Towards a Choreography of Blended Experiences


A Full-day Hybrid Workshop at the ACM IMX 2023, Nantes, France

New submission deadline is April 30th, 2023

Interaction between, across, and through digital technologies integrated into everyday activities can be stilted, clumsy, awkward, and hard to navigate, much like a complicated dance performance. What does it take to choreograph these experiences so that they seamfully blend digital and physical space to make complex interactions as easy and graceful as dancing with an experienced ballroom dancer? When designing complex interactions in these environments, there is a tendency to lean toward a linear causal understanding of experience. This workshop urges us to consider experience as a dance with technology.

This workshop explores the notion of Cognitive Integration or Blending Theory and its application in Benyon’s conceptualization of Blended Space as a means for working across the physical/digital divide. A blended space is where a digital space is carefully designed to commingle with a physical space, thus creating a new type of space with its own emergent structure whose properties and affordances create a novel sense of presence that supports new behaviors and experiences. Subsequent work has incorporated the notion of trajectories and paths into the blended space framework and reframed it as Blended Experience (BX), a core element in the conceptualization of Experience Ecosystems.

Confusion still persists in how designing with blends relates to themes in Ubiquitous Computing (UBICOMP) or experience design (XD): this workshop intends to clarify these relationships and position blends, blending theory, and the blended space framework as the applied tools of choice for designing successful BXs. Participants in the workshop will explore, sketch, script, architect, and evaluate the importance of this approach to design, how it differs from other mixed reality (MR), UBICOMP, and XD approaches, and how models and methods can be communicated, applied and taught between institutions. The goals of this workshop are to:

To achieve this the workshop centers on a series of hands-on activities centered on critiquing, sketching, evaluating, architecting, and choreographing BXs. Participants will be required to submit a position paper illustrating their views or previous work on BX, UBICOMP, or XR environments. They will then present their position at the workshop to introduce their perspectives.

We have also defined a number of follow-up initiatives meant to facilitate post-workshop conversations, including the creation of a BX Working Group and the publication of selected contributions in a journal, conference, or book. A summary of workshop outcomes will be included as well to illustrate the most recent developments.


Welcome and introduction (30 minutes)

The organizers welcome participants, introduce the day’s activities, and scope the workshop.

Presentations (60 minutes)

Participants have 3 minutes each to present their position papers to the room. In tandem, the workshop organizers will record how each presentation e.g, XR, UBICOMP, AR, and BX-based products, services, prototypes, or concepts align to the Designing Blended Experiences Tool. By the end of the session, the workshop organizers will have evaluated position papers against key principles of BX.

Coffee break (20 minutes)

Participants can use the coffee break to input to and edit the themes highlighted in the discussion.

Critique (30 minutes)

Each workshop organizer will lead a smaller group of workshop participants. In these groups we will identify how participant position paper outcomes align or do not align to BX. Using the Designing Blended Experiences Tool, the participants will critique their own work and use the tool to view their work through the lens of BX. The outcomes will highlight opportunities to strengthen relationships between people, places, and things over a strategic use of time. These themes will eventually be recorded and disseminated.

Sketching blended experiences (90 minutes)

Workshop organizers will hold a 30-minute panel session with Mike Master and Brian O’Keefe. Mike will share his experiences illustrating for Marvel Comics, Disney and Netflix, while Brian exemplifies their ongoing collaborations that aligns BX to storyboarding. Then participants will complete sketching exercises using the Designing Blended Experiences Tool coupled with best practices when art directing BX. The goal of this session is for each participant group to storyboard (12-15 cells) their work as Blended Experiences.

Lunch break (70 minutes)

Architecting blended experiences (60 minutes)

This activity centers on exploring the information architecture of BXs and the role this plays in structuring them. Benyon’s framework and other existing alternative models will be used as starting points for the formalization of a first shared pattern library. Problems that will be addressed include: Do BXs come in “types”? Is it possible to identify architectural similarities across different BXs? Can a base language of architectural patterns be formalized?

Coffee break (20 minutes)

Choreographing blended experiences (90 minutes)

Blended spaces are volatile constructs. This activity explores how the idiosyncratic choreographies performed by people trying to achieve the desired future state generate or contribute to a topology of blended experience, the result of both emergent and expected or designed routes through the experience.

