ACI is the main international conference on Animal-Computer Interaction, a rapidly growing field that focuses on the interaction between animals and computing-enabled technology. The ACI conference is held in co-operation with the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) and SIGCHI (Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction), and in partnership with Minding Animals International.
Animals have been exposed to, and have interacted with, technology for the best part of a century; for example, in conservation studies, behavioural experiments, comparative cognition studies, precision farming and various support roles. But how does technology affect animals in their individual and social lives? How does it enable or disable their natural or learned behaviours? How does it influence their experience? And how does is impact upon their welfare?
At the crossroad between interaction design, on the one hand, and animal behavioural and welfare science, on the other, researchers have begun to address these questions, with a focus on the usability and experience of technology from the perspective of animal users, and on the design processes that inform animal-computer interactions.
The emerging discipline of Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI) focuses on:
As a field of research and practice, ACI extends the study and design of interactions with computing systems to animals beyond humans, whilst still including humans themselves as members of the kingdom animalia. By taking a multispecies perspective, ACI acknowledges the evolutionary continuities existing between species, thus pushing the boundaries of interaction design in terms of participating agents, methods and applications.
Such a perspective has a range of potential benefits that range from improving animal wellbeing and human-animal relations, to the strengthening of disciplines such as human-computer interaction. For example, the development of multispecies research practices and design frameworks could enable designers to better account for the cognitive and ergonomic diversity of their prospective users. ACI could also broaden participation in interaction design, providing inclusive technology to support multispecies communities, and lead to the development of more sustainable forms of technologically supported living. In the longer term, by bringing more-than-human voices to the design table, ACI could help us revisit anthropocentric biases in human activity and interspecies interaction, and contribute to the exploration of alternative models that can better support biodiversity and foster environmental restoration.