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The Playful Potential of Shared Mealtime: a speculative catalog of playful technologies for day-to-day social eating experiences

Ferran Altarriba Bertran
Alexandra Pometko
Muskan Gupta
Lauren Wilcox
Reeta Banerjee
Katherine Isbister
CHI PLAY '21: Proceedings of the ACM 2021 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (2021) (to appear)


In this paper, we present an annotated portfolio of speculative ideas that emerged from a co- design process where we investigated the playful potential of day-to-day mealtime. Our portfolio illustrates the learnings from our participatory engagements: it embodies ours and our participants’ ideas of how technology might support increasingly playful and socio-emotionally rich experiences around food. We contribute: (1) a list of play potentials of mealtime—i.e. people’s existing playful practices with food—that will point designers towards socio-emotionally desirable play-food experiences; (2) a portfolio of speculative design ideas that illustrate how mealtime technology could help to realize that playful potential; and (3) a discussion of our participants’ experiences with and responses to lo-fi prototypes of our ideas. Our work will provoke designers to carefully consider the impact of food-tech innovation on the quality of people’s social eating experiences and inspire them to cultivate forms of food-play that are socio-emotionally rich.