Wrap-up and invitations (30 minutes)

The organizers ensure that participants have organized, documented, and retained their outcomes e.g., critique notes, sketches, and storyboards. Participants are invited to the “Blended Experiences Workshop” hosted by Edinburgh Napier University, July 28 - August 12, 2023.

The organizers will provide the theoretical and practical framing for the various activities.
The workshop concludes with an invitation to participants to share an authentic nantais cuisine experience with the organizers.

Call for Participation

We invite researchers from both academia and industry to submit a short position paper on the theme of Blended Experiences. Submissions will be evaluated based on fit, ability to stimulate discussion, and contribution to ongoing developments.

Papers should be a maximum of 4 pages and submitted in the IMX ACM format as PDFs. Authors should ensure that all images have AltText and that “Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF” is checked when creating the PDF.

Submissions will be required to adhere to the IMX 2023 accessibility guidelines. As more accessibility requirements may emerge once participation is confirmed, the website will offer a way to make the organizers aware of such situations as early in the process as possible.

Papers should be submitted before end-of-day April 30th 2023 to papers at blendedexperiences dot com.

Important Dates

Submissions open: January 31st, 2023.

Submission deadline: April 30th, 2023 (new deadline)

Notifications to authors: May 15th, 2023 (at the latest)

Workshop date and time: June 12th, 2023 (official date)

Deadlines are specified as Anywhere on Earth time.

At least one author of each accepted position paper must attend the workshop and all participants must register for at least one day of the conference. We will host accepted papers on the workshop website for participants and others to review. The workshop will combine presentations, hands-on practical experiences (on-site and remote), and group discussions.


Brian O’Keefe

Brian is an Associate Professor of Interaction Design in the Visual Communications Department at State University of New York (SUNY) Farmingdale State College, New York, where he leads SUNY’s first undergraduate Interaction Design program. Dr. O’Keefe is a UX designer and researcher with experience designing MR products, services, and devices across corporate and academic institutions. Alongside Dr. Flint, he is a co-founder of the International Research Partnership Program between Farmingdale and Edinburgh Napier University, UK, fostering the advancement of BX research and pedagogy.

Tom Flint

Tom is Associate Professor in Creative Technology at Edinburgh Napier University and is the Imaginary Chair of the British Computer Society Interactions Specialist Group. Tom’s research interests focus on the role of computing in cultural heritage and the creative industries. His work explores the use of digital media and computing technology to communicate art collections and visitor attractions. An accomplished practitioner and creative technologist, Tom collaborates with artists to produce interactive work.

Miriam Sturdee

Miriam is a Lecturer at the University of St Andrews, specializing in investigating how sketching and the arts can support the design and development of novel technology. She also has an MFA in Visual Communication from Edinburgh College of Art and is an active illustrator, visual facilitator, and sketch artist. Her research has a particular focus on sketching for shape-changing interfaces, and cyber security, as well as design fiction and alternative publishing formats.

Andrea Resmini

Andrea is an Associate Professor of Experience Design and Information Architecture in the Department of Intelligent Systems and Digital Design at Halmstad University. An architect turned information architect with international professional experience working on digital and physical spaces, Andrea is the author of three books that have redefined contemporary information architecture: “Pervasive Information Architecture”, “Reframing Information Architecture”, and “Advances in Information Architecture”.

Anna Carter

Anna is a Ph.D. Researcher in the CDT at Swansea University where she is focusing on enhancing human interactions and collaborations with intelligence-driven systems. Her research focuses on using human-centered methods to co-create an immersive digital experience through participatory design. Designing inclusively is essential to all of her work and she is continuing as the accessibility chair for EduCHI 2023.

Mike Mastermaker

Mike is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design in the Visual Communications Department at SUNY Farmingdale State College, New York. An illustrator with a long history of illustrating for Disney, Lucasfilm, Netflix, and Marvel Comics, Mike applies traditional illustration production processes to current processes of graphic design, typography, and BX. His contribution to blends is applying principles of art production, art direction, scripting narratives, and how it impacts the illustration of relationships between people and how technologies support these human relationships when designing between physical and digital spaces.

Andrea Chirico

Andrea is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology of Development and Socialization Processes, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. His main research interests are in the areas of measurement and assessment within the field of health psychology, with specific reference to virtual reality and new technologies for well-being. His main focus is the study of the processes involved in people’s “self-regulation” of health behavior, considering behavioral change models (e.g. motivations, attitudes, beliefs).

Last updated: Feb 5 2023