactions rob our life of its meaning?
Exploring interactions that use Robotic Intimacy Technology (RIT), this research raises questions regarding the quality of intimate sensations offered through technology — comfort versus discomfort, sincerity versus insincerity. Ultimately, I would like to ask: What is intimacy without humanity?
As a producer (part improvisational engineer, part philosopher-designer), I develop a series of functional robots capable of reenacting basic common human social behaviors. I do this to place in full view questions about how social intimacy is delivered. By making the fictional real, bringing our fantasies into play, I confront the ontological conundrum of the validity of a programmed intimacy. As sculptural studies and experience designs, these devices reveal how RITs might work for us; as transitional objects providing an emotional placebo effect, instead of emotional life support.