Exploring superpower design through Wi-Fi Twinge

Siyi Liu, Nathan Semertzidis, Gun A. Lee, Florian "Floyd" Mueller, Barrett Ens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Technology-facilitated “superpowers” are a popular topic in human-computer interaction, providing people with the experience of having superhero-like fantastic abilities. However, science fiction literature tells us that superpowers can also be unfortunate. We designed Wi-Fi Twinge, a system that uses electrical muscle stimulation to extend human perception to sense unseen Wi-Fi signals, giving people an allergy-like twinge reaction to Wi-Fi: a superpower that can be seen as unfortunate while also having potential benefits. Through an in-the-wild study, interviews with 12 participants revealed that although the superpower from Wi-Fi Twinge induced negative feelings and impacted certain day-to-day activities, it improved awareness of self and the surrounding environment. We used these results to offer design tactics for creating future superpower systems that consider potential unfortunate side effects. Ultimately, we aim to advance our understanding of technology-facilitated superpowers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction
EditorsDavid Coyle, Beat Signer
Place of PublicationNew Year NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9798400704024
Publication statusPublished - 2024
EventTangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction 2024 - Cork, Ireland
Duration: 11 Feb 202414 Feb 2024
Conference number: 18th
https://dl.acm.org/doi/proceedings/10.1145/3623509 (Proceedings)
https://tei.acm.org/2024/ (Website)


ConferenceTangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction 2024
Abbreviated titleTEI 2024
Internet address


  • augmented human
  • electrical muscle stimulation
  • human augmentation
  • superpower
  • wearables

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